March 2000

Nitrous Oxide Bills Introduced in Nebraska And Georgia
Nebraska is considering legislation that would severely limit the use of nitrous oxide systems on vehicles operated on public roads. Nebraska SAN members will remember that last year a poorly written Nebraska bill, L.B. 688, sought to ban nitrous oxide from Nebraska’s roads by banning “any device or fuel enhancer…that provides a motor vehicle with the capability to operate at speeds in excess of the design of the motor vehicle.” This bill was opposed by SEMA Action Network members such as the Rapid Transit System and the Eastern Nebraska/Western Iowa Car Club Council because, as loosely drafted, L.B. 688 could also be construed to ban the use of turbochargers, superchargers and other performance-enhancement products.
Now comes a new bill, L.B 1027, which specifically prohibits the highway operation of any motor vehicle equipped with a nitrous oxide system; L.B. 1027 makes exceptions for vehicles en route to or from a track where the vehicle is used for racing and for those vehicles from which the nitrous container has been removed. The bill also calls for cars equipped with nitrous setups to wear bumper decals indicating so.
Because L.B. 688 appears dead in the water, SEMA is working with bill sponsors in Nebraska to amend L.B. 1027 to accommodate the needs of the hobbyist community. Of particular concern to many Nebraska hobbyists is simplifying the bill by getting rid of any reference to nitrous systems in cars going to and from a racetrack and eliminating the provision requiring nitrous-equipped cars to wear a warning badge. Negotiations continue and Nebraska SAN members will be apprised of the results.
Unlike the new Nebraska legislation, the Georgia bill (H.B. 1183) would prohibit all public road use of passenger cars or pickup trucks which are equipped to supply the engine with nitrous oxide; in other words, H.B. 1183 would outlaw vehicles that are merely equipped with nitrous oxide delivery systems, regardless of whether or not these systems are in use on public roadways or not.
Should H.B. 1183 pass, in order to remain true to Georgia law, a drag racer would have to completely remove the nitrous setup (from the bottle to the line to the engine) on a “doorslammer” drag car in order to simply drive the car to the drag strip. Once at the track the system would have to be completely reinstalled it in order to use it; the system would then have to be disassembled in order to drive the car home.
SEMA is actively working to convince the Georgia legislature to either kill or amend this bill in such a way as to ease the burdens on vehicle hobbyists. Georgia SEMA Action Network members and SEMA-member companies, notably NOS (Nitrous Oxide Systems), have been alerted to this bill and encouraged to contact their legislators.
Texas Scrappage Fight Continues
At a series of public hearings across the state of Texas held in late January, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) heard arguments against its proposed scrappage program from concerned SAN clubs and individual automobile hobbyists. As “Driving Force” went to press, efforts to defeat the TNRCC proposal seemed to be gaining momentum, with a great number of Texas SAN clubs and SEMA-member companies writing letters to the TNRCC in opposition of scrappage. All the TNRCC public hearings were well attended; even the Texas press has become involved, as papers such as the Houston Chronicle (“Houston Area May Get New Car Emission Testing to Meet Smog Deadline,” January 31, 2000) started covering the issue.
With this in mind, rather than siting on our laurels and waiting to see whether the TNRCC decides to implement scrappage programs or not, SEMA and the SEMA Action Network decided to ratchet opposition up another level; Texas automobile hobbyists and companies are now encouraged to contact their legislators in opposition to the TNRCC plan. Simply put, this is the next logical step.
SEMA’s Outreach and Public Affairs Director Brian Caudill noted, “Just last summer Texas hobbyists managed to help defeat a strong effort to pass a scrappage program in the Texas legislature. Now, an unelected regulatory agency, the TNRCC, is attempting to do what the legislature failed to accomplish. We are hopeful that Texas legislators will see that the TNRCC proposal is too flawed and too controversial to go into effect without their scrutiny and approval."
Pro-Hobbyist 'Replicar' Bill Moves Through the Utah Legislature
By Car Enthusiast Mike Bell of Sandy, Utah
For those of us who grew up in the ’50s and ’60s, the cars of that era represent our youth and our culture. However, when we were in high school, many of those dream cars were out of our financial reach; many of us could not afford to purchase that 1957 Chevy or that ’32 roadster that entered our dreams every night. Now that we are a little older and a little more affluent, the cars of our youth are largely gone...but not forever. Some daring souls recreate those dream cars form kits, from scratch or even from the junk pile. For those that recreate these classic cars, the work is often a labor of love. Some of you that have had the opportunity to ride in a recreated or rebuilt classic can appreciate the time and devotion that goes into building them.
