April 2001

Utah Bill to Enhance Utility of 4x4 Vehicles Signed into Law
Utah off-highway and raised vehicle enthusiasts, notably the Utah 4 Wheel Drive Association (U4WDA), scored a major victory when hobbyist-developed legislation (H.B. 49) to allow useful suspension and body lifts and wheel and tire alterations was signed into law by Utah Governor Michael O. Leavitt.
The new law provides for expanded availability of performance enhancing modifications for both on- and off-highway applications. These modifications are popular among enthusiasts and often essential for trail-riding activities where increased clearance, larger tires and improved suspension are necessary. The law also helps address some of the practical needs of a unique state such as Utah, where weather conditions and rugged terrain often require vehicle modifications to ensure reliable everyday transportation.
"The new law provides for modifications that allow adequate clearance for on/off road activity and to accommodate heavy loads, larger tires, improved suspension and water-fording capability," said SEMA Director of Government and Technical Affairs Steve McDonald. "In addition, the law amends the previous Utah law which was overly restrictive, difficult to understand, hard to enforce and provided no real value to 4x4 hobbyists. Finally, this law strives to protect and promote outdoor activity and vehicle enthusiasts in Utah. We are extremely pleased that the Governor agreed."
Brian Caudill, director of the SEMA Action Network, added, "The Utah victory illustrates the benefits of partnership between the hobbyist community and SEMA. Working hand-in-hand with SEMA, the U4WDA crafted legislation that gives Utahs enthusiasts more freedom to legally customize their rigs. SEMA provided technical expertise and industry support and the Utah 4 Wheel Drive Association provided the muscle, working tirelessly to shepherd H.B. 49 through the legislative process to final passage. This is how an enthusiast/industry partnership is supposed to work."
Under the new law, suspension modifications will be regulated based on a vehicles gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Larger vehicles, including those weighing at least 7,500 pounds, can be lifted to a frame height of 28 inches. Measurements will be indicated as the vertical distance between the ground and the lowest point on the frame. Allowable body lifts will be increased to 3 inches as measured from the body floor to the top of the frame.
The SEMA Action Network would like to especially recognize the entire Utah 4 Wheel Drive Association, as well as U4WDA member Tom Barkume and past President Brett Davis for their team effort in getting this law passed. Noted Mr. Davis, "It was a lot of work and a lot of fun, especially meeting the many Representatives and Senators, appearing before the committees and being in the chambers when H.B. 49 was voted on. Utah 4-wheelers really stepped out of their comfort zones and helped get this thing done and I was proud to be the head cheerleader and, as one of the senators referred to me during the vote, 'consultant.' Truly a big victory for a bunch of everyday Joe's."
California Legislation Would Eliminate Popular Emissions Exemption
In what seems like a yearly battle to California's SEMA Action Network community, legislation has been reintroduced in the California Senate to repeal the state's "rolling" emissions testing exemption for vehicles 30 years old and older. S.B. 1172, sponsored by Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-District 23), would repeal the current pro-hobbyist exemption and replace it with a static emissions testing exemption for pre-1974 vehicles only.
Complicating matters, separate legislation, S.B. 800, sponsored by Senator Maurice Johannessen (R-District 4), would repeal the current exemption, replacing it with an emissions testing exemption solely for pre-1975 model-year vehicles. SEMA has a long-standing positive relationship with Johannessen having worked with him to, among other things, develop a legal collector car definition and eliminate visual (under-hood) emissions testing procedures. Johannessen is a friend to the hobby and it is believed that his bill will be amended to remove the repeal language.
This leaves us with S.B. 1172 . . . California SEMA Action Network clubs and enthusiasts, SEMA-member companies and the automotive press have all been alerted to this bill and the campaign to stop the repeal of the pro-hobby emissions testing exemption has begun in earnest.
