The Final Stand-California Emissions Exemption Repeal Bill Moves to Governor for Signature or Veto
By the time you read this article, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will have decided to veto or sign into law Assembly Bill 2683. A.B. 2683 is the legislation that would repeal the state’s current rolling emissions-test exemption for vehicles 30 years old and older. The bill repeals the current pro-hobbyist exemption and replaces it with a law requiring the permanent testing of all 1976 and newer model-year vehicles. The California Legislature approved A.B. 2683 with damaging amendments. The bill, with the amendments, still does not protect car collectors and is being opposed by the SEMA Action Network (SAN) and the major car clubs and organizations in California.
The bill requires the following:
1. Require vehicles of the post-1975 model year insured as collector cars (driven only to parades, exhibitions, etc.) and at least 35 years old to continue in the Smog Check program for the duration of the vehicle’s life.
2. Revise the Smog Check testing regimen for these qualifying vehicles to include a tailpipe test, functional inspection of the fuel cap and a visual inspection for liquid fuel leaks. The vehicle would be forced to comply with the exhaust-emissions standards for the vehicle’s class and model year as prescribed by California regulators.
“Despite assurances from the bill’s sponsors that a good-faith effort would be made to address hobbyist concerns, this bill continues to betray the trust of the collector-car community,” said SEMA Vice President of Government Affairs Steve McDonald. “There is nothing that substantially differentiates a 1975 from a 1976 vehicle requiring one be accorded a lifetime exemption while the other is not. Further, with regulators having proposed yearly testing of these older vehicles, this bill could be far costlier and even more burdensome to vehicle collectors in the future. In addition, 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. Finally, nothing in this bill would stop regulators from bringing 1975 and older vehicles back into the Smog Check program at a later date.”
The truth of this legislation remains the same: California’s current law recognizes the minimal impact of vehicles 30 years old and older on vehicle emissions and air quality; vehicles 30 years old and older still constitute a minuscule portion of the overall vehicle population and are a poor source from which to look for emissions reduction; antique and classic vehicles are overwhelmingly well-maintained and infrequently driven (a fraction of the miles each year as a new vehicle).
“Legislators, regulators and stationary-source polluters are feeling the heat from a failed effort to meet air quality goals and are looking for a convenient scapegoat, using false data and inflated annual mileage assumptions to further their case,” McDonald added. “The old-car hobby should not carry the burden of their mistakes. We are hopeful that the Governor will recognize that A.B. 2683 will not help achieve significant emissions reductions and will only serve to impose unnecessary social and economic burdens upon the citizens of California.”
As always, the SAN is grateful to the thousands of car clubs and enthusiasts (too numerous to mention individually here) throughout the state that bombarded the Governor’s office with phone calls, letters and e-mails requesting his veto of the bill.
Caption: If A.B. 2683 is enacted into law, this 1976 Corvette will no longer be eligible for lifetime smog-check exemption.
See You Down the Road
By Conrad Wong
This is my final issue editing Driving Force. I have departed the SEMA Action Network (SAN) and the Office of Government Relations in Washington, D.C. for points and destinations unknown, something alien to me and yet also exciting. It’s like following a road on the map; you don’t know where it will lead, but it promises to be an interesting ride. I am pausing to take stock of my trip through life so far and the places that I would like to explore next.
Working with the enthusiasts and members of the SAN has been an honor and a privilege. Meeting and speaking with many of you, whether at your club meeting or on the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour, was an opportunity that few car guys will ever get to experience first-hand. Your response to our pleas for assistance in calling your legislators always was overwhelming. You never let us or fellow members of the SAN down. Together we were able to enact street-rod bills in Missouri and Rhode Island, defeat an anti-snorkel proposal affecting the off-road community in Minnesota, pass inoperable-vehicle legislation in Virginia, and establish a noise-testing program for aftermarket exhaust systems in California. The SAN could not have enjoyed these successes without your active participation and help.
The friendships that I have made with SAN members are too numerous to count. I am grateful for and humbled by the experience. It truly has been my pleasure to work with, laugh with and serve you. Perhaps I’ll see some of you at a swap meet or car show in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, or at the Mopar Nationals. (I’m still hunting for a ’67 four-speed GTX that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.) In the meantime, take care. Good-bye and thank you.
