Law and Order

SEMA News—December 2015

LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS

By Steve McDonald

Law and Order

2015: The Year in Review

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 industry positions to ensure the best possible outcome for the membership. The following are just a few examples of critical legislative/regulatory successes the SEMA government affairs team was involved in this year.

STATE UPDATE

Arizona Emissions Inspections: Arizona enacted a law in 2011 to exempt all vehicles manufactured in model-year ’74 and earlier from the state’s mandatory biennial emissions-inspection program. However, it has yet to take effect. Arizona regulators must first update the state’s air-quality plan and demonstrate that the exemption will not impact the state’s compliance with clean-air requirements. The updated plan must then be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Department of Environmental Quality indicated that it intended to submit a revised air-quality plan to the EPA in 2015. The EPA will then have another 18 months to approve or reject the changes. In the meantime, the current exemptions for pre-’67 vehicles and “collectibles” remain in effect. To qualify for the collectible exemption, a vehicle must be maintained primarily for use in club activities, exhibitions, parades or other functions of public interest and have a collectible-vehicle or classic-automobile insurance policy restricting use. The collectible exemption also requires that the owner own a secondary vehicle for
general transportation.

Arkansas Miles Traveled Tax: Legislation to allow the state to implement a pilot program that charged drivers based on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) was withdrawn by the bill’s sponsor after a public outcry in Arkansas. Under the measure, participants in the program would have been taxed 1.5 cents per mile the subject vehicle traveled on Arkansas roadways. The bill could have created privacy concerns and penalized national efforts to create a more fuel-efficient vehicle fleet by taxing drivers based on vehicle mileage.

California Chemical Labeling: SEMA-opposed legislation to require manufacturers of designated consumer goods, including automotive products, to post ingredients on the product label and online on the manufacturer’s website died when the legislature adjourned for the year. It is eligible for consideration next year. Under current California law, ingredients in automotive products are not required to be listed on product labels. As originally drafted, the bill would have made it a crime to manufacture, distribute and sell automotive products after January 1, 2017, that did not have a label listing ingredients and a manufacturer webpage address at which product ingredient information could also be found. The bill required only the 20 most prevalent ingredients to be listed on the label but required all ingredients to be listed on the company’s website. The measure applied to all chemically formulated products for maintaining the appearance of a vehicle, including products for washing, waxing, polishing, cleaning or treating the exterior or interior surfaces of a vehicle but excluding automotive paint and paint-repair products.

California Labeling: Legislation amending how California enforces Made in U.S.A. labels was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. California had prohibited labeling a product as Made in U.S.A. unless the product and its subcomponents were manufactured in the United States. The California standard had been interpreted as more onerous than the federal standard, which requires products labeled Made in U.S.A. to be “all or virtually all” made in the United States. The new law closes the gap by allowing the Made-in-U.S.A. label to be used on products sold in California if the product is made in the United States and all its subcomponents sourced from outside the United States constitute no more than 5% of the final value of the manufactured product. Manufacturers of products made in the United States using subcomponents sourced from outside the United States may also use the Made-in-U.S.A. label if the subcomponents cannot be obtained in the United States and all subcomponents sourced from outside the United States make up no more than 10% of the final wholesale value of the manufactured product.

Connecticut Warranty: Legislation to require new-car dealers to provide purchasers with a written statement declaring that it is illegal for manufacturers or dealers to void a warranty or deny coverage because aftermarket or recycled parts were installed or because someone other than the dealer performed service was signed into law by Governor Dannel Malloy. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act regulates warranties for the protection of consumers and provides that vehicle manufacturers may not deny warranty coverage based on the use of an aftermarket part alone. Consumers are generally unaware of the rights afforded them under the law, and many are forced to absorb the costs for repairs that were properly covered under the warranty. This new SEMA-supported law will simply inform consumers, in 10-point boldface type, of these basic rights.

