Haven’t We Seen This Horror Movie Before? California Targets Old Cars Again.
By Frank Bohanan, SEMA Technical Consultant
Over the years, the SEMA Action Network has been remarkably successful and repelling oth legislation and regulations that would cause harm to the motoring hobby. We’ve prevented scrappage programs from becoming widespread and have successfully lobbied in California to allow parts sales and require consumer notification of vehicles that participate in such programs. We’ve also been proactive In getting many hobbyist-friendly laws enacted. Does this stop the other side from trying? Unfortunately, no. The battle continues, probably for some time.
Recently, I found myself testifying again before the California Inspection and Maintenance Review Committee on behalf of SEMA and the hobbyist community. Ironically, I was giving the same testimony I had presented 11 years ago to this very same group. While the faces in the Committee had changed, the issues remained eerily the same: how to “improve” California’s Smog Check program to further reduce pollution from “mobile sources” (i.e., the vehicles you and I love to drive).
While SEMA has always agreed with the goal of reducing excessive emissions in order to improve air quality, we disagree with the regulatory agencies on the best methods to achieve emissions reductions form mobile sources. Armed with faulty assumptions, regulators such as the California Air Resources Board take an overly simplistic view that all old cars are the problem and should be eliminated regardless of cost, harm to car collectors or even to those of lower incomes.
CARB, the EPA and many so-called “environmental” groups simply don’t care if rare old cars and parts are forever lost due to such government-sponsored programs. Ideally, they would like to see the whole vehicle fleet converted over to battery-powered cars of those using hydrogen fuel cells. (No cost, range or other problems there, right?) They don’t seem to mind the fact that people with low and/or fixed incomes will be disproportionately harmed. (These regulations will tend to drive up the cost of older vehicles and their parts by making them even more rare and thus unaffordable to many.)
These groups are on a mission of “vehicular euthanasia” to eliminate as many older vehicles as possible, regardless of who gets hurt. They use data generated by faulty and biased computer models to make their case, all in the name of cleaner air. For over 11 years, SEMA has been exposing the flaws in this approach.
So what are the latest assaults on the older vehicles? The following are some of the proposals made during this recent IMRC meeting and a public workshop on the California State Implementation Plan.
1. Repeal the rolling 30-year emissions exemption: Despite the fact that the SEMA Action Network and others have shown the emissions attributable to such older vehicles as negligible, the regulators continue to assert otherwise. They would like to replace the rolling 30-year exemption with one that is fixed for 1975 and older model-year vehicles. They have even considered bringing 1966-1975 vehicles back into the program despite howls of protest. SEMA will continue to fight any such effort. We intend to sponsor legislations that will, among other things, help reform the computer models used by CARB so that they more accurately reflect the true emissions contribution and usage of older vehicles.
2. More stringent emissions standards for older and/or higher mileage vehicles: By establishing stricter emissions standards or “cut points,” the regulators hope to achieve their goal of eliminating older vehicles by making it more expensive to keep them running. If more vehicles fail their emissions tests and it costs more to repair them to achieve lower test results, some people most likely will be unable to pay for the repairs, scrapping their older vehicles instead. While SEMA supports repairing older vehicles, we do not support lowering cut points to an unreasonable level. SEMA believes (and, indeed, the law requires) that cut points must be reasonable and allow for cost-effective repairs for the majority of vehicles, including those that are older.
3. Annual versus biennial inspections of vehicles more than 15 years old: SEMA does not agree with the assumption that gross emitters are older vehicles, in this case 15 years or older. We believe (and the data shows) that gross emitters can be of any age. Targeting older vehicles is unfair and discriminatory, especially when they are generally driven less and there are fewer of them. SEMA supports the repair of verified gross emitters, not a flawed approach that unfairly taints all older vehicles.
4. Smoke inspections: This is a step in the right direction. In fact, SEMA helped pass legislation last year that promoted greater enforcement of smoking-vehicle laws. We recognize that such vehicles frequently are gross emitters that disproportionately contribute to the emissions inventory. Laws should be written so as not to discriminate against specific vehicle types, such as diesels. SEMA emphasizes, however, that only true gross-emitting vehicles should be eliminated, not just older vehicles.
