Governor Signs Smog Check Exemption Repeal Bill into Law
Despite receiving thousands of messages in opposition to the bill from dedicated SEMA Action Network (SAN) members across the state, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed A.B. 2683 into law. The new law repeals California’s current rolling emissions-test exemption for vehicles 30 years old and older and replaces it with a law requiring the lifetime testing of all 1976 and newer model-year vehicles.
We remain confident that the facts are on our side: California’s 30-year rolling exemption recognized the minimal impact vintage cars have on air quality, since they constitute a minuscule portion of the overall vehicle population. These older cars are overwhelmingly well maintained and infrequently driven and are poor candidates for reducing pollution. They are, in the end, convenient scapegoats for legislators, regulators and stationary source polluters using exaggerated data and inflated annual mileage assumptions in order to secure any legislative victory that sounds as if it will reduce emissions.
“The SAN has generally encouraged the enactment of environmental legislation to create genuine air quality improvement,” said SEMA Vice President of Government Affairs Steve McDonald. “When such efforts become the subject of hyperbole and misinformation, it is our duty to speak out. We challenge supporters to spot a single vehicle of a model year relevant to this bill on their next commute. These cars and trucks are simply not the problem. The old-car hobby must stand united against future attacks from environmental activists and smokestack industries that will accomplish nothing except require unnecessary testing, waste money and burden car hobbyists.”
The new law becomes effective April 1, 2005. As originally written, the bill would have required vehicles of the post 1975 era to undergo an enhanced smog inspection for the duration of the vehicle’s life. However, hobbyists were able to secure a small concession in the enacted version of the law, in which vehicles 35 years old or older of the post 1975 era need only undergo a basic Smog Check inspection, a tailpipe test, functional inspection of the fuel cap and a visual inspection for liquid fuel leaks. To qualify for this basic test, these vehicles must be insured under a collector policy and only driven to parades, exhibitions, etc.
“With the California Air Resources Board having proposed yearly testing of these older vehicles, this new law could be far costlier and even more burdensome to vehicle collectors in the future,” McDonald added. “Even the benefits of the less stringent smog check inspection available to these 1976 and newer model-year vehicles could be short lived. These regulators could set emissions standards to any level that suits their purposes in order to ensure inspection failures of these 1976 and later model cars. Nothing in this new law prevents regulators from bringing model-year 1968 through 1975 vehicles back into the Smog Check program at a later date.”
As always, the SAN is grateful to the thousands of car clubs, media outlets and enthusiasts throughout the state that bombarded the Governor’s office with phone calls, letters and e-mails requesting his veto of the is bill. Working together, we will live to fight another day!
A Little Help from Our Friends
Our efforts to battle A.B. 2683 (see adjacent article for details on the battle against A.B. 2683) in California did have some benefits. We were able to renew ties to Sacramento lawmakers who have consistently supported the interests of automotive hobbyist vehicles from collector cars, trucks and SUVs to sport compacts and everything in between. We were also able to create relationships with less-traditional allies. Special thanks must be directed to the most stalwart of these legislators who, when the fight intensified, unwaveringly supported our valiant cause, State Senators Tom McClintock, Betty Karnette and Chuck Poochigian and Assemblymembers Doug LaMalfa and John Campbell.
Senator McClintock and Assembly-man LaMalfa appeared on numerous talk-radio programs throughout California questioning the bill’s effectiveness in the weeks leading up to the Governor’s official signing. La Malfa and Campbell delivered impassioned pleas to their fellow legislators to oppose the measure in speeches on the Assembly floor. Senator Karnette worked with the SAN to create workable amendments to the bill that would have created a valid collector-vehicle definition and permanently exempted these cars from Smog Check requirements. Despite initially voting for the bill, Senator Poochigian righted the ship and became one of the bill’s most vocal opponents and persistently advocated for a strong exemption for collectors. Assemblymember Campbell also spearheaded an effort to secure the signatures of 19 Republican legislators in both the Assembly and the Senate on a letter requesting the Governor’s veto of A.B. 2683.
In the letter to Governor Schwarzenegger, these lawmakers stated: “In 1997, the Legislature and Former Governor Pete Wilson agreed through Senate Bill 42 to a long-term exemption from smog check for vehicles 30 years old and older. A.B. 2683 violates this previous agreement with the collector-car community.” McClintock, Karnette, Poochigian, LaMalfa and Campbell, among several others, remained true to the commitment made in 1997, and for that we are in their debt.
