Maryland Proposes Restrictions to Suspension Alterations
The SEMA Action Network (SAN) has come out in strong opposition to a Maryland Department of Transportation proposed regulation which would ban certain combinations of aftermarket equipment and set tight restrictions on the amount a vehicle's suspension and body can be raised beyond original manufacturers' specifications.
Owners of vehicles outfitted prior to this regulation would be required to bring their vehicles into compliance with the new requirements. Under the proposal, a vehicle would be rejected at nspection if an installed body or suspension lift exceeds 2 inches or if the tires are not the size originally installed by the vehicle manufacturer, a vehicle manufacturer upgrade size or an acceptable substitute. The regulation would also ban a combination of body and suspension lift.
The Multi-Car Club of Maryland, the Baltimore 4 Wheelers, the Maryland Mudders, the Off-Camber Crawlers and the United 4 Wheel Drive Associations have been particularly active in building opposition to this onerous proposed regulation.
Washington Governor Signs Bill to Exempt Older Cars from Emissions Inspections
Washington State Governor Gary Locke signed into law air pollution control legislation (H.B. 1354) that will exempt older vehicles from emissions inspections. Under the new law, all vehicles more than 25 years old will be exempted from the state's emissions-test requirement beginning Jan. 1, 2000. This bill is similar to legislation enacted last year in California that also exempted older cars from emissions inspections. Working hand-in-hand, the Washington Car Club Council (WCCC) and SEMA undertook an intensive statewide campaign to involve car clubs, enthusiasts and others in pushing for the bill's approval. "We are pleased that we were able to convince Governor Locke of the waste and inefficiency of inspecting older vehicles," said SEMA director of state relations Steve McDonald. "H. B. 1354 represents major relief for vehicle enthusiasts throughout the state of Washington. The new law will allow vehicle hobbyists to enjoy their older vehicles without fear of unfair treatment at smog checks."
Subcommittee Votes To Defund California Scrappage Programs
In a victory for enthusiasts, the California Assembly Budget Subcommittee recently voted to freeze all new funding for vehicle scrappage programs. Disturbed over recent revelations about the program's inherent deficiencies, legislators sent a strong message that scrappage programs be carefully scrutinized before additional taxpayer dollars are allocated. The Association of California Car Clubs (ACCC) and SEMA have worked closely together with state Senator Maurice Johannessen, an auto enthusiast and a good friend of the hobby who has again taken an active role in Sacramento to protect the rights of enthusiasts. State Assemblyman Tom McClintock has also supported these efforts. Frank Bohanan, SEMA director of technical affairs, met with the Association of California Car Clubs during the group's "legislative" days in Sacramento to coordinate our future efforts to fight scrappage programs.
D.C. 'Salute' Draws 25 Members of Congress
Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), Congressman Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and 23 other Members of Congress participated in the third annual "Salute to the Automotive Performance and Motorsports Industry," which brought together an impressive number of car clubs, SEMA-member companies and race sanctioning officials in Washington, D.C. for 2 days of events on Capitol Hill.
This year's program focused special attention on the importance of developing long-term relationships with Members of Congress. The participating legislators spoke about their connection to our hobby and the industry and urged everyone present to make their voices heard in Washington and back home in their districts.
Senator Campbell, co-chair of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus, stressed the importance of individuals participating in the political process and the danger of not doing so. "We have the type of government that if your voice is not heard and you are not back here talking to people, I can assure you that some darn fool will try and introduce some sort of legislation based on his frame of reference that will take away some of your rights as an American, and that's why it's so important to be here each year."
Joel Blackwell, an expert on building political grassroots, led an informative seminar packed with practical tips on how to develop ties with legislators. Blackwell suggested that constituents request an initial meeting with their lawmaker back in the district. This, in turn, would make it easier to arrange a meeting during the annual "Salute," as this would be a follow-up visit rather than a "cold call."
Blackwell emphasized that amazingly few people attempt to get to know their Member of Congress but that these efforts can really pay off. Constituents can meet with their lawmaker at a number of different venues. Among his suggestions: attend a town meeting and introduce yourself, invite the member to attend a car club event, volunteer on the campaign and ask for a meeting in the lawmaker's office. Once a meeting has been arranged, he offered a number of tips to help ensure an effective meeting. Among the most important, be prepared, accurate, brief and provide the legislator with specifics on how the issue you wish to discuss will affect the district. He also noted the usefulness of anecdotes in discussing an issue.