5. Use of roadside remote sensing: Remote sensing systems are still inaccurate and unreliable. Also, it is unclear how such systems would be deployed without introducing further errors. More likely, such systems would be placed in locations where vehicle operating conditions are in the extreme and not the norm. It would be far too easy to bias the gross-emitter identification thresholds against older vehicles. While SEMA understands the intended goal of identifying true gross emitters under actual operating conditions, we hesitate to support remote sensing devices because of technical problems and the risk that they could be used in a biased manner.
6. Expand emissions testing to currently exempted areas and/or vehicles: Introducing more stringent emissions testing into low population areas or for exempted vehicles such as diesels is a poor option since the costs are high for a relatively small gain. Instead, the regulators would be better served by using the funds for proper repair of those vehicles in already-covered locations. Ideally these funds could be used to promote voluntary vehicle upgrades, which have reduced emissions while improving vehicle performance and fuel efficiency.
7. Expand vehicle retirement/scrappage programs: Vehicle scrappage programs are not the way to go. Not only do they result in the permanent and unnecessary loss of valuable vehicles and parts, but they also fail to achieve the claimed emissions reductions due to faulty assumptions. Any expansion of such programs would cause only more harm and at greater cost. Yet, many advocate scrappage not only because they want to get rid of all the old cars, but also because doing so allows them to save money by not having to make expensive modifications to smoke-stacks and other stationary-source emissions. These groups don’t care about the “environmental justice” and “hot spot” issues caused by these flawed programs; they only want to protect their bottom line, even if it means losing our heritage and taking poor people out of their cars.
SEMA is on guard to fight these actions. We will be actively pursuing legislation that eposes the suspect numbers supporting flawed arguments. As always, we encourage our SAN contacts to persuade their state legislators to enact reforms.
Legislative Quick Hits
Kentucky Nitrous Oxide: Kentucky legislators have agreed to amend legislations (H.B. 230) that originally threatened to ban vehicles equipped with nitrous-oxide system unless all nitrous-oxide canisters were removed from the vehicle. Under the SEMA amendment, the canisters can remain in the vehicle if the nitrous-oxide engine-feed line is disconnected.
Mississippi Blue-Dot Taillights: SAN-supported legislation (H.B. 384) has been recently introduced in Mississippi that would allow antique vehicles and street rods to display a blue, violet or purpose light as part of the vehicle’s taillights. Mississippi defines antique motor vehicles as those manufactured more than 25 years ago and street rods as modified vehicles produced by an American manufacturer in 1948 or earlier and used as a safe, non-racing vehicle. H.B. 384 follows in the tradition of similar laws enacted in Minnesota and Montana and pending in Illinois.
Mississippi Replica-Car Bill: With the SAN’s assistance, legislation (H.B. 198) has been offered in Mississippi that would create a new tilting and registration classification for replica motor vehicles and provide for special license plates for those vehicles. Such vehicles would be exempt from paying highway-privilege taxes and value-added property taxes. The bill authorizes the state tax commission to issue a new certificate of title for replica motor vehicles, assigning a new VIN and designating the make and model that such a vehicle replicates.
Missouri Emissions-Test Exemption: The Missouri legislature introduced a SAN-supported bill (S.B. 900) to exempt all vehicles at least 26 years old from the state’s emissions-inspection requirements. Current Missouri law exempts only vehicles manufactured prior to the 1971 model year from emissions inspection. Historic vehicles, defined as those over 25 years old, owned as a collector’s item and driven up to only 1,000 miles per year, are also exempted.
Missouri Street Rods and Custom Vehicles: Legislation that would create vehicle registration classifications for street rods and custom vehicles and provide for special license plates for these vehicles has been renumbered in the Missouri legislature. The bill, previously known as H.B. 1062, is now known as H.B. 1105. The text of the bill remains the same. H.B. 1105 defines the street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after 1948. H.B. 1105 also provides that a replica vehicle will be assigned the same model-year designation as the production vehicle it most closely resembles. The Missouri House Transportation and Motor Vehicles Committee recently approved H.B. 1105.