Florida Miles Traveled Tax: House and Senate versions of legislation to establish a pilot program to study the feasibility of implementing a system that charges drivers based on vehicle miles traveled died when the legislature adjourned for the year. In addition to creating privacy concerns, the bills sought to penalize national efforts to create a more fuel-efficient vehicle fleet by taxing drivers based on vehicle mileage. As gas tax revenues decrease due to hybrid and electric vehicle ownership, states are looking for new sources of funding for pet projects. The Senate bill would have allowed the Center for Urban Transportation to spend up to $400,000 for the study and pilot program design and provided for the implementation of the pilot program in 2017.

Georgia Headlights: A bill to require motor-vehicle headlights to emit only “white light” was not considered in committee before the legislature adjourned for the year. The measure also prohibited the use of headlights converted from the original factory light source and the use of high-intensity-discharge replacement bulbs in halogen motor-vehicle headlights. SEMA is working with the bill sponsor to amend any future legislation to conform to the federal lighting standard, to which all headlamps, both original and aftermarket, are required to comply.

  Hawaii Ethanol
Hawaii Ethanol: Legislation to repeal the requirement that gasoline offered for sale in Hawaii contain a percentage of ethanol was signed into law by Governor David Ige. The new law becoms effective on December 31, 2015. The SEMA-supported law recognizes that the requirement of blending ethanol into Hawaii’s gasoline does not produce any economic benefit for the state and the import of ethanol creates an economic burden for state residents.
   

Hawaii Exhaust Systems: A bill that sought to prohibit the use, sale or installation of an exhaust system “that has been changed or modified from the factory design so as to increase the volume or audibility of the explosions within the vehicle’s motor” died when the legislature adjourned. This SEMA-opposed legislation would have required that safety-inspection stations perform a test to ensure that a vehicle conforms to the law. Fines for noncompliance would have ranged from $100 to $500 for each offense. The bill is eligible for consideration in 2016.

Hawaii Wheels: Legislation to ban certain wheels died when the legislature adjourned. It is eligible for consideration in 2016. The bill sought to prohibit any wheel, wheel cover, hubcap, lug-nut cover and cap or prong or any ornamentation that extends out past the wheel’s rim. The measure was referred to Senate Transportation and Senate Ways and Means Committees but did not receive committee consideration.

Idaho Registration Fees: Legislation that once threatened to increase annual motor-vehicle registration fees by $25 was signed into law by Governor Butch Otter. Under the new law, registration fees for vehicles of all types and ages will be increased by $21.

Kentucky Property Tax: SEMA-supported legislation to put in place a new and more beneficial valuation procedure for older vehicles was signed into law by Governor Steve Beshear. Under the new law, vehicles 20 years old or older would no longer be presumed to be in “original factory” or “classic” condition for purposes of the property tax. Original factory and classic vehicles are currently assessed as high-value collectibles. This measure instead provides three options for assessing the value of these vehicles. Under each option, the value of the vehicle would be reduced by 10% each year.

Maryland Single Plate: Compromise legislation to allow the issuance of only a single license plate to historic vehicles and street rods was signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan. Under the new law, historic vehicles and street rods that are 50 years old and older would be eligible to run a single plate. While the amended bill is heavily diluted from the original, it is still an improvement over current law. Separate legislation to require the issuance of only a single license plate for all motor vehicles was not approved.

Maryland Historic Vehicles: SEMA-opposed legislation to increase the age requirement for vehicles eligible for registration as “historic motor vehicles” died when the legislature adjourned for the year. Under the House version of the bill, the age requirement would have been raised from 20 to at least 30 years old, making it more difficult to register legitimate historic vehicles, which are already limited to club activities, exhibitions, tours, parades and occasional pleasure driving. The measure also would have denied all 20- to 30-year-old vehicles certain benefits, including the special historic license plate, reduced registration fees and exemptions from equipment and emissions-inspection requirements. The bill sought to address unsubstantiated claims of abuse without providing any real data. The Maryland Vehicle Administration is already authorized by regulation to suspend the registration of any historic vehicle for use that is inconsistent with the registration requirements.

