Scrappage Reform Legislation in California: A Workable Solution
The SEMA Action Network's (SAN) battle against state and federal scrappage programs that target old cars has a long, documented history. "Legislators and regulators, particularly those in California, cling to the belief that these ill-advised scrappage programs serve a purpose in cleaning the air or improving gas mileage," said SEMA Technical Consultant Frank Bohanan. "The truth is that these programs are not cost-effective because most of these old cars, especially the collector vehicles, are well-maintained, infrequently driven and insignificant pollution contributors. It's time to remedy this problem." Working with California Assembly Member Doug LaMalfa (R-District 2; see his profile in The Driving Force, February 2004), SEMA has developed legislation that would reform California's vehicle-scrappage program. Assembly Bill 2424 would eliminate all parts destruction, require vouchers in lieu of cash payments, increase the stringency of vehicle-eligibility criteria, and prorate emissions credits. The measure also requires the use of median data (instead of mean data) when calculating emissions-inventory models.
1) Use Median Data for Emissions Rates in Computer Models: The California Air Resource Board currently uses "average" or mean data in emissions-inventory models, resulting in a skewed result and an overstatement of projected emissions reductions due to scrappage programs. Numerous studies have shown that a relatively small percentage of vehicles (10% to 20%) in any given model year emit at rates that far exceed the other vehicles in that model year. Most vehicles (80%) in the model year emit at levels below the average and do not provide the projected emissions reduction if they are scrapped. Use of median data would give more realistic projections, thereby improving the accuracy of the computer models. It also would project a more
representative view of both the emissions contribution of older vehicles and the cost effectiveness of scrappage programs.
2) Eliminate Mandated Destruction of Parts: Current scrappage programs require that engine- and driveline-related parts be destroyed to gain emissions credit. This is both counterproductive and harmful. Some older vehicles will remain on the road due to economic necessity. Mandatory destruction of parts only serves to artificially inflate the value of such vehicles, rendering them unaffordable to those who need them for basic transportation. The elderly and members of minority groups are impacted disproportionately because they generally tend to be least able to afford basic transportation. Scrappage programs not only cause some to break the law by avoiding the smog-check process, but also destroy valuable parts desired by car collectors and needed by those who drive these vehicles out of economic necessity.
3) Use Vouchers in Lieu of Cash Payments: Currently, individuals who scrap their vehicle are paid by check. This procedure encourages fraud because it depends merely on a numbered count of vehicles. Many of these vehicles are not true contributors to the emissions inventory, since they are rarely driven second or third vehicles. In extreme cases, some inoperable vehicles are "resurrected" with minimal repairs just so they can be scrapped. Therefore, the taxpayer pays for a vehicle that is neither an emitter nor a driver. Yet a benefit is claimed in the computer model, making the emissions reduction and cost-effectiveness projection inaccurate. Issuing a credit voucher instead of paying cash would minimize the fraud potential and ensure that some emissions
benefit is realized. Furthermore, since the voucher would go toward a newer vehicle that must pass a smog check before it can be registered, the replacement vehicle would have lower emissions than the scrapped vehicle.
4) Increase Stringency of Vehicle Eligibility Criteria: Current programs encourage the scrappage of vehicles that are driven rarely and, sometimes, are inoperative. As a result, some vehicles are being scrapped unfairly and unnecessarily, while claimed emissions benefits are, in fact, nonexistent. This reduces the actual cost effectiveness of the program while encouraging fraud. More stringent eligibility criteria would ensure that vehicles being scrapped are actually being driven. The most effective criterion would be a minimum driven-mileage requirement, as verified by previously acquired smog-check data, reducing the fraud potential while ensuring that the vehicle actually is contributing to the emissions inventory.
5) Prorating Emissions Credits: Current practice assumes a uniform useful remaining life for each scrapped vehicle, which is unrealistic. Vehicles vary significantly in their actual condition and remaining service life. Prorating emissions credits would improve the accuracy of benefit projections, making cost-effectiveness and emissions-reduction assessments more realistic and useful. Some appraisal groups and publications use a screening system to winnow out those below-average or poor vehicles that most likely would exit service before the current three-year measuring period. Vehicles in below-average condition would be given a reduced credit rating, while vehicles in average condition would receive the nominal figure. Vehicles in "above average" condition would be given more credit, reflecting the probability that it produces lower emissions.
These solutions are available today and can be implemented with little or no cost. They each provide tangible and measurable benefits in cost effectiveness and reduced emissions. No new bureaucracy, agency or regulations are needed to put these solutions into practice. We just need common sense to prevail.
