Law & Order

SEMA News—July 2016

LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS

By Steve McDonald

Law and Order

STATE UPDATE

/sites/default/files/shutterstock_17189545_0.jpgMissouri Historic Trailers: A bill was approved by the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety 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. Having already been approved by the House, the bill will now be considered in a vote by the full Senate.

Alabama Titles: Legislation was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee 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. Having already been approved by the Alabama House, the bill will now be considered in a vote by the full Senate.

California Tires: A bill that threatened to prohibit tire manufacturers from selling on-road tires if the tires contained zinc in excess of an unspecified percentage and assessed a civil penalty on manufacturers who violate the prohibition was amended to remove all reference to tires and zinc. The bill now only requires the State Water Resources Control Board to include as part of its guidance a list of potential funding sources available to a public agency to fund projects identified in a public agency’s stormwater resource plan. Zinc oxide is used in tire manufacturing as a catalyst in the curing process to increase durability. Banning zinc oxide in tires would require extensive changes in tire composition that could affect tire safety.

California License Plates: An effort to expand the authorization of year-of-manufacture license plates to include owners of ’80-or-older model-year vehicles was approved by the California Senate Transportation and Housing Committee by an 11-0 vote. Current law authorizes only owners of vehicles that are of a ’69 or older model year or owners of a commercial vehicle or pickup that is a ’72 or older model year to utilize California year-of-manufacture license plates. These plates must be legible and serviceable. The Senate Appropriations Committee will next consider the bill.

California Emissions: Legislation to exempt all motor vehicles prior to the ’81 model year from the emissions-inspection requirement was approved by the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on a narrow 6-5 vote. Current law requires the lifetime testing of all ’76 and newer model-year vehicles. The Appropriations Committee will next consider the bill.

Law & OrderWest Virginia Collector Vehicles: Legislation was vetoed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to provide for the issuance of special plates for use on collector vehicles and allow for the transfer of the plates between collector vehicles owned by a collector. According to the governor, “Both law enforcement and the Division of Motor Vehicles have expressed concern over the transferability of the plate between potentially unregistered vehicles. They have expressed that this bill may result in confusion in the enforcement of traffic regulations as well as potentially opening the door to subterfuge by certain persons.”

California Warranty Disclosure: A bill 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 Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection will consider the measure.

California Vehicle Retirement Program: Legislation to expand the state’s program for the retirement and replacement of older passenger vehicles and light- and medium-duty trucks was approved by the Assembly Transportation Committee. 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 2016–2017 fiscal year, the bill would require the agencies to set specific and measurable goals for the program’s expansion. The Appropriations Committee will next consider the bill.

Connecticut Titles: A measure was passed 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 bill will next be considered in a vote by the full House. The measure would expand the out-of-state market for older Connecticut motor vehicles and enhance their value to collectors.

Idaho License Plate: A bill to allow for a single plate for motor vehicles that were not originally equipped with a display bracket on the front of the vehicle died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The measure required that the single registration plate be attached on the rear of the vehicle. Earlier this year, legislation to require the issuance of only a single license plate for all motor vehicles was defeated in the Senate Transportation Committee on a 4-4 vote. The law enforcement community opposed the bill.

Kentucky OHV Access: Legislation to allow motorized recreational vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles, utility task vehicles and recreational off-highway vehicles access to the Pine Mountain Trail died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The bill would also have allowed these vehicles on the portion of any other trail of Breaks Interstate Park that falls within the boundary of Kentucky. Under the measure, the Parks Commission would have had the authority to regulate the use of only motorized recreational vehicles to the extent necessary to ensure safety on the trail.

Maryland Historic Vehicles: Legislation was approved by the Maryland Senate that originally appeared to subject historic vehicles of model-year ’86 and later to undergo periodic safety inspections. An amended version of the bill now specifically excludes historic vehicles from the requirement that they receive an inspection certificate prior to titling and registration. However, the bill would still prohibit the use of historic vehicles for employment, transportation to employment or school, and for commercial purposes. The bill also subjects historic vehicles of model-year ’86 and later to equipment repair orders. Having already been approved by the House, the measure will next be sent to the governor for his signature and enactment into law.

New Hampshire Antique Trailers: Legislation to eliminate the requirement that antique trailers have only one axle to qualify for antique trailer plates was signed into law by Governor Maggie Hassan. The new law lowers the annual registration fee for approximately 15,000 of these multi-axle trailers to $6.

