SEMA Celebrates the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus
Earlier this Spring, SEMA held its 5th Salute to the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus in Washington, D.C. Now 72 Senators and Congressmen strong, the Caucus serves to support, promote and protect the specialty aftermarket and motorsports industry on Capitol Hill. The event allows SEMA businesses and members of Congress to interact and celebrate the growth of the automotive hobby and the industry that supports it.
Many Caucus members are enthusiasts themselves. This is particularly true of Caucus Co-Chair Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), a well-known Harley-Davidson enthusiast and an avid street rodder. Other Caucus members are heavily involved in motorsports. For example, Representative Robin Hayes (R-NC) actually part owned a NASCAR Busch team and is a personal friend of NASCAR Champion Dale Jarrett. Still others, such as Representative Don Manzullo (R-IL), represent states or districts that contain numerous specialty vehicle businesses, from big manufacturers to small local speed shops or racetracks. Rep. Manzullo, however, has an extra interest in supporting the Caucus – his brother Frank's street rod club, Unique Street Rods of Rockford, Ill., is a SEMA Action Network member!
With each new Caucus member, SEMA and the SEMA Action Network gains one more friend in Washington. This speaks volumes when we consider how proposed legislation can threaten our businesses and our hobbies nationwide. The best part is that our message is working. Membership in the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus has nearly doubled in the last year. We expect even greater participation in the future!
Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus Members
Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO)
Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-MI)
Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Conrad Burns (R-MT)
Larry Craig (R-ID)
Michael Crapo (R-ID)
John Ensign (R-NV)
Jesse Helms (R-NC)
Ernest Hollings (D-SC)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
John Kerry (D-MA)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Cass Ballenger (R-NC)
James Barcia (D-MI)
Joe Barton (R-TX)
Allen Boyd (D-FL)
Kevin Brady (R-TX)
Ed Bryant (R-TN)
Dan Burton (R-IN)
Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Steve Chabot (R-OH)
Bob Clement (D-TN)
Howard Coble (R-NC)
Gary A. Condit (D-CA)
Christopher Cox (R-CA)
Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA)
Mike Doyle (D-PA)
Elton Gallegly (R-CA)
Jim Gibbons (R-NV)
Wayne T. Gilchrest (R-MD)
Virgil Goode Jr. (I-VA)
Robin Hayes (R-NC)
Joel Hefley (R-CO)
Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Darrell Issa (R-CA)
William Jenkins (R-TN)
Walter Jones (R-NC)
Paul Kanjorski (D-PA)
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Dale E. Kildee (D-MI)
Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI)
John LaFalce (D-NY)
John Linder (R-GA)
William Lipinski (D-IL)
Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Bill Luther (DFL-MN)
Donald Manzullo (R-IL)
Mike McIntyre (D-NC)
Howard McKeon (R-CA)
Gary Miller (R-CA)
Connie Morella (R-MD)
Sue Myrick (R-NC)
Richard Pombo (R-CA)
Jim Ramstad (R-MN)
Nick Rahall (D-WV)
Bob Riley (R-AL)
Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Edward Royce (R-CA)
Max Sandlin (D-TX)
Loretta Sanchez (D-CA)
Tom Sawyer (D-OH)
Pete Sessions (R-TX)
Brad Sherman (D-CA)
Nick Smith (R-MI)
Mark Souder (R-IN)
Floyd Spence (R-SC)
John Spratt (D-SC)
Cliff Stearns (R-FL)
John Sununu (R-NH)
William M. Thomas (R-CA)
Fred Upton (R-MI)
Zach Wamp (R-TN)
Dave Weldon (R-FL)
California Bill to Destroy Pre-1970 Vehicles Moves Through Legislature
Legislation (A.B. 1390) that would allow automobile manufacturers to crush pre-1970 vehicles in exchange for pollution credits has, despite our vocal opposition, passed the California Assembly and now moves to the Senate for consideration.
A.B. 1390 would award motorists in certain areas who scrap their pre-1970 vehicles with a credit of at least $2,500 towards purchasing a newer vehicle. The bill essentially allows automotive manufacturers to create new markets for their products at the expense of classic car hobbyists.
In addition, A.B. 1390 ignores all the proven arguments against scrappage:
Older cars are infrequently driven, generally well-maintained and not a good source for emissions reductions.
"Crusher" programs are difficult to police and subject to fraud.
Scrappage threatens hobbyists and low-income drivers, both of whom depend on a supply of parts and parts-cars in order to keep their vehicles running.
Scrapped cars typically are second or third vehicles rarely driven in the first place.