Minnesota Miles Traveled Tax: Legislation to mandate payment of a “recoupment” surcharge of up to $95 died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The surcharge would have been calculated to levy the highest tax on owners of the most fuel-efficient vehicles. Separate legislation to require the Department of Transportation to take steps to implement a vehicle mileage user fee to tax drivers on actual miles driven also died. Both bills are eligible for consideration in 2016.

Missouri Miles Traveled Tax: An effort to require the Department of Revenue to charge and collect a miles-driven fee of up to $200 for a one-year vehicle registration and up to $400 for a two-year vehicle registration died when the legislature adjourned for the year. Under the bill, this fee would have been charged in addition to all other registration fees and the gas tax. In addition to creating privacy concerns, the bill sought to penalize national efforts to create a more fuel-efficient vehicle fleet by taxing drivers based on vehicle mileage.

Missouri Emissions Inspection: The EPA has approved an amendment to the State Implementation Plan to change the state’s motor-vehicle emissions-inspections program from a centralized program to a decentralized, OBD-only inspection program. The amendments specifically exempt specially constructed vehicles or “kit cars” from the new program. Missouri requires biennial emissions checks on vehicles model-year ’96 and newer that are registered in the St. Louis ozone nonattainment area.

 

Nevada Classic Cars

Nevada Classic Cars: Citing the opposition of SEMA, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed legislation that would have altered the requirements for vehicles eligible for registration as classic vehicles, old timers, street rods and classic rods so that only vehicles manufactured prior to 1996 would be eligible. In his statement rejecting the bill, the governor noted that it “…unnecessarily penalizes true Nevada car enthusiasts who might seek one of these plates for proper reasons.” While claiming to be targeted at current “abusers” of specialty plates who registered their vehicles under these designations to avoid emissions testing and fees, the bill instead targeted owners of 1996 and newer cars that are not even currently eligible for classic status. In seeking the veto, SEMA committed to working with the legislature toward enacting fair legislation that will target the real offenders and not true collector-car owners who had done nothing to deserve this heavy-handed approach.

 
   

Nevada Classic Cars: Citing the opposition of SEMA, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed legislation that would have altered the requirements for vehicles eligible for registration as classic vehicles, old timers, street rods and classic rods so that only vehicles manufactured prior to 1996 would be eligible. In his statement rejecting the bill, the governor noted that it “…unnecessarily penalizes true Nevada car enthusiasts who might seek one of these plates for proper reasons.” While claiming to be targeted at current “abusers” of specialty plates who registered their vehicles under these designations to avoid emissions testing and fees, the bill instead targeted owners of 1996 and newer cars that are not even currently eligible for classic status. In seeking the veto, SEMA committed to working with the legislature toward enacting fair legislation that will target the real offenders and not true collector-car owners who had done nothing to deserve this heavy-handed approach.

 

New Hampshire Antique Trucks: A SEMA-supported bill to include trucks more than 25 years old in the definition of eligible “antique motor vehicles” was signed into law by Governor Maggie Hassan. The measure provides the option for older trucks to take advantage of the many accommodations available to antique cars. Under New Hampshire law, antique motor vehicles pay a minimal registration fee. In addition, antiques are inspected only every two years, can use year-of-manufacture license plates and are exempted from certain equipment requirements. Antique motor vehicles may be used in exhibitions, club activities, parades and other functions of public interest.

Oregon Miles Traveled Tax: Legislation to convert the state’s current voluntary vehicle miles traveled tax program to a mandatory program died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The bill did not receive committee consideration. The mandatory program would have applied to all high-mileage vehicles that have a rating of 55 miles per gallon or better. These high-mileage vehicles would not have paid the gas tax that applies to all other vehicles. Under the bill, if a vehicle is subject to the mandatory VMT, owners would choose to pay a flat annual fee in lieu of a fee based on actual miles driven.