Hobbyist Larry Artz Seeks Reelection to New Hampshire State Legislature
State Representative Larry Artz of Nashua (District 26) informed the SAN that he is running for re-election to the New Hampshire State Legislature. Granite State car guys know that Rep. Artz has been extremely helpful in enacting hobbyist-friendly legislation. If you would like to contact his campaign, please e-mail him at email@example.com. The following are a few of the bills Rep. Artz has sponsored as an advocate of the motor vehicle hobby:
- Removed the prohibition of modification of exhaust systems from factory configurations, legalizing the use of aftermarket exhaust systems (House Bill 243).
- Vehicles 20 years old or older exempted from visual/OBD II inspections of emissions control components; enacted a 60-day inspection extension for repair of emissions-control equipment on cited vehicles (HB 1293).
- Co-sponsored legislation putting the power to change the uniform-fine schedule back in the hands of the legislature and away from the courts (HB 1228).
- Enabled antique-vehicle owners to obtain a title if the owner wished to do so. Vehicles 15 years old and older continue to be title-exempt (HB 1348).
- Non-commercial antique-vehicle restoration activities exempted from the junkyard statute definition (HB 617).
- Allowed use of either current and expired New Hampshire certificates of registration and state-issued certificates of titles in lieu of a VIN verification form; required town clerks to return to the vehicle owner all vehicle documents, such as bills of sale and previously-issued registrations and titles, to the vehicle owner (HB 1348).
- Biennial inspections, instead of annual ones, for antique vehicles 40 years old and older (HB 459).
- Killed legislation that would have prohibited vehicles deemed totaled by an insurance company from being repaired and returned to the road (HB 725).
Stories from the Automotive Frontline: Cruising Lives in Arizona!
By Mark Neumann, Arizona Automobile Hobbyist Council
On May 4, Arizona state legislators came to their senses and defeated House of Representatives Bill No. 2136, which would have allowed towns the right to make cruising a crime. This was a huge victory for automotive hobbyists. The proposed legislation would have made cruising to a Sonic or a drive-in movie illegal, based on how each municipality interpreted the new law.
The bill would have prohibited a person from participating in an “unauthorized assembly of vehicles” that restrains the movement of traffic that impedes emergency vehicles or law enforcement from providing services or having access to businesses. The bill would have allowed an officer to have a car towed and levy fines of $100. The broadness of the language, however, meant that car cruises to a show-or even for a rally at the state capitol-could be considered “an unauthorized assembly” in violation of the law.
The bill was aimed mainly at problems in the Maryvale section of Phoenix, where upward of 300 cars cruise on a weekend night. State Representative Steve Gallardo, who represents the westside neighborhood, said open dialogue with residents and cruisers made more sense and did not support the bill. Opposition from the car-club community did not come until late in the legislative process, mainly because the legislator who introduced the bill, State Representative John Nelson, had promised that car clubs cruising to other destinations would be exempted. That language was later removed without the knowledge of the clubs. Bill Gilmore, an automotive historian and appraiser, and the Arizona Outlaws Car Club organized and led the opposition, backed by the Arizona Automobile Hobbyist Council. Letters, telephone calls, and e-mails from individuals and car clubs across the valley to Senators helped to kill the bill. “It was a very grassroots campaign, but it worked,” said Gilmore in an interview with the Arizona Republic. “Cruising is not a crime, and thank God the legislators agreed on that.”
Still, we have to stay on guard. In January 2005, supporters most likely will be back, trying to ram it through again.
Hey! Thats My Car!
Attention SAN Members with a Digital Camera!
