December 2011


Click on image above to open the newsletter PDF.


A Very Good Year

SAN Confronts Challenges/Opportunities in 2011

Despite a prolonged economic slump in which state governments
seeking to generate new sources of revenue proposed a range of
new taxes and restrictions on increasingly disillusioned hobbyist
car owners, 2011 again brought a series of legislative and regulatory
accomplishments for the vehicle enthusiast community on a variety of
issues. In its 15th year of existence and with more than 60,000 North
American members, the SEMA Action Network (SAN) remains the
premier organization defending the rights of vehicle enthusiasts. The
results speak for themselves. The SAN’s continued pursuit of a pro-active
legislative agenda again persuaded state legislators to overhaul existing
statutes, create brand-new programs to safeguard and promote the automotive
hobby while fending off efforts to saddle car owners with additional
fees. Our successes this year once again demonstrated the benefits
of active involvement and the grassroots potential of hobbyists across
the country. This year-in-review issue of Driving Force details the battles
fought and the victories won by the SAN and its dedicated following.

State Legislation

Arizona Emissions Test Exemption: SAN-supported legislation
to exempt all vehicles manufactured in the ’74
model year and earlier from the state’s mandatory
biennial emissions inspection program was signed
into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Under
previous law, only vehicles manufactured in 1966 and
earlier and collectibles (used primarily for hobby
activities, insured under a collector car insurance
policy and whose owners have registered an additional vehicle for general
transportation) were exempt. The governor’s signature acknowledges
the relatively minimal environmental impact of older vehicles, such
as the historic cars targeted for this exemption. These vehicles constitute
a small portion of the vehicle fleet and are well-maintained and
infrequently operated.

Arkansas Inoperable Vehicles: The SAN helped defeat legislation
that would have allowed cities to remove inoperable
vehicles from private property if the vehicle was
deemed a “nuisance” under a local ordinance. Among
other things, the bill provided no reasonable safeguards
for legitimate automotive hobbyists to work on
inoperable collector vehicles on private property, even
those located out of public view.

Arkansas Bonded Titles: SAN-supported legislation to create a less expensive
bonded title procedure for titling assembled vehicles was signed into
law by Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe. The new procedure calculates
the amount of the bond as equal to the value of the vehicle. Prior to
the enactment of the bill, all vehicle owners applying for a bonded title
had to post a bond of 1.5 times the value of the vehicle. The bill also
permits assembled vehicles to be bought and sold in inoperable condition.
Arkansas defines an assembled vehicle as a vehicle constructed by
a collector from parts obtained from a variety of different sources on
various occasions.

Colorado Collector Vehicles: A SAN-supported bill to reorganize
and simplify the various laws dealing with
collector cars was approved by the Colorado legislature
and signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper.
The consolidation was supported by the
Collector Car Council of Colorado, a long-time SAN
member that works to promote pro-hobby legislation
in the state. Reorganizing the statutes into one location
in the code will help the Department of Revenue, law enforcement,
county clerks and enthusiasts more easily locate and apply state law governing
the titling and registration of collector vehicles.

Connecticut Antique Vehicles: SAN-opposed legislation that
threatened to increase the age requirement for
vehicles eligible for registration as “antique, rare or
special-interest motor vehicles” died when the Connecticut
Legislature adjourned for the year. The bill
had been approved by the Joint Committee on Planning
and Development and amended to increase the
age requirement for registration as an antique to 30
years old and increase the tax assessment amount on vehicles registered as
antiques to $2,500. Currently, vehicles 20 years old or older are eligible
for antique status. Antique, rare or special-interest motor vehicles are currently
assessed at a rate of $500, and owners pay personal property taxes
on that amount.

Hawaii Car Audio Equipment: SAN-opposed legislation to
ban the installation, ownership or use of any car with
aftermarket speakers more than 6.5 in. in height
or depth, any five-speaker aftermarket system, any
aftermarket speaker more than 100 watts and any
aftermarket speaker installed external to the passenger
compartment or in an open hatch back was not
considered this year. The measure was discriminatory
toward aftermarket products, as it did not seek to limit systems installed
by the original vehicle manufacturer or dealer. If enacted, the bill would
have denied hobbyists the opportunity to purchase and install a range of
aftermarket alternatives to original-equipment stereos.