Star City Motor Madness, A Car Show Full of SANity
By Tom Cox, AACA Eastern Legislative Director
With the constant threat of unfriendly legislation looming over our hobby, the value of hobbyists joining together has never been more important. By creating a statewide or regional car club council association and working with SEMA through the SEMA Action Network, you can protect your rights as hobbyists. However, there are added benefits to the hobby and community beyond the obvious when clubs and enthusiasts join
forces. This year was the third and most successful for Star City Motor Madness, a two-day cruise-in and car-show event to benefit the proposed auto gallery at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.
This event, like many others, is an outgrowth of hobbyists banding together
to fight unreasonable legislation. When they weren’t busy working on legislative matters, Virginia hobbyists found that they could work not only to provide some much needed capital for the auto gallery but also create a great automotive event. In three short years, Star City Motor Madness has become a huge success, drawing thousands of cars and spectators from the East Coast and Midwest. Star City Motor Madness occurs each year on July 3-4 in Roanoke, Virginia, which is nestled amid the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
As a result of this event, the Museum, which has lost all of its state funding due to budget cutbacks, may look forward to a day when it will house a beautiful rotating display of cars, trucks and motorcycles for all to enjoy, something which would have never happened without enthusiasts, restorers and motorcycle clubs working beyond their differences to protect the hobby and build a better car community along with SEMA.
(Those interested in Star City Motor Madness or in helping with the future auto gallery of the Virginia Museum of Transportation may go to www.starcitymotormadness.com or call 540-947-5850)
Off-Road News and Developments
Forest Service Plans to Manage OHV Use: SEMA submitted comments on a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) proposal to manage off-highway vehicle (OHV) use within National Forest System lands. The rule would establish a system of roads, trails and areas designated for motor vehicle use and prohibit such use outside of the designated system. SEMA commended the USFS for creating a potential roadmap for rational land management decisions to address the sometimes conflicting needs for access and closure. SEMA along with many SAN off-road groups expressed support for broad national guidelines combined with local management decision-making. SAN and SEMA urged strong public involvement and flexible timetables in the process of designating roads, trails and areas for motor vehicle use. SEMA noted that certain unauthorized “user-created” routes should receive careful consideration for inclusion in the use designations. SEMA also called for public participation in reviewing the need for an emergency closure lasting more than one year.
CARB Approves Landmark Greenhouse-Gas Regulation
By Frank Bohanan
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a potential turning point in automotive emissions regulations. By a unanimous vote, CARB declared carbon dioxide to be a “pollutant” and will regulate tailpipe emissions of the gas. The regulation will take effect in 2006 and first apply to 2009 model-year vehicles.
The regulation calls for an initial set of “near-term” standards that would have to be met through 2013, and then a set of “mid-term” standards would apply through 2016. CARB claims that the standards will result in a 25% to 30% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions from new vehicles. Vehicle manufacturers maintain that the CARB regulation is, in fact, a fuel economy regulation, a prerogative reserved to the Federal government. The automakers may use this legal argument to sue California and block the rule, especially since New York and six other Northeastern states as well as Canada are expected to adopt the California rule.
The automakers pegged the cost per vehicle sold in California due to the regulation at $3000 and the expected operating cost savings over the vehicle’s life of $1000 (mainly from higher fuel economy). The regulation could also impact aftermarket companies that make power-enhancing products. As has been the case for years now, the cost of product development will continue to rise due to the greater technical complexity, diversity and sophistication required under these types of regulations. Of greater potential concern, however, is the fact that it will be much more difficult to raise power levels if the amount of fuel that can be consumed is essentially limited by this rule. SEMA opposed this regulation because of its effect on limiting vehicle choice for vehicle hobbyists. SEMA and the SAN support real reductions in vehicle emissions and fuel consumption when they are cost effective and have a verifiable benefit.
No Compromise on Wild Sky Wilderness Legislation
Efforts to create the “Wild Sky Wilderness” in Washington’s Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest appear to be dead since lawmakers cannot agree on whether to protect existing roads, buildings and structures within the wilderness study area. A SAN/SEMA supported U.S. House of Representatives bill lacks critical votes for passage. It would set aside about 93,000 acres as wilderness and also create a 13,300-acre “backcountry wilderness management area” to maintain the previously developed lands. The Senate has already passed a bill to designate the entire 106,000 acres as wilderness which, by definition, would not be open to motor vehicles.
