Nebraska Nitrous Restrictions Die As Legislature for the Year
Nebraska hot-rodders, including members of the Nebraska Rod and Custom Association, Rapid Transit System, Eastern Nebraska/Western Iowa Car Club Council, Rebels Auto Club and the Twin River Cruisers, helped defeat two separate bills designed to ban nitrous oxide equipped passenger cars and pickups from Nebraska's roadways this past legislative session.
The first bill (L.B. 688) sought to outlaw any "device or fuel enhancer...that provides a motor vehicle with the capability to operate at a speed in excess of the [vehicle] design." This overly broad language could have easily been construed to not only outlaw nitrous oxide, but also many other legitimate aftermarket performance enhancing products including turbochargers and superchargers.
A second more targeted bill (L.B. 1027) prohibited road use of nitrous oxide equipped cars or pickups. L.B. 1027 made exceptions for vehicles en route to or from a racetrack and for those vehicles from which the nitrous container had been removed. L.B. 1027 would have also required nitrous oxide equipped vehicles to be identified with "scarlet letter" front and rear bumper decals.
SEMA has long maintained that legislation to ban nitrous oxide ignores the fact that these systems can make maneuvers such as passing, going uphill or merging onto a highway safer for vehicles with slow acceleration. The extra power can actually improve the safety of large trucks or motorhomes, especially when pulling a trailer. Further, this type of bill is never based on relevant health or safety data demonstrating that nitrous oxide systems warrant banning.
"Legislators are feeling pressure from constituents to ban the use of nitrous oxide systems based on rare instances of misuse," said SEMA Director of State Relations Steve McDonald. "However, we should not be deceived by our success in Nebraska. This sort of bill is likely to re-emerge when the legislature reconvenes next January. In fact, we won't be surprised to see other states follow in this effort."
CAFE Freeze Passes U.S. House, Moves to Senate
Sport utility and light truck enthusiasts scored a major victory when the U.S. House of Representatives voted to continue the "freeze" on Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. Federal CAFE rules force automakers to meet fuel economy standards for their vehicle fleets.
For the past 6 years, CAFE standards have been frozen at 27.5 mpg for cars and 20.7 for light trucks and SUVs. The automakers and SEMA have consistently argued that any raise in CAFE standards would force manufacturers to limit consumer choice for vehicles. This would be particularly evident in the popular SUV and light-truck market where automakers would be forced to either curtail production of these vehicles or make them more expensive or less powerful in order to meet fuel economy targets.
Correspondingly, highway safety will suffer as drivers are forced into smaller cars with higher fatality rates.
Consideration of CAFE now moves to the Senate where antivehicle special interest groups have much more influence. Last year, through active lobbying, these groups were able to convince 45 of 100 Senators to vote to end consumer vehicle choice by raising CAFE standards. This year, we expect the same difficult battle.
All SEMA member companies and SEMA Action Network contacts have been encouraged to contact their Senators to support the CAFE freeze. SEMA is hopeful that commons sense, vehicle choice and vehicle safety will survive this latest legislative obstacle.
California Import Performance Hobbyists Beware...
The California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) and the Air Resources Board (ARB) continue to increase enforcement actions against emissions tampering, focusing particularly on the import performance market. Specifically, BAR may be using undercover officers to visit installation shops and tuner operations. Violators can be fined up to $2,500 per tampering incident per day and are subject to criminal prosecution.
SEMA has also learned that ARB has implemented a training program for "peace officers" to help them identify instances where emission controls have been removed, disconnected or rendered inoperative. Officers will be empowered to conduct visual inspections of emission systems on vehicles pulled over for other infractions. SEMA has provided information to ARB to help ensure that aftermarket components that have been certified and approved for sale and use are not cited.
... And Classic Car Owners, Your Exemption is in Jeopardy
A bill to repeal the rolling Smog Check exemption in California for cars 30-years old and older (S.B. 42) and replace it with a static exemption for pre-1975 vehicles was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee. The bill also provides for a SEMA-supported emissions certification and model-year designation for certain "homebuilt" cars and allows these vehicles to be resold.
During the legislative process, SEMA had been assured that the bill would exempt pre-1975 vehicles from remote and roadside testing and provide for a collector vehicle exemption from Smog Check. At this point, they do not. An amendment to restore the 30-year rolling exemption will be pursued by SEMA when the bill moves to the Assembly.
Summer Legislative Update: Victories in Vermont, Alabama, West Virginia
As summer takes hold, many state legislatures are wrapping up their legislative business for the 2-year cycle. Here are a few notable pro-hobbyist victories that we wanted to share with everyone. Each piece of legislation was featured in a previous Driving Force, and SEMA Action Network clubs were encouraged to get involved.