Here is the drill: Existing law in California exempts all pre-1974 vehicles from emissions testing until 2003. After 2003, vehicles 30 years old and older are exempt from emissions testing. SEMA believes that current law recognizes the minimal impact that 30 year old and older vehicles have on overall emissions calculations and air quality. These older vehicles constitute a tiny portion of California's vehicle population, currently less than 3 percent of 23 million plus vehicles, and are a poor source from which to look for emissions reductions. Hobbyists also know that antique and classic vehicles are overwhelmingly well-maintained and infrequently driven (about one-third the miles each year of a new vehicle). California hobbyists, if you haven't yet contacted your state senators to oppose S.B. 1172, please take the time. To find out who your senators are, contact the CA Senate information line at 916/445-4311 or access the information via the Internet at www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html
California legislators and regulators are clearly feeling the heat from their failed efforts to meet air quality goals and are looking for a convenient scapegoat. The old car hobby should not carry the burden of their mistakes!
Legislative Deja Vu: Vermont Scrappage Bill Reintroduced
Legislation (H.B. 377) has been reintroduced in Vermont that would implement a vehicle scrappage program, financed by a pollution surcharge and a diesel fuel tax. Under H.B. 377, the surcharge would be tied to vehicle registrations and would be more costly on expensive, and supposedly higher polluting, vehicles.
A voucher system would pay owners of scrapped vehicles up to $2,000, calculated so that the state pays more for scrapping vehicles that pollute the most. Secondary emphasis is given to fair market value. Vouchers could be used to purchase public transit tickets or a replacement vehicle identified on a state-prepared "Clean Car List" from a dealership participating in the program.
SEMA, along with Vermont and New England area hobbyists, is actively opposing the bill and has begun educating legislators on the shortcomings associated with scrappage programs. When a similar bill was introduced in the previous Vermont legislative session, New England enthusiast Peter Brown noted, "I'm alarmed when there is proposed legislation that would inhibit access to older autos and parts. Those of us who repair and tinker with older cars are voters and parts recyclers. These classic cars are rarely used and are most often kept in like-new condition by their owners. Most gross polluters are late-model cars that need tune-ups." Brown was correct then. He remains correct now.
Since this unfortunate scrappage legislation has been reintroduced, SEMA would like to reintroduce Vermont legislators to the facts about scrappage: 1) Scrappage programs are unfair to low-income drivers who rely on low-cost parts and transportation. 2) Scrappage programs are difficult to enforce an d subject to fraud. 3) Scrappage programs ignore the fact that older, particularly classic, cars are typically well-maintained, infrequently driven and not a substantial source of emissions reductions. 4) Scrappage programs are inferior to other programs, such as VOLUNTARY emissions system repair and upgrade programs, which both cleans the air and keeps the cars on the road.
Vermont hobbyists, if you havent yet contacted your state legislators to oppose H.B. 377, please take the time to do so. To find out who your senators are, contact the VT General Assembly information line at 802/828-2228.
Missouri Emission Inspection Legislation
Attention Missouri enthusiasts: Two separate bills have been introduced to exempt older cars from the states emissions testing requirements. The first bill (S.B. 435) exempts vehicles registered as historic. The second (H.B. 438) exempts all pre-1981 vehicles from emissions testing. Should either of these bills become law, Missouri would join the growing list of states, including Washington, Virginia and California, that have chosen to exempt older and classic cars from emissions testing.
Existing Missouri law only exempts vehicles manufactured prior to the 1971 model-year from emissions inspection. Missouri law defines historic vehicles as those older than 25 years old and owned as a collectors item. These vehicles may be driven up to 1,000 miles per year for personal use. (Mileage driven in a tour or event and mileage driven to and from a tour or event is not counted against the mileage limitation.) Missouri SEMA Action Network clubs and hobbyists, as well as SEMA-member companies, have been alerted to these bills. We would like to recognize, in particular, the American Roadhouse Car Club, the Arch Chapter of the Pontiac-Oakland Club, the Gateway GTO Club and the Gateway Fiero Club for their support of these bills.
If you are a Missouri enthusiast and have not yet contacted your legislators about S.B. 435 and H.B. 438, dont hesitate any longer. To determine who your legislators are, call the Missouri Legislature's general information line at 573/751-3824.
Blue-Dot Taillight Legislation in Illinois
Recently introduced Illinois H.B. 2270 would allow antique vehicles to display a blue light or lights of up to 1 inch in diameter as part of their rear-stop lamp or lamps. The bill recognizes that blue-dot taillights pose no driver safety concern and seeks to protect the rights of automotive hobbyists to customize their street rods, customs and antique vehicles.