Please continue to send us photos of your trail rides, restorations in progress, rod runs, car shows, charity events and drag races. The next time we do a story focusing on your segment of the automobile hobby, we may use your ride as the example.Kindly submit pictures to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Off-Road News and Developments
OHV Access To Southern California Forests: SEMA worked with SAN member John Stewart, Director, Environmental Affairs for United Four Wheel Drive Associations and Natural Resource Consultant to the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs-along with other clubs and organizations-to prepare comments to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) on its proposals for managing four national forests in Southern California that would open up more backcountry trails to off-highway vehicles (OHVs). The four national forests are Angeles, Cleveland, San Bernardino and Los Padres, covering 3.7 million acres from the U.S.-Mexico border to Big Sur. SEMA supports the proposals to increase by about 2% the total backcountry acreage in the four forests zoned for motorized use, which is nearly 1.6 million acres. This would include some new trails to connect existing routes along with an informal network of roads in other areas. SEMA opposes any new wilderness designations and also recommends that all existing roads and trails be maintained, even if only to allow forest maintenance and quick access for firefighters and emergency personnel. SEMA stated that its goal is to allow all to enjoy recreational opportunities responsibly, balancing that with the need to maintain the health and beauty of our forests, and the safety of patrons.
Revising The Endangered Species Act: The U.S. House of Representatives Resources Committee passed two SEMA-supported bills to revise the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a move intended to set the stage for a comprehensive overhaul of the law in 2005. The first measure would change the way the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designates land for protection from development in order to make the process more reliable and less burdensome for landowners who find endangered species on their land. Emphasis would be placed on protecting lands associated with breeding, feeding, and sheltering, thereby focusing on species recovery, not just survival. The second bill would require more field-tested and peer-reviewed science in order to confirm that species are actually endangered and that critical habitat is properly identified.
California-More OHV Access to ISDRA: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) drastically reduced the amount of land set aside within the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA) as critical habitat for the Peirson's milk-vetch, a flowering herb subject to protection under the Endangered Species Act. The FWS decided that only 22,000 acres of ISDRA lands are required rather than the original proposed 53,000 acres. SEMA and many off-road SAN groups questioned whether the plant should even be considered endangered since studies demonstrated that it is plentiful within its historic range.
Washington-Wild Sky Wilderness House: A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee held a hearing on a bill to designate as wilderness 106,000 acres of land to the northeast of Seattle in Snohomish County, Washington. A focus of attention was whether 16,000 acres of the proposed “Wild Sky Wilderness” area was appropriate for such designation since it contained roads and previously developed lands. Wilderness areas generally prohibit roads, motorized vehicles and permanent structures. On behalf of the SAN, SEMA supports an alternative designation for the 16,000 acres, which is scattered throughout the entire proposed area, to provide some level of protection while still permitting certain current activities such as off-roading.
Legislative Quick Hits
California Kit Cars: SEMA continues to work with its contacts in the California Department of Motor Vehicles to investigate options to accommodate illegally titled kit cars in the “specially constructed” class without limiting the opportunities for newly built kit cars whose owners would like to register under this class. Under the law creating this registration class, only 500 vehicles per year may be registered under the specially constructed vehicle definition. The conversations with the DMV could prove fruitful on the matter of retaining the 500 yearly specially constructed vehicle spots while allowing illegally titled kits to register through the back door. It would work as an amnesty arrangement, with owners required to properly register their vehicles and pay appropriate taxes. The agency held an August 5 meeting to discuss particulars of the arrangement and to consider whether a legislative remedy is needed to effect the plan.
California Greenhouse Gases: SEMA participated in a California Air Resources Board (CARB) public workshop to discuss the agency’s proposed regulations concerning “greenhouse gas” emissions from mobile sources. Among the issues considered were new technologies needed for compliance and economic demands. CARB and environmental groups maintain that compliance can be achieved, at least in the near term, using existing technologies. Automakers claim that doing so would result in reduced performance and vehicle choice, since weight reduction would be the only viable option for some classes of vehicles. These groups also disagree with CARB’s estimates that the cost of compliance would add only several hundred dollars to new-vehicle prices in the near term and approximately $1,000 in the longer term. The automakers have made it clear that they may initiate legal action to prevent these regulations from being implemented. SEMA believes that improved fuel economy and lower emissions are admirable goals; however, SEMA does not support reduced vehicle choice and unsubstantiated vehicle price increases. SEMA is also concerned that further increases in vehicle complexity may reduce potential business opportunities and increase the cost of demonstrating emissions compliance for powertrain products.