California Emissions Exemption Repeal Bill: A Model for Effective Grassroots Action
As we go to press, the California Assembly's Transportation Committee is scheduled to hold hearings on Assembly Bill 2683, which would repeal the state's current rolling emissions-test exemption for vehicles 30 years old and older. As you may be aware, A.B. 2683 would repeal the current pro-hobbyist exemption and replace it with a law requiring the permanent testing of all 1976 and newer model vehicles. The story remains the same: California's current emissions-testing exemption recognizes the minimal impact of vehicles 30 years old and older on vehicle emissions and air quality; vehicles 30 years old and older constitute a small portion of the overall vehicle population and are a poor source for emissions reduction; antique and classic vehicles are overwhelmingly well-maintained and infrequently driven (about one-third the miles each year as a new vehicle); and legislators and regulators are feeling the heat from a failed effort to meet air quality goals and are looking for a convenient way out of the mess.
The campaign to stop the repeal of the pro-hobby emissions-testing exemption remains in full force. Assembly Member Sally Lieber (D-District 22) sponsored A.B. 2683 and has shown no inclination to withdraw the legislation. To date, we have received copies of thousands of e-mails and letters from SEMA Action Network contacts around the state that have been sent to her seeking withdrawal of the measure. Finally, we met with members of the Assembly Transportation Committee and key Schwarzenegger Administration officials to solicit their opposition.
We cannot close without expressing our deep appreciation and gratitude to the California SAN members who have responded to our action alerts by sending thousands of letters, e-mails, and telephone calls to Assembly Member Lieber's office and that of other Assembly Members. All of you have demonstrated once again that we are a potent grassroots force that cannot be ignored.
Legislative Quick Hits
SEMA Amendments to Kentucky Inoperable Vehicles: SEMA successfully amended Kentucky legislation that originally sought to prohibit the collection of junked, wrecked or inoperable motor vehicles on private property and permitted local governments to provide for their removal. Under the SEMA amendment, which the bill's sponsor approved, all inoperable vehicles (including parts cars) stored on private property would be exempted from the law if these motor vehicles were stored out of ordinary public view. The bill is pending passage on the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives.
Massachusetts Bill to Ban the Sale/Installation of Aftermarket Exhaust Systems: The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Safety has approved a bill to ban the sale or installation of "an exhaust system which has been modified in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the exhaust." This bill had been stalled since last year and appeared to be dead. The approval came after a non-publicized hearing that clearly was intended to keep opponents of the measure at bay (e.g., SAN). The bill now has been referred to the House Steering, Policy and Scheduling Committee. As in past years, the bill does not supply law enforcement officers with a clear standard to enforce, allowing them to make subjective judgments on whether or not a modified exhaust system is in violation. We are working with our Massachusetts membership, SAN contacts, and sympathetic state legislators to halt further progress of the bill.
Minnesota Accepts SEMA Amendments to Racing Bill: Working with the Minnesota racing community and other SAN contacts, SEMA successfully amended a Minnesota bill that, as originally drafted, sought to outlaw 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. If enacted, the original bill would have banned traditionally legal activities such as road rallies, ice racing and autocross events. 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.
Missouri Senate Passes Bill to Exempt Old Cars from Emissions Inspections: The Missouri Senate passed SAN-supported legislation to exempt vehicles 26 years old and older from emissions-inspection requirements. Current law in Missouri 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-currently also are exempted. The bill now moves to the Missouri House of Representatives for consideration.
Missouri Senate Passes SEMA-Model Street-Rod/Custom-Vehicle Bill: The Missouri Senate approved SEMA-model legislation that would create vehicle registration classifications for street rods and custom vehicles and provide for special license plates for these vehicles. The bill defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom vehicle as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after 1948. The measure also exempts street rods and custom vehicles from periodic vehicle inspections and emissions inspections; provides that a replica vehicle will be assigned the same model-year designation as the production vehicle it most closely resembles; allows the use of non-original materials; exempts street rods and custom vehicles from a range of standard equipment requirements; and allows the use of blue-dot taillights. The bill next moves to the Missouri House of Representatives for consideration. Identical legislation is also pending in Rhode Island and New York.
Windshield-Wiper Lighting Bill Fails in Tennessee House: SEMA helped defeat a bill in the Tennessee House of Represen-tatives that would have prohibited motor-vehicle windshield wipers from having lights or reflectors. SEMA convinced legislators not to support legislative initiatives that banned optional lighting equipment or accessories unrelated to a proven safety hazard. An identical bill is currently pending in the State Senate, where SEMA is working for similar results.
