Governor to Decide Fate of Scrappage in Maine (EDITORIAL)
By Steve McDonald, SEMA Director of State Relations
Veto L.D. 2182! That’s our mantra, as we await word on whether Maine Governor Angus King will sign into law or veto legislation (L.D. 2182) to implement a motor vehicle scrappage program. We’ve made our appeals to the legislature and to the executive office, we’ve alerted the hobbyist community and business interests and now it’s up to the top dog in the Pine Tree State. As a motorcycle enthusiast and a purported friend to the motor vehicle hobby, we have real hope that the governor will think twice before signing this ill-conceived and failed approach to cleaning the air.
I must admit, this bill snuck up on us like a stealth missile to the heart. It began as a movement, introduced by an ill-informed legislator, to assist vehicle dealers in meeting the requirements of the low-emission vehicle program. Almost overnight, it became a full-on effort to rid a largely rural state of a good bit of its automotive heritage.
Like most scrappage initiatives, this one promises to accelerate the normal demise of vehicles through the immediate retirement of older cars which are then typically crushed into blocks of scrap metal. This one differs from most in that it will provide a rebate to motorists for scrapping their older cars and purchasing a newer vehicle. By the bill’s flawed logic, a “high-polluting vehicle” is a car or truck of a model year 1987 or earlier. A “cleaner vehicle,” on the other hand, would be a 1996 or later model.
Where have these people been? This program relies on the premise that by scrapping older cars the state will realize increased emissions reductions. The fact is this is rarely the case and it’s been widely documented in state after state, as these programs are considered and then discarded as largely symbolic gestures. This bill is really not different at all:
L.D. 2182 ignores the fact that older cars are infrequently used, generally well maintained and not a good source of emissions reductions. The bill is based on the false perception that old cars are dirty cars. Even the U.S. EPA has acknowledged that many old cars are quite clean. This includes vehicles of a model year 1987 or older, such as the ones this bill targets.
L.D. 2182 ignores the fact that programs to scrap vehicles, as evidenced in California and other states, are difficult to police and subject to fraud.
L.D. 2182 ignores the fact that many older cars are collector or special interest automobiles. All scrappage programs hold the potential for enthusiasts to lose a valuable source of rare parts for vehicle restoration projects.
L.D. 2182 ignores the fact that scrapped cars typically are second or third vehicles that are rarely driven in the first place.
L.D. 2182 ignores the fact that lower income car owners cannot afford to purchase a new vehicle with the money provided by scrappage programs. For those that can, there is no guarantee that the vouchers provided by this bill will enable vehicle owners to purchase a vehicle cleaner than the one being scrapped. These same people could lose a source of inexpensive repair parts resulting in the inability to drive their vehicles.
Finally, the bill ignores the fact that scrapping vehicles is not the most cost-effective method to reduce emissions, a message we’ve been preaching for the past 3 years. Data has shown that voluntarily upgrading older vehicles with newer technologies can be roughly twice as cost-effective as scrapping vehicles. Numerous commercially available products exist which can substantially lower the emissions rates of older “daily driver” vehicles while also offering considerable benefits in terms of performance, driveability and fuel mileage. An approach that allows for repair and upgrade would provide maximum benefits to those seeking emissions credits without hurting those who must rely on low-cost transportation. Repair and upgrade programs, as witnessed in Arizona and in the San Diego Pollution Control District and per this bill’s mandate, have proven effective for helping achieve reductions and maintaining levels of mobile-source emissions that will ensure compliance with federal air quality standards.
Will the governor do the right thing? We hope so. In any event, we appreciate the tireless efforts of the Downeast Street Rod Club, Knucklebusters Car Club, Maine Classic Chevy Club and the Maine Association of Automobile Clubs, SEMA members and those legislators who voiced their support for the cause.
Virginia Law Now Exempts 25-Year-Old Cars From Emissions Testing
After much sweat and hard work, a bill created by the SEMA Action Network (SAN) to exempt vehicles 25 years old and older from Virginia’s mandatory emissions inspections was finally signed into law by Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore on March 7.
The new law creates a rolling 25-year emissions testing exemption, excusing pre-1975 vehicles immediately and picking up an additional model year for each year the law is in effect. In the past, Virginia only exempted vehicles manufactured prior to the 1968 model year. Director of the SEMA Action Network Brian Caudill noted, “This new law recognizes that old cars are unique and worthy of protection. This law is also a testament to the determination of Virginia’s hobbyist community who have fought for this emissions exemption for 2 long years.” Virginia SAN contacts will recall that last year’s fight for an emissions exemption was killed in a last-minute legislative procedural maneuver.
“The perseverance exhibited by State Delegate Jim Dillard in shepherding this initiative through both the House and Senate proved to be the determining factor in the bill’s passage,” said SEMA Director of State Relations Steve McDonald. “Through his efforts this year and last, Delegate Dillard has shown himself to be a true friend of the vehicle hobby and a legislator of whom his Northern Virginia constituents can be proud.”
