California Pro-Hobby Exhaust Noise-Testing Bill Clears First Hurdle
A SEMA-sponsored bill to provide for a statewide exhaust system noise-testing program was passed unanimously by the California Senate Transportation Committee.
The bill will give testing authority to test-only Smog Check stations that choose to participate. The program would still require cited motorists to appear in court with a certificate of compliance issued by the station, but the courts would be required to dismiss the citations for compliant exhaust systems. These state-sanctioned tests would compliment SEMA-sponsored legislation enacted last year that compels law enforcement officials to tie exhaust system noise citations to a 95-decibel limit.
"This bill would provide hobbyists who drive vehicles legally equipped with modified exhaust systems the ability to prove that they comply with the law," said SEMA Director of Government Affairs Steve McDonald in a testimony submitted to the committee. "Overwhelming evidence shows that many of these citations are being written in absence of any violation of the code. Further, this bill would remedy the enforcement policy currently used by police officers in which exhaust noise citations are prosecuted solely based on the officer's subjective judgment."
Custom exhaust systems are preferred by Californians - particularly drivers involved in the sport-compact and lowrider hobby - who modify their vehicles for greater durability, sleeker appearance and increased performance. If the exhaust has a more efficient exit route, more power can be attained without increasing pollution.
Street Rod/Custom Vehicle Bills Move in Illinois, Rhode Island and New York
New York became the third state this year to introduce SEMA-model legislation that creates vehicle registration classifications for street rods and custom vehicles.
Like Illinois and Rhode Island, the New York bill provides for special license plates, exempts rods and customs from periodic inspections and emissions tests and addresses equipment requirements. It also includes appropriate street rod and custom year-break definitions (in these bills, "custom" vehicles are, by definition, at least 25-years old but manufactured after 1948), provides for the use of non-original materials and creates a titling criterion that assigns these vehicles the year of manufacture that the body of the vehicle resembles.
The Illinois bill passed by a 117-0 vote in the House of Representatives and a 55-1 vote in the Senate. The bill now awaits concurrence by the House of the Senate amendments and the governor's approval before becoming law.
The Rhode Island version passed unanimously in the Senate and now must be considered by the House Committee on Special Legislation.
"These bills represent a concerted effort by SEMA and the SEMA Action Network to pursue legislation that provides reasonable licensing, driving and equipment standards for vintage hot rods nationwide," noted Brian Caudill, SEMA director of public affairs. "Hobbyists who live in states that make no special accommodation for rods and customs take notice: SEMA is poised to help you and your cars get the recognition they deserve. It's working in Rhode Island, Illinois and New York. Why not in your state?"
CARB Scrappage Program Offers Last-Chance Opportunity for Cars on 'Death Row'
A new California Air Resources Board (CARB) e-mail notification program provides hobbyists the opportunity to buy scrapped vehicles, or parts from those vehicles, before they are destroyed. The new e-mail program not only notifies interested parties of a vehicle's potential scrappage, it also provides a substantial waiting period before its destruction.
If a person requests to see a scrapped vehicle, the period until the vehicle's destruction can be extended as much as one week. Previously, cars and trucks could be destroyed as soon as they were inspected and the necessary paperwork was processed, precluding any vehicle rescue or parts sales.
"This automatic e-mail notification system represents a significant opportunity to hobbyists looking for specific vehicles and parts," said Frank Bohanan, SEMA technical consultant. "When combined with SEMA's success in limiting the types of parts which must be destroyed under these programs, this advance notice about vehicles destined for scrappage will help improve the availability of unique parts which would have otherwise been lost forever."
The CARB e-mail program will automatically send a list of vehicles' make, model and year to interested parties, whenever a vehicle is scheduled to arrive at a dismantler's facility. The e-mail message will include the dismantler's location as well as the time when the vehicle is scheduled to be delivered to the dismantler. To subscribe to this e-mail program, interested parties should access CARB's Web site at www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/avrp/emailnotification.htm.
SEMA Speaks at ACCC Legislative Conference
For the 30th anniversary of its annual Legislative Conference, the Association of California Car Clubs (ACCC) switched the venue to the Towe Auto Museum in Downtown Sacramento, California, and was justly rewarded with an exceptional turnout. Speakers included representatives from the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), California Air Resources Board (CARB), California Highway Patrol (CHP), as well as California State Senator (and fellow hot-rodder) Maurice Johannessen (R-Redding).