Vermont Scrappage (H.B. 378): Legislation that sought to implement a scrappage program in Vermont was killed when the legislature adjourned without taking action on the measure. Under the bill, a pollution surcharge and a tax on diesel fuel would have financed the scrappage program.
Vermont "Junk" Vehicles (H.B. 813): A second bill in Vermont that would have expanded the definition of a junkyard to include places of outdoor storage of 4 or more "junked" motor vehicles was also killed. A junkyard designation would have allowed authorities to regulate these sites as businesses regardless of whether the vehicles' owner was a private collector or not. The SEMA Action Network would like to recognize the American Truck Historical Society, Green Mountain Chapter for helping defeat this bill.
West Virginia Inoperable Vehicles (H.B. 4337): This bill would have placed a bind on vehicle collectors by allowing only one unlicensed or junked motor vehicle to be placed on property owned, rented or controlled by the vehicle owner. This bill died as the legislature adjourned.
Alabama Inoperable Vehicles (H.B. 20): Legislation that would have allowed municipalities or counties to remove "nuisance" inoperable vehicles from private property managed, despite active opposition from the Alabama Vehicle Council and Alabama SEMA companies, to pass the Alabama House but was derailed in the Senate. This bill, thankfully, died as the Alabama Legislature ended its business for the year.
Delaware Inoperable Vehicles (HB. 282): A bill authorizing cleanup of inoperable vehicles deemed an "imminent threat to public health or welfare of the environment of the State" failed to pass the Delaware legislature. A potentially costly bill, H.B. 282 allowed Delaware authorities to fine those refusing to comply with a cleanup order up to $10,000 a day until the vehicle constituting an "imminent threat" was removed. SEMA is especially proud of the work the Delmarva Council of Collector Car Clubs did to derail and defeat this bill.
Texas Vehicle Club Council Coming Together
by Erin Mulholland
Coordinating the Texas Vehicle Club Council (TVCC), with its 63-plus member clubs, has been a challenge for Chairman Troy Mennis, but well worth the efforts. Mennis, who is enjoying a lull in what he describes as the usual feverish activities, took time from his schedule as a father and teacher at the Lincoln Automotive School to talk about the Council he oversees.
Established in 1988 by a group of individuals that came together from a variety of Texas area car clubs, the nonprofit TVCC has worked hard to preserve the vehicle hobby statewide. Famed vehicle enthusiast Dr. Aggie Peyton, founder of the famous Peyton Museum of Transportation, provided the TVCC with $100 in startup funds to get rolling as he was "concerned about the future of the vehicle hobby in Texas." Originating board members included Norton Bicoll, Clark Allen, Ken DeFoor, Don Hornbeck, Roy Chamber and Mennis.
By proactively working with state officials in the Texas Department of Transportation (TDT), as well as the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Committee (TNRCC) and the state legislature, the club council has been able to defeat measures including recent legislation to implement a mandatory vehicle scrappage program and emission testing that would have included antique vehicles.
Introduced last year by panhandle legislator Warren Chisum, chairman of the Environmental Legislative Committee, House Bill 1550 would have affected 7 million vehicles, of which 15,000 are antiques 25 years old or older. H.B. 1550 would have made emission testing of all vehicles 35 years old and newer mandatory. In 1999, SEMA Action Network Director Brian Caudill traveled to Conroe, Texas' Montgomery Fairgrounds PACE automotive swapmeet, to present the TVCC with an award for defeating H.B. 1550.
Currently, Mennis is gearing up for the next round of activities concerning the newly passed (May 31, 2000) air quality standards for lower emission levels on vehicles. "If the EPA rejects the Texas plan, the TDT and TNRCC may try to incorporate antique vehicles again and possibly attempt to change the scrappage program from volunteer to mandatory," reported Mennis, "It's gonna be a doozie."
Fundraising has been performed by the group in the past, however the TVCC focus remains on legislative activities on the state and national levels. Membership is only open to vehicle clubs, and the cost to each club is $1 per member of each club's total membership. Funds are used to finance the quarterly newsletter, TVCC NEWS, mailed out after each board meeting, as well as reminder notices about issues and upcoming events.
our board meetings to discuss issues take place each year in Buffalo, Texas, the halfway point between Houston and the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. "We meet halfway," said Mennis, who was unable to attend the March 2000 board meeting due to back surgery for a ruptured disc. The attending nine board members managed to pull off the last meeting without the Chairman being present, much to the delight of Mennis. "The membership has really pitched in to help me out, and that means so much to me personally."
After his back surgery, Mennis, chairman of the TVCC since 1993, has reluctantly farmed out some of his duties, which voluntarily included single-handedly overseeing membership. "I used to do it all myself," said Mennis, who has handed the membership torch to Robert Markman. Mennis uses the new found extra time to entertain his 11-year-old daughter at the local Six Flags amusement park.
In more ways than one, the TVCC has come together to help the vehicle hobby, vehicle enthusiasts, and a single dad find a quality life for all in Texas.