South Carolina Motor Vehicle Taxes: Legislation to raise the maximum an owner can be taxed on the sale, lease or registration of a motor vehicle from $300 to $750 died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The bill was not considered by the House Ways and Means Committee but is eligible for consideration in 2016.

Tennessee Headlights: Legislation to require headlights on motor vehicles to emit only a white light or light of a yellow or amber tint was not given serious committee consideration before the legislature adjourned for the year. The bill exempted white HID lamps and other lamps installed as original equipment on new vehicles. SEMA is working with the bill sponsor to amend the bill to conform to the federal lighting standard, to which all headlamps, both original and aftermarket, are required to comply.

Texas Vehicle Miles Traveled: Legislation to impose a vehicle miles traveled tax on motor vehicles that travel 5,000 or more miles a year died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The VMT tax would have been calculated by charging $.01 per mile driven during the inspection period minus the estimated fuel taxes paid by the vehicle’s owner. The actual VMT would have been measured using an annual odometer inspection. As gas tax revenues decrease due to hybrid and electric vehicle ownership, states are looking for new sources of funding for pet projects.

Vermont Titles: SEMA-supported legislation to ease the burden on car owners by requiring the state, upon the owner’s request, to issue titles for vehicles not currently required to be titled was signed into law by Governor Peter Shumlin. Under the new law, these titles would be available only for vehicles 25 years old and older, while vehicles 15 years old and older would continue not to require titles. Most importantly, the new law will expand the out-of-state market for older Vermont motor vehicles and enhance their value to collectors.

Vermont Exhaust Systems: A bill to ban motor-vehicle exhaust systems that increase noise levels died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The legislation is eligible for consideration in 2016. Under the measure, violators would not have passed the state’s required inspection and would have been subject to fines of up to $350. The bill also did not provide an opportunity for vehicle hobbyists to install and use aftermarket exhaust systems that meet an objective decibel limit under a fair and predictable test.

Virginia Exhaust: Legislation to exempt certain antique motor vehicles from the requirement that they have exhaust systems of a type installed as standard factory equipment or comparable to that designed as factory equipment was signed into law by Governor Terry McAuliffe. The new law, which SEMA supported, provides this exemption only to antique vehicles manufactured prior to 1950 and containing engines comparable to those designed as standard factory equipment for use on that vehicle. The new law recognizes that factory replacement parts or comparables are not always readily available for antique motor vehicles manufactured prior to 1950.

Virginia Road Usage Fee: Legislation to levy a road usage fee of $64 for all cars with a combined city/highway fuel economy rating equal to or greater than 40 miles per gallon or 40 mpg-equivalent died when the legislature adjourned for the year.

Washington Equipment Standards: Responding to comments submitted by SEMA to a proposed motor-vehicle equipment rule, the Washington State Patrol opted to retain the current maximum bumper height for passenger vehicles and the minimum height requirement for windshields. SEMA had opposed efforts by the agency to modify the regulations by lowering the maximum bumper height requirement for passenger vehicles from 22 in. to 20 in. The association also opposed a change to the current regulations that would remove the 6-in. minimum height requirement for windshields and replace it with a vague, subjective standard. SEMA contended that regulations more stringent than the current standard would not solve differing bumper heights among vehicles in the national vehicle fleet. Vehicles with a range of bumper heights—from sports cars to stock pickups to tractor-trailers and school busses—come off the assembly lines each year. The proposal also required that windshields “be of sufficient dimensions to protect the driver and occupants from insects, other airborne objects, and highway surface water and debris, when the motor vehicle is moving forward, or as originally equipped by a recognized manufacturer.” This proposed change removed an objective requirement that the vertical height of the windshield be at least six inches and replaced it with language that relied on the subjective interpretation of the individual inspector or law enforcement authority, rendering the vehicle owner without clear direction as to lawful modifications.