SEMA Action Network members may recall that last year the Minnesota legislature passed a similar bill, developed by the Minnesota Street Rod Association Association, which was signed into law by Governor Jesse Ventura. Illinois SEMA Action Network members and SEMA-member companies engaged in the manufacture of blue-dot taillights have been alerted to this legislation. We are hopeful that through their combined support, blue-dot taillights will become legal for use by Illinois' antique, custom and street rod community.
New State Inoperable Vehicle Bills
What do Alabama, Vermont and West Virginia have in common? All three states have new anti-hobbyist bills moving through their legislatures aimed at prohibiting the storage of inoperable vehicles on private property. Hobbyists should contact their respective legislators to express concerns.
Alabama: H.B. 152 permits all municipalities to remove inoperable vehicles as nuisances from private property if they have been in plain view for more than 30 days. H.B. 53 contains similar language. However, it is directed solely at the Birmingham area.
Vermont: S.B. 151 provides that a vehicle may be presumed abandoned for purposes of abatement if it is on private or public property and does not have a valid registration plate or ascertainable VIN.
West Virginia: S.B. 201 and H.B. 2440 both permit government agencies to remove vehicles from private property that are ruined, wrecked, scrapped or dismantled, cannot pass state inspection and that are not serving a functional purpose and are in public view.
Focus on New Hampshire (H.B. 617)
Rep. Lawrence Artz: Fighting for Car Enthusiasts in New Hampshire
We've got a new friend in the New Hampshire legislature! State Representative Lawrence Artz (R-District 34), an automotive hobbyist himself, introduced a bill that would protect the right of automotive collectors to store unregistered and older vehicles on their property, provided they are kept out of ordinary public view. H.B. 617 allows collectors to store and work on vehicles on private property so long as they are shielded by fencing, trees, shrubbery, etc. Artz had seen a similar SEMA-supported bill in the state of Washington and found the measure to be a fair compromise between hobbyists and municipalities.
Artz, a radar technician at a local observatory, understands that municipal zoning laws are often used in an attempt to restrict the activities of hobbyists. He has rebuilt a 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, as well as a 1963 Nova station wagon, that he likes to drive to cruise nights when he gets the opportunity. His current project is a 1967 Nova wagon and he has two 1966 four-doors that he plans to use for parts. Artz even has a web page where you can see some of his cars: www.geocities.com/lartz.geo.
Artz decided to enter state politics after attending several hearings in the early 1990s to voice his opposition regarding the implementation of an enhanced emissions inspection program. It was during those hearings when he recognized that the interests of New Hampshires automotive hobbyists were not being represented. A resident of New Hampshire for more than 35 years, Artz is now serving his first term as a state representative and says he will consider running again.
Artz has also introduced H.B. 459, which would require antique motor vehicles to be inspected biennially as opposed to annually. As all antique vehicles must be inspected in April in New Hampshire, it is often difficult for collectors to have all their cars inspected within 30 days. H.B. 459 would allow collectors to stagger inspections so that they would only be responsible for half of their antique vehicles each year.
Artz is to be commended for his straightforward approach in protecting his fellow automotive hobbyists in New Hampshire. We encourage all New Hampshire SEMA Action Network members to contact him to voice support for H.B. 617 and H.B. 459 at: 7 Fountain Lane, Nashua, NH 03062; e-mail: nashuarep@hotmail.com; phone: 603/271-2548.
Car Clubs Honored With 'Golden Rule' Award
Eagle One, a leading marketer of premium appearance care products, has long known what being a member of a car club is all about: building cars, showing them off, having fun and providing community service along the way.
To enhance the image of the car club movement in the United States, Eagle One inaugurated the "Golden Rule" Award 8 years ago to recognize clubs for their community activities. SEMA has long-supported and publicized its efforts at recognizing the good works that car clubs perform nationwide.
