March 2001

Utah Pro-Hobby Raised Vehicle Bill Continues to Move
Due to the strong efforts of the Utah 4 Wheel Drive Association (U4WDA), SEMA and Utah SEMA Action Network contacts, Utah bill H.B. 49, seeking to allow fair and reasonable modification of 4x4s, has passed the Utah House and the Utah Senate Transportation Committee. At press time, the U4WDA was anticipating a vote by the full Utah Senate.
H.B. 49 allows for suspension and body lifts and wheel and tire alterations based on gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR). These modifications are often necessary for trail-riding activities and also come in handy in states like Utah where rugged terrain and rough weather are facts of life. Additionally, H.B. 49 has widespread support from industry and regulators nationwide and is based on the current model standard of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA).
"H.B. 49 provides for useful performance-enhancing modifications that allow adequate clearance for on/off-road activity and accommodates heavy loads larger tires, improved suspension and water-fording capability," said SEMA Director of Government Affairs Steve McDonald. "In addition, the bill amends the current Utah law which is difficult to understand and enforce and provides no real value to 4x4 hobbyists. Finally, this bill strives to protect and promote outdoor activity and vehicle enthusiasts in Utah."
Mississippi Bills Would Limit Auxiliary Lighting Equipment
Two separate bills introduced in the Missiissippi legislature seek to limit the use of auxiliary lighting equipment. The first (S.B. 221) would effectively ban the sale, installation and use of spotlamps, floodlamps and other auxiliary lighting equipment in the state. The second bill(s) S.B. 2737, and its companion H.B. 1121, seeks to ban the use of auxiliary white lights (mounted on or near the rear of a vehicle) on vehicles with a gross weight of more than 12,001 pounds, including campers, RVs and larger trucks. Further, S.B. 2737/H.B. 1121 would limit consumer choice by restricting these lights on vehicles less then 12,001 pounds to those designed by the motor vehicle manufacturers < no aftermarket lights would be allowed.
Both of these potential lighting bans ignore some salient facts: 1) Lighting systems have legitimate uses such as for hunting and camping activities, 2) Auxiliary lights, in many cases, improve driving vision and safety, and 3) There is little safety data demonstrating the need to ban these devices.
Mississippi SEMA Action Network clubs and contacts have been alerted to these bills and SEMA is working with bill sponsors to try and alleviate the obvious problems.
Georgia Legislation Would Eliminate Suspension Alterations, Limit Lighting Equipment
Georgia legislation (H.B. 192) seeks to extend the states ban on vehicles whose suspension is altered more than 2 inches above or below the factory recommendation. Currently, this law only applies to passenger cars, and now some folks in the legislature are trying to extend it to Georgia's trucks, jeeps and SUVs. The bill also seeks to restrict customization and vehicle personalization by completely banning all taillight covers other than factory or factory replacement equipment.
Affected SEMA-member companies and Georgia SEMA Action Network clubs, including the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association, are encouraged to contact their legislators to try and block this legislation. Arguments against this legislation are many: H.B. 192 would ban reasonably altered vehicles due to overstated concerns about bumper height mismatch; effectively makes vehicle manufacturers the sole authority on vehicle height; and force owners of modified vehicles to spend bunches of money to reinstall original components. Finally, H.B. 192 would ban taillamp covers even when the lamps are not in use.
SEMA Director of Government and Technical Affairs Steve McDonald noted, "Our conversations with Georgia legislators indicate a significant lack of support for this bill. It is unlikely to receive serious committee consideration in this legislative session."
Vermont Legislation Looks to Crush Older Vehicles
In yet another misguided attempt by legislators to reduce pollution, Vermont lawmakers are proposing a statewide vehicle crushing initiative (H.B. 15). Under the bill, vehicle crushers would be dispatched to various locations to accept vehicles from owners for crushing and reclamation.
Unlike the typical scrappage program, H.B. 15 does not provide any specific cash incentive to the owner for crushing a vehicle. One-half of the cost of the program will be paid by the state, while local and regional governments and the private sector will cover the remaining half. Typical or not, this program suffers from the same faulty logic as all other programs designed to crush cars. These programs fail to produce any verifiable pollution benefit, rob hobbyists of parts cars and restoration projects and deny low-income drivers access to affordable transportation.