Hey, Is That My Car!
While we'll never run out of legislation to fight, we are short of pictures to accompany our stories!
In an effort to replenish our photo library and to continue publishing a newsletter that is visually appealing as well as informative, we are asking for your photos. We need restoration process pictures, junkyard pictures, street rod pictures, antique/classic pictures, import performance pictures and lifted 4x4 pictures. Send us photos of your trail ride, rod run, car show, charity event, drag race.... Heck, send us the pictures you took from your last fender bender or breakdown; we can use those, too.
Submit photos to: SEMA Action Network, 1317 F Street, NW, Ste. 500, Washington, D.C. 20004. You can send high-resolution e-mail pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org. While we regret that we cannot return any picture to you, take heart that next time we do a story focusing on your segment of the automobile hobby, we may use your ride as the example.
Newly Introduced Legislation
Note: The following state bills are not laws. They have been recently introduced and are currently being considered for adoption by the respective state legislatures.
CONNECTICUT: S.B. 360 would exempt vehicles 4 years old or less from inspection; provides for inspecting air pollution control equipment and compliance with on-board diagnostic standards.
NEW YORK: A.B. 7891 would provide that dynamometer tests be no longer than 90 seconds at no more than 30 mph; requires stations to report any injuries and damage to cars at each facility.
OHIO: S.B. 305 would exempt vehicles from inspection requirements for a period of 6 years from the date the vehicle was first titled.
NORTH CAROLINA: H.B. 1638/S.B. 1317 would provide for analysis of on-board diagnostic emissions and operational data for 1996 and later model vehicles.
TITLING, PLATES AND REGISTRATION
CONNECTICUT: S.B. 98 would allow year of manufacture plates on antique, rare or special interest vehicles; exempts retired antique, rare or special interest ambulances from equipment removal requirements.
MINNESOTA: H.B. 2952 would grant collector vehicle owners the right to use dealer plates and drive these vehicles for general transportation purposes.
MISSOURI: S.B. 765 would provide registration of historic vehicle plates as those over 25 years old for use on vehicles of the same year of manufacture.
July SAN Club Events
July 9, Orange County
Doing That Thing We Do
Sponsor: Orange County Mustang Club
July 29, Crescent City
Stop 3 - Extreme Championship Tour
Sponsor: Below Sea Level
July 29-30, Pomona
5th West Coast Hot Rod Happenin'
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
July 30, San Dimas
2000 SoCal Summer Chrysler Classic
Sponsor: California Shelby Dodge Automobile Club
July 30, Truckee
14th National Convention
Sponsor: Solid Axle Corvette Club
July 7-9, Key Largo
Reef Cruise 2000
Sponsor: Florida Gold Coast Classics
July 24-29, Orlando
41st Annual National Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Meet
Sponsor: Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club
July 9, Caldwell
All Truck Show
Sponsor: The Big Guys
July 22, Union Grove
Sponsor: Chicago Gearheads
July 23, Westridge
Island Lake 50th Anniversary All-American Car Show
Sponsor: Pontiac Oakland Club, Illinois Chapter
July 9, Cambridge
Top 20 Car Show
Sponsor: Cambridge Classic Cruisers
July 23, Glen Burnie
Christmas in July
Sponsor: Lost in the 50's Custom Car Club
July 21-23, Hart
9th Annual Scout the Dunes
Sponsor: Scout and International Motor Truck Association
July 7-8, Osakis
9th Annual Roddin' Round the Lake
Sponsor: Central Lakes Cruzers
July 4-9, Cleveland
26th Annual Convention
Sponsor: Classic Chevy International
July 7-9, Columbus
3rd Annual Goodguys PPG Nationals
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
July 8, TBA
Sponsor: Sport Utility Action Network
July 15, Ohio
Sponsor: Sport Utility Action Network
July 2-5, Tulsa
Sponsors: Bow Tie/Yesteryears/Late Great Chevy Associations
July 14-16, Oklahoma City
17th Annual Southwest Street Rod Nationals
Sponsor: National Street Rod Association
July 1, La Pine
High Lakes Show and Shine
Sponsor: High Lakes Car Club
July 9, Albany
Stop 2 - Extreme Championship Tour
Sponsor: Peer Pressure Truck Club
July 27, Rogue Valley
Honeybear Campout Run
Sponsor: Rogue Valley Street Rods
July 21-22, Sweetwater
Sponsor: United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA)
July 23-26, Upper Tellico
UFWDA Trail Rides
Sponsor: United Four Wheel Drive Associations
July 7-9, Stratton Mountain
National Meet East
Sponsor: Volvo Club of America
July 16, Cartersville
Bodatious Mud Bog
Sponsor: Old Dominion 4WD Club
July 14-16, Puyallup
13th Pacific Northwest Nationals
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association