Arizona Hobbyists Celebrate Arrival of Emission System Repair and Upgrade
In a victory for the Arizona Automobile Hobbyist Council (AAHC) and the entire enthusiast community, the first state-legislated program for voluntary vehicle repair and upgrade has been signed into law by Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull. The upgrade program pays for the installation of equipment that reduces emissions and is a substitute for a previously proposed vehicle scrappage program.
Under the new law, owners can be compensated for voluntarily repairing and upgrading their vehicles. Vehicles qualifying for the program must be emission tested, operational, titled in Arizona for at least a 2-year period and at least 12 years old. Set to begin on Jan. 1, 1999, the repair/upgrade program will receive an initial appropriation of $800,000 for fiscal year 1998-1999. In addition, the program will only be established in counties with a population of more than 400,000 people. Equally important, the law mandates the appointment of an advisory committee composed of parties affected by the program, including hobbyists and the automotive aftermarket products industry, to advise and make recommendations on the development and implementation of the program.
AAHC and SEMA worked in conjunction to help generate support for S.B. 1427 by disseminating information to Arizona legislators that provided a factual account of the inefficiencies of scrappage programs and the benefits of voluntary repair and upgrade as an alternative. "Numerous commercially available products and technologies exist which could substantially lower the emission rates of older vehicles while also offering the owner considerable benefits in terms of performance, driveability and fuel mileage," said SEMA Director of State Relations Steve McDonald. "The gains associated with both repair and upgrade have demonstrated durability over time and the emissions reductions can be expected to last at least as long as the 3-year life assigned to vehicles in most scrappage programs. An approach that allows for a repair-upgrade option also would provide maximum benefits to those entities that require flexibility in meeting their emission-reduction requirements without hurting those who must rely on low-cost transportation."
The new law is expected to clean up the air and benefit hobbyists by avoiding the destruction of collector vehicles and parts cars. The hobbyists hope that the program will also serve as a model for other states interested in innovative alternatives to vehicle scrappage programs.
Maryland Suspension Proposal Generates Widespread Opposition
Four-wheel-drive enthusiasts and hobbyists from all over the country have submitted written comments to Maryland regulators in opposition to that state's proposed vehicle suspension regulation. If instituted, the regulation would ban certain combinations of aftermarket equipment and set tight restrictions on the amount a vehicle's suspension and body can be raised or lowered beyond the original manufacturer's specifications.
Representing the United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) and the Middle Atlantic Four Wheel Drive Association (MAFWDA), Preston Stevens of Baltimore, Maryland said, "The UFWDA do not promote unsafe vehicle modifications, but support the right to modify one's rig, while staying within the vehicle's design strength and braking system . . . Most vehicles have design limits that far exceed the stock form. Legitimate manufactured suspension systems go through extensive field and proving ground testing to prove safety and reliability. Like with any right, common sense and responsibility go hand in hand."
The joint effort between SEMA and car clubs nationwide is once again proving to be an effective means of ensuring that those affected by a propsed regulation are notified in a timely fashion and are given an opportunity to voice their opinions. Comments were being accepted by the Maryland State Police until June 12.
Nationwide 4x4 Associations Plan Strategy in Kansas City, Missouri
On May 16-17 fourteen representatives of regional 4x4 associations met in Kansas City, MO to discuss the many issues that impact their sport. This second in a series of "meeting of the minds" was designed to create a nationwide umbrella organization to strengthen and preserve the organized 4x4 community. This organization, now known as the North American Motorized Recreation Council (NAMRC), boasts representatives from several SEMA Action Network members including the California Four Wheel Drive Club, East Coast Four Wheel Drive Association, Pacific-Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association, Toyota Landcruiser Association and the United Four Wheel Drive Associations. SEMA's Director of Outreach and Public Affairs, Brian Caudill and Director of International and Government Affairs, Linda Spencer, were pleased to be asked to sit in on the proceedings.
During this intensive and productive 2-day meeting, NAMRC created a broad-based and ambitious agenda identifying the following areas for development or improvement within the 4x4 community:
- Recruiting membership and maintaining interest in responsible and established 4x4 organizations
- Designing a media relations program promoting the role of 4x4 clubs nationwide
- Increasing youth-oriented programs and involvement
- Exploring expansion of the traditional 4x4 club community to include "non-standard" groups such as SUVs
- Improving relationships and creating partnerships with both the major vehicle manufacturers and the aftermarket
- Developing a coordinated and effective government relations strategy at the local, state and federal level
To accomplish NAMRC's goals, members of the individual 4x4 associations agreed to team up and work with each other in the coming months via phone, fax and the internet to make these items a reality. Team progress reports for each goal will be presented at the Fall NAMRC meeting, hosted by Carol and Don Jensen of the Pacific-Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association, to be held in Las Vegas, Nev.