Pro-Hobbyist Inoperable-Vehicle Bill Passes Virginia Legislature: The Virginia legislature passed SAN-supported legislation that would limit significantly the ability of local areas to implement restrictive ordinances preventing automobile collectors from pursuing their hobby. The bill now moves to the governor's office for his signature. Under the bill, at least two inoperable vehicles (or more, if a locality permits) being actively repaired or restored on private property would be exempted from any local ordinance if shielded or screened from public view. The measure defines "shielded or screened from view" as not visible by someone standing at ground level from outside of the property on which the inoperable vehicles are located. [Please see Tom Cox's article on how the SAN impacted this legislation.]
We Did It, and You Can Too! How to Work with the SAN and Effectively Lobby Your Legislators
by Tom Cox
To many of us, it seems as though our hobby is constantly under attack from all directions. Whether it's reformulated fuels, emissions testing or zoning laws, the constant barrage of regulation can leave you feeling less than enthusiastic about the future. Take heart. With a lot of determination, cooperation and hard work, you can change the destiny of the hobby, even when it involves one of the most onerous threats: zoning.
Due to incremental growth, zoning laws are one of the least-anticipated obstacles to the continuation of the automotive hobby. One day, you can't work on your car in the driveway, and the next year, you can't even keep your project vehicle on your own property without the threat of confiscation. This year, Virginia hobbyists working with SEMA and the SEMA Action Network (SAN) took decisive action to secure the passage of responsible anti-zoning legislation, which would guarantee the right of hobbyists to keep at least two unregistered vehicles on their property as long as they are out of view of the public. After three years of going to the Virginia General Assembly with legislation, the carefully laid plans of Virginia's four automotive hobbyist councils and SEMA started to take shape.
After having held local political forums to educate legislators on the needs of the automotive hobby, the four regional hobbyist councils were able to secure the necessary support of key legislators to introduce Senate Bill 204. Senator Fred Quayle sponsored SB204, which was supported by co-sponsors Senators Brandon Bell, Roscoe Reynolds, and John Edwards. Majority Leader Morgan Griffith of the House of Delegates, along with Delegates Orrock, Ingram, and others, backed the counterpart House bill. Still, the bill had to navigate through the Virginia Senate and House, where significant opposition from local government officials and the Virginia Municipal League stood in the legislation's path.
The four councils, represented by Hal Hartel, Fred Fann, Bill Laurent and me, began networking with clubs throughout the state to drum up phone calls and e-mails supporting the bill. Fortunately, we found an eager and well-prepared ally in the SEMA Government Relations Office in Washington, D.C. At every step, Virginia hobbyists sent out action alerts in coordination with the SAN, producing spectacular results. From all the resulting calls and e-mails pouring into Richmond, the legislators knew that we meant business. For the next two months, I kept in constant contact with Steve McDonald of the SEMA government-relations office, who gave advice, strategy, and support for Virginia hobbyists. Though the bill's fortunes rose and fell on a daily basis, it finally made it out of the General Assem-bly. It now awaits the signature of Virginia Governor Mark Warner.
The lesson here is that perseverance, cooperation, and working with the SAN can result in big dividends. Hobbyists can make a huge difference by organizing and developing statewide contacts with legislators. If your state doesn't have organized hobbyist associations, consider becoming a member of the SAN to get the latest legislative information. Join a club like the Antique Automobile Club of America, and then work on forming your legislative council. It worked for us. It can work for you too!!
[Editor's Note: Tom Cox is President of the Southwest Virginia Car Council and Eastern Chairman of Legislative Affairs for the Antique Automobile Club of America. The SEMA Action Network is indebted to Tom and the other Virginia councils for their tireless work and unflagging efforts in getting this hobbyist-friendly legislation passed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.]
Supreme Court Hears Utah ORV Case
The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could set an important precedent on how much discretion federal agencies have in interpreting environmental laws and regulations. At issue is a 1999 lawsuit filed by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) alleging that the agency had not adequately restricted off-road vehicle (ORV) use in certain wilderness study areas, allowing the areas to be damaged.
The BLM contends that an agency's daily activities, such as managing federal land, cannot be challenged in court. The environmentalists who brought the suit counter that potential inaction or mismanagement by government agencies should be subject to court review. Some of the Supreme Court justices voiced concern that this would place policy decisions in the hands of a judge rather than the agency.
