Legislative Wins Follow Year of Challenges

The year 2015 brought with it legislative proposals from state houses impacting car enthusiasts and their vehicles from coast-to-coast. While many bills benefited the car hobby, many others were ill-conceived and challenged our ability to fully enjoy our hobby. The following recap details state and federal initiatives successfully conquered by the SEMA Action Network (SAN) this past year.

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Legislative Front Lines

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SEMA SAN Strike Force

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signing Act 225 in 2009 as a result of efforts by SEMA Action Network (SAN) member Paul Underwood and his group. Pictured left to right: Chet Underwood, George Stauffer (owner of Stauffer Classics, LTD), Sioux Underwood, Thomas Landmann, Governor Doyle, Tryge Knutson (Senator Erpenbach's staff), Ullr Underwood, Paul Underwood and Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts.

Wisconsin’s Paul Underwood explains that he was “sort of dragged into the whole ‘old car scene’ by misfortune. I bought 'em to use 'em.” Growing up on a farm in Mt. Horeb, the idea of owning a hobby vehicle seemed pretty remote in a family where vehicles were merely practical necessities. However, his mother found a '52 MG TD kit car which Paul later inherited. However, safety concerns brought up by a friend swayed him to purchase a '73 DeTomaso Pantera. A few years later, he spotted a Swiss Army Pinzgauer while returning from a vacation in Montana. He bought one in 2002. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) tried to outlaw Pinzgauers in Wisconsin five years later. “That is when my crusade began to correct the unreasonable actions of a few very determined and misguided folks down at WisDOT,” relays Underwood. “They picked a fight with the wrong stubborn literate old farm boy.”

According to Paul, there were only about a dozen owners of military vehicles like his in the whole state at the time. He believed that it wasn't fair that someone from Illinois could own a Pinzgauer and drive it legally in Wisconsin but a taxpaying voting Wisconsin citizen could not. Underwood says “So I squawked to anyone who'd listen; friends, owners, my legislators and gathered a crowd. I approached my state senator for help and we eventually succeeded in passing a law in 2009 (Act 225, the governor’s signing is pictured above) protecting Pinzgauers and three other ex-military vehicles.” As related legislation has been introduced in his state, Paul continued to grow his group’s size and influence. He credits Tom Zat (“the Carroll Shelby of Alfa Romeos") and Curt Rymkus (“a modified vehicle enthusiast”) among the driving forces behind the success. Recently, they have been working closely with the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and fellow car enthusiasts to implement fair procedures. Underwood expresses that the SEMA Action Network (SAN) has complimented his efforts by reaching hobbyists in Wisconsin that may not have been involved otherwise.

As the 2016 session approaches, may the New Year deliver more legislative conquests for our hobby in America's Dairyland! Many thanks for fighting the good fight, Paul.

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