Vermont SEMA Action Network organizations and contacts know the drill on car-crusher programs and have been alerted to this bill.
Pro-Hobbyist Street Rod Bill Introduced in New York
A bill (S.B. 539/A.B. 2145) has been introduced in the New York legislature that would create a vehicle registration classification for street rods. The legislation defines a street rod as a vehicle manufactured for the 1948 model year or earlier that has been substantially altered in some fashion. It also provides for distinctive license plates inscribed with "Street Rod."
S.B. 539/A.B. 2145 also provides for the use of year-of-manufacture license plates and provides that vehicles registered as street rods shall be used as collectors items for parades, club activities, tours, and occasional transportation and could not be used for general transportation purposes.
New York street rodders and clubs have been alerted to this legislation.
Special Section: LEGISLATIVE DEJA VU, It's Back! Oregon Reintroduces Bill to Restrict Raised Vehicles
Just last year, Oregon enthusiasts were successful in persuading the Oregon legislature to abandon a bill that would have severely limited vehicle suspension, body lift and wheel/tire alterations. S.B. 453 seeks to ban vehicles whose bumpers are elevated more than 3 inches over the original manufactured bumper clearance. Apparently, not everyone heeded last years lesson - the bill (S.B. 453) has been reintroduced.
Needless to say, S.B. 453 would severely hamper hobbyists ability to responsibly modify their 4x4s. As a result, the SEMA Action Network (SAN) has alerted clubs, notably Oregon members of the Pacific Northwest 4 Wheel Drive Association (PNW) about the need to fight this legislation. In typical fashion, the PNW, SEMA-member companies and other Oregon enthusiasts are fighting this legislation through an aggressive letter, phone and e-mail campaign. We are hopeful that legislators will see the light (again) and drop this intrusive and unnecessary bill.
Its Back (#2) Nebraska Goes After Nitrous Oxide Again
Legislation, L.B. 345, has been introduced in the Nebraska legislature that would prohibit the use of fuel power booster delivery systems, including nitrous oxide, on motor vehicles operated in the state.
The L.B. 345 prohibition would include any "device or fuel enhancer . . . that provides a motor vehicle with the capability to operate at speeds in excess of the design of the motor vehicle." Notably, this provision could be construed to also unfairly ban the use of turbo chargers, super chargers and many other performance-enhancement products. L.B. 345 also ignores the fact that some vehicles, such as large trucks or motorhomes, often use nitrous systems for added hill-climbing or hauling power. Finally, this bill would essentially allow the police alone to determine at what speeds vehicles are designed to operate.
SEMA is particularly frustrated with the reintroduction of this legislation. For the last 2 years, Nebraska SEMA Action Network contacts such as the Eastern Nebraska/Western Iowa Car Club Council and the Nebraska Rod and Custom Association have worked hard to defeat identically ill-considered and ill-drafted legislation. Now it is back again.
The truth about this new bill is the same as it was 2 years ago: No health or safety data exists to warrant a complete ban on nitrous oxide systems and the bill is written so broadly that it can be interpreted to make ANYTHING that enhances speed illegal &#gt; from turbo and superchargers to flow-through air filters to relatively innocuous gas and oil additives.
Its Back (#3) Alabama Reintroduces "Nuisance" Vehicle Bill
Legislation (H.B. 53) has been reintroduced in the Alabama legislature that would allow local areas to adopt procedures for the removal of an inoperable motor vehicle on private property when the motor vehicle is deemed a "nuisance." The bill defines an inoperable vehicle as any motor vehicle that has remained on private property and in view of the general public for at least 30 days, providing that one or more of its major components are missing, not functional or otherwise constitute a nuisance.
This same bill was successfully defeated by SEMA last year with the help of SEMA Action Network organizations like the Alabama Vehicle Club Council and the Shelby County Wheels of Time. With their help again, we are hopeful that this legislation can be blocked before someones project vintage GTO, Mercury Marauder or 46 Ford is considered a "nuisance."