New Hampshire Exhaust Noise: The New Hampshire House of Representatives passed an amended version of a SEMA-sponsored bill (H.B. 243) 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 vehicles 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, state legislators deleted provisions in the current law that referenced the noise levels of the original muffler.
New Hampshire Mud Flaps: A New Hampshire bill (H.B. 1184) that would have required all vehicles to be equipped with mud flaps or spray or splash guards was defeated in committee. Under current law, New Hampshire requires mud flaps or splash guards only on vehicles not equipped with fenders.
Rhode Island Street Rods and Custom Vehicles: Rhode Island reintroduced SEMA-model legislation to create vehicle registration classifications for street rods and custom vehicles. As in Missouri, the bill (H.B. 7322) defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom vehicle as an altered vehicle manufactured after 1948. The legislation exempts street rods and customs from periodic vehicle inspections and emissions inspections and a range of standard equipment requirements. The measure also provides that a replica vehicle will be assigned the same model-year designation as the production vehicle it most closely resembles and allows the use of non-original materials.
Virginia Inoperable Vehicles: The Virginia Senate is considering legislation (S.B. 204) that prohibits local jurisdictions from implementing an ordinance that prevents automobile collectors from pursuing their hobby. Under the bill, inoperable vehicles on private property would only be required to be shielded or screened from public view. Senate Bill 204 defines “shielded or screened form view” as not visible by someone standing at ground level from outside of the property on which the inoperable vehicles are located.
West Virginia Registration-Fee Exemption for Old Cars/Motorcycles: A pro-hobbyist bill (H.B. 2995) has been reintroduced in West Virginia to remove the requirement that owners of antique motor vehicles, antique motorcycles, classic motor vehicles and classic motorcycles pay an annual registration fee for those vehicles. West Virginia law defines antique motor vehicles and motorcycles as more than 25 years old and owned as collector items, while classic motor vehicles and motor-vehicles are defined as more than 25 years old and used for general transportation.
Spotlight on MASRA
By Mike Kramer, MASRA Officer
MASRA is the Mid-Atlantic Street Rod Association, a 30-year –old organization serving six states: Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia and Virginia. MASRA consists of 80 clubs from the six states. MASRA coordinates show events between the six-state region for street rods, vintage cars and musclecars of all kinds. MASRA also monitors legislative activity in the six states, partnering with SEMA Action Network.
In January each year, MASRA confers its “Streetrodder of the Year” award to one male and one female from each state, plus awards to those individuals who help promote our sport in special ways during the year. Each “Streetrodder of the Year” award recipient receives a customized jacket with name and state appearing on the front and “Streetrodder of the Year” on the back, plus a plaque.
In addition to the various shows, we have a general membership meeting on the second Saturday in January, meeting at the Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, Fire Company station. We will be meeting again on Saturday, April 3, at 1:00 p.m., at the Hummelstown fire station.
Please check out the MASRA website by going to www.pavehiclenews.com, then clicking on “Sponsors” on the left-hand side. Thanks for visiting with us!
We Get Letters
We receive the SAN’s Legislative Alerts. I live in North Carolina. Are we also supposed to write to another state’s legislators where a bill is introduced? Or are we supposed to contact our North Carolina legislators about a bill in another state? Thanks.
-- Judie Gagliano
Dear Ms. Gagliano:
We are grateful or any assistance that SAN members and enthusiasts can render, including folks from other states that are not the focus of the legislative alert. Often, a comment from out of state shows the national reach and depth of our group and may influence legislators from other states to consider the legislation more favorably. Unless the alert is specifically for North Carolina, however, there is no need to write to your state legislators.
When we send legislative alerts, we send the alert out to SAN members who reside in the particular state where the legislation is pending. Then we send them to media outlets and others who may have or know of interests in that particular state. This allows SAN members who are most affected to stay informed as to what’s happening in other jurisdictions.