"I was so glad to be invited and to attend. I found it tremendously enjoyable", said Scott Cedergreen legislative liaison of the Washington Car Club Council who eagerly participated in the "Salute. "The seminars were excellent, particularly Mr. Blackwell's. I took a lot of notes on how to get your legislator to work for you that I plan on using with my work with the Council." Butch DeZuzio, president of the Classic Vehicle Advocate Group, seconded this opinion. "The meetings were very good and productive... you should come to Washington to learn how [legislators] think and how they operate." Cedergreen and DeZuzio and the other car club representatives in attendance were recognized by SEMA for their active participation in the SAN and for all their efforts to protect the rights of automotive hobbyists to enjoy, restore, modify and display their vehicles without local, state or federal interference.
State Leader's Sound-Off
By way of introduction I am a 79 year-old car enthusiast. I belong to the Veterans' Motor Car Club of America, the Model A Ford Club of America, the National Street Rod Association and the local chapter of the first two above.
I have pursued the mechanical and body repair trades for the past 60 years and I'm still active in both to some degree. I attend a number of tours, meetings and other events regularly and am eager to disseminate any and all information you may be able to send me.
Thank you for the opportunity,
Pueblo Arkansas Valley Chapter of the Veterans' Motor Car Clubs of America
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.
CALIFORNIA S.B. 2185 would exempt vehicles from the state emissions-inspection program that are registered to disabled people 60 years old or older, and that are driven less than 5000 miles annually.
FLORIDA H.B. 1377 would establish a biennial I/M program for all motor vehicles subject to inspection beginning Apr. 1, 1999.
MISSOURI H.B. 1742 would provide for a voluntary remote sensing testing program as part of the state's emissions-inspection program.
PLATES & REGISTRATION
KANSAS S.B. 139 would allow the use of antique license plates for a one-time fee of $7 until July 1, 1999, when the fee would become $3.50.
CALIFORNIA S.B. 1725 would require the state's vehicle retirement program to permit the sale of vehicles that are of interest to collectors.
ARIZONA S.B. 1410 would not define someone who buys, sells, exchanges or attempts to negotiate the sale of a classic or historic vehicle as a used motor vehicle dealer.
DELAWARE H.B. 494 would exempt "street rods" (pre 1949 vehicles) from state and federal emissions standards; would allow "street rods" to be used for general transportation; would amend the current "street rod" definition to allow the vertical height of windshields to be no less than 7 inches.
WEST VIRGINIA H.B. 4045 would allow vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less to have a bumper height of up to but not beyond 35 inches from the ground; would allow tires to extend up to 3 inches laterally beyond the fender.
Texas Issues Proposal to Repeal Scrappage Program
The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) has issued a proposal to repeal that state's vehicle scrappage program. According to the agency, this action is being taken because the scrappage program is inconsistent with the current Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) program.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposal to disapprove the Texas scrappage program for the same reason. The EPA argued that Texas should not be able to generate emissions credits through its program because it was assessing credit values based on a two-speed idle emissions test that officials find inadequate. In its comments to the EPA proposal SEMA contended, "All mobile source emission-reduction programs must be carefully developed to achieve maximum real environmental benefits. In this regard, we feel that current state scrappage programs fail and we support EPA's action to disapprove all such programs, especially those which lack credible test methods and data needed to assess claimed environmental benefits."
Under the Texas proposal, however, the TNRCC suggests that it will continue to support and work closely with local areas in developing scrappage programs and will allow further flexibility in how they are implemented. The Texas Vehicle Club Council (TVCC) and SEMA have been coordinating efforts to oppose any future scrappage proposals that might emerge in the state of Texas.
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.
Still Waiting After All these Years
A company in Newport, Tenn., is now idle. The firm had been gearing up to manufacture and sell sucralose, a sugar substitute. The company, a joint venture between Johnson & Johnson and British firm Tate & Lyle, invested in 10 years worth of research and produced a 22,000-page report for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) citing 80 separate studies on the safety of the product. The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Nutrition spent 3 years reviewing the company's data, and the Center's director personally informed the company that the FDA was prepared to move forward with its approval. Based on this information, the firm went into full preparation, buying property and hiring 200 employees to await final approval and begin production. Five years later the firm is still waiting for that final approval and after a while, the workers were let go. The president of the company recently commented, "Either approve the product or turn this down." He feels that the wait is already unduly long and has been very costly. He noted that with a final answer from the FDA, even a negative one, they could at least begin to use the manufacturing facility for another product line.
Maryland Proposes Restrictions to Suspension Alterations