SAN Celebrates Success in 2006
Efforts By Enthusiasts Score Legislative Victories Across the Country
The combined efforts of automotive hobbyists in the SEMA Action Network (SAN) continue to result in legislative successes all over the country. The SAN’s determined pursuit of its pro-active legislative agenda again persuaded state legislators to overhaul existing statutes and create new programs to safeguard and expand the specialty equipment aftermarket. Efforts by the SAN also led to the defeat of several poorly-formulated measures.
“With the eyes of government firmly focused on our hobby, lawmakers continue to introduce new legislation that impacts the automotive specialty aftermarket,” said Steve McDonald, SEMA’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “Our successes in 2006 once again demonstrate the benefits and importance of active hobbyist involvement across the country.”
State Legislative Caucus: The State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus, a bi-partisan group of state lawmakers with a passion for automobiles continues to grow in numbers and influence. The Caucus now numbers approximately 140 members. The common goal of the Caucus is to support the motor-vehicle hobby by raising its profile in state legislatures and in the eyes of the public. Many of these legislators are working in state capitals to protect the hobby by amending existing motor vehicle laws and creating new pro-enthusiast programs. The Caucus is being supported by SEMA’s Government Affairs Office.
Modified Exhaust Legislation: The SAN defeated a number of harmful measures introduced across the country designed to restrict or ban the use of aftermarket or modified exhaust systems. The SAN was successful in beating back harmful legislation in Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylva-nia, and Vermont. These bills generally did not supply law enforcement with a clear standard to enforce, allowing them to make subjective judgments on whether or not a modified exhaust is in violation. In Massachusetts, the proposed bill would have expanded upon existing exhaust restrictions by banning the sale or installation of aftermarket and modified exhausts. And although a bill in New Jersey would have required the State Department of Environmental Protection to establish a decibel limit for all aftermarket mufflers sold in the State, there was no decibel limit offered in the bill. These bills would have made it difficult for hobbyists to replace factory exhaust systems with more durable, better performing options. In some states, noise limits for modified exhaust systems are established by a SEMA-model bill and applicable to an easy to administer test standard. The SEMA model provides for the testing of vehicle exhaust noise to a standard adopted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) with an established noise limit of 95-decibels.
Inoperable Vehicle Victories: The SAN beat back potentially harmful inoperable vehicle bills in a number of states this year. Among the states were Hawaii, Illinois and West Virginia. All of these bills sought to restrict the ability of hobbyists to maintain, restore, and repair inoperable vehicles on private property. Generally, the SAN supports legislation that permits the outdoor storage of motor vehicles if the vehicles are maintained in such a manner so as not to constitute a health hazard. These vehicles could be located away from public view, or screened by means of a suitable fence, trees, shrubbery, opaque covering or other appropriate means. These bills made no concessions for properly maintained or shielded vehicles.
California Hot Rods: Working with SEMA, California published an alternate process to emissions test certain hot rods beyond the S.B. 100 exemption enacted several years ago. The alternate process involves certifying the vehicle to its engine configuration. Under Cali-fornia policy, the emissions controls of specially constructed vehicles are determined by one of two separate processes; (1) based on what the vehicle body or engine most resembles, or (2) model year or configuration of the engine installed. In the first case, a smog test referee compares the vehicle to those of the era that the vehicle most closely resembles to determine its model year. The vehicle’s owner can then choose whether the inspector will certify the vehicle per the year of the body or the engine. If there is no close resemblance, the vehicle is classified as a 1960 model year. This program is limited to the first 500 applications for registrations of specially constructed vehicles submitted to DMV each year that meet the criteria. In the second case, the only emissions controls required are those used when the engine was originally manufactured. If a configuration precedes 1966, no exhaust emissions controls would be required. If the configuration precedes 1961, no PCV system would be required. If a range of model years applies to any particular engine configuration, vehicle owners have the option to select the model year of emissions controls to be used. New and rebuilt crate engines fall into this “range of model years” category.
California Scrappage: The SAN submitted comments to the proposed revisions to California’s motor vehicle scrappage program. In the comments, the SAN supported more stringent vehicle eligibility criteria to help ensure program effectiveness and actual realization of claimed benefits. The group also advised the agency to exercise caution with the planned use of remote sensing devices to identify gross polluters so as not to target older vehicles. In previous comments, the SAN supported a program change to ensure that program vehicles had been registered for at least 2 years rather than just 4 months as a means to demonstrate that candidate vehicles were actually being driven on a regular basis and contributing to the state’s emissions inventory.