It's Back (#4) Vermont Reintroduces Junk Vehicle Bill
Yet another reintroduced inoperable vehicle bill threatens vehicle collectors, builders and restorers. H.B. 9 would amend Vermonts current definition of "junkyard," removing a requirement that a junkyard may be regulated only if it is used as a business. Specifically, H.B. 9 expands the junkyard definition to include any place with outdoor storage of four or more junk motor vehicles visible from a public highway and requires that these places be regulated as businesses, regardless of whether the vehicles' owner is merely a private collector or not.
Vermont and New England area SEMA Action Network(SAN) clubs have been alerted to this bill and have begun the process of educating Vermont legislators on the realities of the old car hobby. Last year, the efforts of Vermont area clubs like the Green Mountain Chapter of the American Truck Historical Society helped defeat an identical bill. SEMA is hopeful that H.B. 9 will meet a similar fate.
NHTSA Releases Rollover Ratings for Passenger Vehicles
As part of an ongoing consumer information campaign, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has begun releasing rollover ratings for passenger cars, light trucks and SUVs. The rating system is determined by dividing one-half of a vehicles track width by the height of the center of gravity. NHTSA converts the resulting number, called the "static stability factor," into a five-star rollover rating scale, fewer stars meaning greater tendency to roll over.
Given this single measurement, taller and narrower vehicles are receiving fewer stars than shorter and wider vehicles. Specifically, larger SUVs and pickups receive the worst ratings at one to two stars. Minivans generally fall in the three-star rating range while passenger cars receive the best scores at four and five stars.
SEMA Director of Outreach and Public Affairs Brian Caudill notes that SEMA remains skeptical of NHTSAs rollover ratings: "NHTSA's rollover ratings are based solely on static mathematical calculations rather than real-world testing that takes into account vehicle handling characteristics, driver behavior, road and weather conditions. NHTSA's rating system also ignores advanced suspension features designed to improve stability in late-model vehicles."
Federal legislation passed last year orders NHTSA to also develop a "dynamic" vehicle-handling test to determine rollover propensity within the next 2 years. It is unclear how and if NHTSA will combine data from both the static and dynamic test procedures into an understandable rating. Nonetheless, SEMA is hopeful that this round of vehicle testing will produce a more useful and reliable measure of vehicle stability. NHTSAs posted rollover ratings are available at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/hot/rollover/Index.html.
For THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Check out SEMA's Comprehensive Legislative Update Online
We've got a new link on the Enjoy the Drive website that gives you up-to-date-and regularly updated information on pending legislation in your state related to the automotive hobby. Come check it out at: www.sema.org/fedleg/compleg.
Third Annual Cancer Cure Cruise in Maryland A Success
Recently, the third annual Cancer Cure Cruise was held in Columbia, Md. A parade of 90 cars made the 7-mile trek from Winn Kelly Chevrolet to Merriweather Post Pavilions show grounds near Columbia. Twenty-four car clubs participated and there were 150 vehicles in attendance. Most importantly, more than $18,000 was raised to fight cancer. All proceeds from the event go to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Sixty percent goes directly to the Maryland Chapter of ACS, with the other forty percent benefitting national research and supporting services.
A wide variety of car clubs took part in this year's event. Some of the participants included: the Maryland Camaro Club, Late Great Chevys of Maryland, the Westside Cruisers Car Club, the Chesapeake Bay Mustang Club, the Freestate Corvette Club, the Mid Maryland Corvair Club, and the Lost in the Fifties Car Club (italicized are SEMA Action Network members). Each person participating in the cruise was asked to find sponsors, and some of the clubs contributed more than $500 to the cause. There was also the opportunity to make a donation as a Memorial or Dedication to a friend or loved one. His or her name was then mentioned in the program.
While the impressive collection of classic and custom cars was the main attraction of the event, there was plenty of additional entertainment. Guitarists Ellis Woodward and Allan Lake played for the crowd. A raffle was held, as well as a live auction. Door prizes were awarded. Tobys Dinner Theatre and the Young Columbians provided some theatrics. The Howard County Police put on a K-9 demonstration. Awards were also given to recognize the participants who had raised the most money.