Hey! Thats My Car!
Attention SAN Members with a Digital Camera!
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: email@example.com. 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.
Legislative Quick Hits
California Exhaust Noise: The end of August marked the one-year anniversary of California’s exhaust-noise testing program. The California Bureau of Automotive Repair reports that 90% of the approximately 3000 vehicles that have undergone the state’s exhaust-noise test have been certified to be in compliance with California law. Test stations issue certificates of compliance for vehicles when tests of their exhaust systems show that they emit 95 decibels or less under a fair and predictable SAE test procedure.
The program is the result of a SAN- and SEMA-sponsored law, which allows California hobbyists to prove their vehicles comply with state noise standards. The courts are then allowed to dismiss citations for exhaust systems that have been tested and for which a certificate of compliance has been issued. Forty Smog Check referee stations statewide are performing the test and issuing certificates of compliance. The test is still being performed at no cost to motorists. However, only those vehicles that have received a citation for an exhaust-noise violation can be tested. BAR has established a toll-free number to accept phone calls from cited motorists who wish to have the test performed.
Michigan Historic Vehicles: Working with its Michigan-based SAN and SEMA members, including Hagerty Insurance, SEMA is refocusing its efforts to expand the state’s current law defining historic vehicles. Bills in both the House and Senate to revise the law are pending in the Michigan Legislature. Under current Michigan law, use of historic vehicles is strictly limited to club activities, exhibitions, tours and parades. The legislation would allow these vehicles to be driven for “other occasional use” as well. It would provide relief to the many Michigan vehicle owners whose cars qualify for the historic registration class but who have chosen to register as “daily drivers” and pay ordinary car insurance premiums and other higher fees in order to avoid the current law’s limited use restrictions.
New York Street Rods/Custom Vehicles: New York legislation that would create vehicle registration classifications for street rods and custom vehicles and provide for special license plates for these vehicles will likely need to be reintroduced in 2005 to receive further consideration by the Legislature. Last summer, the bill was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee but was not scheduled for a vote by the full New York Senate before the Legislature adjourned for the year. The bill mirrors model legislation created by SEMA and enacted in Illinois in 2002, and in Missouri and Rhode Island in 2004. The SEMA-model legislation 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, replica vehicles are assigned the same model-year designation as the production vehicle they most closely resemble.
Virginia Remote Sensing: On behalf of the SAN, SEMA commented on a draft regulation by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to implement recent changes to the law to limit emissions inspections for vehicles 25 years old or older. SEMA noted that the proposed rule could cause confusion since it did not specifically recognize that vehicles registered as “antiques” are not subject to remote sensing. SEMA, with the support of Virginia SAN members, worked with lawmakers to enact this exemption in 2001 and 2002. SEMA also successfully negotiated an exemption for all 25-year-old and older vehicles from the regular biennial inspection cycle, although it permitted remote sensing tests for older vehicles not registered as “antiques.”
Glare: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has withdrawn its request for comments on glare from automobile headlamps. After reviewing more than 5,000 comments, NHTSA has decided that more research is needed on the topic before any new lighting rules are contemplated. NHTSA has identified the following issue areas for further research and evaluation: (1) fog lamps and other front-mounted auxiliary lamps; (2) headlamp mounting heights; (3) headlamp light source issues; (4) high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps, knock-offs and other advanced lighting sources; and (5) headlamp aiming issues. On behalf of the SAN, SEMA has consistently advocated on behalf of performance standards that keep up with advances in lighting technology and are impartially applied within the various sectors of the auto industry.
Tire-Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS): NHTSA issued a proposed rule requiring new vehicles be equipped with tire- pressure monitoring systems capable of detecting when a tire is significantly under-inflated. A federal court rejected a previous rule that gave automakers the option of installing “direct” or “indirect” systems, on the grounds that indirect systems were not as reliable. NHTSA was instructed to mandate installation of direct pressure sensors on all four wheels, a position that SEMA had strongly advocated during the original rulemaking procedure. The TPMS would only be required to work with the original tires and rims. SEMA is working with NHTSA to make sure the new TPMS rule does not create roadblocks to sales of aftermarket wheels to hobbyists interested in customizing or upgrading their vehicle. The rule would be phased in over a two-year period beginning in September 2005 and would apply to all cars, trucks and buses weighing up to 10,000 pounds.