Colorado Kit Cars: SAN members scored another major victory when a version of SEMA model legislation to create a titling and registration class for kit cars was signed into law. The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2007, includes the added benefit of exempting kit cars from Colorado’s emissions inspection program. The law defines a “kit vehicle” as a passenger-type motor vehicle assembled by someone other than a licensed manufacturer, from a manufactured kit that includes a prefabricated body and chassis and is accompanied by a manufacturer’s statement of origin.
Colorado Restoration Projects: SAN-supported legislation creating a rebuilder’s certificate of title for motor vehicles in the process of being restored was signed into law. The new law allows vehicles without a title to be issued a rebuilder’s title based on the vehicle’s early date of manufacture, design, historical interest, or status as a collector’s item. In order to qualify the vehicle must not be roadworthy at the time of application, be at least 25 years old, and have a rolling chassis among its components. In addition the applicant must have a certified VIN inspection performed on the vehicle and an accompanying statement with specific vehicle information.
Iowa Spinner Hubcaps: The SAN defeated Iowa legislation that would have prohibited motor vehicles equipped with spinner hubcaps. The bill ignored the fact that spinner hubcaps have no proven detrimental effect on motor vehicle safety and are not prohibited by Federal law.
Kansas Antique Military Vehicles: Kansas legislation to allow qualifying military vehicles to be registered and operated on public roadways as “antiques” was signed into law. The SAN-supported law defines an “antique military vehicle” as a vehicle, regardless of the vehicle’s size or weight, which was manufactured for use in any country’s military forces and is maintained to represent its military design. The law excludes fully-tracked vehicles from this definition. In Kansas, “antique” vehicles must be more than 35-years old and propelled by a motor using petroleum fuel, steam or electricity or any combination of these three. Vehicles registered as “antiques” in Kansas are also afforded a one-time registration fee of $40.
Maine Inspections: Maine is proposing to repeal and replace the existing regulations relating to the state’s motor vehicle inspection program. In comments to the agency, SEMA objected to the omission of reference to a recently enacted law allowing vehicle exhaust systems to be certified to a 95 decibel limit. Under current Maine law, exhaust noise restrictions do not apply to a muffler or exhaust system that does not emit noise in excess of 95 decibels as measured in accordance with SAE standard J1169. The Maine proposal could also could prohibit brush and grille guards and limit tire and wheel packages. SEMA provided comprehensive comments to the proposal on these items and a range of other equipment restrictions.
Maryland Antiques: SAN-supported legislation to provide for a one-time registration fee of $50 for vehicles at least 60 years old was signed into law. Under the measure, the one-time registration is not transferable to a subsequent owner.
Minnesota 4x4 Trucks: Working with local and regional off-road vehicle groups, the SAN defeated amendments to a Minnesota bill that would have limited modified 4x4 trucks to minimally maintained roads and to the area in the state specifically designated for their use. The amendments sought to severely restrict 4x4 truck access by prohibiting use of “trails” and defined 4x4 trucks as four-wheeled motor vehicles manufactured to operate on public roads and subsequently modified with special tires, suspension or other equipment.
Mississippi Blue Dots: A SAN-supported bill to allow antique vehicles and street rods to display a blue, violet or purple light as part of the
vehicle’s rear stop lamps was signed into law. Mississippi defines antique motor vehicles as those manufactured more than 25-years ago and street rods as modified vehicles produced by an American manufacturer in 1948 or earlier and used as a safe, non-racing vehicle.
Missouri Emissions Exemptions: SAN-backed legislation to exempt vehicles manufactured prior to 1996 from emissions inspections was signed into law. Under the new law, motor vehicles manufactured prior to 1996 will only be subject to a gas cap pressure test as part of the state’s biennial safety inspection program. In addition, newer motor vehicles which have not been previously titled and registered will be exempted from emissions inspections for the four-year period following their model year of manufacture provided they are driven less than 40,000 miles for the first two years. All motor vehicles driven less than 12,000 miles between biennial safety inspections are also exempt.
New York Grille/Brush Guards: Legislation in New York to prohibit the public road use of motor vehicles equipped with a grille or brush guard was defeated by the SAN. The measure would have required owners of vehicles currently equipped with grille guards (including those purchased with this equipment from a dealership) to remove these guards.