Low-income drivers often cannot afford to purchase "cleaner" vehicles with the money or credits provided by scrappage programs. Finally, A.B. 1390 contains no provision for parts recycling. Not even a taillight would be saved from the crusher.
With its population density and sheet metal-friendly climate, there are probably more pre-1970 vehicles in Southern California than anywhere else in the U.S. Given this, the potential loss of project vehicles and parts-cars is a grave threat to all automotive enthusiasts. We urge all SAN contacts to redouble their efforts and contact their California legislators in opposition to A.B. 1390.
Pennsylvania Street Rod Standards to be Reexamined
Spurred by heavy lobbying from the Pennsylvania street rod community, the state's Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will convene a task force to revise inspection regulations applicable to street rods and other specialty vehicles. SEMA, a representative from the Mid-Atlantic Street Rod Association and Pennsylvania representatives from the National Street Rod Association will participate in the task force.
Among the many issues the task force will consider are bumper requirements, blue-dot taillights, fuel-cell use and possibly creating a “custom” classification for vehicles built after 1949. SEMA spoke with Tom Zamboni, manager of the Special Services Unit at PennDOT, and he is hopeful that the task force can begin meetings in July. SEMA will keep rodders posted on how these talks proceed.
Driving Force would like to commend SAN members Joe Paplosky, Ann Mint and Mike Kramer of the Mid-Atlantic Street Rod Association for ultimately bringing PennDOT to the bargaining table. Without their help, Pennsylvania street rodders had little hope of convincing the authorities to revisit their street rod inspection criteria.
News in Maine…
Good News in Maine
A recently signed Maine law creates a special license plate and new safety inspection criteria for "Modified Show Vehicles" manufactured after 1949. The new law states only that modified show vehicles must be “mechanically safe, in good working order and not a hazard to the occupant of the vehicle or the general public.” Underneath this broad mandate, Maine's Chief of the State Police will write the specific regulations these vehicles must meet in order to pass inspection.
It will be crucial for SEMA and Maine enthusiasts to work with the Maine State Police to ensure the new rules are not unnecessarily restrictive and that reasonable and safe vehicle modification and customization remain legal. The Chief has until Dec. 15 to come up with the new inspection criteria. Driving Force will inform the hobbyist community in Maine when the proposed rules are published so that they may submit comments.
…And Not So Good News in Maine
The Maine legislature also recently passed a bill (S.B. 629) that provides funding for Maine's scrappage program. This bill was railroaded through the Maine Legislature in less than a week and, at press time, awaits Governor Angus King's signature.
Under this legislation, any automobile scrapper that crushes a pre-1988 vehicle will receive up to $350 from the state government. An emissions test is not required to verify that the vehicle is in fact a gross polluter. The vehicle's age is the sole determining factor.
Readers may recall that last year Maine established a scrappage program but could not adequately fund its operation. The primary problem was that vehicle dismantlers claimed they would actually lose money on each vehicle scrapped. That conflict has apparently been resolved by this legislation.
Driving Force will keep you posted on Maine's continuing efforts to eliminate valuable restoration, customization and rodding projects, as well as vehicle parts and parts cars.
New Jersey Hobbyists Encouraged to Speak Up
Bill Berenato Sr.
Antique Automobile Club of America,
South Jersey Mod "A" Region
At present, many of New Jersey's municipalities are rewriting land-use ordinances to prohibit automotive hobbyist activities, i.e. restoring, repairing and customizing vehicles or keeping a parts-car in public view.
I was instrumental in having Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald (D-6th District) draft and introduce New Jersey A-1403, a bill that strives to protect the New Jersey enthusiast community's right to pursue the hobby. A-1403 would protect the right of automotive hobbyists to work on and store up to three project vehicles and parts cars on private property so long as they are shielded from ordinary public view.
Bill A-1403 was up for vote in the New Jersey Assembly this year and probably would have passed had the powerful New Jersey League of Municipalities lobby not opposed the Bill and had it pulled before consideration. In an effort to address the League of Municipalities' concerns while still protecting hobbyists, A-1403 was rewritten and, at present, New Jersey Assembly Speaker Jack Collins (R-3rd District) is "sitting" on the bill, preventing it from being heard and voted on.
The New Jersey League of Municipalities likely still wants this bill to die without ever having received due consideration. New Jersey car collectors, restorers, shade-tree mechanics and basic hobbyists are encouraged to contact Speaker Collins to express their support for A-1403. If enough people call, write or e-mail, this bill will come up for vote by the end of this year. Otherwise, it will surely die.
Collins' contact information is as follows: Assemblyman Jack Collins, Speaker, New Jersey Assembly, 63 East Ave. Woodstown, N.J. 08098, 856/769-3633, email@example.com.