Four car clubs were recently honored with the "Golden Rule" Award for the most outstanding community service program in their region during 2000. (SEMA Action Network clubs are capitalized.) Winners were: West TACOMA MODELT FORD CLUB, Tacoma, Wash.; Midwest UNITED STREET MACHINES, Troy, Mich.; East Fastiques Rod & Custom of Southern Ohio, Loveland, Ohio; South Mississippi Coast Mustang Club. Runners-up in each region were: ROGUE VALLEY STREET RODS, Medford, Oreg.; Nifty Fifty Cruisers, Cloquet, Minn.; HEART OF MARYLAND CLASSIC CHEVY CLUB, Mount Airy, Md.; Bad Company Street Rods and Custom, Conover, N.C.
A large supply of Eagle One premium appearance care products, a large supply of Valvoline MaxLife motor oil and a custom-designed plaque were presented to the winning clubs. Runners-up received an Award of Merit and a generous supply of Eagle One and Valvoline products. Valvoline is an associate sponsor of the award program.
Texas Hobbyists Hold Successful Toy Drive
Last fall the Summer Knights Inc. Car Club held its fifth annual Toy Drive Car show at Young Chevrolet in Dallas, Texas. It was a successful day with $500 in toys collected, as well as more than $3,600 in cash.
"We ask for a donation of a toy or you can pay an entry fee for each vehicle, which we in turn buy additional toys with," explains Jim Albright, a member of the Summer Knights. Many groups made generous contributions, including the Lone Star Chevelle Club, which donated $500. General Mills made a special food and clothing donation, Wal-Mart provided $1,000 in matching funds, Chick-Fil-A made a special toy donation and Interstate Batteries donated prizes for the raffle. First-, second- and third-place trophies were awarded in a number of categories ranging from "90's and Newer Truck" to "Pre '50's Car." Local businesses also sponsored trophies for specialty classes such as "People's Choice" and "Best Interior." There were 167 entries this year.
All proceeds from the Summer Knights Toy Drive Car Show were given to Buckner Children's Home and Family Services. "The club members know that they're providing Christmas for boys and girls who otherwise might not have had one at all. It definitely makes all the hard work worth it," said Albright.
The Summer Knights walked out of Wal-Mart with 19 shopping carts full of toys! If you or your club would like to get involved, please write to the Summer Knights at P.O. Box 38342, Dallas, Texas 75238. You can also catch up with them every second Saturday of the month from April through September, cruising the streets of Dallas.
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.
California: S.B. 1172 would repeal the 30-year rolling emissions exemption and provide an exemption for pre-1974 vehicles.
California: S.B. 800 would repeal the 30-year rolling emissions exemption and provide an exemption for pre-1975 vehicles. It would also provide an exemption for collector vehicles (defined as manufactured prior to 1975, not used as a primary source of transportation, used primarily for display at events or to obtain necessary repairs and maintenance). In addition, the bill would require the model year of specially constructed vehicles to be recorded and for those vehicles to be inspected at a referee station, where they would be issued a tamper-resistant label stating model year and emission control system application.
Kentucky: S.B. 48/H.B. 291 would prohibit local and county governments from implementing vehicle emission control programs.
Missouri: S.B. 435 would provide an emissions inspection exemption for vehicles more than 25 years old that are registered as historic vehicles.
Missouri: H.B. 856 would exempt historic vehicles from emissions inspections.
Ohio: H.B. 52/H.B. 36 would exempt vehicles less than 5 years old from emissions inspections.
Oklahoma: H.B. 1244 would eliminate the motor vehicle emissions testing program.
Arizona: H.B. 2011 would prohibit selling, giving or delivering a canister containing nitrous oxide to a person less than 18 years of age.
Arkansas: H.B. 1546 would prohibit covering license plates if the covering makes them more difficult to read.
California: S.B. 1081 would require the Bureau of Automotive Repair to adopt regulations setting standards for the certification of vehicle exhaust systems for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 6,000 pounds that do not exceed a sound reading of 95 decibels.
Maryland: H.B. 773 would prohibit covering a license plate with any material that distorts the figures.
Wisconsin: A.B. 150 would prohibit covering license plates with any material that makes them more difficult to read.
Inoperable Vehicles
Alabama: H.B. 152 would allow all municipalities and counties to adopt procedures for abatement and removal of inoperable motor vehicles on private property when the motor vehicle is a nuisance.