New York Windshield Wiper Lights: The SAN defeated legislation that would have prohibited motor vehicle windshield wipers from having lights. Some vehicles are equipped with windshield wiper lights as accent lighting for styling purposes. These accent lighting devices increase the conspicuity of the vehicle and have no effect on motor vehicle safety. The SAN opposes any use limitations or prohibitions on optional lighting equipment or accessories not related to a proven safety hazard.
New York Spinner Hubcaps: SAN-opposed legislation that would prohibit the sale and use of motor vehicles equipped with spinner hubcaps was defeated in New York. The bill would have subjected vehicle owners to fines of up to $750 for a third or subsequent violation. Those convicted of selling spinner hubcaps would have been fined $150 for each violation. The measure ignored the fact that custom wheels are not prohibited by Federal law and that spinner hubcaps have no proven detrimental effect on motor vehicle safety.
Oregon Specialty Vehicles: Oregon adopted new Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) requirements for 2009 model year manufactured vehicles. The LEV standards will exempt newly built specialty vehicles from the state’s permanent rules requiring new motor vehicles to meet California’s tighter motor vehicle emissions standards. The exemptions are a product of weeks of consultation between state regulators and SEMA. The new regulations will exempt assembled vehicles, replicas, street rods, and custom vehicles from Oregon’s LEV standards provided these vehicles are used only for occasional transportation, exhibitions, club activities, parades, tours, etc., and not for general daily transportation.
South Carolina Antique Vehicle Taxes: SAN-supported legislation to provide an exemption from property taxes for motor vehicles licensed and registered as antiques was signed into law. South Carolina law defines an “Antique” as every motor vehicle which is “over 25-years old, is owned solely as a collector’s item and is used for participation in club activities,exhibits, tours, parades and similar uses, but in no event used for general transportation.”
Tennessee Antiques: SAN-supported legislation to provide for “general transportation” on Saturdays and Sundays for registered antique motor vehicles was signed into law. Under previous law, use of antique vehicles was strictly limited to “club activities, exhibits, tours, parades, and similar uses as a collector’s item.”
Vermont Gas Guzzlers: The SAN stalled Vermont legislation to establish a progressive registration surcharge for motor vehicles registered at the pleasure car rate that achieve fewer than 20 miles per gallon. This surcharge would have amounted to $160 annually for vehicles with an EPA rating of less than 15 miles per gallon. The bill would also have limited consumer choice in purchasing vehicles by making popular performance and luxury cars, as well as SUVs, light trucks and minivans, substantially more expensive to own.
Virginia Antiques: After heavy opposition from the SAN, Virginia legislation that threatened to restrict pleasure driving of antique motor vehicles to a range not more than 50 miles (currently 250 miles) from the owner’s residence was withdrawn by the bill’s sponsor. The bill also sought to clarify that antique vehicles may not be used for work-related travel. Legislators considered including antique cars in the state’s mandatory annual safety inspection program, claiming that many are unsafe “junkers.”
Virginia Emissions Exemption: SAN-supported legislation to exempt newer motor vehicles from the state’s mandatory emissions inspection program was signed into law. Under the new law, a motor vehicle will not be subject to emissions inspection until it is four years old or older. The new law acknowledges the relatively minimal environmental impact of the vehicles targeted for this exemption and that it is senseless to test newer vehicles, the results of which demonstrate no significant air quality benefits.
West Virginia Antiques: SAN-supported legislation to amend the state’s current law governing antique motor vehicles to permit their use on Friday evenings was signed into law. Under the previous West Virginia law, use of antique vehicles was strictly limited to club activities, exhibits, tours, parades, testing, obtaining repairs and for recreational purposes only on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
Looking Ahead to 2007
Street Rods and Custom Vehicles
Several states introduced versions of the SEMA Street Rod and Custom Vehicle Titling and Registration bill in the last legislative session. However,
legislation in Florida, Massachu-setts, New Hampshire, Tenne-ssee, and Virginia was not enacted into law prior to adjournment of the legislatures. Each of these bills is expected to be reintroduced in 2007. This year, the measure will also be introduced in New York by Assemblyman Bill Reilich, who will also begin his term as the new chairman of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus in the spring. The SEMA model bill defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after 1948. It also allows kit cars and replica vehicles to be assigned a certificate of title bearing the same model year designation as the production vehicle they most closely resemble.