Editor's note: A-1403 is a moving target. Negotiations on this legislation continue and success is neither guaranteed nor completely out of the question. The salient fact is that New Jersey enthusiasts are working hard to protect the hobby. THAT is reason enough to bring this to everyone's attention!
Pro-Hobby Legislative 'Quick Fixes'
It's never simple to get legislation changed or to change a legislator's mind. However, sometimes, when fairness and the facts are on our side, the SEMA government relations team can get things done quickly and relatively easily. The following examples, previously reported in Driving Force, are what we consider "quick fixes." Sometimes common sense does win out.
Mississippi Spot/Flood Lamps: SEMA defeated a bill that would have effectively banned the sale, installation and use of spot lamps, flood lamps and other auxiliary vehicle lighting equipment. Legislators were concerned that these lamps were being used illegally to shine on drivers and passengers of passing vehicles. The legislature passed a bill to prohibit auxiliary white lights on heavy vehicles (more than 12,001 pounds). However, the bill permits rear-facing auxiliary lights on vehicles weighing less than 12,000 pounds. SEMA successfully expanded this provision from an OE equipment-only restriction to permit aftermarket lighting equipment as well. The amended bill was signed by the governor.
Arkansas Light Covers: SEMA successfully amended a bill that sought to ban the installation and use of all headlamp covers and coatings that reduce light intensity. SEMA's amendments permit covers, provided that they are only used when headlamp use is not required. The bill was signed into law by the Governor.
Louisiana Fog Lamps: SEMA successfully amended a bill that sought to ban aftermarket fog lamps on motor vehicles. Louisiana legislators are concerned with the glare from poorly aimed and illegally mounted lamps. Under the SEMA amendment, all mis-aimed and illegally mounted lamps would be subject to a fix-it ticket.
Can You Believe?
California Patrolman Attends Roadside Seminar on Legal Engine Modifications
Garrett, a California SEMA Action Network member, was cruising down the freeway one day when he was pulled over . . . When the officer walked up to Garrett's 2000 Civic Si, he didn't ask to see his license and registration. Instead, Garrett was asked to pop the hood.
After looking things over, the officer commented that the engine had obviously been modified. Garrett confirmed that the engine had, in fact, been mildly modified. The officer then informed him that the intake and exhaust manifolds were illegal. Rather than getting irate, Garrett calmly showed the officer the CARB numbers on each piece and explained exactly how and why they were in compliance with California law.
After some discussion, the officer seemed to realize that our man Garrett knew what he was talking about. Suddenly the tone of the conversation changed and the officer actually began asking him additional clarifying questions about legal engine modifications. To his credit, Garrett was happy to help.
Needless to say, the officer left the scene with a much better understanding of California vehicle laws.. And Garrett got to leave without a citation!
Have you had a similar experience with the authorities? Do you have a story to tell? If you do, please submit it to Can You Believe? c/o
SEMA Action Network
1317 F St., NW, Ste. 500
Washington, D.C. 20004
We Get Letters
Food for Thought on California Exhaust Noise Law
I am an enthusiast of imports. I fully understand what the California Highway Patrol's (CHP) [exhaust noise testing procedures] are. Only they can decide if we get tickets or not. After that, it's up to us what we do. If the CHP doesn't offer decibel testing, how can we go about testing these aftermarket exhaust systems? I think if a CHP officer can write us a ticket he/she should be able to test our muffler at that point in time. If it falls under the 95 db(a) legal limit, then we're cool. If it is over, then [the citation] is understandable. But as a car-craze lover, I need answers to my questions.
If [reasonable exhaust noise] legislation can pass, maybe more of us youngsters will grow up knowing our government is behind us on what our choices are. At this moment, I can truly say youngsters grow up not caring. We can care less about our neighbors. Government??? We laugh our heads off.
Anyone can capture the youth. Give them a fair chance and make it work. Hey, look on the bright side; cars got me out of gangs. I've been into cars 5 years now. I'm 21.
– Sadat Vang
Puts things in perspective, doesn't it? – 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 Jersey: A.B. 3584 would exempt vehicles less than 5 years old from emissions inspections.
New Jersey: A.B. 3555/S.B. 2395 would exempt 1996 and newer vehicles from emissions inspections but would require that their OBD systems be checked to make sure they are functioning properly.
Ohio: H.B. 232 would prohibit emissions inspections from including a test for nitrous oxide unless the EPA mandates it.
New York: S.B. 5338 would require that all vehicles be equipped with windshield wiper fluid reservoirs and sprayers.
Registration and Plates
Rhode Island: H.B. 6417 would permit antique motor vehicles to display year-of-manufacture plates.