Illinois Antiques: SAN-supported legislation to provide for
an expanded-use antique vehicle registration class
that would allow antique vehicles and replicas to be
driven without limitation during the warmer part of
the year, from April 1 through October 31 was signed
into law by Governor Pat Quinn. Under the new law,
expanded-use antiques are limited to traveling to and
from car shows, exhibitions, servicing or demonstration
during the colder months, from November 1 through March 31.
Regular antique vehicle registration would still be available for a lower fee
to hobbyists who would prefer only operating their vehicle on a limiteduse
basis throughout the year.

Iowa Ethanol: SAN-opposed legislation in Iowa to change
labeling requirements on gas pumps across the state to
only require labeling for unblended gasoline and E85
was successfully defeated for the year. Current law in
Iowa requires labeling when gasoline is blended with
any amount of ethanol. If the bill had been enacted, it
would have removed labeling requirements for ethanol
blended gasoline containing 15% or less ethanol,
thereby increasing the risk of misfueling and potential engine damage.
Unblended gas is required to be labeled, but no guarantee was made that
unblended gas would be available.

Maine Custom Vehicles: A SAN-supported bill to include
more model year vehicles in the definition of a custom
vehicle by changing the definition from 30 to
25 years old and older was signed into law by Maine
Governor Paul LePage. The new law also expands
the weight limit for custom vehicles, from 6,000 to
10,000 lbs. and clarifies that custom vehicles are held
to special inspection criteria promulgated by the
Chief of the State Police.

Mississippi Salvage/Scrap Vehicles: Legislation requiring scrap
metal processors or car parts dealers to transfer a vehicle
plate and title to the state’s Department of Revenue
has been signed by Governor Haley Barbour.
The new rules allow scrap metal and parts dealers
to submit an affidavit for a vehicle 10 years or older
in place of the title if necessary. In addition, the bill
prohibits the removal of a vehicle from private property without the consent
of the vehicle owner or property owner. A vehicle may be towed
from private property without the owner’s consent only if authorized by
local, state or federal law.

Nebraska Ethanol: Persuaded by the opposition of SAN, legislation
to remove labeling requirements on pumps
dispensing ethanol-blended gasoline has been
“indefinitely postponed” in Nebraska. Current law
in Nebraska requires labeling when gasoline contains
1% or more alcohol, including labels for pumps dispensing
E10. The bill would have made it impossible
for enthusiasts to know whether the gasoline they put
into their vehicles contained any ethanol, making unintentional misfueling
and engine damage more likely. This bill, or similar measures dealing
with ethanol labeling, could be revived in the 2012 legislative session.
The SAN maintains that you have a right to know what blend of ethanol
you are putting in your older collector cars.

Nebraska Parts Cars: Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signed into law a bill to
redefine parts cars and make such vehicles easier to transfer. Prior to the
bill’s enactment, Nebraska required a certificate of title when transferring
any vehicle. The new law, effective immediately, allows for parts cars to
be transferred using a bill of sale issued by the DMV. Parts vehicles eligible
to be transferred using only a bill of sale under the new provisions
include vehicles for which title has been surrendered due to the vehicle
being destroyed, dismantled or scrapped or for which title has been surrendered
to another state or an insurance company to render it fit for sale
for scrap parts.

Nevada Emissions Exemption: SAN-supported legislation to
exempt classic vehicles and classic rods from emissions
inspections if owners pay a one-time $6 fee and
submit a certification that their vehicle will not be
driven more than 5,000 miles per year was signed
into law by Governor Brian Sandoval. Under previous
law, classic rods and classic vehicles were subject to a
2,500-mile-per-year limit to qualify for an emissions
exemption and had to pass an initial two-speed idle emissions inspection
to qualify. Also, each year the owners of classic rods and classic vehicles
were required to certify that their vehicles had not been driven more than
2,500 miles during the previous year and the certification had to be verified
by a DMV emissions technician. Under the new law, the initial emissions
inspection will no longer be required.

New York Collector Car Appreciation Day: The New York
State Assembly approved a resolution to memorialize
July 8, 2011, as Collector Car Appreciation
Day in the state of New York, in conjunction with
National Collector Car Appreciation Day. The effort
was sponsored by New York Assemblymember Bill
Reilich, who has served the automotive hobbyist
community for the past four years as national chairman
of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus. Earlier in
the year, at SEMA’s request, U.S. Senators John Tester (D-MT) and Richard
Burr (R-NC) introduced and the Senate approved Resolution 154
(S. Res. 154), officially designating July 8, 2011, as “National Collector
Car Appreciation Day.”

