August 1999

The Regulators vs. Common Sense in Illinois

Sometimes the the SEMA Action Network's job is more than just a little bit challenging, and the situation in Illinois illustrates this. Simply put, regulators-unelected bureaucrats, not legislators-from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (ILEPA) are bound and determined to crush cars to generate emissions credits. By now, you know the drill: Crushing cars produces emissions credits that are purchased by smokestack industries so they can continue to belch pollution into the air.

However, when pressed about how this crusher program will work, the ILEPA is remarkably short on answers. It is clear from two informal meetings ILEPA held in June that it is unprepared to address the important issues. Among these are 1) how a scrappage program affects hobbyists and low-income car owners, both of whom rely on old car parts; 2) why ILEPA chose not to consider less costly and more socially responsible programs such as voluntary repair and upgrade programs or, better yet, go after the real polluters (i.e., the smokestack industries); and 3) why the ILEPA, according to at least one hobbyist who attended the Chicago meeting, cannot or will not say for certain that crushing cars will create any verifiable air quality improvement.

Call me crazy, but a lot of this doesn't make sense. If I were to go to my boss and say: "Hey, I have an idea for a program; however the only problem is we don't know how it will affect people, we don't know if it's cost effective and we don't know if it will work," I'd get laughed at. Sadly, nobody at the Illinois EPA is laughing.

So how do we fight this potential crusher program? How do we make regulators listen to reason? We can write letters. It couldn't hurt, but remember that these folks are not elected and can't be fired at the ballot box. Our suggestion is for Illinois SAN clubs to contact their state legislators who, as their representatives, have the power to rein in the bureaucrats. If legislators get a flood of calls, letters, faxes, etc., urging them to block ILEPA's scrappage program, chances are they'll respond. They may even be able to kill the program outright. At the very least they will ask a few pointed questions about the program-questions the ILEPA has already proven it cannot answer.

ILEPA regulators think they can jam an expensive, unfair and ineffective program down the throats of Illinois vehicle owners. We say, make the system work for you: Contact your legislators in opposition to this potential program. Get them to put up a fuss on your behalf. It's their job to represent you.

This is the dance of public policy. It's not always the elected officials who foul things up-sometimes it's the bureaucrats. —Brian Caudill

SEMA Amends Louisiana Fender Requirements Bill

Louisiana Governor M.J. "Mike" Foster Jr. has the opportunity to sign a SEMA provision to exempt from fender requirements vehicles that were not supplied with fenders at the time of manufacture. Prior to SEMA's amendment, this bill would have required street rods and even special-interest vehicles such as the late-model Plymouth Prowler to install fenders in order to comply. The bill also contains a SEMA provision allowing fender flares as an alternative to traditional fenders, flaps or splash aprons to minimize spray.

Under the old Louisiana law, fender requirements applied only to trucks, trailers or semi-trailers. The new law applies to every vehicle. According to Steve McDonald, SEMA Director of State Relations, "The SEMA amendments will allow street rods and other specialty vehicles to maintain the same look as originally constructed, without having to add unnecessary fenders to comply with the law. Street rodders and customizers will also benefit from the fender-flare alternative, which enables wheel and tire modifications. Thankfully, the Louisiana legislature looked favorably upon our common-sense approach to modifying this bill on behalf of enthusiasts."

Contrasting Inoperable Vehicle Bills in New Jersey, Delaware

Pro-enthusiast legislation has been introduced in the New Jersey legislature that would prohibit local areas from implementing an ordinance or land-use regulation that prevents automobile collectors from pursuing their hobby. Under the bill, A.B. 3299, collector vehicles would only need to be maintained and located out of ordinary public view by means of inside storage, fencing, trees, shrubbery, etc. The measure also provides safeguards for hobbyists to conduct mechanical repairs and modifications to vehicles on private property. Said SEMA Action Network Director Brian Caudill, "A.B. 3299 represents a real effort to enact a fair and reasonable standard for keeping and working on parts-cars and project vehicles. This bill is similar to a measure introduced in Washington state that failed to gain the necessary consideration."

In noticeable contrast, the nearby state of Delaware has introduced H.B. 282, a bill that would provide for the cleanup of inoperable vehicles deemed to constitute an "imminent threat to public health or welfare of the environment of the State." Under a worst case scenario, H.B. 282 would allow officials to enter private property to determine the need for a cleanup and, upon giving verbal notice, execute cleanup-including, presumably, confiscation of the vehicle. Those refusing to comply with a cleanup order could be penalized up to $10,000 per day and three times the amount of any additional costs to the State. The Delaware Legislature has concluded its session for 1999. The bill, however, is still alive and can be considered next year.

