SEMA, SAN And You-Legislative Efforts Protect the Hobby and Enthusiasts
SEMA's legislative program isn't a part-time operation. It is up and running all 365 days of the year because wayward legislation can be introduced at any time. When possibly harmful legislation is put into the hopper, SEMA’s Office of Government Relations in Washington, D.C. is ready to deal with it. We’re on the lookout at all times.
Our mission is to monitor and analyze legislative and regulatory proposals issued by the states and the federal government and then advocate hobbyist positions to public officials on behalf of SEMA Action Network (SAN) members. So far this year, we’ve tracked over 350 legislative initiatives in states all over the country on issues ranging from scrappage to public-nuisance laws that seek to ban inoperable vehicles on private land to emissions-testing programs to registration classifications and equipment standards. Often, you’ll read about our efforts in The Driving Force as cover stories or under Legislative Quick Hits.
Sometimes, we profile legislators who have been friendly to the hobby and influential in getting helpful legislation passed and harmful ones stopped. These legislators want to help us and promote efforts to enjoy our rides. Part of our success lies in the coalitions and partnerships that we build with helpful legislators across the country and in the U.S. Congress. We make these contacts all through the year, even when there is no bad law or regulation being considered. As the saying goes, make hay while the sun shines. In our case, we make friends whenever and wherever we can. That way, if a bad piece of legislation comes down the pike, we can ask for assistance from a dedicated group of legislators. You don’t want to look like a fair-weather friend and only ask for help when you need it most. For that reason, we encourage SAN members to do the same thing. As most of the State Legislatures have closed down for the year, now is the perfect time to meet your legislators and get to know them. Invite them to your summer club meetings and swap meets. You’d be surprised how many of them love cars and trucks. After all, they’re people too! Advance preparation in any project is the key. Build your contact list now, so that you have it ready when you need it.
Many of the issues we confront daily in Washington directly affect SAN members and enthusiasts in general. We’re hopeful that the information contained in The Driving Force is helpful to you in keeping track of our progress on the issues we’ve identified as being important. We encourage you to contact us with your thoughts. And, as always, we’re extremely grateful to the SAN members who unfailingly answer our calls to action when we send out our Legislative Alerts that ask folks to call their legislators.
SEMA’s Washington office also works closely with SEMA-member businesses and the various specialized SEMA Councils. These Councils include the Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO), comprised of those members involved in the restoration and preservation of our great rides, the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) whose members need no elaboration, and the Sport-Compact Council (SCC), again a group that speaks for itself. SEMA moves the legislative ball downfield through coordinated policy initiatives with the SAN. Together, we have a record of legislative successes that is second to none. Let’s keep the ball moving as we look forward to 2005.
Caption: Fellow hobbyist and SEMA friend Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) poses with his custom hot rod.
Legislative Quick Hits
California Emissions Exemption Repeal Passes In Assembly, Moves To Senate: The California Assembly passed the bill to repeal the rolling 30-year exemption and replace it with a provision requiring the permanent testing of all 1976 and newer model vehicles, despite the estimated $200,000 in administrative costs. Meanwhile, the Senate approved contradictory legislation that would extend the state’s current rolling emissions-test exemption to older vehicles being brought into California from out of state. SEMA is actively engaged in discussions with other interested parties on alternative approaches that will enable retention of the exemption in some manner or form. In the meantime, we request your messages in opposition to the legislation be sent to members of the Senate Transportation Committee, which will next consider the bill.
California Exhaust-Noise Testing Program Shows Continued Success: The California Bureau of Automotive Repair reports that approximately 90% of the over 1,700 vehicles that have undergone the state’s exhaust-noise test through April have been certified as compliant with California law. The Bureau began operation of the exhaust-noise testing program last August. Test stations are issuing certificates of compliance for vehicles when tests of their exhaust systems show that they emit 95 decibels or less under a fair and predictable test procedure devised by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The testing program was the product of a SEMA- and SAN-supported law.
Hawaii Legislature Passes Street Rod/ Replica Bill; Sent to Governor: Both chambers of the Hawaii Legislature have passed a version of SEMA’s model legislation regarding street rods and replica vehicles. The bill expands the defini-
tion of “street rod vehicle” and “street rod replica vehicle” to include vehicles manufactured before 1968 or kit cars manufactured after 1967 to resemble vehicles manufactured before 1968. Current law in Hawaii allows only vehicles manufactured prior to 1949 and replicas of these vehicles to be registered under these classes. The bill now moves on to Governor Linda Lingle for her signature.
