LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
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.
Law and Order
Kentucky Blue Lights: Legislation was introduced prohibiting the use of blue lights on motor vehicles. Consistent with a SEMA policy position, the prohibition would not include headlamps that have a blue tint and meet U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. The bill has been assigned to the House Transportation Committee for consideration.
Maryland Coal Rolling: A bill was introduced to prohibit a person from causing a diesel-powered motor vehicle to emit certain clearly visible emissions onto another person or motor vehicle. Under the measure, the prohibition would not apply to a diesel-powered vehicle that discharges visible exhaust as the result of normal acceleration or towing, a commercial vehicle with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more, or a construction vehicle operating at a construction site.
Missouri License Plates: Under newly introduced SEMA-supported legislation, beginning August 28, 2018, the state would only issue one license plate to motorists unless the registered owner is eligible to receive a second plate. Currently, most vehicles are required to have two license plates.
New York Coal Rolling: The legislature is proposing to outlaw the retrofitting of diesel-powered vehicles with a device, smoke stack or other equipment that enhances the vehicle’s capacity to emit soot, smoke or other particulate emissions. If the legislation is enacted into law, violations would be punishable as a misdemeanor.
New York License Plates: Legislation was introduced to provide that a historical motor vehicle that was not manufactured with a license plate display area on the front of the vehicle may display only a single plate on the rear of the vehicle. The bill will be considered by the Senate Transportation Committee.
Oregon Road-Usage Fee: Legislation introduced this year proposes to eliminates caps on the number of vehicles eligible to participate in the state’s current voluntary road-usage fee program. In addition, the bill would require light motor vehicles of model-year ’26 or later with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of at least 20 miles per gallon to be entered in the program.
South Carolina Road-Usage Fee: The General Assembly has introduced a joint resolution to create a mileage-based fee study committee to determine the feasibility of implementing a mileage-based fee in lieu of the gas tax. The measure, if approved, would require the committee to submit its report to the legislature by December 31, 2018.
New National Monuments: President Obama used his power under the Antiquities Act to designate a 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah and a 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument in southern Nevada. The designation is consequential 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 legislation in the U.S. Congress to curtail the President’s power to unilaterally designate national monuments by requiring their approval by Congress and the impacted state legislature(s).
Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs): President Obama signed into law legislation allowing small employers with 50 or fewer employees to provide HRAs to their employees as an alternative to providing health insurance. HRAs are employer-funded, tax-advantaged health benefit plans used to reimburse employees for out-of-pocket medical expenses and individual health insurance premiums. A qualified small employer HRA must be provided on the same terms to all eligible workers and be funded solely by the employer without salary reduction contributions.
V2V Technology: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a proposed rule to require installation of vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology on new cars. Under the proposal, vehicles would transmit a 360-degree status report location, speed and direction to other connected vehicles within the immediate vicinity. Computers in the cars would be able to respond to an impending crash by sending an alert to the driver (flashing message, audible warning, rumbling seat or steering wheel). The technology could eventually be more interactive, applying the brakes, increasing speed or turning the car. V2V devices would speak the same language through standardized messaging developed with the industry, providing the potential for aftermarket companies to market products to retrofit older cars. Once the rule is finalized, the automakers will have a four-year phase-in period to install the products on new vehicles.
EPA Limits for Trichloroethylene: The EPA is proposing to ban the use of trichloroethylene (TCE) in aerosol degreasers. TCE is a volatile organic compound that is primarily used to process refrigerants. It is also used in some consumer commercial products as a metal degreasing solvent, since it is relatively inexpensive, has a low fire risk, quickly evaporates and requires no rinsing. For the latter use, the EPA has identified some potential health risks that can be addressed by switching to alternative chemicals.
OSHA Limits for Beryllium: The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set significantly lower exposure limits for beryllium and related compounds. The new limit for beryllium is 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter, just one-tenth the previous 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 is recyclable. In the auto industry, beryllium is frequently used in airbag, power-steering, anti-lock braking and fuel-injection systems. OSHA believes a small percentage of workers exposed to the chemical may develop chronic beryllium lung disease. Beginning in March 2017, the industry has one year to implement most of the rule changes, such as creating restricted beryllium work areas and using respirators and protective clothing sufficient to meet the new limits.
Software-Enabled Consumer Products: In response to a request from Congress, the Copyright Office issued a final report on the interplay between copyright law and products that operate using software, including motor vehicles and parts. Many facets of software are generally protected by copyright, so the report is important for all businesses that make use of software in their products and whose products interact with the software installed in motor vehicles. The report supports SEMA’s position that current copyright laws adequately provide for the activities undertaken by companies producing aftermarket products that interact with, modify and supplement the software installed in modern vehicles.
New I-9 Citizenship Forms: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has updated Form I-9, which is used to verify the identity and employment authorization for individuals hired to work in the U.S. Changes to the form are intended to clarify and streamline the certification process. Although employers will be able to fill out Form I-9 using Adobe Reader, the form must still be printed and signed with handwritten signatures and physically stored.
Off-Road Access at Cape Hatteras: The National Park Service (NPS) finalized changes to its special regulation for off-road vehicle (ORV) use at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina. The revisions are the result of a SEMA-supported federal law enacted in 2014 that required the NPS to revisit a management plan restricting ORV access to large portions of the seashore. The NPS approved without change the revisions it proposed in August 2016, such as expanding the times that certain beaches are open to ORV use in the morning and extension to the dates that certain seasonal ORV routes are open in the fall and spring.