North Dakota OHV Permits: A bill was introduced to allow out-of-state off-highway vehicles that are exempt from a registration fee in the state to purchase a public trails and lands access permit. The cost of the permit would be $10 per year, and the permit would be displayed prominently on the off-highway vehicle. In North Dakota, off-highway vehicles exempt from registration fees include those validly licensed in another state and that have not been within the state for more than 30 consecutive days, those used exclusively on private lands, and those used exclusively in organized track racing events.
The Bonneville Salt Flats is a unique land formation in northwestern Utah that beckons visitors from around the world. For racers, its surface is unequaled. The hard salt crust is perfect for both speed and safety. But there is a problem. The once 13-mile racetrack is now less than eight miles long due to salt erosion.
New Jersey Street Rods/Customs: A version of SEMA-model legislation that would create a vehicle registration classification for street rods and replica custom vehicles and provide for special license plates for those vehicles remains pending in the New Jersey Assembly. The bill defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1948 and a custom as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after 1948. The bill allows a kit car or replica vehicle to be assigned a certificate of title bearing the same model-year designation that the body of the vehicle most closely resembles.
SEMA submitted a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) requesting Alibaba be included on the 2016 Notorious Markets List, which is used to identify markets based outside the United States that are known to facilitate copyright piracy or trademark counterfeiting. Alibaba is consistently identified by SEMA members as a market used by counterfeiters to move large volumes of unauthorized knockoff products. As stated in SEMA’s letter, “it appears that Alibaba has failed to adopt a business model committed to the distribution and sale of licensed or legitimate products.” The USTR is expected to publish its most recent Notorious Markets List by the end of 2016.
The laws and regulations that govern how SEMA members do business have a continuous impact on the way automotive specialty-equipment products are made, distributed and marketed. The charge of the SEMA government affairs office is to stay on top of relevant state and federal legislation and regulations and advocate for industry positions to ensure the best possible outcome for SEMA membership. The following are just a few examples of critical legislative/regulatory successes the SEMA government affairs team was involved in this year.
Every company must do at least one thing better than its competitors in order to survive and grow. This is the company’s competitive advantage. This competitive advantage might come from a special formula, a unique part, a cheaper manufacturing process or simply a better-quality product.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to assert authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate the modification of vehicles used for competition. Fortunately, a bipartisan bill pending in the U.S. Congress—the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act—would settle this debate once and for all. The RPM Act makes it clear that modifying a street vehicle used solely for competition is legal and beyond the reach of EPA regulations.
California Vehicle Retirement Program: The Senate Environmental Quality Committee did not approve legislation to expand the state’s program for the retirement and replacement of older passenger vehicles and light- and medium-duty trucks. The bill had previously been approved by the Senate Transportation Committee and full Assembly. Current law provides for “an enhanced fleet modernization program” to be administered by the Bureau of Automotive Repair, based on guidelines adopted by the Air Resources Board. Beginning in the 2017–2018 fiscal year, the bill would have required the agencies to set specific and measurable goals for the program’s expansion. While the bill was granted “reconsideration” by the committee, it is unlikely to re-emerge and is essentially dead for the year.
California Emissions: In a severe disappointment for the old-car hobby, the California Senate failed to gain final approval for legislation to exempt motor vehicles prior to the ’81 model year from the emissions-inspection requirement. Under the amended bill, vehicles manufactured after the ’76 model year but prior to the ’81 model year would have been exempted if the owner submitted proof that the vehicle was insured as a collector motor vehicle.
Gearheads have been dealing with vehicle software since the early ’80s, when microcontroller chips were installed to facilitate the shift from carburation to electronic fuel-injection technology. Swapping out the chips in these vehicles quickly became a preferred method for improving engine performance.