West Virginia Collector Car Appreciation Day: West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin issued a proclamation designating July 10, 2015, as Collector Car Appreciation Day in the state. A House Concurrent Resolution to permanently designate the second Friday in July as West Virginia Collector Car Appreciation Day was approved by the full House of Delegates but stalled in the Senate as the legislature adjourned for the year.

Wyoming

Wyoming Single Plate: Wyoming Governor Matt Mead signed into law a SEMA-drafted bill to provide for the issuance of a single license plate for motor vehicles that were “originally manufactured without an installed bracket, device or other means to display and secure a front license plate.” The new law also allows antique vehicles to display a single plate and permits all custom vehicles, not just those manufactured prior to 1968, to display a single plate. The new law took effect on July 1, 2015.

 
   

Wyoming Single Plate: Wyoming Governor Matt Mead signed into law a SEMA-drafted bill to provide for the issuance of a single license plate for motor vehicles that were “originally manufactured without an installed bracket, device or other means to display and secure a front license plate.” The new law also allows antique vehicles to display a single plate and permits all custom vehicles, not just those manufactured prior to 1968, to display a single plate. The new law took effect on July 1, 2015.

Canada Collector Car Appreciation Day: The provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba again issued a proclamation designating July 11, 2015, as Collector Car Appreciation Day. British Columbia also proclaimed the month of July 2015 to be Collector Car Appreciation Month.

Canada Automotive Heritage Month: The provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan each issued a proclamation designating July 2015 as Automotive Heritage Month.

FEDERAL UPDATE

Collector Car Appreciation Day: At SEMA’s request, U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Jon Tester (D-MT) co-sponsored Senate Resolution 196 designating July 10, 2015, as Collector Car Appreciation Day. It marked the sixth commemoration in what has become an annual event to raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. SEMA-member companies, car clubs and individuals helped organize scores of events to celebrate the day, including car shows, small-business open houses and “drive your car to work” displays.

E15 Ethanol: SEMA is supporting legislation to cap the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline at 10% and eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) corn-based ethanol requirement. The Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act would protect consumers by repealing the EPA regulation that permitted fuel to be blended with ethanol at up to 15%. The bill would also eliminate an RFS mandate that 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol be blended into the U.S. fuel supply each year from 2015 through 2022. Ethanol can cause metal corrosion and dissolve certain plastics and rubbers, especially in older cars that were not constructed with ethanol-resistant materials. SEMA has joined with more than 50 other organizations to support passage of the legislation. While the EPA is proposing to reduce the ethanol targets for the 2014–2016 period, legislation is still needed to provide a permanent solution.

Tax Extenders: Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate continue to discuss a simplification of the corporate and individual tax codes but to date have been unable to pursue specific legislation. In the absence of comprehensive reforms, a number of temporary provisions once again expired in 2014. Lawmakers are considering renewal of the research-and-development tax credit; continuation of Section 179 expensing, which allows small businesses to write off their capital investments at the maximum $500,000 deduction, with a $2 million phase-out level; extension of the “bonus depreciation,” which allows businesses to write off 50% of capital investments in the first year with no phase-out; and extension of the seven-year depreciation recovery period for motor-sports entertainment complexes.

Small-Business Regulatory Burdens: The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to expand the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) and provide small businesses with a larger say in how federal government agencies draft regulations. Under the bill, federal agencies would now be required to consider reasonably foreseeable indirect economic impacts on small businesses. Agencies would also be required to offer regulatory alternatives to minimize any significant economic impact. The U.S. Small Business Administration would be required to issue rules on how federal agencies are to comply with the RFA. Rules issued by federal agencies would be subject to judicial review to ensure compliance with RFA requirements. The bill has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

Mandatory Overtime Pay: Employers are currently exempt from paying salaried employees overtime if they make more than $23,660. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed increasing this level to about $50,440 per year. The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes federal minimum wage and overtime rules for employees. However, the rules include exemptions for executive, administrative, professional and other “white collar” employees, and the exemption includes certain minimum qualification tests regarding primary job duties and levels of pay. The minimum pay levels have not been raised in a number of years. The DOL’s proposed rule would increase that amount and index it for future annual raises. The proposal is now subject to public comment.