Currently, when a classic recreation is completed, the Utah state licensing and emissions regulations make these recreations difficult to license and register. As a result, many owners of classic cars are registering their vehicles out of state. In addition, many of these classic car owners belong to associations that regularly hold car shows. These shows are big events that can last up to a week. Not only do the shows give owners of classic cars an opportunity to show off their creations, but the shows also bring in a lot of money to local businesses.
The Utah bill (S.B. 120) seeks to make it easier for classic car owners to register their creations in the state of Utah. Specifically, the bill 1.) creates an updated definition of a replica vehicle as a motor vehicle with a body that is or resembles the body of a motor vehicle that has a model year prior to 1969 (this was amended to 1975 on the Utah Senate Floor—Ed); 2.) allows replicas to be used for occasional pleasure rides but not for daily transportation; 3.) allows replicas to meet the emissions standards of the model year of its engine; 4.) maintains that a replica must conform to current vehicle braking standards; 5.) maintains that the owner must certify to emissions testing stations that the vehicle is used for the purpose above in order to qualify for the exceptions provided by this bill.
(Utah S.B. 120 has passed the Utah Senate and the Utah House Transportation Committee. SEMA anticipates that it will be easily pass the House and be sent to the Governor for signing—Ed.)
Virginia Legislature Considers Emissions Testing Exemption for Older Vehicles
A bill has been re-introduced in the Virginia legislature to exempt vehicles 25 years old and older from the state’s mandatory emissions inspections. Existing law in Virginia only exempts vehicles manufactured prior to the 1968 model year from emissions inspections.
Virginia SAN clubs and members will recall that last year a very similar bill, H.B. 1955, was derailed at the last moment by a very unusual procedural move when this overwhelmingly supported bill was sent back to committee for “consideration” on the last day of the Virginia legislative session, effectively killing it. At that time, outraged bill co-sponsor Delegate James Dillard (R-District 41) claimed that this was the first time in his 26 years in the Virginia legislature that he had ever seen this tactic used to kill a bill.
Ironically, this new bill (H.B. 1522) is sponsored by the same Delegate James Dillard. H.B. 1522 provides for a rolling 25-year exemption that would exempt pre-1975 vehicles upon enactment and would pick up an additional model year for each year the law is in effect. SEMA member companies and SAN clubs that were active in the fight last year have been alerted. With the help of clubs such as the Prince William Cruisers, the Southwest and Central Virginia Car Club Councils, the Virginia Automobile Protective Society and the Roanoke Valley Mopar Club and many others, SEMA is hopeful H.B. 1522 will finally become law.
New Jersey Pro-Hobbyist Inoperable Vehicle Bill Gathers Steam...
New Jersey legislation that would prohibit local areas from implementing an ordinance or land-use regulation that would prevent automobile collectors from pursuing their hobby crossed its first legislative hurdle. The bill (A.B. 1403) overwhelmingly passed in the General Assembly’s Local Government and Housing Committee; the next step is for the bill to receive consideration by the full New Jersey General Assembly and then by the New Jersey Senate. SAN members as well as SEMA-member companies in New Jersey have been on alert regarding this bill and will be notified regularly as to the bill’s progress.
A.B. 1403 provides safeguards for hobbyists to maintain collector vehicles on private property; establishes reasonable provisions for locating vehicles out of ordinary public view by means of inside storage, fencing, trees, shrubbery, etc.; and allows collectors to conduct mechanical repairs and modifications to vehicles on private property.
The principal “mover and shaker” on this bill, the one at whose request it was drafted and introduced is Bill Berenato, Legislative Representative for the Antique Automobile Club of America, South Jersey Region. We are all indebted to Mr. Berenato and his club for their efforts in championing this legislation.
...While A Similar Pro-Hobbyist Bill Falters in Washington State
In an unfortunate contrast to New Jersey, a virtually identical bill (H.B. 1174) has failed to move in committee in the Washington State House Local Government Committee. According to SAN members familiar with the proceedings, the bill looked as though it had won much support until successful lobbying by the Washington Association of Cities helped derail its consideration. Washington hobbyists can take heart, however, because the bill was not killed outright. According to Scott Cedergreen of the Washington Car Club Council, there is still plenty of time to hammer out a compromise that meets both hobbyist and the Association of Cities’ concerns.