SAN Member Club
Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Public Lands
Congratulations to SAN member Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association (Auburn, Wash.) for winning a 2004 National Take Pride in America Award! The awards are divided into a dozen categories and acknowledge excellence in public stewardship. PNW4WDA won in the non-profit category. The awards were presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., with Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and actor Clint Eastwood, Take Pride in America’s spokesman.
“The cornerstone of Take Pride is the belief that individuals need to be engaged to take responsibility for improving their community environment,” Norton said. “At Interior we call it ‘cooperative conservation,’ and Take Pride’s award-winning volunteers are helping to turn this philosophy into action.”
NOVEMBER 2004 SAN CLUB EVENTS
Even though it’s getting colder and some cars will soon be going inside for the fall and winter months, we’d like to know what your clubs are up to. Send Information on upcoming shows, rod runs and charity events to SEMA Action Network, 1317 F Street, NW Suite 500 Washington, D.C. 20004. Clubs can also send upcoming event information to the SAN via fax, 202/783-6024 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. If the SEMA Action Network isn’t already on it, put us on your club’s mailing list!
November 20-21, Chandler
Valley of the Sun Fun Ford Weekend
Sponsor: American Autosports Productions
November 20-21, Scottsdale
7th Southwest Nationals
Sponsor: The Good Guys
Information: www.good-guys.com or
November 3 -24, Pomona
Twilight Cruise Night, 1st Wednesday of every month
November 6-7, Bakersfield
6th Annual Fuel & Gas Finals at
Information: www.good-guys.com or 925/838-9876
November 13 -¬14, Palmdale
Speed Trials at El Mirage
Sponsor: Southern California Timing Association
November 13 -¬14, Pleasanton
15th Annual Autumn Get-Together at Alameda County Fairgrounds
Sponsor: The Goodguys
Information: www.good-guys.com or 925/838-9876
November 14, Long Beach
Hi Performance Swap Meet and Show
Information: www.toppingevents.com or 800/762-9785
November 21, Long Beach at the Queen Mary Special Events Park
Cadillac Concours D’Elegance
Sponsor: Cadillac Club International Consortium
November 21, San Diego at Grossmont College
San Diego Auto Swap, Show & Sale
Sponsor: Ray Taylor
Information: 858/484-9342 or email@example.com
November 6, Lake Worth
38th Annual Pioneer Days
Sponsor: Palm Beach Region AACA
November 6-7, Ocala
17th Annual MOPARS w/Big Daddy
Sponsor: Florida MOPAR Association
November 11 ¬ 14, Zephyhills
20th Annual Zephyhills Fall AutoFest Car Show, Swap Meet, Collector Car
Sponsor: Zephyrhills Swap Meet
Information: 813/258 6726 or
November 25-28, Daytona Beach
31st Annual Turkey Run
Sponsor: Daytona Beach Street Rods Club
Information: 386/255-7355 or
November 19-21, Moultrie at
14th Annual Automotive Swap Meet
Sponsor: Nostalgic Automotive Ventures
Information: 888/686-2102 or
November 7 ¬ December 4 at the Deines Cultural Center
Automotive Art Show “Chrome, Smoke, & Flames Revisited”
November 5-6, Las Vegas
24th Annual Hump n Bump Trail Ride
Sponsor: Vegas Valley 4-Wheelers
Information: www.vv4w.org or
November 5-7, Cherokee
Cruise the Smokies 2004, Cherokee Rod Run
Sponsor: Cherokee Travel &Promotion
November 7, Bowling Green
37th Annual Swap Meet
Sponsor: Pioneer Auto Club of NW Ohio
November 6-7, Hilton Head
Hilton Head Concours
November 7-12, Texas Hills Country
Texas 1000 Road Rally
November 13-14, Ft. Worth at
13th Anniversary Fall Dallas Swap Meet
November 7, Newport News
1st Annual Raider Rides Car Show
benefiting Warwick High School Band
Information: 757/599-1166 or P_Burgener@yahoo.com
November 13, Virginia Center
Ford Truck World Trucks
Information: 757/592 0185 or firstname.lastname@example.org