California 'Homebuilt' Vehicles Bill Passes; Rolling Emissions Exemption Retained
After months of legislative wrangling, a pro-hobbyist bill (S.B. 1811) that provides for emissions certification and model-year designation of specially constructed vehicles (including homebuilt and kit cars) passed the California Legislature. At press time, S.B. 1811 was awaiting the Governor's signature.
S.B. 1811 was introduced to help California hobbyists by creating special license plates for homebuilt cars and exempting both homebuilts and collector cars from California1s Smog Check program requirements. However, along the way, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) got its hands on this bill and was able to transform S.B 1811 into a remarkably anti-hobbyist measure. CARB, disappointed by the fact that Smog Check is missing promised emissions reductions by about 40 percent, managed to have the bill amended to repeal the rolling Smog Check exemption in California for cars 30-years old and older and replace it with a static exemption for pre-1975 vehicles. SEMA and California car clubs had been assured that the bill would be further amended in the Senate to also exempt pre-1975 vehicles from remote sensing and roadside emissions testing programs and provide for a collector vehicle exemption from Smog Check regardless of model year. This did not happen.
Out of these legislative complications ensued a remarkable partnership between SEMA Action Network members, SEMA-member companies and the SEMA government relations team in an effort to retain the 30-year rolling exemption. "The combination of grassroots pressure from California SAN members and SEMA member companies, and SEMA's direct lobbying of legislators in Sacramento succeeded in protecting the exemption from repeal," said Steve McDonald, SEMA's director of government and technical affairs. "Working with the bill's sponsor Sen. Maurice Johannessen and a coalition of like-minded industry representatives, we battled regulators for the right to retain the 30-year rolling exemption and won. The measure, once again, concerns only specially constructed vehicles."
SEMA Director of Outreach and Public Affairs Brian Caudill noted that caution was necessary: "A good bill became a bad bill overnight and it took every bit of our collective effort to right the wrongs. We now have proof that California's hard-fought rolling emissions exemption is under the gun. We'll have to remain informed, vigilant and ready to act when and if it comes under attack again."
Maine Regulators Look to Implement Scrappage Regulation
Last spring, over the protests of SEMA and car collectors, restorers and rodders in the state of Maine, Governor Angus King signed into law a bill (L.D. 2182) to implement a pilot motor vehicle scrappage plan. This bill represented an effort to rid this largely rural state of a good bit of automotive history. And now it's the regulators' turn to do the dirty work this law requires.
Per the new law, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a proposal to implement a 3-year pilot program to scrap older vehicles. Under the program, owners of 1987 or older vehicles who choose to scrap would be issued vouchers of up to $2,000 toward the purchase of a 1996 or later model car. Vehicle parts, except for the engine, could be recycled and sold; however, the proposal does not outline how or if this will actually happen. Naturally, SEMA will be watching to see if Maine plans to make parts available in a reasonable fashion.
The Maine DEP held a public meeting on its proposed plan in Augusta, Maine, on Sept. 21. Maine members of the SEMA Action Network, including the Downeast Street Rod Club, Knucklebusters Antique and Classic Motors Club, Maine Antique Vehicle Restoration Club, Maine Classic Chevy Club and the Maine Association of Automobile Clubs, as well as Maine SEMA-member companies, were urged to attend. They were also encouraged to file official comments on this scrappage proposal with the DEP by the Oct. 2 deadline. SEMA also filed comments with the Maine DEP on behalf of its membership and consumers. These comments note how scrappage programs do not work, and are unfair to vehicle collectors and low-income car owners. SEMA's comments also mention that there are more socially responsible programs, such as VOLUNTARY vehicle repair and upgrade, that keep the cars on the road as well as clean the air.
Regardless of the outcome of this regulatory rule-making process, SEMA continues to consider pursuing a bill in Maine's next legislative session to repeal the program before any vehicles and future restoration projects are crushed.
