LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
Law and Order
Alabama Titles: Legislation was approved by the House Committee on Health and Public Safety to exempt motor vehicles more than 35 years old from the requirement that they have a certificate of title. Currently, only vehicles of model-year ’74 and older are exempted. Trailers 20 model years old and older would also be exempted. The full Alabama House of Representatives will now consider the bill in a vote.
California Emissions: A bill has been reintroduced to exempt all motor vehicles prior to the ’81 model year from the emissions-inspection requirement. Current law requires the lifetime testing of all ’76-and-newer model-year vehicles. The bill will be considered in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.
Connecticut Titles: Legislation will be considered by the Joint Transportation Committee to require the state, upon the owner’s request, to issue titles for older vehicles not currently required to be titled under Connecticut law. These vehicles would include those more than 20 model years old. The measure is intended to expand the out-of-state market for older Connecticut motor vehicles and enhance their value to collectors.
Hawaii Fees: Legislation has been introduced to increase annual registration fees from $45 to $76.50 annually, increase the gas tax from 16 cents to 19 cents per gallon, and increase the motor vehicle weight tax from 1.75 cents to 2.75 cents per pound. This bill has passed the Senate and had been delivered to the House for further consideration.
Indiana Off-Highway Trails: A bill was approved by the Indiana House and Senate to allow the operator of a nonregistered off-road vehicle or a snowmobile from another state or country to purchase a trail-use tag to operate on designated trails and properties. The bill now moves to Governor Mike Pence for his signature and enactment into law.
Iowa Single Plate: Legislation was amended and approved by the Iowa House to require the issuance of only a single license plate for motor vehicles. Under the amendment, sports cars and those vehicles registered as antiques would be included among those allowed to display a single plate attached to the rear of the vehicle. The state defines an antique vehicle as a motor vehicle 25 years old or older. A “sports car” is a motor vehicle originally manufactured with seats for two passengers, a front bumper that sits eight inches from the ground or less, and capable of exceeding 130 miles per hour. The Senate will now consider the bill.
Massachusetts Single Plate: A bill has been reintroduced to require the issuance of only a single license plate for motor vehicles. The bill, favored by state hobbyists, requires that the single registration plate be attached on the rear of applicable motor vehicles. The Massachusetts Joint Transportation Committee will consider the bill.
Michigan Forest Roads: Legislation was approved by the Committee on Tourism and Outdoor Recreation to require that forest roads be open to motorized use by the public unless otherwise designated by the Department of Natural Resources. Under the bill, before the department newly restricts a road or trail used to access public land, it must provide local governments in which the land is located written notice that includes the reason for the restriction. The full Michigan House will next consider the bill.
Missouri Historic Trailers: Legislation was approved by the House Transportation Committee to allow a camping or fifth-wheel trailer more than 25 years old to be permanently registered for a $25 fee. The bill also allows those possessing a year-of-manufacture license plate more than 25 years old to use the plate as an historic trailer plate if the configuration of letters and numbers has not been issued to someone else. Under the bill, the owner of the historic trailer must keep the certificate of registration in the trailer at all times. The House Select Committee on state and local governments will now consider the bill.
Nebraska Single Plate: A bill was signed into law by Governor Pete Ricketts to provide for the issuance (for an annual $100 fee) of a single license plate for passenger cars that were not originally equipped with a bracket on the front of the vehicle to display a plate. The new law also allows special-interest vehicles that use the special-interest vehicle license plate to run a single plate. The law will take effect on January 1, 2017. Special-interest motor vehicle means a motor vehicle of any age that is being collected, preserved, restored or maintained by the owner as a leisure pursuit and not used for general transportation of persons or cargo. The law provides that owners who request a single license plate and license decal would be charged an annual nonrefundable fee of $100 in addition to the cost of a windshield decal. It is not required that vehicle owners request a single plate.
New Hampshire Off-Highway Vehicles: Legislation was approved by the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee to re-establish the authority of the Bureau of Trails to permit larger off-highway recreational vehicles (OHRVs) at Jericho Mountain State Park. The bill will next be considered by the full House.
New Hampshire Emissions: Legislation was passed by the House of Representatives to exempt rare or historically significant vehicles, as determined by the state, from emissions-control requirements. It now moves to the Senate Transportation Committee for consideration. Under current law, only vehicles 20 or more years old are exempt.
New Jersey Emissions: A bill has been reintroduced to require the motor-vehicle commission to issue exempt certificates for motor vehicles not required to be inspected. Under current law, motorcycles, registered historic motor vehicles, motor vehicles designated as collector vehicles, and certain diesel-powered passenger motor vehicles built before the ’97 model year are exempt from emissions inspections and equipment inspections. Because exempt motor vehicles are not subject to inspection, no certificates of approval (windshield “stickers”) are issued for them to display. On occasion, an operator of an exempt vehicle is stopped by law enforcement because there is no certificate of approval affixed to the vehicle’s windshield. As a result, the owners of these vehicles must carry all the documentation that is needed to prove their exempt status. This measure would eliminate that problem by requiring the motor-vehicle commission to issue a certificate of exemption for display on these vehicles.
New Jersey Warranty: Legislation was introduced to require new-car dealers to provide purchasers 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. The bill will be sent to the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee for consideration. 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. The bill would simply provide that consumers be made aware in 10-point boldface type of these basic rights.