Missouri Street Rod/Custom Vehicle Bill and Old-Car Emissions Exemption: The Missouri Legislature combined SEMA’s model legislation to create titling and registration classifications for street rods and custom vehicles with a SAN-supported bill to exempt all vehicles 26 years old and older from emissions inspections and passed both provisions. The combined measure, known as S.B. 1233, now awaits Governor Bob Holden’s approval before becoming law. The SEMA-model legislation provides for special license plates and exempts rods and customs from periodic inspections and emissions tests. It also provides for the use of non-original materials and requires an initial safety inspection based on criteria established in part by the local hobbyist community. Under the legislation, a replica vehicles is assigned the same model-year designation as the production vehicle it most closely resemble. If signed into law, the 26-year rolling emissions-test exemption will replace current law, which exempts only vehicles manufactured prior to the 1971 model year. We urge Missouri SAN members to ask Governor Holden to sign the legislation into law.
New Hampshire Legislature Passes Exhaust-Noise Bill; Sent to Governor: The New Hampshire House and Senate passed and sent to Governor Craig Benson an amended version of a SEMA-sponsored bill to remove vague and subjective provisions from the state’s exhaust-noise law. Currently, New Hampshire deems illegal all modifications that increase noise levels above those emitted by the vehicle’s original muffler. The original SEMA-drafted legislation required law enforcement authorities to prove that an exhaust system modification results in a noise level in excess of 95 decibels as measured by SAE test standard J1169 before issuing a citation. Deeming the 95-decibel limit too restrictive, the Legislature simply deleted provisions in the current law that referenced the noise levels of the original muffler.
Anti-Hobbyist Minnesota Legislation Dies as Legislature Adjourns
SEMA and the SAN helped defeat legislation that would have prohibited operation of an off-highway vehicle (OHV) on public land or public waters with an air-intake pipe or snorkel that is more than six inches above the manufacturer's original air-intake pipe. The bill formally died when the Legislature adjourned for the year. The measure was introduced as a proposal for a study on the impact of OHVs on wetlands but was amended in committee to include the proposed ban on snorkel use. “Existing Minnesota law already protects the wilderness and wetlands,” commented SAN Director Conrad Wong. “Those laws should be enforced first before more laws that seek to further restrict off-road hobbyist rights are enacted.”
In addition, working with the Minnesota racing community, SEMA amended legislation that would have imposed a ban on certain legal racing activities. As originally drafted, the bill would have outlawed motorsports events not sanctioned by a governmental entity and not taking place in areas that are licensed and authorized by the government as a racetrack. Under the SEMA amendment, events taking place on public roadways where vehicles do not exceed the speed limits would remain legal, as would authorized racing events that occur on public property. This bill died when the Legislature closed shop. “We are confident that if the bill is introduced again next year, the SEMA/SAN amendments will have the effect of outlawing dangerous speed contests on public roadways while supporting legal racing activities, including road rallyes, ice racing, autocross and circle track racing that have become a way of life for thousands of Minnesota enthusiasts,” said SEMA Senior Director of Government Affairs Steve McDonald.
State Legislatures Begin to Adjourn for the Year
Several state legislatures already have adjourned for the year with many more to follow in the coming weeks. During the past legislative session, SEMA's Office of Government Relations tracked over 350 pieces of legislation at the state level that were of interest to the aftermarket industry as well as automotive hobbyists and enthusiasts. For a comprehensive review of legislative action from the past session, please visit the Legislative Roundup in the "Legislation and Regulations" section on the SEMA homepage at www.semasan.com.
Proposal for More ORV Access to Southern California Forests: The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) released a proposal for managing four national forests in Southern California that would open up more backcountry trails to off-road vehicles. The four national forests are Angeles, Cleveland, San Bernardino and Los Padres, which cover 3.7 million acres from the U.S.-Mexico border to Big Sur. In close proximity to large urban centers, they experience
nearly 8 million visitors a year. The USFS is proposing to increase by about 2% the total backcountry acreage in the four forests zoned for motorized use, which is nearly 1.6 million acres. This would include some new trails to connect existing routes and includes an informal network of roads in other areas. The plan also would add another 100,000 acres to the nearly 1.1 million acres already federally designated as wilderness. Public comments on the plan are due by August 11, 2004. More information available at http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/scfpr
U.S. Representative Pombo Establishes Pro-Industry Criteria for Wilderness Designations: Representative Richard Pombo (R-California), Chairman of the House Resources Committee, established two key principles for allowing the panel to consider legislation to create or expand federal wilderness areas. First, the U.S. Forest Service or Interior Department must deem the property to be suitable for wilderness designation. Second, there must be broad local support for the initiative. Local community backing would include support from the governor and a state’s congressional delegation. This requirement is a challenge to several bills sponsored by Members of Congress from Eastern states to set aside millions of acres of land in the West. Representative Pombo also recommends that legislation simultaneously resolve the final status of wilderness study areas, tracts of land that have been identified as potential candidates for wilderness designations and that are managed as such. Congress makes the ultimate decision, and there are many areas that eventually may be released from the wilderness set-aside. Off-roaders are denied access to wilderness areas since the land is by definition “roadless.” Representative Pombo’s wilderness criteria are largely consistent with SEMA’s policy of supporting responsible off-road vehicle access to public lands and opposing legislative and regulatory efforts that unfairly restrict access.