New Hampshire Emissions: Legislation to exempt rare or historically significant vehicles from emissions control requirements was approved by the Legislature. Under current law, only vehicles 20 or more years old are exempt. The bill now moves to the governor for her signature and enactment into law. If enacted into law, the exemption would become effective on January 1, 2017.

New Hampshire Off-Highway Vehicles: A bill was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee to re-establish the authority of the Bureau of Trails to permit larger off-highway recreational vehicles at Jericho Mountain State Park. Having already been approved by the New Hampshire House, the bill now moves to the full Senate for a vote by all members.

New Jersey Historic Vehicles: Legislation has been reintroduced in the New Jersey State Assembly that would amend the state’s current law governing historic motor vehicles to permit their use for pleasure driving one day per week. Under current New Jersey law, use of historic vehicles is strictly limited to exhibitions and educational purposes by the owner.

Ohio Race Cars: An Ohio Senate Concurrent Resolution has been introduced to urge the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to retract proposed regulations concerning competitive race vehicles that are used solely for competition. The resolution further urges the EPA to withhold issuing a final regulation until the legislatures of the states have had an opportunity to submit comments.

Tennessee Emissions: Legislation was approved by the Tennessee Legislature to extend the emissions-inspection exemption for new cars. Under the bill, all vehicles three years old and newer would be excused regardless of mileage. Current law exempts only new motor vehicles being registered for the first time or one year from initial registration. The bill will now be sent to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature and enactment into law.

Vermont Fees: Legislation has been approved by the full Vermont House to increase annual fees and taxes related to motor vehicles. Among the fee increases are those for registration, administration, plates and titles. Even seldom-driven exhibition vehicles would see an increase to the annual registration fee. The Senate Finance Committee will now consider the bill.

West Virginia Racing: A bill authorizing local governments to hold sanctioned motor-vehicle races on public roads or airports under their jurisdiction was signed into law by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. The law also 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.

Canada Collector Cars: The province of British Columbia has again issued a proclamation designating July 9, 2016, as Collector Car Appreciation Day in the province. The province also proclaimed the month of July 2016 to be Collector Car Appreciation Month. Nova Scotia has again issued a proclamation designating July 2016 as Automotive Heritage Month in the province.

FEDERAL UPDATE

EPA and Racing Parts: SEMA is working to advance the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, which clarifies that the Clean Air Act allows for the modification of motor vehicles for race use only and that making, selling and installing race products for this purpose is not unlawful tampering. While the EPA announced on April 15 that it would remove the race car language from a pending greenhouse gas rule, the agency continues to assert its newfound authority to regulate race parts and its belief that converted street vehicles, even if used exclusively at the track, are illegal. The RPM Act has garnered strong support in Congress, including more than 60 sponsors in the House and 10 in the Senate. SEMA has engaged its member companies, other impacted trade associations and racing enthusiasts to oppose the EPA action and support the legislation.

Defective/Noncompliant Products: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has provided guidance on the requirement that manufacturers provide NHTSA with any communications to dealers, owners or purchasers about a product defect or noncompliance. NHTSA is required to post these communications, including technical service bulletins, on the agency’s website. The communications must include an index that provides a concise summary of the subject matter. For equipment manufacturers, the index should include descriptive information about the equipment when it is not associated with a specific vehicle make, model and model year.

Trade Secrets: In an effort to protect U.S. companies against intellectual property theft, the U.S. Congress passed, and the president signed into law, a SEMA-supported bill that enables companies to protect their trade secrets in federal court. The absence of a uniform federal standard has forced companies to navigate a patchwork of different laws when bringing trade secret cases in state court. While the U.S. Department of Justice has the power to pursue criminal penalties against companies and individuals that illegally obtain trade secrets, the department’s backlog of cases has not provided companies with sufficient protection. The new law remedies this problem, providing a uniform standard for companies seeking access to federal courts, which may be better positioned to handle interstate or international cases.

NHTSA Guidance for New Technologies: Recognizing that automotive technology is rapidly changing, NHTSA has issued an Enforcement Guidance Bulletin for addressing autonomous vehicles and other non-traditional new products and software. The guidance includes a discussion on treating vulnerabilities when such technology or equipment poses an unreasonable risk to safety or constitutes a safety-related defect.

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