LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
Law and Order
Indiana Off-Highway Trails: A bill was approved by the Indiana House and Senate and signed into law by Governor Mike Pence to allow the operator of a non-registered off-road vehicle or a snowmobile from another state or country to purchase a trail-use tag to operate on designated trails and properties.
Alabama Titles: Senate legislation to exempt motor vehicles more than 35 years old from the requirement that they have a certificate of title was approved by committee and will be considered in a vote by the full Senate. Currently, only vehicles of model year ’74 and older are exempted. Trailers 20 model years old and older would also be exempted. Identical legislation is pending consideration by the full House of Representatives.
California Warranty: Legislation was introduced 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. The bill will be sent to the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection for consideration. 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 bill would simply provide that consumers be made aware in 10-point boldface type of these basic rights.
Illinois Road-User Tax: Legislation to create a program that would require each owner or lessee of an Illinois-registered motor vehicle to pay a road-user fee has been introduced. To determine individual tax rates, Illinois residence would be required to select one of three distance-based road-user programs. The bill would also increase the gas tax and certain vehicle registration fees.
Michigan Forest Roads: Legislation was approved by the Michigan House to require that state forest roads be open to motorized use by the public unless otherwise designated by the Department of Natural Resources. Under the bill, the department must provide local governments in which the land is located with written notice that includes the reason for the restriction before it newly restricts a road or trail used to access state public land. The Michigan Senate Committee on Outdoor Recreation and Tourism will next consider the bill.
Missouri Historic Trailers: Legislation was approved by the full Missouri House 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 Senate will now consider the bill.
New Hampshire Antique Trailers: Having already been approved by the House, legislation to eliminate the requirement that antique trailers have only one axle to qualify for antique-trailer plates was passed by the Senate Transportation Committee. The bill would also lower the annual registration fee for the approximately 15,000 of these multi-axle trailers to $6. The bill will now be sent to the full Senate for a vote by all members.
New Hampshire Off-Highway Vehicles: Legislation to re-establish the authority of the Bureau of Trails to permit larger off-highway recreational vehicles at Jericho Mountain State Park was approved by the full House. The bill now moves to the Senate Transportation Committee for consideration.
New Hampshire Emissions: Legislation to exempt rare or historically significant vehicles from emissions-control requirements was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee and sent to the full Senate for a vote by all members. The House has already approved the bill. Under current law, only vehicles 20 or more years old are exempt.
New Jersey Restoration Shops: A SEMA-supported bill has been reintroduced to exempt shops in the business of restoring antique or classic motor vehicles from the requirement that they provide a written estimate for anticipated repairs, including the price for parts or labor charges. Under current regulations, an automotive repair dealer who, prior to commencing work for compensation, fails to provide a customer with a written estimated price to complete the repair can be found to be in violation of the consumer fraud law.
West Virginia Racing: Legislation was approved by the West Virginia House 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 sent to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin for his signature and enactment into law.
West Virginia Collector Vehicles: Legislation was approved by the West Virginia Senate 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. Having already been approved by the House, the bill will next be sent to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin for his signature and enactment into law.
West Virginia Race Cars: A West Virginia House Concurrent Resolution to urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow the conversion of vehicles originally designed for on-road use into race cars was approved by the West Virginia Legislature. The pending EPA regulation would also make the sale of certain products for use on such vehicles illegal. The resolution recognizes that while the Clean Air Act prohibits certain modifications to motor vehicles, it is clear that vehicles built or modified for racing and not used on the streets are not the motor vehicles that Congress intended to regulate.
Wisconsin Collector Vehicle Appreciation Day: An Assembly Joint Resolution to annually designate the second Friday in July as Collector Vehicle Appreciation Day in the state was approved by the full Wisconsin Assembly.
West Virginia Legislation: Several bills introduced in West Virginia in 2016 failed to be approved by both houses of the legislature prior to the adjournment of the session. Among these were legislation to create a special procedure for a person in possession of an abandoned antique vehicle to apply for and receive title to the vehicle; a bill based on SEMA-model legislation that would have allowed vehicle hobbyists to install and use aftermarket modified exhaust systems that meet a 95-decibel limit; legislation 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; and a bill to standardize property taxes paid by owners of antique motor vehicles.
Automatic Braking: Under an agreement reached with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, virtually all of the major automakers will voluntarily install automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems on all new cars by 2022 and heavier SUVs and pickups by 2024. AEB systems use lasers, radar and/or cameras to sense potential collision hazards. The systems can make a sound warning to the driver and then proactively activate the brakes if necessary. Studies indicate that AEB systems have the potential to prevent accidents or reduce their severity by as much as 50%. The systems are already available on a number of vehicles.
Bonneville Salt Flats: A SEMA-supported resolution urging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to restore the Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) was approved by the Utah House and Senate and signed by Governor Gary Herbert. The resolution calls attention to the deterioration of the BSF and urges the BLM to work with the Save the Salt Coalition, Utah Alliance and other concerned stakeholders to formulate a plan to restore the BSF International Speedway. The resolution also urges the U.S. Congress to take action to restore safe racing conditions. The coalition and alliance are finalizing comprehensive recommendations for restoring Bonneville beginning in 2016.
Clear Creek: The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee passed legislation that requires the BLM to re-open for recreational use, including off-highway vehicle (OHV) access, the 75,000-acre Clear Creek National Recreation Area in California’s San Benito and Fresno Counties. The bill would provide OHV access to more than 240 miles of public trails. Clear Creek closed in 2008 as a result of concerns surrounding asbestos exposure. However, an independent risk-assessment study requested by the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission concluded that management and operational strategies could be effectively employed in the area to allow OHV use without exposing the public to unacceptable risks. The bill ensures that Clear Creek will be managed in way that permits responsible recreation while also providing for the safety of all of the area’s visitors.