BLM Issues Draft OHV Plan for Wyoming Badlands: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a draft plan to identify designated off-road vehicle (OHV) routes within the McCullough Peaks badlands northeast of Cody, Wyoming. The badlands encompass about 120,000 acres, of which one-fifth is a wilderness study area. The plan divides the area’s 333 miles of roads and trails into four categories: 239 miles would be open to all motorized traffic; 21 miles would be limited to all-terrain vehicles; 13 miles would be reserved for administrative use only; and 60 miles of roads would be closed. The BLM contends that the plan is balanced and would help prevent the creation of new, unauthorized routes. Local environmentalists believe not enough of the land has been set aside as non-motorized wilderness.
Utah Unlikely to Pursue More Rights-of-Way Claims: The Utah Attorney General is not expected to file any more rights-of-way claims on public lands under an old mining law known as RS 2477 and a recent memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Interior Secretary Gale Norton and former Utah Governor (now EPA Administrator) Mike Leavitt on how claims may be pursued. The U.S. General Accounting Office has concluded that the MOU was illegal since Congress must authorize any regulation that recognizes right-of-way claims. While the Department of the Interior contends that an agreement with the state is not a regulation, Utah’s Attorney General’s office is disinclined to file any more claims. To date, Utah has filed one right-of-way claim, to the 99-mile Weiss Highway, but the ownership assertion has been challenged since there is evidence that the federal government paid for construction of the road in the 1930s. RS 2477 allows states to claim rights-of-way that existed before land was designated as federal property. The roads must have existed prior to 1976, be navigable by car or truck, and not be located within a national park, wilderness or wilderness study area.
We Get Letters
First, let me say that I appreciate the good work SEMA does in watching out for the collector-car hobby. If it weren't for SEMA alerting us to these types of anti-hobby bills, we might not know until after the fact.
But, I must take issue with the section in the June Driving Force about the Illinois inoperable-vehicle bill, HB 4910. It's not defeated and it's not dead! I had the chance to hear State Representative Dan Brady speak. He was the sponsor of this bill. Representative Brady reported that no further action would be undertaken this term, meaning it can resurface in January 2005. He already is working on an amendment to make it more palatable, but he is still behind it. To his credit, he is listening and taking input from constituents that include car clubs. My point is that we cannot pat ourselves on the back just yet. This bill probably will come back.
Dear Mr. Balogh:
We can confirm that this bill, HB 4910, is dead for the two-year session of the Illinois legislature that adjourned on May 31, 2004.
Nevertheless, you raise another issue-the fact that legislation is frequently reintroduced and the battle is re-engaged in a future legislative session. One battle may be all that is needed to defeat a measure. Then again, the fight may extend over several sessions. We see this occur frequen-tly with other
initiatives, for example, scrappage and emissions-testing bills, in state legislatures and in the U.S. Congress.
Each side uses the multi-year strategy to build support or finally give up. For example, we came close to enacting the street rod/custom vehicle legislation in Missouri last year but were stung by the Governor's veto (on an unrelated issue). We didn't give up. We made sure it was reintroduced this year and today we are on the verge of having it enacted into law.
Another way of phrasing the issue is that legislative life is cyclical and it is important to appreciate the hard work, dedication and victories that come along during the process. Sometimes you don't know when you scored the ultimate victory or just hit a successful milestone in an ongoing battle.
Regardless, there are times to applaud the SAN, the support of enthusiasts like yourself and SEMA staff for a job well-done. Mission accomplished-for this year.
We appreciate your sharing your thoughts with us.
JULY 2004 SAN CLUB EVENTS
July 8, Watsonsville
Back In Time
Sponsor: The Road Angels Car Club
July 22-25, Georgetown
July 8-11, Golden
North Central Zone Meet
Sponsor: The Studebaker Drivers Club
Information: 970/352-3136 or 303/463-6658
July 28-31, Atlanta
2004 Atlanta Nova Nationals
Sponsor: National Nostalgic Nova
Information: 717/252-2383 or 717/252-4192
July 25, Barrington
2nd Annual Marquardt Pontiac Car Show
July 2-4, Des Moines
13th Heartland Nationals, Iowa State Fairgrounds
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
July 13-17, Bowling Green
Solid Axle Corvette Club National Convention
July, 13-17, Omaha
Walter P. Chrysler (WPC) Club National Meet
Sponsor: Greater Omaha Region of the WPC Club, Inc.