North Carolina Ethanol: SAN-supported legislation requiring ethanol
content labels on all pumps that dispense ethanolblended
gasoline has been signed into law by North
Carolina Governor Bev Perdue. The new law requires
these labels to indicate that the gasoline contains 10%
or less ethanol or greater than 10% ethanol. Previously,
retailers operating pumps dispensing ethanol-blended
gasoline were not required to post labels regarding
ethanol content. Many products on the market, including older cars,
special-interest collector vehicles and historic vehicles, use materials that
are incompatible with ethanol.

North Dakota Vehicle Modifications: As a result of the opposition
mounted by SAN, legislation that threatened to
prohibit the modification of any motor vehicle that
altered the manufacturer’s original suspension, steering
or brake system unless the state highway patrol
issued an inspection certificate has been amended to
remove those restrictions. The amended bill, signed
into law, now only provides for a study of the state’s
transportation laws to be conducted between the 2011 and 2012 legislative

Oklahoma Rebodied Vehicles: SAN-supported legislation to provide
for certificates of title to be issued for “rebodied”
vehicles has been signed into law by Oklahoma
Governor Mary Fallin. Under the new law, a rebodied
vehicle is defined as a vehicle which has been
assembled using a new body or new major component
part, which must be identical to the body or major
component part used on the original vehicle. The law
also requires that a new body or major component part that is used to
assemble a rebodied vehicle to be licensed by the manufacturer of the
original vehicle. Other original, new or reconditioned parts may also be
used. Titles issued to rebodied vehicles will identify the year, make and
model of the originally manufactured vehicle and include a notation that
states: “This vehicle has been assembled with new major components
licensed by the original manufacturer.” Upon application, the Oklahoma
Tax Commissioner will assign each rebodied vehicle a new vehicle identification
number (VIN).

Oklahoma Racing: Legislation to allow municipalities to issue permits for sanctioned
motor-vehicle racing events on public streets and highways within
its geographical jurisdiction has been signed into law by Oklahoma Governor
Mary Fallin. Introduced as the “Municipal Motor Vehicle Racing
Act,” the new law promotes legal racing in Oklahoma, boosts the state’s
tourism sector and streamlines the process for race promoters to obtain a
racing event permit. An exemption from regulations governing “public or
private nuisances,” including noise limits, is also provided for in the new
law. To obtain a permit, the racing event must be sanctioned by a nationally
or internationally recognized racing organization.

Oregon Exhaust Systems: At the insistence of SAN, the sponsor
of legislation that would have banned the sale of
certain new motor-vehicle exhaust systems withdrew
the measure from further consideration. The bill
would have prohibited the sale of exhaust systems and
exhaust system components that cause motor vehicles
to produce noise exceeding certain noise limits. Under
the bill, noise limits specified in rules adopted by the
Environmental Quality Commission would have been used to determine
which systems would be permitted or banned. However, in 1991, the Environmental
Quality Commission terminated its noise-control program and
no noise-testing procedure is currently in place. The bill would have led to
significant confusion regarding compliance and enforcement.

Oregon Suspension/Tire Alterations: A SAN-opposed bill that would have
severely limited vehicle suspension, body lift and wheel/tire alterations
died without committee consideration. Specifically, the measure sought
to ban vehicles whose bumpers were elevated more than 3 in. over the
original manufactured bumper clearance. Among other things, the bill
discriminated against hobbyists and aftermarket parts makers by leaving it
solely to the vehicle manufacturers to choose bumper heights, would have
forced owners of modified vehicles to spend large sums of money to reinstall
original components and would have banned useful alterations that
provide adequate clearance for on-/off-road capability and accommodate
heavy loads, larger tires, improved suspension and water-fording capability.
The bill also would have imposed a fine of up to $360 per offense for
vehicles that exceed the 3-in. clearance requirement.

Tennessee Emissions Tests: SAN-supported legislation to
exempt vehicles more than 25 years old from the
state’s annual emissions inspection and maintenance
program was signed into law by Tennessee
Governor Bill Haslam. To qualify for the exemption,
these vehicles must be registered as “antique
motor vehicles.” Antique vehicles are defined as more
than 25 years old with a non-modified engine and
body that is used for club activities, exhibits, tours, parades and similar
uses as a collector’s item; on the highways for the purpose of selling, testing
the operation of, or obtaining repairs or maintenance; and for general
transportation on Saturday and Sunday. Previous law in Tennessee only
exempted vehicles manufactured before the ’75 model year from emissions
inspection. The new law provides for a rolling emissions inspection
exemption that would exempt qualifying antique vehicles upon enactment
and would pick up an additional model year for each year the law
is in effect.