Patent Trolls: Congress is considering two SEMA-supported bills to combat “patent trolls.” The first would provide the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with authority to enforce against abusive practices. The other bill would more clearly define threshold requirements for pursuing patent-troll litigation and place the losing party at risk of paying the defendant’s legal fees if the lawsuit is proven unreasonable. At issue are frivolous lawsuits asserting patent infringement. The entity making the assertion is usually seeking licensing fees for a common technology or business practice rather than for an actual product or service. The number of lawsuits has exploded in recent years, costing businesses billions of dollars. Many companies have settled rather than fight the suits, allowing the patent trolls to secure funds to pursue other parties.

Warranty Denials: The FTC has reviewed its rules, guides and interpretations under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the law governing warranties issued for consumer products, including automobiles and auto parts. The FTC outlines information manufacturers and sellers must supply to consumers regarding warranty coverage and provides guides to help advertisers avoid unfair or deceptive practices. The FTC restated most of its existing rules for enforcement of the law and expanded the rules with respect to two issues. First, the FTC clarified that warranty language is deceptive if it implies that warranty coverage is conditioned on the use of specified parts or services. Second, the FTC confirmed that the law applies to warranties that would limit ordinary repair and maintenance options as well as warranties that would limit the ability to install specialty equipment.

Factory Five Racing
Limited Production Turn-Key Replica Cars: At SEMA’s request, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) introduced bipartisan legislation that would enable small companies (defined as those that produce fewer than 5,000 vehicles worldwide) to manufacturer turn-key replica vehicles. Replica vehicles resemble classic cars produced at least 25 years ago. The Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015 would allow companies to construct up to 500 such cars a year under a simplified regulatory structure, which recognizes the challenges of small-volume production. The bill would benefit small manufacturers, suppliers and enthusiasts that want to buy a completed vehicle. Enthusiasts would also still have the ability to build kit cars and specially constructed vehicles. The legislation is being considered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
 
   

E-Warranties: President Obama signed into law a bill allowing manufacturers to meet warranty and labeling requirements for consumer products by providing warranty information online. The FTC rules were unclear regarding the manner in which companies must provide warranty information to consumers. The E-Warranty Act of 2015 provides businesses with the option of posting warranty information on their websites rather than including it in the instructions that accompany their products. Companies providing online warranty information still need to alert consumers about how to access their websites either on the product, its packaging, or in an accompanying manual.

Transitioning to Chip-Based Credit Cards: In October 2015, the major credit-card companies shifted liability for fraud onto merchants that had not made the switch from payment terminals that read magnetic strips to terminals equipped with electronic chip-reading technology. The international standard for chip cards and chip-reading terminals is “EVM,” which stands for Europay, Visa and MasterCard, the companies that initiated the move to the chip-based payment system. Liability for credit-card fraud will continue to be borne by the card issuer when chip-readers are used. The more secure EVM system allows for immediate authentication without transmission of sensitive information outside the payment terminal.

Tire Identification Numbers: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) made two changes to the rule governing the tire identification number (TIN) that appears on all new and retreaded motor vehicle tires sold in the United States. The TIN helps consumers and industry identify tires when they are subject to recall. New tire plants will now be identified with a three-symbol code, since NHTSA is running out of two-symbol codes. The length of the TIN has also been standardized at 13 symbols for new tires and seven symbols for retreaded tires.

TPMS Survey: NHTSA is conducting a public survey on the tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) rule, which took effect in 2007. The equipment is intended to warn drivers of significant under-inflation of tires installed on light-duty vehicles. NHTSA will focus attention on the operational status of the TPMS in the vehicle fleet, consumer knowledge, attitudes and awareness of these systems, and the causes and costs of TPMS malfunctions.