Roanoke Valley Mopar Club Beats the Sponsorship Drum in Virginia

By Erin Mulholland

Headquartered in Troutville, Virginia, the Roanoke Valley Mopar Club (RVMC) has learned it pays to play the sponsorship game...especially when it comes time to organize its annual car show benefiting St. Jude's Children's Hospital. Under the watchful eye of current President Dan Haley, and Treasurer/wife, Donna, the club is now 12 years old and 36 members strong. Both Haleys have been involved with the club for about 5 years, and now with two very young sons, it has become a real family affair.

"With show expenses being higher every year, every bit of sponsorship helps. It costs us roughly $3,000 to put on the show," said President Haley, noting that providing first, second and third-place trophies for 30 different classes in addition to a "best of show" trophy gets expensive. To offset expenses, the Haleys manage to get many items donated, including door prizes and a long-distance award, a night's stay at next year's event donated by a host hotel. Raffles also help to raise funds. In fact, this year RVMC will raffle off something that everybody wants-a good old-fashioned American cash prize.

To be a member of the Roanoke Valley Mopar Club means helping to shoulder the burden to secure sponsors for the annual August show. "It is a group effort. We try to get each member to bring in at least one if not two sponsors," Dan Haley said. "And with sponsorships ranging from $50 to $200, it really helps." Last year's event sported approximately 40 sponsors, including main sponsors Dominion Dodge and Kroger's Supermarkets. This year members are working hard to make the show an even bigger success. Last year, the club benefit raised more than $600 for St. Jude's, with $300-plus coming in from the Maryland/Virginia Viper Club, which showed up with 31 Vipers, all in a row.

RVMC club members' vehicles consist of everything from a classic 1936 Dodge fire truck to new Sebring convertibles, and of course many "look fast, go loud" muscle cars such as the 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner and 1969 Dodge Superbee (owned by the Haleys).

Legislatively, the RVMC takes part in a regional coalition called the Southwest Virginia Car Council, headed by Tom Cox. Along with many other clubs in its area, the RVMC has been involved in a 2-year battle to secure special license plates and driving opportunities for Virginia car enthusiasts. "Through the Council, we were able to get special year of manufacture and antique car plates for enthusiasts. But that's not all. Virginians have to pay state property taxes on cars, but if you have a year of manufacturer plates or antique plates on your car, you do not have to pay [this tax]. They are treated like collectibles, like stamps." Dan Haley continued, "Tom Cox was instrumental, and is now an honorary member of our club for all the hard work he has done over the years. He was the driving force behind all of this, no pun intended. I read "Driving Force," and I know Cox has been in there already."

Working Together: Corvette Clubs in America

By Erin Mulholland

Corvette clubs from across the country have a great history of working together to promote the car hobby. For example, in the early 1970s, the 300-member Corvette Club of Michigan (CCM), one of the oldest Corvette Clubs in the country, took part in a project with several other clubs, including non-Corvette clubs, to eliminate the need for front license plates on vehicles. The CCM continues its work into the next millennium through its affiliation with the Detroit Council of Sports Car Clubs.

For 2 years, David Crom, 56, has held the office of vice president with the 40-plus-year-old Corvette Club of Michigan. A member since 1968, Crom believes working together is the key for all car hobbyists. "I haven't really been in a situation where I've had a problem, but I know that issues such as having parts cars for restoration is becoming a problem in some areas around the country. I think it is important [to work together] because all the legislative bodies around the country are always attempting to restrict our hobby in one way or another."

Ken Carollo, 46, a 2-year member of the Oasis Corvette Club in Gilbert, Arizona, said, "All the clubs [must] band together...[to become] obvious to legislators. They only pay attention to the really big groups." Arizona has some of the most stringent emissions testing in the country; in fact, they are one of six states selected by the federal government to test new emissions technology. "Any precomputer car has a really tough time getting through [emissions tests]. And every year it gets more and more difficult," Carollo said. One way to combat the problems experienced by hobbyists in Arizona is to join the Arizona Automobile Hobbyist Council. "They try to keep us up on what is going on and provide us with feedback."