Texas Street Rods/Customs: After an effort that stretched
into two legislative sessions, SAN-model legislation
to create a vehicle registration classification for
street rods and custom vehicles (including kit cars
and replicas) and provide for special license plates
was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry. Slated
to go into effect on September 1, 2011, the new law
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. The law also allows for the use of non-original
materials and creates a titling and registration criterion that assigns these
vehicles the same model-year designation as the production vehicle they
most closely resemble. In addition, the law only holds street rods, customs
and replicas to the equipment standards specified by law during the
model year listed on the title and exempts them from the state’s emissions
inspection program.

Utah Vintage Vehicles: SAN-supported legislation to allow
vehicles 30 years old and older to be classified as “vintage
vehicles” was signed into law by Utah Governor
Gary Herbert. Under previous law, Utah reserved
the “vintage vehicle” class only to vehicles 40 years
old and older. Under the new law, “vintage vehicles”
30–40 years old would be charged a $45 annual
registration fee. When the vehicle reaches 40 years old, the registrant
would pay a one-time $40 fee. Vintage vehicles are exempted from
annual emissions and safety inspections. Utah exempts vehicles manufactured
prior to 1968 from emissions inspections. Vehicles manufactured
after that date must be registered as “vintage vehicles” or “customs” to
qualify for this exemption.

Washington Street Rods/Customs: SAN-model legislation to create
a vehicle titling and registration classification for
street rods and custom vehicles was signed into law
by Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire. The
bill defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured
before 1949 and a custom as an altered vehicle
at least 30 years old and manufactured after 1948.
Kit cars and replica vehicles will be assigned a certificate
of title bearing the same model-year designation as the production
vehicle they most closely resemble.

Washington Collector Vehicles: Legislation that originally sought to increase the age
requirement for vehicles eligible for registration as “collector vehicles”
was signed into law by Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire.
Under the new law, which was amended under pressure from the SAN,
vehicles seeking registration as collector vehicles and the one-time registration
fee would still only be required to be at least 30 years old—not
40 years old as the original bill required. The law also deletes provisions
that would have created penalties for violating the limited-use provisions.
However, the measure still requires the Department of Licensing to
establish a method for law enforcement to readily access collector vehicle
information using the collector vehicle’s plate number, which will aid in
ensuring a plate is being used on its properly assigned vehicle.

Washington State Registration Fees: SAN-opposed legislation to require annual
renewal fees for collector vehicle and horseless carriage license plates was
defeated. Under the bill, the initial $35 license plate fee for these vehicles
would have remained and a new annual $30 renewal fee would have been
added. Under Washington law, a collector vehicle is any motor vehicle
that is more than 30 years old, while a horseless carriage is defined as a
vehicle that is more than 40 years old.

West Virginia Exhaust Noise: A bill to provide that the noise from a
motor-vehicle exhaust system that has been deemed
“disturbing or unreasonably loud” constitutes the
crime of disturbing the peace was defeated. The
SAN opposed the bill because it did not supply law
enforcement with an enforcement standard, allowing
for subjective judgments on whether an exhaust system
was “disturbing or unreasonably loud.” The bill
also would have made it difficult for hobbyists to replace factory exhaust
systems with more durable, better-performing options. Under the bill,
violators could have been fined up to $1,000 per occurrence, jailed for
six months or both.

Wyoming Vehicle Titles: A SAN-supported bill to ease the burden
on hobbyists by providing an exemption from
bonded title requirements has been signed into law
by Governor Matt Mead. By allowing enthusiasts to
title vehicles being restored for personal use without
posting bond, the exemption reduces costs associated
with titling hobby vehicles when an original title was
never issued or can no longer be located. The new law
allows restorers to title their completed works by submitting an affidavit
of vehicle ownership, a notarized bill of sale, a written statement of the
value of the vehicle (based on a national appraisal guide or appraisal performed
by a dealer) and a VIN inspection. To prevent abuse of the new
procedure, titles issued under this procedure will not be transferable for
the first 180 days after issuance.

State Regulations

Wisconsin Imported Collector Cars: The Wisconsin Department
of Transportation has officially withdrawn its
proposal to prohibit the registration of imported
vehicles manufactured after 1967 that do not meet
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).
SAN opposed the proposal. U.S. law specifically
exempts imported vehicles that are 25 years old and
older from these safety standards. The Department of
Transportation proposal offered no such reasonable exemption. The regulation
would only have permitted the continued registration of subject
vehicles that are already legally registered in Wisconsin, but only until
they are transferred to a new owner. Among other things, the proposal
failed to recognize the fact that collector vehicles are overwhelmingly
well-maintained and infrequently driven, was inconsistent with federal
law and would prohibit the registration of vehicles coming in from other
states that have already been proven safe on U.S. roads.

