LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
Law and Order
Maryland Miles Traveled Tax: A bill has been introduced to prohibit the state or a local jurisdiction from imposing a vehicle miles-traveled tax or other similar fees, tolls or taxes. The measure would also prohibit the state or a local jurisdiction from requiring the installation of a device in or on a privately owned vehicle to facilitate the reporting of vehicle miles traveled.
Colorado Coal Rolling: Legislation will be considered in Colorado to prohibit blowing black smoke through one or more exhaust pipes attached to a motor vehicle in a manner that would harass another driver, a bicyclist or a pedestrian, or obstruct or obscure the view of another driver, a bicyclist or a pedestrian. The bill has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Transportation and Energy Committee.
Connecticut Coal Rolling: The Joint Environment Committee will soon consider a bill that provides that “no person shall operate a motor vehicle in a manner that causes a visual exhibition of smoke that consists of the release of soot, smoke or other particulate emissions to the air and onto roadways, other motor vehicles, bicyclists or pedestrians.” Under the bill, the smoke would have to cause a reasonable person to feel harassed, obstruct any person’s view of the roadway or create a hazard to a motor-vehicle operator, bicyclist or pedestrian.
Florida Warranty: SEMA-supported 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 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 will be sent to both the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee and the Senate Transportation Committee for consideration.
Hawaii Fee Decreases: A series of bills has been introduced in Hawaii to exempt antique motor vehicles from the state’s vehicle weight tax, reduce the weight tax for all other vehicles, and decrease annual registration fees. The Transportation, Health and Finance Committee will consider each of these bills.
Hawaii Fee Increases: Legislation has been reintroduced in Hawaii to increase annual registration fees, increase the gas tax, and increase the motor-vehicle weight tax. The bill increases the annual registration fee from $45 to $75, increases the weight tax by $.01 per pound, and increases the gas tax from $.16 to $.22.
Hawaii Exhaust Noise: SEMA is opposing legislation to provide that no motor-vehicle muffler or exhaust system shall emit a noise level greater than 60 decibels. The bill exempts those mufflers or exhaust systems installed as original equipment. Among other things, the measure provides no test by which vehicles would be tested. Both the House Transportation and House Judiciary Committees will consider the bill.
Illinois Single Plate: Legislation was introduced to provide that motor vehicles weighing 8,000 lbs. or less, registered as “secondary vehicles” and driven less than 5,000 miles per year may display only a single plate on the rear of the vehicle. The Senate Transportation Committee will consider the bill.
Indiana Exhaust Noise: A bill was introduced to require that all motor vehicles be equipped with a factory-installed or equivalent aftermarket muffler. Indiana already requires that exhaust systems be “in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise or smoke.” The bill would make illegal nearly all exhaust systems not of a type installed as standard factory equipment.
New York Historic Vehicles: A bill has been reintroduced to provide that historical-vehicle owners pay only a one-time registration fee of $100 upon initial registration. The $100 one-time fee would replace the current annual fee of $28.75. The bill has been referred to the New York Assembly Transportation Committee for consideration.
Iowa Single Plate: Legislation was introduced to broaden the single plate allowance to include motor vehicles that are 30 model years old or older as well as reconstructed or specially constructed vehicles built to resemble motor vehicles that are 30 model years old or older. Current law permits only motor vehicles that are model year ’48 or older as well as reconstructed or specially constructed vehicles built to resemble vehicles that are model-year ’48 or older to display one registration plate on the rear of the vehicle. A Senate Transportation Subcommittee will consider the bill.
Kentucky Mileage-Based User Fee: A House Concurrent Resolution was introduced to create a mileage-based transportation funding task force to determine the feasibility of implementing a road user fee instead of the gas tax. The resolution would require the Mileage-Based Transportation Funding Task Force to submit its findings, recommendations and any proposed legislation by December 1, 2017.
Maine Excise Taxes: Legislation was introduced to reduce motor vehicle excise tax rates by 10% each year, beginning with the 2018 registration year, until the rates reach half of the current rates in 2022 and subsequent years. Under the law, an excise tax is levied for the privilege of operating a motor vehicle or camper trailer on the public ways.