California Parts Recycling
SEMA-supported legislation (S.B. 1058) to amend current California law to ensure the availability of recycled parts from vehicles participating in scrappage programs passed in the Assembly Transportation Committee, but has been put in the suspense file in the Appropriations Committee. Being placed in "suspense" typically means that a bill will receive no future consideration. Absent a miracle, the bill is likely dead for the year. California regulators continue to rely on an antihobbyist interpretation of current California law (S.B. 501). This interpretation essentially enforces a ban on the resale of parts recovered before crushing. In a nutshell, this means California authorities are not making parts available for recycling. As we have reported in Driving Force many times, the California Air Resources Board's (CARB) stated claim is to crush 150,000 cars a year for 10 years. It now appears its unstated, but no less true, goal is to make sure that not one single taillight is saved from cars about to be crushed. This is devastating news to car collectors, restorers and low-income drivers. SEMA remains convinced that the law in on the side of common sense, automobile hobbyists, low-income drivers and parts recycling. California law regarding parts recycling needs to be properly interpreted, strengthened or appropriately enforced. Rest assured, SEMA will continue to pursue this objective.
Political Insight: Keeping the Hobby Alive
The Unique Perspective of Frank Manzullo Member, Unique Street Rods, Rockford, Ill.
By Erin Mulholland
Near the Illinois-Wisconsin border, sleepy Rockford, Ill., plays host to many car clubs. However, none is quite as exceptional as the Unique Street Rods.
Founded in 1975, the "Uniques," as it is known around town, is a family-oriented group with a deep affection for street rods and its community. The 18 couples in its core membership hold the annual Pork Chop Run every year on the first Sunday in June. The show boasts 250 car entries, and a spectacular pork chop barbecue on an industrial-sized grill supplied by a local Saturn dealer. Thousands of spectators help the Uniques raise funds and food for local charities, such as St. Jude's Hospital and the Rockford Food Bank. Most of the club's members spend time building street rods with family members or simply being actively involved grandparents when not participating in Unique activities.
As a National Street Rod Association (NSRA) affiliated club, the Uniques consider safety its first priority when it comes to the car hobby. Running neck and neck with safety is continued enjoyment by Americans of the car hobby. This is of great concern to club member Frank Manzullo. Manzullo, a Unique member for 5 years, has a unique perspective on the car hobby and its future due to his close ties to national level politics. The connection? His brother, Don Manzullo (D-Illinois), is a U.S. Congressman. And while Frank is, like his brother, a Democrat, he is extremely vocal about his selection for President this November-George W. Bush. Surprising? Perhaps, but for Frank, it is all about preserving the car hobby. Like the SEMA Action Network personnel in Washington, D.C., Frank monitors anticar hobby legislation that is sneaking through as tag-ons to environmental laws. "What most Americans don1t understand is that politicians package bundles of legislation together that have nothing to do with each other," said Frank. His brother sponsored legislation that was passed by the Senate and House that would end this practice, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.
According to Frank, a little-known fact is that Al Gore, the Democratic ticket1s presidential nominee, is personally against the internal combustion engine. On pages 325-326 of his book, "Earth In The Balance," Gore indicates that it is his personal goal to see a complete ban of the internal combustion engine within 25 years. "This is frightening," Frank said, "especially with the core of the American economy linked to the transportation industries."
Frank urges that we must also ponder how food will get to market, how tourists will become tourists and how our overnight car parts packages will be delivered. We must also consider the fate of antique vehicles everywhere. "Not just cars, but old airplanes, boats, motorcycles and trucks will all be turned into scrap and destroyed," said Frank referring to the elimination of the car hobby, boat racing, NASCAR, Indy and any other factions that involve the use of internal combustion engines.
Finally, Manzullo states that perhaps the most notable aspect of the eradication of the internal combustion engine is that many people, even those involved in the car industry, believe this scenario can never happen to their hobby. However, just look at what is happening with personal watercraft and snowmachines. Look at what is happening in federal and state parks across the country where vehicles are being banished from public lands. Frank, meanwhile, cautions all Americans to "always try to read and follow the issues. If somebody is for the environment, you have to dig to see what his or her agenda is and what his or her voting record has been."