New-Car Braking Systems: Under NHTSA’s five-star New Car Assessment Program, a label is posted on new-car windows to provide consumers with safety information when comparison shopping. The current five-star rating system reflects performance tests for frontal, side and rollover crashworthiness, lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems. NHTSA intends to add “automatic braking” and “dynamic braking” to the list. The systems sense an impending crash and apply the brakes if not in use or apply more fully if already in use in advance of an impending crash. However, NHTSA does not intend to mandate the installation of the technology on all new vehicles at this time.

NHTSA Motorcycle Helmets: NHTSA issued a proposed rule to define motorcycle helmets and thereby regulate novelty helmets (commonly referred to as “skullcaps” and “beanies”) that are sold and worn for highway use. The rule would also add a set of dimensional and compression requirements to the existing performance requirements for motorcycle helmets under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218.

Ozone Standard: The EPA wants to lower the ozone-pollution standard limits to between 65 and 70 parts per billion rather than the current 75 parts per billion. The EPA contends that the stricter standard is needed to address asthma and other respiratory problems it associates with exposure to ground-level ozone, also known as smog. While there are many sources for these pollutants, stationary sources such as utilities, factories and refineries could be primary targets. Deadlines for implementation would be staggered over many years based on whether a region is already complying with the current rule or is still struggling to meet the 1997 standard of 84 parts per billion.

Copper in Brake Pads: The EPA reached an accord with states and industry associations representing the automakers and major suppliers to reduce the amount of copper used in motor vehicle brake pads. Copper amounts will be reduced to less than 5% by 2021 and 0.5% by 2025. The voluntary agreement also seeks to reduce the amount of mercury, lead, cadmium, asbestiform fibers and chromium-6 salts in motor-vehicle brake pads. California and Washington state have already passed requirements to reduce these materials in brake pads.

HFC-134a Refrigerant: The EPA will ban the use of HFC-134a as a motor-vehicle air-conditioning system refrigerant beginning with model-year ’21 new vehicles. The rule does not apply to the use of HFC-134a in vehicles already in use or the continued servicing of those vehicles with the refrigerant. Although HFC-134a was approved for use years ago, the EPA has now identified other chemicals to be more environmentally friendly substitutes to chlorofluorocarbons.

Degreasers/Paint Strippers: The EPA has convened two small-business advocacy review panels to consider ways to restrict the use of three chemicals found in degreasing and paint-stripping operations. These chemicals are N-Methylpyrrolidone, trichloroethylene and methylene chloride, which is also known as dichloromethane. The EPA has concluded that the chemicals may pose potential cancer or other health risks. The panels will seek to identify ways in which exposure to the chemicals can be reduced.

Trichloroethylene (TCE): TCE is a volatile organic compound that is used as a metal degreasing solvent, since it is relatively inexpensive, has a low fire risk, quickly evaporates and requires no rinsing. However, the EPA has identified some potential health risks and would prefer voluntarily limiting exposure or switching to alternative chemicals. The EPA is specifically proposing that any new use for the chemical beyond cleaners and solvent degreasers be subject to the Significant New Use Rule, which allows the agency to evaluate the intended use.

Beryllium: The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed significantly lower exposure limits for beryllium and related compounds: 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter, which is just one-tenth the current level. Beryllium is a naturally occurring element that has many beneficial attributes and widespread applications. It is one-third lighter than aluminum yet stiffer than steel, resistant to fatigue and corrosion, and recyclable. It is frequently used in airbag, power-steering, anti-lock braking and fuel-injection systems. A new standard would apply to about 35,000 workers. Industry would be required to implement exposure-control methods to meet the new limits.