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.
ALABAMA: H.B. 438/S.B. 327 would allow enforcement of an I/M program on county-by-county basis.
CALIFORNIA: A.B. 567 would provide an emissions inspection exemption for vehicles driven 12,000 miles or less during preceding 2-year period.
CALIFORNIA: S.B. 1726 would allow a tax credit up to $3,000 for purchase of a new "zero-emission" vehicle.
COLORADO: H.B. 1381 would require low-emission diesel vehicles to undergo emissions testing every 3 years.
CONNECTICUT: S.B. 430 would waive emissions inspection requirement for vehicles manufactured 4 or less years ago.
FLORIDA: H.B. 473/S.B. 1416 would eliminate all vehicle emission testing in counties achieving required emissions clean-up standards.
GEORGIA: H.B. 1351 would require emissions inspections to be given not less than biennially.
MAINE: S.B. 868 would repeal state triggers for implementation of emissions testing program.
MARYLAND: H.B. 730 would prohibit dynamometer emission testing in Calvert County under certain circumstances; provides incentives for voluntary testing.
MARYLAND: H.B. 1218 would increase maximum emissions inspection fee from $14 to $20.
MISSISSIPPI: H.B. 910 would exempt vehicles manufactured, or having a model year less than 10 years old, from emissions inspection.
MISSOURI: H.B. 2067/S.B. 995 would suspend emission inspection program if problems exist that cause substantial inconvenience to motor vehicle owners.
WASHINGTON: H.B. 2421 would prohibit the adoption of I/M 240 emission inspections testing.
FLORIDA: S.B. 1622 would revise window tint rules; prohibits placing any material over headlamps that alters light color; prohibits material placed over taillamps which alter their visibility.
IOWA: H.B. 2139 would require that motor vehicles other than vans, passenger vans or SUVs must have a rear window with light transmittance of at least 70 percent.
IOWA: H.B. 2440 would require vehicles to display lighted headlamps during precipitation or other conditions of limited visibility.
KANSAS: H.B. 1381 would require auxiliary driving or fog lights to be turned off when within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or within 300 feet of a vehicle in front of them.
MARYLAND: H.B. 1109 would expand an exemption from a prohibition against window-tinting materials.
MISSOURI: S.B. 907 would permit window tinting on front, sideway vent, or window with light transmission of 35 percent or more and luminous reflectance of 35 percent or less.
OHIO: H.B. 579 would prohibit the manipulation of vehicle engine speed or transmission in a manner that results in the exhaust system emitting a loud cracking or chattering noise.
MARYLAND: H.B. 1110 would require emissions inspection facilities to inspect for protruding metal, unsafe tires, window cracks, etc., and other easily observable safety hazards.
GEORGIA: H.B. 1368/S.B. 234 would require use of OEM parts in repairing vehicles as part of an insurance claim during the manufacturers factory warranty period.
MAINE: H.B. 1506 defines salvage, total loss and unrebuildable vehicles.
MISSISSIPPI: S.B. 2215 would provide for titling of salvage and rebuilt vehicles; provides that when the frame or engine is removed and not immediately replaced, motor vehicle is "salvage."
OKLAHOMA: S.B. 1557 would define and allow registration of "remanufactured vehicles."
PENNSYLVANIA: H.B. 430 would define a "reconstructed" vehicle and provides for its proper titling.
ALASKA: H.B. 407 would provide for special license plates and fees for antique vehicles.
IOWA: H.B. 2303 would allow certain vehicles more than 25 years old, or constructed to resemble a vehicle 25 years old or older, to display one plate on rear of vehicle if the other plate is carried in the vehicle.
MINNESOTA: H.B. 2824/S.B. 2578 would allow collector vehicles to display one rear plate.
MISSISSIPPI: H.B. 1034 would authorize issuance of personalized antique vehicle plates in lieu of special antique plates.
MISSISSIPPI: S.B. 5609 would allow antique vehicles to display year of manufacture license plates.
VIRGINIA: S.B. 42 would allow special plates for vehicles with authorized window-tinting material.