"While we'd rather be enjoying the back country in our off-road vehicles than reading stories about long, boring courtroom battles, it's lawsuits like this that define whether those roads and trails will be available to us in the future," said Conrad Wong, SAN Director.
Earlier, a federal appeals court found in favor of the environmental groups, reversing a lower court's decision. The Supreme Court is expected to decide this matter in several months.
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:
Florida SB 1836: Authorizes persons to anonymously report the license plate numbers of vehicles observed emitting visible emissions from exhaust pipe. Requires Department of Environmental Protection to keep records and report repeat offenders to local law enforcement.
Delaware SB 218: Prohibits sale of license-plate covers or frames, which are against regulations.
Georgia SB 623: Prohibits use of devices containing video screens with moving pictures visible to the operator of a motor vehicle.
Louisiana HB 275: Provides for notification to motor-vehicle customers of the presence of certain event data recording devices.
Louisiana HB 866: Requires all vehicles manufactured or assembled after December 31, 1962 to be equipped with at least two stop lamps.
Louisiana SB 554: Prohibits driving a motor vehicle equipped with a display screen and audio equipment that allows the driver to view a program on video cassette, DVD, etc.
Minnesota HB 2880: Requires mud flaps on sport-utility vehicles.
New Jersey SB 1305: Authorizes state police to conduct random roadside exams of vehicles to determine whether their tires meet state and federal safety standards. Defines tires with tread or sidewall separation as unsafe and increases fines.
New York AB 9959: Requires manufacturers of new vehicles sold or leased in New York equipped with "event data recorders" or "sensing and diagnostic modules" to disclose that fact in the owners manual beginning July 1, 2005.
New York AB 9963: Prohibits operating motor vehicles equipped with a video monitor upon which pre-recorded programming may be displayed within view of the operator, with exceptions.
New York AB 10167: Prohibits installing television or video screens within the view of the driver of the vehicle.
New York SB 6482: Prohibits operating a motor vehicle equipped with a video monitor upon which pre-recorded programming may be displayed within view of the operator.
Missouri HB 1594/SB 1114: Extends from 2004 to 2008 the expiration date for laws regarding the removal of nuisances and derelict vehicles.
Florida SB 2472: Amends current definition of "racing" and increases penalties for those convicted of participating in speed competitions including drag racing.
Minnesota HB 2911: Prohibits certain types of auto racing, and defines "unlawful racing."
California AB 1809: Amends definition of "pickup truck" by deleting the requirement that the truck be equipped with an open-type box.
Indiana HR 75: House Resolution urging the establishment of an interim study committee on antique license plates.
Rhode Island SB 2730: Establishes methodology for determining value of a vehicle subject to the excise tax to be created on December 21, 2004. For vehicles 1976 model year and older, antique or not, valuation set at $500.
Hawaii HB 1987: Increases fines against both vehicle owners of illegal sunscreens and installers of illegal sunscreens. Requires installers to reinstall legal sunscreens or reimburse owner for installation of legal sunscreens.
Louisiana SB 555: Amends laws regarding medical exemptions from window-tinting standards. Limits doctors who are legally able to provide medical exemptions and prohibits convicted violent and drug criminals from being eligible for medical exemptions.