Massachusetts Aftermarket Exhaust Systems: Thanks to the efforts of SAN members, SEMA appears to have again stalled substantive action on a Massachusetts 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.” It will likely need to be reintroduced in 2005 in order to receive further consideration by the Legislature. As in past years, the measure does not supply law enforcement with a clear standard to enforce, allowing them to make subjective judgments on whether or not a modified exhaust system is in violation. The SAN will continue to fight hard to keep the bill from enactment into law and has received assurances from several legislators that the bill will receive an increased level of scrutiny if reintroduced next year.
Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS): NHTSA is expected to issue a proposal to mandate installation of “direct” TPMS on all new vehicles later this fall. A federal court struck down NHTSA’s previous rule, which gave automakers the option of taking "indirect" measurements using a vehicle’s antilock brake system hardware. The previous rule exempted from TPMS requirements optional or replacement rims of any size. (Since there are a wide variety of rim designs, NHTSA did not think it was feasible to mandate accommodation of a TPMS sensor.) NHTSA also exempted optional and replacement rims, along with tires that are of a different size recommended by the automaker, from the “render inoperative” prohibition in which you cannot take a vehicle or item of equipment out of compliance with a safety standard.
Federal Scrappage Program: To date, a U.S. House-Senate conference committee has been unable to agree on an amount of money to spend on federal road and highway construction programs over the next few years. This impasse has stalled action on legislation to update the nation’s highway law. SEMA has worked with lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate to ensure that the legislation preserves a long-standing prohibition against using highway funds to pay for state motor vehicle scrappage programs. SEMA prefers that the highway legislation be enacted into law this year; otherwise, the legislative process will begin anew next year and lawmakers could once again be tempted to include a scrappage provision.
Federal Rollover Ratings: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has created an enhanced scoring system for estimating the rollover potential of stock vehicles. The scoring system combines a vehicle’s mathematical profile (divide 1/2 of a vehicle’s track width by the height of the center of gravity) with the results of a dynamic test to produce a percentage chance of rollover in a single-vehicle crash. Using this approach, cars are the least likely to roll over, followed by pickup trucks. SUVs are the most likely to tip, with 13 of the 36 SUVs test-driven by NHTSA tipping up on two wheels during the dynamic test’s tight, sudden turns. The new scoring system is not a safety standard but, rather, an extension of the current "rollover resistance" consumer information program. SEMA is concerned that the ratings may not reflect real-life operating conditions.
Cash Donations Increased for Car Clubs Winning Eagle One Golden Rule Awards: Entry Forms Available Online Beginning October 1
Cash and products totaling $7,000 will be awarded to car clubs that win or are runners-up in the 12th annual Eagle One Golden Rule Awards competition. The Awards will recognize car clubs in four regions for outstanding achievement in community service during 2004.
Eagle One announced that car clubs may download an entry form beginning October 1 by visiting www.eagleone.com. The deadline for entries will be December 20, 2004.
Associate sponsor Valvoline will add $1,000 in cash donations to the like amount awarded by Eagle One. Favorite charities designated by the four winning clubs will now receive $500 each.
Winners and runners-up will also receive a generous supply of Eagle One’s NanoWax, All Wheel & Tire Cleaner, Tire Shine, Wax As-U-Dry and MaxLife motor oil for fund-raising purposes.
A new Golden Rule Award for winning clubs features a hand-cast and finished eagle on clear acrylic on a cherry base. An entry form may also be obtained by calling 818/501-1445 or by faxing a request to 818/501-2690.
Winners will be notified by January 30, 2005.
Eagle One is a division of The Valvoline Company.