South Dakota Single Plate: A measure was signed into law by Governor Dennis Daugaard to allow the issuance of a single license plate for special-interest motor vehicles. The new law requires that the single registration plate be attached to the rear of the special-interest motor vehicle. A special-interest motor vehicle is “a vehicle that is collected, preserved, restored, or maintained by the owner as a leisure pursuit and is not used for general or commercial transportation.” The new law provides that the vehicle owner must sign an affidavit attesting that the vehicle is driven less than 6,000 miles per year and is not used for general or commercial transportation but only for occasional transportation, public displays, parades and related pleasure or hobby activities. The owner will also be required to submit the odometer reading annually upon registration renewal.
Washington Single Plate: Legislation to allow the issuance, at the option of the vehicle owner, of only a single rear-mounted license plate died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The bill had not been given committee consideration. Separate legislation also died that would have allowed the issuance of only a single rear-mounted license plate for vehicles originally manufactured without an installed bracket, device or other means to display and secure a license plate on the front of the vehicle. Finally, a bill to allow a person applying for a collector vehicle license plate for a vehicle manufactured in or before ’86 to receive either a collector vehicle plate assigned by the state or provide an actual year of manufacture plate for use on the vehicle was not considered before the legislature adjourned.
West Virginia Racing: Legislation was approved by the House Judiciary Committee authorizing local governments to hold sanctioned motor vehicle races on public roads or airports under their jurisdiction. Having already been approved by the Senate, the bill will now be considered in a vote by all House members. The bill authorizes local governments to hold sanctioned motor vehicle races on public roads or airports under their jurisdiction and requires issuance of a permit for the racing event and declares that an authorized racing event is not a nuisance or subject to speed restrictions.
West Virginia Titles: A proposal was approved by the full West Virginia House to create a special procedure for a person in possession of an abandoned antique vehicle to apply for and receive title to the vehicle. Under the bill, the Division of Motor Vehicles would search for the owner of the vehicle and provide notice that an application has been filed for title to the vehicle. Antique motor vehicles are those vehicles manufactured more than 25 years before the current date. The Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will now consider the bill.
West Virginia Collector Vehicles: A bill was approved by the West Virginia House to provide for the issuance of special plates for use on collector vehicles and allow for the transfer of the special plates between collector vehicles owned by a collector. The full Senate is now considering the bill. A collector motor vehicle is a motor vehicle that is more than 25 years old and is owned solely as a collector’s item.
West Virginia Off-Road Recreation: Legislation was approved by the West Virginia Senate to empower three or more contiguous counties to form regional recreation authorities to establish new recreational trail systems and recreation management programs tailored to the needs of their communities. The bill would require that these authorities work with private landowners, county officials, community leaders, government agencies, recreational user groups and recreational entrepreneurs on these initiatives. The House Judiciary Committee will next consider the bill.
West Virginia Collector Car Appreciation Day: The West Virginia Legislature passed a House Concurrent Resolution (HCR 14) designating The second Friday in July as Collector Car Appreciation Day in the state. The SEMA Action Network announced this date to mark the seventh commemoration in what has become an annual event to raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society.
West Virginia Race Cars: A House Concurrent Resolution was approved by the West Virginia House in a vote by all members to urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to prohibit conversion of vehicles originally designed for on-road use into race cars. The pending EPA regulation would also make the sale of certain products for use on such vehicles illegal. The Senate will next consider the resolution.
Wisconsin Collector Vehicle Appreciation Day: An Assembly Joint Resolution is being considered by the full Wisconsin Assembly to annually designate the second Friday in July as Collector-Vehicle Appreciation Day in the state.
Copyright Law: The U.S. Copyright Office is undertaking a study on the interplay between copyright law and consumer products that contain software, including motor vehicles. Copyright law often protects software, but exceptions in the law allow for use and access to copyright-protected elements for certain purposes. Congress is now considering changes to the law to more adequately address the issue. In its comments to the Copyright Office, SEMA made its position clear that any changes to the law should ensure that aftermarket companies continue to have access and the ability to reverse-engineer the software of modern vehicles to achieve different functionality and interoperability with aftermarket components.
National Monuments: President Obama has designated three new national monuments located in California’s Mojave Desert. The Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains National Monuments total 1.8 million acres and are located between Palm Springs and the Nevada state border. SEMA opposes this action, since national monuments automatically prohibit new roads or trails for motorized vehicles and require that a new land-management plan be drafted that could lead to more road closures. SEMA supports a collaborative approach to land-use decisions, including input from local citizens, elected leaders and other stakeholders on national monument designations. Accordingly, SEMA has worked to advance a bill in the U.S. Congress that would curtail the President’s power to unilaterally designate national monuments by requiring their approval by Congress and the impacted state legislature(s).
Bonneville Salt Flats: The Utah House of Representatives and Senate passed a resolution that was signed by Governor Gary Herbert and calls on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to restore the Bonneville Salt Flats. Despite Bonneville’s rich history of racing for more than a century, the salt flats have significantly decreased in size, strength and thickness under BLM’s management, as the agency has allowed salt brine to be channeled away from the area. The SEMA-supported resolution urges the U.S. Congress and Utah’s congressional delegation to take action to ensure that the Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway is restored to safe racing conditions.