Bonneville Salt Flats
Bonneville Salt Flats: Deteriorating conditions and wet weather at the Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) forced cancellation of most of this year’s racing events, including Speed Week, where hundreds of teams race every type of vehicle from hot rods, roadsters and belly tankers to motorcycles, lakesters and streamliners. The salt flats have significantly decreased in size, strength and thickness over a number of decades as salt brine has been channeled away from the area. The land has been managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) since 1946 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. SEMA, along with other organizations and companies comprising the Save the Salt Coalition, is working closely with the BLM, federal and state lawmakers and the adjoining potash mine owner, to pursue short- and long-term solutions for restoring the BSF. The mining company has already pumped millions of tons of salt brine onto the BSF in recent years, and increased pumping would be one element in an expanded restoration program.
 
   

Hazardous Chemical Labeling: OHSA updated its hazardous chemical labeling requirements by adopting the international Globally Harmonized System. As of June 2015, chemical manufacturers and importers are required to use labels that have pictograms, a signal word, hazard and precautionary statements, the product identifier, and supplier identification. As of December 2015, distributors are prohibited from shipping improperly labeled containers. Employers whose workers handle hazardous chemicals are required to update their hazard communications program as necessary and provide additional employee training.

Workplace Injury Reports: OSHA issued a final rule requiring employers to report within eight hours when a worker has been killed on the job and within 24 hours when an employee suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye. Under the old rule, notification about work-related hospitalizations covered three or more employees, not one. The new reporting rule applies to all employers governed by OSHA, even those companies that are otherwise exempt from maintaining injury and illness records. OSHA has also created a new online method for filing electronic reports.

Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROVs): SEMA is opposing an effort by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish an ROV safety standard rather than rely on an industry standard issued by the American National Standards Institute. ROVs can attain speeds greater than 30 miles per hour and are configured differently than all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). ROVs generally accommodate a side-by-side driver/passenger in a compartment equipped with rollbars, along with steering, throttle and braking controls. SEMA maintains that the industry standard is adequate and that the Consumer Product Safety Commission proposal will stifle future design innovation while not properly addressing a number of technical issues. Legislation is being considered in Congress that would postpone action on the rule pending a National Academy of Sciences study.

Utah Public Lands Initiative: SEMA is working with off-road groups, local communities, environmentalists, energy interests and a variety of other groups on the Utah Public Lands Initiative, which covers the state’s eastern counties (San Juan, Daggett, Uintah, Carbon, Duchesne, Emery, Grand and Summit). These eight counties have put forward individual plans to finalize federal land designations, which include permanent protections for motorized recreation. U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) are consolidating the plans into a single bill. In total, more than 20 million acres of land will be impacted by the initiative.

National Monuments: SEMA-supported legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to curtail the president’s power to unilaterally designate National Monuments. Roads and trails for motorized vehicles are frequently closed as a result of such designations. The bills would require that such designations be approved by Congress and the impacted state legislature. In recent years, President Obama has designated 19 national monuments covering millions of acres of land, including the Basin and Range National Monument (Nevada), Berryessa Snow Mountain Monument (California), Browns Canyon National Monument (Colorado) and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (California).

Endangered Species Act (ESA): Congressional committees have held hearings on several bills to reform the ESA. The 40-year-old law has produced few tangible results beyond road and trail closures, restrictive land-use designations and lawsuits. Millions of acres of land have been set aside to protect threatened and endangered animals and plants, but more money has been spent on lawyers and court expenses than wildlife management. The reform legislation would require the U.S. Department of Interior to consider the economic impact of critical habitat designations, publish scientific and commercial data that is the basis for ESA designations, and consider data provided by state, local and tribal governments.

Sage Grouse: The U.S. Department of Interior decided that public/private conservation efforts have successfully eliminated the need to list the greater sage grouse as endangered. The announcement was a victory for the OHV community, since an ESA listing would have led to road and trail closures on the bird’s 165-million-acre habitat across 11 western states. In recent years, federal and state governments have worked with local communities, private landowners and industry to develop comprehensive voluntary efforts to protect the habitat.

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