SEMA's technical consultant Frank Bohanan was also one of the presenters. Bohanan spoke about several legislative and regulatory efforts SEMA is involved in, as well as others which might have a significant affect upon the hobby. First and foremost, Bohanan thanked the crowd for its efforts to defeat the scrappage proposal included in the federal energy bill. SEMA worked closely with Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell to amend the legislation to remove the scrappage provision. Numerous calls, letters and e-mails from members of car clubs such as ACCC were instrumental in helping to get the scrappage provision deleted.
Bohanan also addressed SEMA's effort to pass legislation that would establish exhaust noise testing centers in California. This would allow drivers cited for excessive exhaust noise to have their vehicles tested objectively according to recognized auto industry standards. If the vehicle complies with the required 95-decibel noise standard a certificate of compliance would be issued to the vehicle owner. SEMA's proposed legislation would require that a court dismiss the citation when this evidence was presented. SEMA has been working closely with Johannessen to help pass this legislation.
Legislation which would make California the first state to regulate so-called "greenhouse gas" emissions from motor vehicles also received considerable attention. While this proposal would primarily affect automakers initially, it could have a significant impact on enthusiasts by eliminating categories of vehicles such as large trucks and SUVs from sale in the state. Other possible repercussions could include a 50-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax, a two-cents-per-mile vehicle use tax and possibly even in-use testing standards for older vehicles, which clearly would have the potential to directly affect vehicle enthusiasts. SEMA has joined a broad, automotive-based coalition to oppose this bill.
Bohanan ended his presentation with a discussion of CARB's "Clean Air Plan For A Healthy Future." This 30-year plan addresses virtually every source of airborne emissions, from hair spray to car waxes. The focus of the discussion was clear: bureaucrats have numerous plans in store for vehicle owners in general and owners of older vehicles in particular. One of these plans could be the elimination of the 30 year-rolling emissions exemption California classic vehicle owners currently enjoy. SEMA continually monitors such activity to make sure regulatory proposals are scientifically valid and do not unfairly discriminate against vehicle hobbyists.
By maintaining ties with state groups like the ACCC and through the efforts of the nationwide SEMA Action Network, SEMA is able to generate recognizable grass-roots support for hobbyist-friendly public policy positions and programs both locally and nationally. The ACCC annual legislative conference is just one example of where these efforts are discussed and energized.
California Bill to Limit Greenhouse Gases Moves Through Legislature
The California legislature passed legislation (AB 1058) that would allow state regulators to limit "greenhouse gases," including carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from noncommercial cars, SUVs and light trucks. The bill now awaits the Assembly's concurrence to Senate amendments and the governor's approval.
The measure would direct the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles to achieve the maximum feasible and cost-effective reduction. Senate amendments to the bill allow for alternative methods of compliance and emissions reduction credits, but prohibit CARB from mandating trip reduction measures or banning the sale of any vehicle category.
If passed into law, AB 1058 could end up requiring automakers to construct "California-only" vehicles. It may also effectively eliminate categories of vehicles such as large trucks and SUVs from sale in the state because they release comparatively more CO2, etc. into the air. At a minimum, the new standard would make these vehicles much more expensive to purchase and maintain.
Other possible results could include increased gasoline taxes, new "vehicle use" taxes and possibly even in-use testing standards for older vehicles. Finally, depending upon how the standard is implemented and enforced, the standard could indirectly affect the sale and use of myriad automotive products that increase power.
If signed into law, new rules to limit greenhouse gases would be adopted and implemented to take effect in the 2008 model year. SEMA has joined with the Coalition Against AB 1058 to fight the legislation. The coalition is led by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
WE GET LETTERS
As a point of calibration, I am an automotive engineering and technology specialist, as well an avid light truck, hot rod, classic car and muscle car enthusiast who has supported SEMA and moreover, national conservative causes pertaining to all aspects of the automotive world for years.
I am writing you to convince and dissuade SEMA from fighting the current CAFE proposals, en complete, that has been the rule of that organization based on principle alone.
My reason is simple. What has been BAD about CAFE standards? The answer is that nothing bad has ever come from the birth and upgrading of current CAFE standards. I agree that we don't have to do it all at one time. We can do it eventually in reasonable time. The fact is that the birthing and institutionalizing of years of CAFE was, and still is, a boon to the automotive industry of today. CAFE drove the technology and engineering of modern vehicles including shaping, drivetrain efficiency, safety, emissions, and moreover reduced maintenance and operating costs. Why would we not want to rebirth a new wave of technology and engineering enhancements of these very features? Politics, perhaps, is the ONLY reason.