In particular SEMA would like to highlight the efforts of the following Virginia SAN clubs for their efforts in getting this bill passed: Virginia Automobile Protective Society, Southwest Virginia Car Club Council, Central Virginia Car Club Council, Roanoke Valley Mopar Club, Northern Virginia Corvette Club, Southeastern Virginia Mustang Club, and Virginia members of the United Four-Wheel-Drive Associations.
Minnesota Enacts Laws on Blue-Dot Taillights, License Plates
Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura signed into law a Minnesota bill allowing collector vehicles to display a blue-dot taillight of up to 1 inch in diameter as a part of a vehicle’s rear brake light. The new law, developed and endorsed by the Minnesota Street Rod Association (MSRA), recognizes that blue-dot taillights pose no driver safety concern and gives street rodders and custom car enthusiasts the same rights already enjoyed by motorcycle enthusiasts throughout the state.
Hobbyists will also benefit from another new Minnesota law allowing vehicles licensed as pioneers, classics, collector cars or street rods to display one or two license plates, at the owner’s discretion. The law would also apply to vehicles that meet the requirements of those classifications but are used for general transportation purposes, and to 1972 and older vehicles.
California Bill Protecting Homebuilt Cars Introduced
Legislation (S.B. 1811) has been introduced in California to provide special registration plates for homebuilt cars and to exempt both homebuilts and collector vehicles from the state’s smog check requirements.
S.B. 1811 defines a homebuilt car as a vehicle built by an individual for personal use including, but not limited to, kit cars. These cars are maintained and operated for the purposes of exhibitions and may be operated up to 2,500 miles per year. The bill defines a collector vehicle as a vehicle not driven daily, operated less than 5,000 miles per year and only driven to obtain repair/maintenance work or to car shows and parades.
SEMA Action Network contacts in California have been alerted and urged to support this bill. SEMA is also working with the bill sponsor Sen. Maurice Johannessen (R), a long-time friend to the vehicle hobby in California, to get S.B. 1811 passed into law.
SAN Awards the Washington Car Club Council
SEMA Action Network Director Brian Caudill awarded stalwart SAN member organization the Washington Car Club Council (WCCC) with a certificate of appreciation for its dedication improving the collector car in Washington State over the past several years. The award presentation took place the inaugural Seattle Roadster Show held March 9-12.
The WCCC’s efforts on behalf of the automobile hobbies includes pushing for the passage of laws to exempt 25-year-old and older cars from emissions inspections, create a more accurate and inclusive street rod definition, and allow blue-dot taillights on collector cars. In this legislative session, the WCCC sponsored legislation to protect the right for car owners to store and work on cars on private property without interference from local governments and zoning authorities. Though this legislation failed to pass, Scott Cedergreen has vowed that it will be reintroduced in some form next year. Cedergreen commented, “For the hobby to survive, car owners must have the ability to work on their cars without fear of fines, or worse yet, confiscation due to unfair local laws and regulations.”
In his presentation, Caudill noted, “The Washington Car Club Council is a perfect example of the power of informed and organized collector car hobbyists. Without their efforts, the State of Washington would be a much more difficult place for car enthusiasts to pursue their hobby.”
Eagle One Honors SAN Clubs With 'Golden Rule' Award
Eagle One, a leading marketer of automotive appearance care products, recently presented its 7th Annual “Golden Rule” awards recognizing regional car clubs for outstanding community service and charitable work in 1999.
The winners have been selected and four out of the eight winners and runners-up are members of the SEMA Action Network! SEMA would like to add our congratulations to the regional winners (SAN clubs in bold): West - Over the Hill Gang, San Bernardino, Calif., winner; Tacoma Model T Ford Club, Tacoma, Wash., runner-up. Midwest - Quad City Cruisers, Moline, Ill., winner; Hawkeye Area Classic Chevy Club, Homestead, Iowa, runner-up. East - West Side Cruisers, Greencastle, Pa., winner; New Jersey Street Rod Association, Kinnelon, N.J., runner-up. South - Mississippi Delta Street Rods, winner; Mustang Club of Tidewater, Suffolk, Va., runner-up. Thanks to all the clubs who participated and to Eagle One. Keep up the good work.
Georgia Nitrous Oxide Ban Legislation Dies
Georgia legislation (H.B. 1183) that sought to ban the street use of nitrous oxide systems in vehicles operated on public roads passed in the House but, due to time constraints, did not make it through the Senate before the legislature adjourned.