Clubs Encouraged to Follow 'Golden Rule'
Once again, SEMA has been contacted by the folks at Eagle One premium products to solicit nominations for the Eagle One "Golden Rule" award, created in 1994 to recognize the community-spirited and charitable work of automobile clubs nationwide.
Regional car clubs in the west, midwest, south and east judged by Eagle One to have the most outstanding program in support of community and charitable causes will receive a custom-designed recognition plaque and a large supply of Eagle One products for fund-raising purposes. Valvoline, Eagle One's parent company, will add a generous supply of motor oils and other automotive products. Runner-up clubs will receive an award of merit and a supply of products from both companies.
Because we are fully aware of the fantastic charitable and community involvement of SEMA Action Network (SAN) clubs across the country, we're happy to pass on this information. Last year, four out of the eight clubs Eagle One honored as winners and runner-ups were members of SAN, including the Over the Hill Gang of Sacramento, Calif., Tacoma Model T Ford Club, Tacoma, Wash., Hawkeye Area Classic Chevy Club of Homestead, Iowa, and the New Jersey Street Rod Association. Previous honorees include SAN organizations the River Cruizers of Bullhead City, Ariz., Los Angeles Roadsters, United Street Machines Association of Clawson, Mich., Lost in the 50s Custom Car Club of Baltimore, Md., Villa Capri Cruisers of Moscow, Pa., and the Fort Lauderdale Mustang Club. To obtain an entry form for participation, write to Alex Litrov & Associates, 15720 Ventura Blvd., Ste. 409, Encino, Calif. 91436. Entry forms can also be received via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.Good luck!
WE GET LETTERS
It's Your Forum Remarkable. I just received the September Driving Force and, lo' and behold, there were letters to the editor! I was shocked. So shocked, I immediately went to my computer and shot off a letter myself in the hopes it would make SEMA's publication date for the October edition.
I have been an individual member of the SEMA Action Network for about a year. (For all you club folks, I1m sorry. I guess I1m too old and crotchety to be a joiner anymore.) In that time, I1ve been impressed with the work SEMA has done on behalf of the old car hobby, lifted trucks, etc., but I've rarely seen a letter to the editor.
This makes no sense. I can't sit down with any of my car buddies for more then 5 minutes without someone starting to froth at the mouth about what the government is doing or not doing to old cars. Yet, I see none of these opinions expressed in Driving Force letters and this irks me. To my knowledge, SEMA is the ONLY viable organization out there that is looking after our rights. Sure, we might not agree with 100 percent of what it does. (I don1t agree with my wife more than 75 percent of the time.) But it is out there swinging. And, doubtless, SEMA could use your input. Write 'em a letter. Let 'em know how they're doing. If it's criticism, I'll bet they can take it and be better for it. If it's praise, well, give 'em an "attaboy" or "attagirl." They could probably use that too. For my part, here's a big "Attaboy" from central Ohio. I think you're doing great.
Mel Jakovic, Columbus
Editor's Note: Mr. Jakovic touches three important areas here.
1) You CAN sign up to the SEMA Action Network as an individual.
2) Driving Force is more than willing to print praise, criticism or suggestions in our Letters to the Editor section.
3) We think 75 percent communication with one's wife isn't all bad. If we had that much with our legislators, we'd be in much better shape! - Ed.
Put SEMA on Your Mailing List, Etc.
We'd like to know what clubs and enthusiasts across the country are up to; what charity events they're involved in; when and where rod runs, car shows and rallies are held; and what issues concern club members and individual enthusiasts. One of the best ways to keep us abreast of what is going on and what is important to the automobile hobbies nationwide is to receive club newsletters and updates. Consider putting SEMA on your mailing list. Send correspondence to SEMA Action Network, 1317 F St., NW, Ste. 500, Washington, D.C. 20004. Clubs can also reach us via e-mail at email@example.com or by fax at 202/783-6024.