Federal Legislation

2011 Collector Car Appreciation Day: The second annual Collector Car
Appreciation Day (CCAD) was held on July 8, serving to focus
attention on the vital role automotive restoration and collection
plays in American society. Business owners, car clubs and individuals
are encouraged to organize events to help celebrate the day,
which totaled more than 200 events this year. A list of CCAD
events is posted on the SAN website:

For the second year in a row, the Senate passed a Resolution (S. Res. 154)
recognizing CCAD and designating the date. The Resolutions have been
introduced by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)
at the request of SEMA and its Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO)
and Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) Councils.

Wilderness: The SAN joined a number of other organizations representing
the off-road industry and enthusiasts to support legislation
that would release 42 million acres of land from a wilderness designation.
The lands have been set aside as “wilderness study areas”
or “inventoried roadless areas.” The “wilderness” designation is consequential
since no mechanized activity is permitted on lands so
designated. Following extensive reviews, the U.S. Bureau of Land
Management and the U.S. Forest Service have identified the 42 million
acres as not suitable as wilderness. The agencies would be directed
to manage the lands for multiple uses.

Federal Regulations

Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF): The SAN is working with other “Save the Salt” Coalition members to require the replenishment of salt removed from the BSF by an adjoining potash mining operation. The land is controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Coalition is seeking a requirement that the current mine operator pump salt back onto the BSF during the winter months as was done by the previous mine owner during a 1997–2002 prototype replenishment program. The BLM will release an environmental assessment in the near future that will specify the protections to be undertaken. The Coalition is working to include a “mass balance” requirement (replace salt in the same amount as removed). Toward that goal, the Coalition has launched a grassroots support effort that includes a website (www.savethesalt.org), a congressional outreach campaign, a collaboration with other organizations in the racing, off-road and historic preservation communities, and media articles in various publications, including Hot Rod and other Source Interlink Media magazines and The Wall Street Journal.

Ethanol: Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the sale of E15 for vehicles made in model year ’01 or later. The EPA also made it illegal to fuel pre-model-year-’01 vehicles with E15 but placed the burden on the motorist not to misfuel the vehicle. The EPA agreed with the SAN that the corrosive effects associated with E15 posed a risk to these vehicles. Several lawsuits have been filed to overturn the EPA’s decision to allow the sale of E15. It may take months or years to resolve the suits. Gas stations cannot offer E15 until the EPA finalizes a national rule covering E15 gas-pump warning labels. The rule has recently been issued and will likely become part of the lawsuits. The SAN has joined a number of other organizations in opposing the EPA decisions along with state actions to repeal mandates that gas pumps have labels for ethanol content below
15%, a topic currently subject to state law. The SAN and its coalition members want consumers to know what they are putting in their gas tank.

Wilderness: The U.S. Department of the Interior has withdrawn its controversial “wild lands” policy, which directed lands with potential
wilderness qualities to be managed as wilderness. The SAN joined with a number of other organizations to oppose the program, implemented
last December by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, since it usurps the exclusive authority of Congress to designate “wilderness.” The BLM manages more than 250 million acres across the western United States and Alaska, 22% of which already has the wilderness designation. Under the wild lands program, the BLM was directed to review its inventory in search of more wild lands. Program opponents noted that it did not take into account input from local communities and elected officials on how the lands should be managed, such as permitting multiple uses that provide jobs and economic benefits.


SEMA Action Network Streamlines Website to Help You Protect Your Passion

In 1997, the SAN was created with the goal of protecting every niche of the automotive hobby against unfair laws and regulations. Since its inception, SAN has seen the coming of a new digital era in which SAN members rely heavily on e-mail, social networking,and the World Wide Web to access
information. To keep pace with these changes, SAN has streamlined its website, www.semasan.com, to make it easier than ever for SAN members to find the information they need to help protect their passion.

“No other organization brings such a comprehensive set of tools and resources directly to hobbyist’s computers,” said SEMA Vice President of Government Affairs Steve McDonald. “Our intent with the new website design was to make these resources more easily accessible to the thousands of vehicle enthusiasts who rely on the SAN daily for updates on threats and opportunities facing the hobby.”

Resources featured on the streamlined www.semasan.com include:

  • Up-to-the minute action alerts with bill information, speaking points and legislator contact information.Archived breaking news items for a comprehensive overview ofSAN efforts.
  • Digital copies of the SAN’s award-winning monthly legislative newsletter—Driving Force.
  • State-by-state tracked legislation.