Many argue the "safety" factor in concert with fighting CAFE, when in fact the current CAFE standard has not killed or injured one person I know of. The main argument seems to be that making the vehicles lighter will kill, when just the opposite is the case. Over time, the removal of weight with newer, lighter, stronger and shock absorbent materials will only mean improved safety - not the other way around. As a high-performance vehicle designer and constructor, the shedding and manipulating of mass/weight/structure and engineering of light composites to improve crush/crumple zones and shock absorption will dramatically reduce deaths and injuries . . . even in the ordinary autos we drive today. Old fashion thoughts of rigid and massive structures in auto design are obsolete. So, the argument of reduced safety is hollow at best. We have so many vehicles on the roads today that are very safe vehicles and are, in fact, relatively light and very fuel and air friendly.
The last reason I offer trumps all others, however. We must, as a nation and a society, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and cut the very money off to the countries that will use it to kill our children and people. I can't express this enough, having personally experienced these issues. Are we that selfish about our current gas guzzling vehicles that we are willing to aid and abet the enemy? This is what oil consumption does.
Let's do the right thing and support some sort of common sense CAFE standards. We don't have to fight the whole proposal for the sake of siding and we do not need to be greedy about this. New and common sense CAFE will make all of our vehicles world-competitive, safer and far more efficient and less dependent on outside resources. So, I will end with the very same question, "What bad ever came out of a CAFE standard other than hollow rhetoric?" The answer is only good things have resulted.
-- Steve Jack
Engineering and Marketing Technologies/
I just got and read a copy of SEMA April Edition of the Driving Force. I only want to point out and give to SEMA the same recognition you showered on the America Vehicle Hobbyist Community. JOB WELL DONE. It could never have happened without SEMA's undying support. No organization or group can ever succeed without a strong leader. You have my thanks.
AACA, Foothills Region
Mountain View, California
JUNE SAN CLUB EVENTS
June 9, Brea - Cruisin' Brea: VW, Sport Compact andPT Cruiser Show
June 15-16, Los Angeles - 38th Annual Roadster Show
Sponsor: LA Roadster Club
June 16, Brea - Cruisin' Brea: Classic Car and Sports Car Show
June 22, Sacramento - Mopar Day at the Park IX
Sponsor: Capital City Mopars
June 23, La Palma - 20th Annual '40 Ford Day
Sponsor: Forties Limited
June 23, Brea - Cruisin' Brea: Ford, Chevy and Mopar Show
June 30, Brea - Cruisin' Brea: Hot Rod, Harley and Woodie Show
June 1-2, Adams County Fairgrounds - Annual Swap Meet
Sponsor: Old Car Council of Colorado
June 28-30, Pueblo - 18th Annual Rocky Mountain Street Rod Nationals
Sponsor: National Street Rod Association
June 2, Waterford - 15th Annual "British by the Sea" Gathering
Sponsor: Connecticut MG Club
June 2, Windsor Locks - Auto Show and Aircraft Exhibit
Sponsor: CT Council of Car Clubs
June 22, Bridgewater - Antique and Classic Auto Show
Sponsor: AACA, Housatonic Valley Region
June 2, Marion - 21st Annual Chevy and Chevy Powered Car Show
Sponsor: Hawkeye Area Classic Chevy Club
June 22, Bensenville - 4th Annual All Buick Car Show
Sponsor: Chicagoland Buick Club
June 22, Paxton - Fiero Fest 2002
Sponsor: Northern Illinois Fiero Enthusiasts
June 7-9, Indianapolis - 14th Annual Hot Rod Nationals
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
June 1, Stevensville - 6th Annual Wings and Wheels for Sight Car Show
Sponsor: Kent Island Cruisers
June 21-23, St. Paul - 29th Annual Back to the '50s Weekend
Sponsor: Minnesota Street Rod Association
June 2, Warrenton - 4th Annual Car Show
Sponsor: American Roadhouse Car Club
June 2, Dunellen - Car Show
Sponsor: Unforgettable Autos of Mid-Jersey
June 14-16, Medford - 17th Annual Medford Cruise
Sponsor: Medford Cruise Association
June 8, Lake Grapevine - Denis E. Bunch Memorial Picnic
Sponsor: North Texas Mustang Club
June 8, San Antonio - 11th Annual Southwest AMC Regional
Car Show and Swap Meet
Sponsor: Alamo AMC Club
June 13-16, Richmond - AACA Eastern Spring Meet
Sponsor: AACA, Richmond Region
June 29-30, Leesburg - 16th Rod Run and Car Show
Sponsor: Custom Cruisers of Northern Virginia
June 8, Madison - 10th Annual Buick Car Show
Sponsor: Buick Club of America, Rock Valley Chapter
June 14-16, Warrens - 21st Annual Fun Run
Sponsor: Wizards of Rods
June 15-16, Wauwautosa - 19th Annual Renner Oldsmobile Show
Sponsor: Oldsmobile Club of Wisconsin