Endangered Species Act: The Senate was unable to agree on a bill to update the Endangered Species Act. The law impacts SAN members because the ESA has been used to close millions of acres of lands to off-roaders and the equipment that they purchase, without direct benefit to the endangered animals and plants. Most lawmakers agree that the current law needs to be revised to provide more direct protection without closing so much land. However, it has been difficult to craft a bill that will garner the 60 bipartisan votes necessary for Senate passage. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill last year that would focus more attention on fostering species recovery rather than simply locking-up land preserves. The bill also calls for compensating private property owners for land-use restrictions due to an endangered species. Many Senators believe the House bill is too generous in compensating property owners and may not set aside enough land for protection.
Roadless Rule: A Federal court in California reinstated the so-called “roadless rule,” issued by the Clinton Administration to prohibit development within 58.5 million acres of U.S. Forest Service lands. The court ruled that the replacement rule adopted by the Bush Administration in 2005 violated existing federal environmental and endangered species laws. The ongoing political and legal debate over roadless designations is important to SAN members as it potentially denies access to off-road vehicles. The court ruling conflicts with a 2003 decision from another federal court to strike down the Clinton roadless rule on the grounds that it was an illegal attempt to create wilderness areas. That court set aside its decision when the Bush Administration implemented a state petition plan to allow local input in making decisions on how each forest is managed. The Bush Administration intends to move forward with this process. The Supreme Court may ultimately need to decide the fate of the Clinton rule.
Wilderness Bills: House and Senate leaders crafted a compromise approach for designating as wilderness 300,000-acres in Northern Cali-fornia’s Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mend-ocino and Napa counties. Although OHV use is traditionally restricted in wilderness areas, provisions were included in the SAN-supported new law to establish adjacent or nearby areas that would be open to OHV use. This included “cherry-stem” roads as OHV corridors within the wilderness areas. Wilder-ness legislation is consequential since it potentially denies access to off-roaders and the equipment that they purchase for off-road use. The SAN opposed other measures to expand wilderness areas in central Idaho and around Oregon’s Mt. Hood on the grounds that they lacked local community support and did not sufficiently protect existing OHV roads and trails. The Idaho and Oregon bills died at the end of the year.
OHV Use in National Forests: In 2005, the U.S. Forest Service announced that it would begin regulating OHV use in national forests. The agency is now implementing the policy to designate roads, trails and other areas for OHV use. Under the new policy, local agency officials are required to seek public comments from state and local officials and other stakeholders in determining OHV routes. Currently only half of the 155 national forests and 20 grasslands have designated roads and trails, which include more than 200,000 miles of forest roads and 36,000 miles of inventoried trails. The USFS anticipates that it will take up to four years to complete the route designation process. The SAN has urged OHV enthusiasts to actively participate in the route designation process.
California OHVs: Following recommendations made by SEMA, the USFS announced new land management plans for four southern California national forests that open up more back country trails to OHVs. The management plans are for the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino national forests, which encompass 3.5 million acres. The new plans provide OHVs with greater access to roadless areas – allowing motorized recreation on approximately 25 percent of these inventoried areas, but only on designated roads and trails.
A comprehensive list of active issues and matters which are still pending can be found online at www.semasan.com.
Keeping Their Bearings: Massachusetts Car Club Honored for its Ongoing Legislative Efforts
With continuing efforts to recognize car clubs across the country for their active involvement in promoting pro-hobby legislation, the SEMA Action Network (SAN) recently honored The Bearing Burners Car Club of Massachusetts. Based just northwest of Boston, the club was recognized for its active involvement in promoting and protecting the automotive hobby in Massachusetts.
Over the past several years, the SAN has worked with the Bearing Burners, especially club member Dana Schaeffer (one of its founding members), in promoting fair and hobby-friendly legislation in the state of Massachusetts. This year, the club supported the introduction of SEMA’s model bill to assign street rods and custom vehicles, including kit cars and replicas, a certificate of title bearing the same model year designation as the production vehicle they most closely resemble. The bill will be considered during the 2007 legislative session. In addition, this year and over the past four years, the club has helped the SAN coordinate the successful opposition of a bill that would have banned the sale and installation of aftermarket exhaust systems in the state.
Formed in the 1950’s, The Bearing Burners Car Club of Massachusetts was resurrected in 1999 for the same reasons it was first created: to build hot rods and camaraderie among members in a relaxed atmosphere. Today, the club is an active member of both the Right Coast Association and the Massachusetts Association of Automobile Clubs (MAAC), holds local car shows, and raises money for charitable organizations like their local technical high school. With the help of Dana Schaeffer, the club has also become a vital part of the SAN in Massachusetts by promoting the hobby to legislators and getting important legislative information out to hobbyists across the state.