Montana Single Plate: Legislation to provide for the issuance of a single rear-mounted license plate for certain motor vehicles was amended and approved by the House Transportation Committee. Under the amendment, “if a person is not able to comply with the requirement that a front license plate be displayed because of the body construction of the motor vehicle, the person may submit to the Highway Patrol an application for a waiver along with a $25 inspection fee.” Vehicle owners would not be obligated to apply for the waiver or pay the fee. The bill will now be sent to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
New Hampshire Road Usage Fee: Legislation was introduced to establish a road usage fee for all New Hampshire motor vehicles with a miles-per-gallon rating of more than 22.5. The bill requires that the fee be collected at the time of annual registration of the vehicle. The House Ways and Means Committee will consider the bill.
New York Single Plate: Legislation has been introduced to repeal the two-license-plate requirement for motor vehicles in New York. This legislation establishes that only one license plate is required to be displayed on the rear of motor vehicles. Earlier this year, a bill 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.
New York Mileage-Based User Fee: Legislation was introduced to create a mileage-based user fee pilot program to be implemented instead of the gas tax. The bill would create the Road Usage Charge Advisory committee, responsible for the development and evaluation of a pilot program to assess the potential for mileage-based revenue collection for New York’s roads and highways as an alternative to the gas tax system.
Rhode Island Year of Manufacture Plates: In 2014, legislation to allow the Division of Motor Vehicles to issue replica year-of-manufacture plates for antique vehicles was enacted into law. This year, a bill has been introduced to require that the state issue or approve year-of-manufacture license plates for vehicles more than 25 years old, subject to certain conditions. The measure also provides that the state may approve of the display of only one year-of-manufacture plate if that is all that is available.
Vermont Single Plate: Legislation was introduced to provide that motor vehicles registered as pleasure cars may display only a single plate on the rear of the vehicle. Under current law “pleasure cars” are defined as most all power-propelled vehicles except for many work vehicles, including farm tractors, vehicles running only upon stationary rails or tracks, motorized highway-building equipment, road-making appliances, snowmobiles, or tracked vehicles or electric personal assistive mobility devices. The bill will be considered by the House Transportation Committee.
Virginia Antique Tax: A bill to exempt a motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer that is licensed as an antique vehicle from the imposition of local license tax and fees was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee and sent to the full Senate for consideration. Virginia law defines an “antique motor vehicle” as every motor vehicle that was actually manufactured or designated by the manufacturer as a model manufactured in a calendar year not less than 25 years prior to January 1 of each calendar year and owned solely as a collector’s item.
British Columbia Collector Car Appreciation Day: The province of British Columbia has again issued a proclamation designating July 8, 2017, as Collector Car Appreciation Day in the province. The province also proclaimed the month of July 2017 to be Collector Car Appreciation Month. Earlier this year, SEMA announced dates in July to mark the eighth commemoration in what has become an annual event to raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. SEMA is again working to secure a U.S. Senate resolution to recognize the day’s significance.
Off-Road Vehicle Use at Glen Canyon: The National Park Service (NPS) issued a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for an off-road vehicle (ORV) management plan within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA). The Glen Canyon NRA encompasses more than 1.25 million acres in Utah and Arizona. The EIS evaluates the impact of five ORV management alternatives ranging from no action to an ORV ban. The NPS has recommended Alternative E, a mixed-use plan for designating specific areas for ORV use and prohibiting use in other areas. Permits would be required for all off-road travel, and motor vehicles could not exceed a sound level of 96 decibels when operated.
EPA Moves to Ban Trichloroethylene: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to ban the production and use of trichloroethylene (TCE) as a vapor degreaser. This action follows a recent EPA proposal to ban such TCE use when in aerosol form. 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. Vapor degreasing is associated with a variety of occupations, including metal fabrication and plating, electronics assembly and repair shops. The EPA has identified some potential TCE health risks that can be addressed by switching to alternative chemicals.
National Monuments: Before leaving office, President Obama expanded the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon and the California Coastal National Monument. The designations increase the monuments by 42,000 acres and 5,000 acres respectively. President Obama designated or expanded 34 national monuments and set aside 550 million acres of public lands and waters as monuments, national parks and wilderness. However, the fate of some of these designations is unclear, as some members of Congress are asking President Trump to reverse many of the designations. SEMA supports legislation to curtail the president’s power to unilaterally designate national monuments by requiring their approval by Congress and the impacted state legislatures. The issue 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.