Driving Force would like to thank Ellie and Ernie Kerbe of the Maryland Camaro Club for letting us know about the event. The Cancer Cure Cruise supports a great cause while giving auto enthusiasts a chance to get together in a very positive way. As Ernie put it, "Most of us have had cancer touch our lives or the life of a family member or friend in some way. This event is a celebration of life, honoring cancer survivors while remembering those who have died from cancer and proclaiming hope for a cancer-free future." If you are interested in participating in next year's event, you can e-mail Ellie and Ernie Kerbe at yeehaaa@pcbank.net.
Newly Introduced Legislation
Note: The following bills are not laws. They have been recently introduced and are currently being considered for adoption by the respective state legislatures.
CONNECTICUT: H.B. 1025 would prohibit the DMV from releasing personal information unless the requestor signs an affidavit stating that he or she will not use the information in an unlawful manner.
MONTANA: D. 815 would prohibit the DMV from disclosing personal information.
OREGON: H.B. 2138 would prohibit the DMV from disclosing personal information to bulk distributors without written consent.
SOUTH DAKOTA: H.B. 1045 would prohibit the DMV from disclosing personal information without written consent.
TEXAS: H.B. 799 would prohibit the DMV from disclosing personal information without written consent.
TEXAS: S.B. 111 would prohibit the DMV from disclosing personal information unless the person who requests it affirms through a form that it will not be used for direct solicitation of business or employment.
CALIFORNIA: S.B. 100 would provide that an engine in a specially constructed vehicle be assigned the model year it most resembles. If no match can be found, the designated model year will be 1960.
COLORADO: H.B. 1091 would establish a Clean Screen emissions test program in parts of the state.
CONNECTICUT: H.B. 5227 would eliminate the emissions testing program.
CONNECTICUT: H.B. 6329 would require vehicles manufactured in 1998 or later to undergo an emissions inspection every 4 years.
CONNECTICUT: H.B. 6468 and S.B. 955 would exempt vehicles 5 years old or newer from emissions inspections.
CONNECTICUT: H.B. 6480 would exempt vehicles 2 years old or newer from emissions inspections.
CONNECTICUT: S.B. 188 and S.B. 189 would exempt vehicles less than 4 years old from emissions inspections.
ILLINOIS: S.B. 30 would permit owners of vehicles damaged during emissions inspections to sue the facility.
MISSOURI: H.B. 437 and 438 would require biennial inspections in non-attainment areas and exempt certain limited production vehicles.
TEXAS: H.B. 489 would require that a vehicle have both an expired license plate and invalid registration to be eligible to be removed under the nuisance abatement law.
VERMONT: H.B. 114 would amend the definition of a junkyard to include places of vehicle storage not associated with a business.
VIRGINIA: H.B. 1824 would allow counties with certain populations to adopt ordinances requiring screening of junkyards.
VIRGINIA: H.B. 1835 would allow localities to remove inoperable vehicles from private property as a zoning violation.
WASHINGTON: H.B. 1163 would make it a violation to abandon a vehicle on someone elses property, but not your own.
ARIZONA: H.B. 1449 would prohibit any treatment to headlamps that dims them.
ARIZONA: H.B. 1455 would prohibit any treatment to side lamps, headlamps or tail lamps that dims them.
ARIZONA: H.B. 2086 would require drivers to burn headlamps when traveling on a two-lane highway.
CONNECTICUT: H.B. 6463 would prohibit the use of fog and auxiliary lamps unless conditions warrant their use.
HAWAII: H.B. 359 would require drivers to burn headlamps when atmospheric conditions necessitate the use of windshield wipers.
INDIANA: H.B. 1049 would require drivers to burn headlamps when atmospheric conditions necessitate the use of windshield wipers.
IOWA: H.B. 29 would require vehicles traveling at 35 mph or more on a highway to burn headlamps.
IOWA: H.B. 91 would require drivers to burn headlamps when atmospheric conditions necessitate the use of windshield wipers.
KANSAS: H.B. 2143 would require drivers to turn off fog and other auxiliary lights when within 500 feet of an approaching vehicle and within 300 feet of a vehicle to the rear.
MISSISSIPPI: H.B. 1065 and S.B. 2661 would require headlamps to be burnt when there is precipitation.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: L.B. 146 would require drivers to burn headlamps when atmospheric conditions necessitate the use of windshield wipers.