July 2-4, Centerville
19th Annual Fiesta of the '50s
July 2-4, Marshall
Cruise to the Fountain, Calhoun County Fairgrounds
July 24-25, Mount Clemens
USMA Michigan Nationals
July 14, Duluth
4th Annual Classic Car Show in Downtown Duluth
July 16-17, St. Cloud
Bad Boyz Car Show
July 24, Grand Rapids
20th Annual Car Show
Sponsor: Northern Cruisers Car Club
July 6-10, Joplin
32nd Annual Pontiac-Oakland Club International Convention
July 11, Rochester
Annual Show-N-Shine Picnic
Sponsor: Street Machines of Rochester
Information: 585/225-4324 or 585/663-0393
July 16-18, Syracuse
Sponsor: Right Coast Association
July 24-25, Grand Island
2nd Annual ACES Northern Regional Show
Sponsor: Can-Am Chevelle Club
July 9-11, Columbus
7th Goodguys PPG Nationals, Ohio Expo Center
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
July 24-25, Canfield
7th Annual Summit TruckStyle 4-Wheel
July 9-11, Bloomsburg
17th Annual Summer 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals
July 9-11, Carlisle
All-Chrysler Nationals, Carlisle Fairgrounds
July 9-10, York
York U.S. 30 Drag Reunion and Musclecar Madness Show, York Expo Center
Sponsor: Darwin Doll and Bill Stiles
July 18, Scranton
33rd Scranton Region AACA Antique Auto Show, Marywood University Campus
Information: 570/346-3771 or 570/241-1774
July 11-13, Hill City
Black Hills Rod Run
July 31-August 1, Essex Junction
10th Anniversary Bond Auto Parts 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals
July 21-25, Hampton/Virginia Beach
30th Anniversary International Convention
Sponsor: Camaro Legends and Virginia Chevy Lovers
July 4, Blaine
Old-Fashioned Fourth Show and Shine and Parade
July 16-18, Puyallup
17th Pacific Northwest Nationals, Western Washington Fairgrounds
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
July 23-25, Rockport
JJ's Summer Safari Run
July 24, Ferndale
Pioneer Days Car Show
July 3, Chetek
Original "Blast from the Past" Car Show
Sponsor: Vintage Voyagers Street Rods
July 3, Grafton
Rods-N-Relics Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show, Lime Kiln Park
Sponsor: Rods-N-Relics Car Club, Ltd.
July 10-11, Kekabeka Falls, Ontario
Northern Ontario Classic Cruisers Car Show/
Sponsor: Kekabeka Legion
Newly Introduced Legislation
Note: The following state bills are not laws. They were recently introduced and are currently under consideration by the respective state legislatures:
Illinois HB 7300: Creates the Mercury-Free Vehicle Act. Requires manufacturers of vehicles sold in state to submit to the EPA for review and approval a plan to remove, collect and recover mercury switches.
Pennsylvania SB 1056: Use of lighted lamps required during periods of rain.
New Jersey AB 2663: Raises vehicle registration fees for heavy vehicles and dedicates portion of increased fees to Transportation Trust Fund Account.
New York AB 11181: Authorizes the restoration of historic license plates; sets limits on restoration; acts of plate restoration are excluded from laws against defacing a license plate. Establishes restrictions on the authorized restoration.
Louisiana HB 1231: Repeals the fee for and requirements of obtaining vehicle safety-inspection certificates on motor vehicles, trailers, semi-trailers and pole trailers registered in the state.
North Carolina HB 1692: Exempts from the safety-inspection program historic vehicles defined as more than 35 model years old.
New York AB 723: Makes applicable to all motor vehicles tinting standards for rear side windows, which currently are applicable only to station wagons, sedans, hardtops, coupes, hatchbacks and convertibles.
Attention Car Clubs, Event Organizers and Enthusiasts!
Put SEMA on Your Mailing List!
We’d like to know what’s going on with SEMA Action Network clubs and enthusiasts across the country; what charity events you’re involved in; when and where the rod runs, car shows, trail rides, rallies and tech meetings are held; and what legislative and regulatory issues concern club members and individual enthusiasts.
One of the best ways to keep us abreast of what’s going on and what’s important to the vehicle hobbies nationwide is for us to receive your club newsletters and updates. Please consider placing SEMA on your mailing list. Send correspondence to: SEMA, 1317 F Street, N.W., Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20004-1105. Or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Hey! Thats My Car!
Thanks to all who have sent in or e-mailed us photos. Efforts to replenish our photo library and continue publishing an informative as well as visually appealing newsletter are going well. . .but we need more photos!
We need more antique/classic pictures, more restoration-process pictures, more hot-rod pictures, more junkyard pictures, more street-rod pictures, more sport-compact pictures and more lifted 4x4 pictures.
Please continue to send us photos of your trail rides, restorations in progress, rod runs, car shows, charity events and drag races.
Kindly submit pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org. While we regret that we cannot return any pictures, the next time we do a story focusing on your segment of the automobile hobby, we may use your ride as the example.