MAY 2004 SAN CLUB EVENTS
May 15, Talledega
17th Annual Pontiac Show
Sponsor: Alabama Chapter, Pontiac-Oakland Club
May 7-9, Lake Powell
2nd Annual Cruisin' Lake Powell
May 8, Prescott
7th Annual Rod & Custom Car Show
Sponsor: Mountain Top Street Rodders
Information: 928/717-6017 or 928/771-2202
May 1, Antioch
6th Annual Show and Shine
Sponsor: Diablo Valley Mustang Club
May 1, Hungry Valley/Miller Jeep Trail
Sponsor: Jeeping Jeepers Jeep Club
May 1, Union City
6th Annual No. California All-American Truck Show
May 2, Elk Grove Park
Western Festival Classic Car Show
May 8, Oroville
Gold Rush Car Show
May 15, Jackson
Gold Country Cruise Car Show
May 16, Riverside
7th Annual All Chrysler Car and Truck Show
Sponsor: Inland Mopars
Information: 909/460-0654 or 909/780-5544
May 22, Fair Oaks
Fiesta Days Show-n-Shine
May 22, Lincoln
Kiwanis Car Show
May 29-31, California City Camp B
Play Days Memorial Day Weekend
Sponsor: Smitty's Desert Riders
May 29, Rio Linda
Thunder in Depot Park
May 30, Fallbrook
39th Annual Fallbrook Vintage Car Show
Sponsor: Fallbrook Vintage Car Club
May 1, Lewes
Lewes British Motorcar Show
Sponsors: Lewes Chamber of Commerce and British Car Club of Delaware
May 8, Lake Bluff
All Buick Show at Knauz Motors
Host: Frank Tarpey
May 28-31, Arlington Heights/Chicago
Great North Central Memorial Day Classic
Host: Greater Chicago Classic Chevy Club
May 31, Western Springs
Memorial Day Parade
Sponsor: Salt Creek Chapter, Model A Ford Club
May 13-15, Bowling Green
The ZR-1/C4 Gathering
Sponsor: National Corvette Museum
May 27-29, Bowling Green
Corvette Forum Cruise-In
Sponsor: National Corvette Museum
May 15-16, Cumberland
25th Annual Bonny Eagle Show
Sponsor: Maine Custom Auto Association
May 2, Clarksville
6th Annual Spring All-Mopar Car Show
Sponsor: Chrysler Product Owners Club
Information: 301/460-7283 or 703/532-1535
May 8, Stevensville
Kent Island Cruisers Spring Fling No. 10
May 20-23, Ocean City
Cruisin Ocean City 2004
May 16, Hastings
16th Annual Corvette Celebration Car Show and Swap Meet
May 15, Eden Prairie
2004 Spring Kickoff Fiero Show
Sponsor: Minnesota Fieros Forever
May 1-2, Springfield
7th Annual O'Reilly Auto Parts 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals
May 28-30, Springfield
21st Annual NSRA Mid-America Street Rod Nationals, Ozark Empire Fair
Sponsor: National Street Rod Association
April 30-May 1, Las Vegas
16th Nitro Nationals Nostalgia Drags
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
May 1-2, Sparks
Silver Classic Car Auction at John Ascuaga's Nugget
April 30-May 2, Rochester
Spring Dust Off
Sponsor: Street Machines of Rochester
Information: 585/352-5377 or 585/663-0393
May 1-2, Rhinebeck
Rhinebeck Car Show
May 12-16, Lima
19th Annual Advance Auto Parts Spring 4-Wheel Jamboree
May 1, Bakerstown
5th Annual Corvette Show at Tom Henry Chevrolet
Sponsor: Corvettes of Pennsylvania
May 15-16, Harrisburg
Custom Compact Show
May 21-23, Carlisle
May 22, York Springs
28th Annual Car Show and Flea Market
Sponsor: Gettysburg Region AACA
May 28-29, Kinzers, Lancaster County
1st Annual International Harvester Spring Show
Sponsor: International Harvester Collectors Club of S.E. PA
Information: 215/234-4132 or 717/548-3775
May 2, Sumter
Mustang and Ford Show at Simpson's Hardware
Sponsor: Central South Carolina Mustang Club
April 30-May 2, Knoxville
30th Annual NSRA Street Rod Nationals South, Chilhowee Park and Expo Center
Sponsor: National Street Rod Association
May 1, Garland
2004 Spring Bash
Sponsor: Summer Knights
Information: 903/873-8097 or 972/271-2398
May 1, Little River
Nostalgia Drags and Show and Go
Sponsor: Hill Country Street Rods
Information: 254/982-4512 or 512/292-0878
May 16, Houston
North Houston Swap Meet
Sponsor: The Early Irons of Texas
May 22, Alvin
3rd Annual Classic Car and Bike Show
Sponsor: Alvin-Manvel Chamber of Commerce
May 28-31, Dallas
"Golden Girls 2004" and Grand National Invitational
Sponsors: Classic Chassis Car Club of Texas and Lambda Car Club International
May 22, Orem
Utah Valley State College Auto Expo
Information: 801/377-0719 or 801/225-6174
May 1, Farmville
Giant Heart of Virginia Cruise-In
May 1-2, Cartersville
Sponsor: Old Dominion 4WD Club
May 1-2, Chase City
2004 ARIVA Chase City Car, Truck, and Bike Show
Information: 434/372-5801 or 434/372-0379
May 7-8, Winchester
46th Annual Apple Blossom Meet
Sponsor: Shenandoah Region AACA
May 14-15, Williamsburg
32nd Annual Colonial Williamsburg Rod Run
Sponsor: Tidewater Street Rod Association
May 2, Ferndale
Spring Rod Run
May 8, Ferndale
All Wheels Show and Shine
May 15-16, Monroe
Monroe Swap Meet