Montana: H.B. 507 would prohibit the display within view of a public highway more than five vehicles not equipped with properly functioning equipment. An exception would be made for vehicles able to be restored to operable condition within 1 week.
New Hampshire: H.B. 617 would prohibit local governments from implementing an ordinance or land-use regulation that would prevent automotive collectors from maintaining and restoring vehicles on private property that are out of ordinary public view.
Texas: H.B. 495 would define an antique vehicle as one that is 25 years old or older for the purposes of the vehicle public nuisance law.
Vermont: H.B. 9 would amend the definition of a junkyard to include any outdoor place of storage where four or more junk motor vehicles are visible from a public highway.
Vermont: S.B. 151 would provide that a vehicle can be considered abandoned if it is located on public or private property and does not have a valid registration plate or ascertainable VIN for the purpose of abatement.
West Virginia: S.B. 201/H.B. 2440 would allow government agencies to remove vehicles from private property that are ruined, wrecked, scrapped or dismantled, cannot pass the state safety inspection and that are not serving a functional purpose and are in public view.
Iowa: H.B. 357 would provide for maximum frame and body heights for motor vehicles.
Georgia: H.B. 192 would require lenses on taillights to meet federal standards and not be covered or consist of anything other than reflective material installed as original factory equipment or its equivalent replacement.
Illinois: H.B. 2270 would allow antique vehicles to display blue-dot taillights of up to 1 inch in diameter as part of the vehicles rear stop lamp or lamps.
Mississippi: H.B. 221 would effectively ban the sale, installation and use of spot lamps, flood lamps and other auxiliary vehicle lighting equipment intended for off-road use.
Mississippi: S.B. 2737/H.B. 1121 would ban the use of auxiliary white lights mounted on or near or visible from the rear of a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of more than 12,000 pounds and limit use on vehicles weighing less than 12,000 pounds to systems designed to function only when the vehicle is in park."
Montana: S.B. 125 would ban the use of headlamp covers and tinting, even when headlamps are not required to be lighted.
Registration and Inspection
Alabama: H.B. 460 would create a registration classification and special license plates for street rods.
Maine: H.B. 753 would define a modified show vehicle and prescribe inspection and registration standards.
New York: S.B. 539/A.B. 2143 would provide for a street rod registration classification and plates.
New York: S.B. 1931 would provide for a one-time registration fee of $100 for historic motor vehicles. Currently, the fee is $23 annually.
Tennessee: S.B. 223 would permit the use of era-correct plates on antique vehicles.
Tennessee: H.B. 521/S.B. 754 would require all motor vehicles registered in counties with a population of 800,000 or more to pass a safety inspection.
Utah: H.B. 190 would permit 1973 or older vehicles to display original issue plates. The current law requires that the vehicle be built in 1968 or before.
Utah: H.B. 377 would prohibit vehicles that have been issued a junk permit from being rebuilt or reconstructed.
Texas: H.B. 2134 would provide for an accelerated vehicle retirement program and a low-income vehicle repair assistance program.
Vermont: H.B. 377 would provide for a surcharge when registering a motor vehicle to fund a scrappage program, offering a voucher of up to a $2,000 for the purchase of a cleaner running vehicle or public transportation.
Window Tinting
Indiana: H.B. 1441 would amend the law regarding window tinting to follow federal regulations. The current standard is that the occupants must be clearly visible from outside the vehicle.
Missouri: S.B. 181/H.B. 120 would allow a vehicles front sidewing vents or windows to be tinted so long as there is a light transmittance of at least 35 percent.
Virginia: H.B. 66 would prohibit the issuance of a safety inspection approval sticker unless the vehicle meets window tint requirements.
Indiana: H.B. 2091 would provide for special NASCAR license plates.
Iowa: H.B. 343 would include participation in antique auto swap meets within the scope of casual sales for the purpose of providing a sales and use tax exemption.
Massachusetts: H.B. 3883 would prohibit drivers from raising or lowering vehicle height by mechanical means while traveling on a public road in excess of 20 miles per hour.
SEMA Government Relations Office 1317 F St., NW, Ste. 500 Washington, D.C. 20004 202/783-6007 or Fax 202/783-6024