“Working with the SAN has played a huge role in keeping the laws in Massachusetts hobby-friendly,” said Schaeffer. “It just goes to show how much your voice can make a difference by organizing and developing statewide contacts with legislators. Joining the SAN is an essential part of this process for any car club.”
Jason Tolleson, Director of the SAN, echoed this sentiment. “The SEMA Action Network is indebted to Dana, The Bearing Burners, and enthusiasts across the country for their tireless work and unflagging efforts in helping get pro-hobby legislation introduced and passed. It is through their efforts and determination that the hobby will continue to thrive in Massachusetts and across the country.”
Each month Driving Force will feature members of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus. The SEMA-supported caucus is a bi-partisan group of state lawmakers whose common thread is a love and appreciation for automobiles.
South Carolina State Representative J. Gary Simrill
When he is not hard at work representing the constituents of York County, Representative Simrill is dedicating his time and energy to his love of automobiles. In addition to owning Carolina Motorworks, a local luxury used-car dealership, he finds time to tool around in his own personal vehicles, including his prized 1940 Ford Convertible.
HEY, THAT'S MY CAR!
“Just Three More Months”
1931 Ford Model A Tudor
Owner: Eric Hibbs
St. George, Utah
I’ve always loved old American cars, a passion passed down from my dad. While all of my high school buddies agreed that the ’32 highboy roadster was the quintessential hot rod, I always wanted a Model A Tudor. Twelve years later I finally found what I was looking for.
This car has been a street rod since at least the late 60’s. I bought it as a roller, minus motor, tranny and interior. It was complete and pretty straight but definitely needed freshening up. I disassembled and stripped it down to bare metal in my two car garage, next to my ’60 Bel-Air. After a friend finished the body work and paint, the car went to another friend’s home shop where we are still in the slow process of final assembly.
The original chassis had some pretty scary welds and was replaced with an all new unit with a triangulated 4-link, Currie 9-inch rear end with 3.00 gears for highway cruising, 4-inch drop axle, and hairpins. It has a 3.5-inch chop, 327/350, and will bear an off-white vinyl interior with green french stitching. I keep convincing myself that I'll be driving it in “3 more months” but it’s now been 61/2 years. No regrets though, as the car is turning out to be so much better than I ever anticipated.
December 15, Tucson
Autozone Car Show
December 3, Pomona
George Cross and Sons’ Pomona Swap Meet and Car Show
Information: www.pomonaswapmeet.com or 714/538-7091
December 3, Long Beach
Cadillac Concours D’Elegance
Sponsor: Cadillac Club International Consortium
December 4, Orangevale
Les Schwab Tires Toy Run
December 10, Long Beach
Hi-Performance Swap Meet and Car Show
Information: www.toppingevents.com or 800/762-9785
December 10, Pomona
3rd Annual Toys for Tots Charity Car Show
Sponsor: Team Transport
Information: www.T4TCarShow.com or 949/278-6925
December 16, Bakersfield
1st Annual Scikotics and Bill Wright Toyota Toys For Tots and Car Show
Information: www.scikotics.com or 661/398-5122
December 17, Alameda
Alameda Point Auto & Motorcycle Show & Swap Meet
Information: www.turnkeyprod.com or 510/522-2316
December 17, Vallejo
Hi-Performance Swap Meet and Car Show
Information: www.toppingevents.com or 800/762-9785
December 3, Fort Myers
Rock ’Til You Drop Car Show
December 3, Hollywood
Hollywood Dream Car Classic Car Show
Information: firstname.lastname@example.org or 954/779-1420
December 3, Jacksonville
Super Sunday Car and Truck Show
Sponsor: North Florida Car Show Association
Information: www.northflshowcar.com or 904/730-8056
December 9, Fanning Springs
Festival of Lights Classic Car Show
Information: www.fanningspringsflorida.com/lightsapp.htm or 352/463-9089
December 16, Miami
Hot Import Nights
Information: www.hotimportnights.com or 949/789-7439
December 16, Plant City
20th Annual Car and Truck Show
Sponsor: High Rollers Car Club
December 9, Honolulu
Hot Import Nights
Information: www.hotimportnights.com or 949/789-7439
December 2-3, Timonium
East Coast Indoor Nationals
Information: www.eastcoastindoornats.com or 410/628-6262