PENNSYLVANIA: S.B. 162 would require drivers to burn headlamps when atmospheric conditions necessitate the use of windshield wipers.
RHODE ISLAND: S.B. 125 would prohibit drivers from burning more than two headlamps when within 500 feet of oncoming traffic.
VIRGINIA: H.B. 2600 would restrict the use of fog lamps.
WISCONSIN: S.B. 19 would require drivers to burn headlamps when atmospheric conditions necessitate the use of windshield wipers.
ARKANSAS: S.B. 76 would allow county governments to issue permits for motor vehicle racing facilities. Currently, the Department of Environmental Quality has this responsibility.
ARKANSAS: S.B. 97 would eliminate the tax on methanol and leaded gas used for racing.
FLORIDA: H.B. 289 would provide funding for one who constructs and maintains a motor sports entertainment complex under state guidelines.
INDIANA: H.B. 1064 would permit patrons to bring alcoholic beverages into any automotive racing facility. Currently, the track must be at least two miles in length.
MICHIGAN: S.B. 7 would prohibit the state exposition and fairgrounds from being used for motor vehicle racing.
COLORADO: H.B. 1071 and S.B. 119 would eliminate the requirement for front license plates on motor vehicles.
GEORGIA: H.B. 117 would amend the definition of an antique motor vehicle to those manufactured in 1957 or before. Currently, vehicles manufactured in 1942 or before are included.
INDIANA: H.B. 1329 would permit antique vehicles to display genuine or reproduction license plates that coincide with the year of manufacture of the vehicle.
INDIANA: H.B. 2144 would provide for special NASCAR license plates.
MINNESOTA: S.B. 391 would allow motor vehicles to display only a rear license plate.
MISISSIPPI: H.B. 1288 would provide for antique automobile license plates.
MISSISSIPPI: S.B. 3031 and S.B. 2427 would provide for specialty NASCAR license plates.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: H.B. 366 would permit unregistered antique military vehicles to be driven in parades, club activities and other functions of public interest.
OREGON: S.B. 201 would permit antique vehicles to display only a rear license plate.
RHODE ISLAND: H.B. 5270 would permit antique motor vehicles to display antique or year-of-manufacture license plates.
TENNESSEE: H.B. 159 would permit antique motor vehicles to display era-correct license plates.
CONNECTICUT: H.B. 6525 would allow owners of vehicles that have failed to pass a safety inspection to perform obligatory repairs.
GEORGIA: H.B. 151 would prohibit passenger cars from being operated with a nitrous system unless the line feeding the nitrous to the engine is disconnected.
HAWAII: H.B. 136 would eliminate the inspection program.
HAWAII: H.B. 187 would amend the inspection requirement to effectively include reconstructed vehicles located in counties of less than 500,000 people.
HAWAII: S.B. 923 would permit police officers to deem rebuilt or restored cars that have been in an accident unsafe.
MARYLAND: S.B. 183 would allow police to issue drivers of historic vehicles a safety equipment repair order if the officer believes that the vehicle poses a safety risk.
OREGON: S.B. 179 would require the seller of a used motor vehicle to have it inspected prior to sale.
OREGON: S.B. 453 would prohibit raising the height of a motor vehicle's bumper more than 3 inches.
PENNSYLVANIA: S.B. 90 would prohibit the bumper of a passenger car or light truck from measuring more than 22 inches from the ground.
VERMONT: S.B. 157 would require new motor vehicles to be inspected annually. Currently, new cars are exempt from inspection for 5 years.
WASHINGTON: S.B. 5494 would set noise limits for vehicle exhaust systems.
ARKANSAS: H.B. 1378 would prohibit the side windows of motor vehicles from being tinted so as to have a light transmittance of less than 50 percent.
MISSISSIPPI: H.B. 949 and S.B. 2467 would eliminate the requirement that the Department of Public Safety and window tinting manufacturers issue decals stating that tinted windows are in compliance with state law.
NEW YORK: A.B. 359 would prohibit all vehicles from having rear side windows tinted so as to have a light transmittance of less than 70 percent.
NORTH DAKOTA: S.B. 2395 would permit front side windows to be tinted, provided there is a light transmittance of at least 35 percent. The current standard is 70 percent light transmittance.