H.B. 1193, as originally written, sought to unfairly prohibit all public road use of passenger cars or pickup trucks equipped with nitrous oxide delivery systems. In other words, any car with a nitrous set-up would have been in violation of the law, regardless of whether the system was operable or not. In response to complaints from hobbyists and the affected nitrous oxide producing industry, SEMA succeeded in modifying the bill. As amended, the mere presence of nitrous systems in vehicles on public roadways would not have constituted a violation.
The SEMA Action Network is particularly grateful for the work of State Representative Alan Powell. “Representative Powell, a street rodder in his youth and a powerful member of the Motor Vehicle Committee, was resolute in his commitment to protecting manufacturers and hobbyists from a blanket ban and ensuring the continuation of legitimate uses of nitrous systems,” commented SEMA Director of State Relations Steve McDonald.
We would also like to mention the efforts of The Georgia hobbyist community for their interest in this bill. With the involvement of SEMA Action Network contact clubs like the North Georgia Mopar Club, we are all hopeful that ill-considered legislation like H.B. 1193 will not be reintroduced in the next legislative session.
Letter to the Editor -- Spreading the Word
Thanks for the regular updates and Driving Force newsletters you send to the Lone Star Chevelle Club. The information we receive is taken to our club meetings and discussed and excerpts are put into our monthly newsletter.
The LSCC has 60 members and are active in recruiting new members daily. All of our car owners are constantly doing upkeep on our Chevelles and El Caminos and those babies run more emissions efficient than many newer cars we see and smell on the roads today. We take them in for [emissions] inspections and they pass with flying colors.
Our cars are pampered and kept in great running condition. They are a legacy from the past and will continue to be popular in the years to come. Some of these cars are more expensive to buy than a new car. The LSCC will do what we can to fight for our rights to have these cars on the road.
What we can do, we will do. Let us know, as you always do.
Lone Star Chevelle Club
Thanks, Brenda. We hope all SEMA Action Network member organizations operate with the same passion! -Ed.
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.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: S.B. 440 would add radiators and air conditioning condensers to the definition of aftermarket parts for purposes of consumer disclosure.
CALIFORNIA: A.B. 2454 would require manufacturers to make available specified emission-related information for all 1994 and later model year vehicles.
CALIFORNIA: A.B. 2550 would remove requirement that vehicles 4 or less years old be emissions inspected upon transfer of ownership.
CONNECTICUT: S.B. 360/S.B. 430 would exempt vehicles manufactured 4 or less years ago from emissions inspection no later than July 1, 2002.
FLORIDA: H.B. 473/S.B. 1416 would eliminate emissions inspection in counties that have reached air quality goals.
FLORIDA: H.B. 819/S.B. 1092 would eliminate Florida’s emissions testing program.
MAINE: S.B. 868 would require the evaluation of the state’s zero-emission vehicle mandate.
MISSOURI: H.B. 2067 would permit the suspension of emissions inspection programs if problems exist that cause substantial inconvenience to motor vehicle owners.
NEW JERSEY: A.B. 2141 would provide relief ad remedies related to the hassles of the state’s inspection and maintenance program.
OHIO: H.B. 450 would exempt vehicles up to 5 years old from emissions inspections regardless if the title has been transferred in that period or not.
FLORIDA: H.B. 1911 would revise restrictions on window tinting, prohibits placing sight-obstructing material on license plates under certain circumstances.
FLORIDA: S.B. 1622 would revise the standards for permissible window tinting; provides exemption for medical reasons; prohibits material that obstructs visibility of headlights, stoplamps and turn signals.
IOWA: H.B. 2440 would require lamps to be lighted when windshield wipers are in use or when other conditions that limit visibility exist.
MICHIGAN: S.B. 1110 would prohibit dangling ornaments or other suspended objects that obstruct the driver’s vision.
MISSOURI: S.B. 907 would allow operation of a vehicle with front sidewing or vent window tinting with a light transmittance of 35 percent or more and a luminous reflectance of 35 percent or less.
WISCONSIN: S.B. 4 would require lamps to be lighted when windshield wipers are in use.
MISSOURI: S.B. 1080 would provide for a one-time only equipment inspection rather than the current biennial inspection procedure.
INDIANA: H.R. 76 would recognize the Winamac Old Auto Club on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.
TITLING, PLATES AND REGISTRATION
CONNECTICUT: S.B. 98/S.B. 509 would allow year of manufacture plates for antique, rare or special interest vehicles.
FLORIDA: H.B. 1911 would provide for titling of rebuilt and assembled-from-parts vehicles.
ILLINOIS: H.B. 3936 would require a seller to provide a Disclosure of Rebuilt Vehicle status form to a buyer for any vehicle for which a rebuilt title has been issued.
MISSISSIPPI: S.B. 2215 would title salvage and rebuilt vehicles; provides that when the motor or frame is removed and not replaced immediately, the vehicle is salvage.
WEST VIRGINIA: H.B. 4309 would authorize a special license plate for classic vehicles and motorcycles.