You may receive an alert concerning your own state, advising you of upcoming legislation. Even if the alert concerns a type of vehicle in which you have no interest, we ask that all SAN members in the affected state get involved and write or call the legislators. While you may not be affected this time, the spotlight of a misguided bill could fall on your vehicle next. No matter what you drive, all enthusiasts in a state should pitch in to help defeat wayward proposals. That’s why it is so important that all SAN members get involved when the call goes out. We all make a difference when we speak as one voice.
Thanks for your support in all of our endeavors and for taking the time to write.
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.
Kentucky HJR 12: Prohibits continuing the Northern Kentucky Emissions Check testing program beyond November 1, 2004
Kentucky HB 53: Exempts vehicles four model years in age or newer from emissions-control program, regardless of the frequency that legal title and registration has been transferred. For purposes of vehicle emissions test, changes definition of “vehicle” to those five model years or older.
Virginia SB 204: Adds definition of “shielded or screened from view” to current regulations regarding inoperable motor vehicles.
Virginia SB 395: Increases penalty for violations of inoperable-vehicle ordinance from $50 to $100 for initial violation, from $200 to $250 for additional violations, and a new maximum at a total of $5,000.
Virginia SB 437: Grants localities authority to restrict keeping of inoperable vehicles on residential or commercial property.
Virginia SB 529: Gives localitites greater flexibility in defining “inoperable motor vehicles”
Indiana SB 206: Requires use of two stop lamps on vehicles manufactured or assembled after December 31, 1955.
Iowa HB 2040: Requires every new motor vehicle sold and subject to regulation in Iowa after July 1, 2005 to be equipped with daytime running lights.
Maine LD 1694: Restricts use of blue light on a vehicle only to emergency vehicles. Allows uses of blue lights as taillights on as taillights on vehicles manufactured prior to 1952 and on replica vehicles.
Hawaii HB 2527 and SB 2021: Changes street-rod manufacture date from 1949 to 1968; includes vehicles that are replicas of vehicles manufactured before 1968 as “street rod vehicles” and requires seatbelts.
Indiana HB 1147: Allows a motor vehicle registered as an antique motor vehicle to display authentic or reproduction year-of- manufacture license plates.
Iowa HB 2027: Allows antique vehicles to display year-of-manufacture registration plates.
Kentucky HB 172: Defines “special license plate” and “street rod” and establishes initial and renewal fees for special plates.
Nebraska LB 1121: Defines “continuation vehicles.” Allows titling, registration and taxation of “continuation vehicles.”
Virginia HB 610: Allows transfer of antique motor vehicle license plates to other vehicles.
Virginia SB 259: Provides for use of a single license plate on the rear of a motor vehicle that has been modified or redesigned by hobbyists for recreational use and is included in public displays or shows at least twice per year.
West Virginia HB 2995: Exempts antique motor vehicles and classic motor vehicles and motorcycles from payment of registration fees.
Kentucky HB 313: Provides sun -screening material to be tested on the proposed vehicles vehicle’s window rather than on clear glass; changes light transmittance level from at least 35% to at least 25% in the visible light range.
Mississippi HB 164: Requires testing of luminous reflectance and light transmittance of vehicle windows that have been tinted or darkened after factory delivery, and issuance of compliance stickers.
Mississippi HB 524: Requires testing of luminous reflectance and light transmittance of vehicle windows that have been tinted or darkened after factory delivery; deletes requirement that window-tint manufacturers must apply for registration and approval of their products; deletes requirement that producers provide consumers with an approved label at time of sale.
Mississippi SB 2204: Allows municipal law-enforcement officers to enforce the tinted-window provisions of the Uniform Highway Traffic Regulations regardless of the size of the municipality.
March 2004 SAN Club Events
March 20, Sierra Vista
7th Annual Boys & Girls Club Benefit Car Show Information: 520/459-2184
March 7, Pomona
Swap Meet and Car Show, Los Angeles County Fairplex.