OCTOBER 2004 SAN CLUB EVENTS
October 3, Glendale
All Ford Show at Sanderson Ford
Sponsor: Central AZ VTCI Chapter
October 9, Sierra Vista
17th Annual Cars in the Park Show
Sponsor: Sierra Vista Car Club
October 30-31, Tucson
27th Annual Old Cars & Parts Swap Meet and Car Show
Sponsor: Southern AZ Region of the Contemporary Historical Vehicle Association
Information: 520/293-3178 or 520/887-7767
October 1-3, Sacramento
3rd Annual NSRA Golden State Street Rod Nationals
Sponsor: National Street Rod Association
October 1-3, Bishop
Fall Colors Car Show
October 7-10, Kernville
Kick Back in Kernville
Information: www.rhodeshow.com or 909/754-5270
October 9, Orange County
10th Annual “Hoofs & Feathers” Poker Run
Sponsor: Fundbirds of So. CA & Orange Co. Mustang Club
October 10, Huntington Beach
Das O.C.T.O. Fest 2004
Sponsor: Orange County Transporter Organization
Information: www.octo.org or 714/891-4079
October 17, Pomona
Pomona Swap Meet
October 8-10, Tampa
17th Annual NSRA Southeast Street Rod Nationals
Sponsor: National Street Rod Association
October 17, West Melbourne
Roadsters in Roctober 4
Sponsor: FLA Roadsters
Information: 321/453-1880 or FLAroadsters@aol.com
October 30, Tampa
23rd Annual Mustang, Shelby & Ford Roundup
Sponsor: Bill Currie Ford
October 16, Kenner
27th Annual New Orleans Antique Auto
Show & Swap Meet
Sponsor: Crescent City AACA
Information: 504/305-1693 or email@example.com
October 1-3, Bethel
15th Annual Jeep Jamboree
Sponsor: Jeep Jamboree USA
Information: 530/333-4777 or
October 2, Queenstown
Family Fall Festival & Car Show
Sponsor: Shore Christian Fellowship
October 7-10, Ocean City
Endless Summer Cruisin VII
Sponsor: Special Events Productions, Inc.
October 23, Lewistown
Sandy Run Farm
Sponsor: Linda and Arthur Goldberg
October 30, Stevensville
The Original Halloween Cruise In
Sponsor: Kent Island Cruisers
October 15-17, Branson
Branson Collector Car Auction
Information: www.bransonauction.com or 800/335-3063
October 1-3, Las Vegas
Information: 702/631-9026 or wwww.bugorama.com
October 10, North Brunswick
16th Annual Picnic/Meet at the New Jersey Agricultural Museum
Sponsor: New York/New Jersey Slant-Six Club of America
Information: 732/549 0188
October 22-23, Alamogordo
2004 Last Chance Poker Run
Information: 540/ 437-7799
October 29-31, Charlotte
11th Southeastern Nationals at Lowe’s Motor Speedway
Information: www.good-guys.com or 925/838-9876
October 9, Doylestown
8th Annual ‘Brits at Mercer’ British Car & Bike Show
Sponsor: Philadelphia MG Club
October 10, Houston
9th All Pontiac Show
Sponsor: Western PA Chapter of the POCI
October 17, Macungie
5th Annual Endless Summer Rod & Custom Show at Macungie Park
Sponsor: Endless Summer Rods & Customs
October 17, Bensalem
21st Annual Auto Show, Flea Market
Sponsor: Lower Bucks Region AACA
Information: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.buckscarclub.com
October 19, Lancaster
5th Annual Poker Run
Sponsor: Lanco MG Club
October 31, Cornwells Heights
7th Annual Black Top & Blue Skies Car Show
Sponsor: Far Northeast Cruisers
Information: email@example.com or http://members.aol.com/farnecruisers/
October 1-3, Ft. Worth
12th Annual Lone Star Nationals at
TX Motor Speedway
Information: 925/838-9876 or www.good-guys.com
October 2, Galveston
2nd Annual Fall Show on Pier 21
Sponsor: Galveston American Pontiac Association
October 17, Conroe
2nd Annual Fall Conroe Cruisers Classic
October 9, Virginia Beach
Annual Fall Mustang & Ford Powered Car Show
Sponsor: Southeastern Virginia Mustang Club & Beach Ford
Information: www.sevmc.org or 757/426-6205
October 22-24, Newport News
Virginia Fall Classic
Sponsor: VA Peninsula Car Club Council and Newport News Police Department
October 1-3, E. Wenatchee at Douglas County Park
2nd Annual Wings + Wheels Festival
Information: 503/884-7053 or firstname.lastname@example.org