Expressing concern with issues affecting Florida, Marie Cuculino remains proactive in working with all car enthusiasts. "What I think the issue is, and what a lot of people don't understand, is that when [the government] starts closing things off...it's not going to be just Corvettes. It's going to be street rods, classic cars, antique cars, every kind of car. They're not going to say, ‘Okay, the Corvettes can't go on the street anymore because of XYZ reason.' [Anti-auto legislation or regulation] will be directed at every automobile."

As President of the Florida Keys Corvette Club since she organized it in 1992, Cuculino said the Keys are "not a car area to begin with." Nonetheless, she keeps abreast of Florida issues affecting the hobby. In particular, she is at odds with the laws for issuing collector license plates in Florida. "They are for any vehicle that is more than 20 years old. And that can mean any unsafe pile of junk, work trucks or even the finest of classic vehicles."

Put SEMA Action Network on Your Mailing List!

We'd like to know what clubs across the country are up to: what charity events they're involved in, when and where rod runs, car shows and rallies are held and what issues concern club members and individual car enthusiasts. The best way for us to keep abreast of what is important to the automobile hobby nationwide is to receive club newsletters and updates. Consider putting SEMA Action Network on your mailing list. Send newsletters, etc., to: SEMA Action Network, 1317 F St., NW, Ste. 500, Washington, D.C. 20004. Clubs can also reach us by fax, 202/783-6024, or by e-mail at san@sema.org.

Letter to the Editor

Our club, the Cruisin' Rebels of Klamath Falls, Oregon, wishes to give [the SEMA Action Network] a big round of applause and thanks for all its efforts and accomplishments in keeping the "Big Boys" at bay and letting us car enthusiasts enjoy our "Dream Machines."

Our club currently has more than 320 wonderful members who, I'm happy to say, follow your information with as much enthusiasm as they have going to shows and swap meets. The "Driving Force" is a regular topic on our monthly itinerary-our members are always eager to see what is going on in other states and how clubs are banding together to keep the hobby alive and thriving.

Letters and phone calls to government representatives really do work! No change can come about if those able to change the laws don't know what needs to be changed.

I'm proud that the Cruisin' Rebels are doing their job of staying on top of [matters affecting the hobby]. We believe we all have the same goal-fight the war now to keep our love of cars alive for years to come, for us and future generations.

Marsha K. Watson, Co-Founder,
Cruisin' Rebels Car Club

Thanks for the words of encouragement! This is how it's supposed to work, folks...—Ed.

Newly Passed Legislation in Louisiana, Florida, Connecticut and California

As summer nears an end, many state legislatures are ending business for the year. Here is a synopsis of a few bills that have recently become law. Each bill was covered in the "Newly Introduced Legislation" supplement of previous "Driving Force" editions.

Louisiana Registration and Licensing (S.B. 75): The cost of registering and licensing antique motor vehicles in Louisiana has just been significantly reduced. The one-time fee for obtaining antique and "prestige" license plates has been lowered from $50 to $25 for plates issued after August 15, 1999. The $50 fee for personalized prestige plates has been changed from an annual to a one-time fee for plates issued after August 15, 1998. And the additional one-time fee for the symbol indicating that the antique vehicle is registered has been reduced from $50 to $25 for plates issued after August 15, 1998. Plates issued prior to August 15, 1997 remain in effect under the terms in effect at the time they were issued.

Florida Specialty License Plates (S.B. 1270): Under this law, vehicles manufactured in 1945 or earlier now qualify for the antique "Horseless Carriage" tags, previously restricted to vehicles manufactured in 1927 or earlier. The new law limits the issuance of "Antique Vehicle" tags to vehicles that are more than 30 years old (but manufactured after 1945); previously, any vehicle more than 20 years old qualified. Finally, the new law specifies that vehicles manufactured in 1974 or earlier qualify for historical year of manufacture tags.

Connecticut Safety Inspections (S.B. 1405): This new law requires vehicles 10 or more model years old and not previously registered in the state to pass a safety inspection in order to be registered.

California Biennial Emissions Inspection (A.B. 1105): Vehicles 6 years old or newer are now exempt from the required biennial emission inspection. Previously the exemption was limited to vehicles up to 4 years old. The new law also authorizes the Department of Consumer Affairs to specify the amount of money to be paid to the owners of scrapped vehicles.

An Editorial Goof

From our admissions and screw-ups department, we are embarrassed to note that in the June "Driving Force" article entitled, "Virginia Hobbyists Gain More Freedom to Drive," we misidentified Virginia State House Majority Leader Richard Cranwell's party affiliation: He is a Democrat. We seriously doubt Mr. Cranwell is interested in a political conversion and we apologize for the mistake.