March 12-14, Bakersfield
45th March Meet at Famoso Raceway
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod & Custom Association
Information: 925/ 838-9876
March 13-14, California City Camp B
Sponsor: Smitty’s Desert Riders
March 19, Santa Maria
Chevy/GMC Truckin’ Nationals & Chevy Times Western Regionals
Spring Automative Swap Meet, Santa Maria Fairpark
Sponsor: Horse Power Promotions
March 27-28, Pleasanton
22nd All American Get-Together,
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod & Custom Association
March 5-7, Toronto
Performance World Custom Car and Truck Show
March 6-7, Orlando
Fun Food Weekend Spring Break Shootout
Sponsor: American Autosports Productions
March 6-7 Zephyrhills
3rd Annual Z-Hill Xtreme Power Blitz
March 7, Hollywood
Sixteenth Florida Mopar Nationals
Sponsor: Eddie Accardi Chrysler-Jeep/Dodge and the Florida Mopar Connection.
March 12-14, Amelia Island
Amelia Island Concours, Ritz-Carlton
March 13, Tampa
West Coast Mopar Club Show and Swap Meet
Information: 813/963-6105 or 727/584-1210
March 19-21, Pensacola
Mustang Club of America National Mustang Show
Sponsor: Gulf Coast Regional Mustang Club
March 26-28, Tallahassee
6th Spring Nationals, North Florida Fairgrounds
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod & Custom Association
March 27, Crystal River
Corvettes in the Sunshine
Sponsor: Crystal Chevrolet
March 27, Macon
Cherry Blossom Festival Mustang and Classic Ford Car Show
Sponsor: Flag City Mustang Club
March 13-14, Chicago
Chevy Vettefest, McCormick Place East Building
March 19-21, Auburn
International Harvester Spring Roundup, Kruse Auction Park
Sponsor: The Scout and International Motor Truck Association
March 27-28, South Bend
44th Annual McDaniel’s Harley Davidson Calvacade of Wheels
Sponsor: Coachmen Auto Club
March 13, West Friendship
31st Annual Antique Auto Parts Flea Market, Howard County Fairgrounds
Sponsor: AACA, Chesapeake Region
March 26-28, Minneapolis
42nd Annual Carquest World of Wheels
March 19-21, Biloxi
26th Annual Gulf Coast Rod Run, Presidents Casino Broadwater Resort.
Sponsor: Singing River Rod Association
Information: 228/392-6134 or 228/832-4672
March 19-21, St. Louis
37th Annual Carquest World of Wheels
March 12-14, Omaha
49th Annual O’reilly World of Wheels
March 19-20, Mesquite
5th Annual Corvair Gathering
Sponsor: The Bonneville Corvair Club, Corsa Chapter 840
Information:810/571-2166 or 801/967-9420
March 20-21, Las Vegas
Pre-Fun Run for the Terrible Town 250
Sponsor: Best in the Desert
March 28-30, Las Vegas
Mopars at the Strip
March 27-28, West Fargo
Toppers Car Show, Veterans Memorial Arena
March 5-7, Portland
28th Annual Original Portland Roadster Show, Convention Center
Information: 503/655-3365 or 503/232-4567
March 26-28, Redmond
5th Annual Central Oregon Rod & Custom Show
March 7, Hamburg
37th Annual Swap Meet & Car Corral
Sponsor: AACA, Ontelaunee Region
March 18-20, Myrtle Beach
“Run to the Sun” Car Show, Waccamaw Factory Shoppes
Sponsor: Pee Dee Street Rodders
March 27-28, Monteagle
Springtime in the Clouds Trail Ride
Sponsor: OffRoad Sportsman Association
March 5-7, Fort Worth
Fort Worth Rod and Custom Show
March 5-7, Mountain Home
YO Ranch Jeep Jamboree
Sponsor: Jeep Jamboree USA
March 20, Haskell
5th Annual Haskell Fire Department Classic Car Show
Sponsor: Haskell Fire Department
March 19-21, Salt Lake City
30th Annual Parts Plus Autorama, South Towne Expo Center
March 26-28, Green Bay
24th Annual American Car Care Centers World of Wheels