The SEMA Action Network looks forward to working with NAMRC, the various 4x4 associations, and the individuals involved to accomplish their collective goals, from bolstering the club concept and partnering with the aftermarket to developing a coherent government relations strategy. SEMA is particularly indebted to Sugar Fields of the East Coast Four Wheel Drive Association for helping SEMA build relationships with the group and provide input on NAMRC's efforts.
SEMA Visits With the Multi-Car Club of Maryland
At the request of Maryland SEMA Action Network contacts Jack and Sally Evans of the Multi-Car Club Council of Maryland (MCCCM), SEMA government relations staff members visited Glen Burnie, MD this past Memorial Day weekend to make a brief presentation and answer numerous questions from the assembled hobbyists and car club representatives.
SEMA director of state relations Steve McDonald addressed the group on specific legislative and regulatory items that affect the automobile hobby both in Maryland and nationwide. Club members were very interested in the future of scrappage programs across the country, local vehicle confiscation measures and specific Maryland state matters. McDonald pointed out how scrappage programs nationwide are proving not only ineffective in reducing emissions, but are also prohibitively expensive to the taxpayer. McDonald also addressed specific Maryland issues, notably SEMA's continued support for the principles outlined in last year's amended House Bill 1302, which granted new Maryland street rod and custom car classifications. He also apprised attendees of SEMA's continuing efforts to help Maryland 4x4 clubs blunt overly restrictive proposed raised vehicle regulations.
Brian Caudill, SEMA's director of outreach and public affairs, urged the membership to get more politically involved within the MCCCM, their individual car clubs and the SEMA Action Network. Caudill encouraged attendees to use methods that other car clubs nationwide have found helpful in developing legislative programs. In particular, develop relationships with local, State and Federal representatives by writing and scheduling meetings with them on important automotive hobbyist issues. In addition, Caudill urged car club representatives to invite officials to rod runs, charity events, club meetings and parades. "Make yourself and your club a visible and active part of the community and the politicians will stand up and take notice," Caudill advised. "Organized groups of automobile enthusiasts are a proven political force, but you have to get involved and stay involved to be effective."
Overall, the program was a notable success. Jack Evans, Chairman of the MCCCM, noted that the SEMA presentation was, "Very informative. The [club members] there enjoyed it and learned a lot. We look forward to having you at future events." The SEMA government relations team was happy to address the group and looks forward to similar meetings with other car clubs and councils across the country. Should a presentation of this sort interest your organization, please do not hesitate to contact us.
California Scrappage Rule Proves Unjustifiable
In support of automobile hobbyists and collectors in Southern California, Frank Bohanan, SEMA director of technical affairs, spoke at the May 28 South Coast Air Quality Management District's (SCAQMD) public workshop on Proposed Amended Rule 1610. The amendment is purportedly designed to make the SCAQMD's scrappage program more effective.
At the workshop, Bohanan continued to communicate SEMA's oft-repeated view that the SCAQMD's scrappage program provides no means to verify claimed emissions reductions, places an unnecessary burden on businesses, motorists and the hobbyist community and delivers little tangible or provable environmental benefit. Bohanan also stressed the need to maximize the recycling of vehicles and vehicle parts in connection with any scrappage program: "Keeping older vehicles and parts away from the crusher helps ensure low-cost transportation and repair. In addition, recycling guarantees the continued availability of parts for the automotive collector and enthusiast community."
In a related matter, as reported in last month's "Driving Force," the California Assembly Budget Subcommittee voted to freeze funding for scrappage programs and the State's emission-inspection program. Since that last report, the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review voted to defund the same programs. Legislators are demanding that California regulators be more forthcoming in answering questions about the effectiveness of the Smog II program's implementation and scrappage efforts overall, before any additional funding will be approved.
Newly Introduced State Legislation
The following state bills are not yet law; they have recently been introduced and are currently being considered for adoption. For more information, contact the SEMA Washington office.
PLATES & REGISTRATION
WISCONSIN A.B. 100 would allow for motorcycles to be registered as antique vehicles; would also provide for "antique" license plates for such vehicles.
NEW YORK S.B. 7205 would provide for a one-time fee of $25.00 for the registration of "historic" vehicles.
Can You Believe?
Here is another regulatory horror story, an example of unfair or illogical laws and regulations that place unnecessary burdens on businesses and individuals. If the following example makes you as angry as they make us, let your Representative know and offer to work with him/her to reduce the onslaught of regulations. Also, let the SEMA Washington office staff know if you have any similar horror stories to share; we'll keep track of all calls, as well as print them in upcoming editions.
A proposed Delaware regulation calls for covert performance audits of Motor Vehicle Technicians to ensure that they are correctly implementing that state's enhanced inspection and maintenance program. The proposed regulations include "remote observation ... which shall include the use of aids such as binoculars or video cameras, at least once per year per Motor Vehicle Technician."