Law and Order

SEMA News—June 2017


By Steve McDonald

Law and Order

California OHV Programs: Legislation was approved by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee to allow funds collected for California’s Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) program to be spent by other agencies on unrelated programs and never reimbursed. The bill has now been sent to the Senate Transportation Committee for consideration. The OHMVR program provides funds to local, state and federal agencies, educational institutions and nonprofit entities for OHV management on both federal and state lands.


California Labeling: A bill will be considered by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee to require cleaning-product manufacturers to disclose all ingredients and “contaminants of concern” on the product label and the manufacturer’s website. The bill would be costly and onerous for manufacturers of cleaning products and require listing for chemicals that pose no health risk at all. Further, the measure adds to Proposition 65 and other laws that already require warning labels for chemicals known to pose health risks.

Kentucky Off-Highway Vehicles: An effort has been approved by the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee to promote and fund outdoor recreation and tourism development by establishing the Kentucky Mountain Regional Recreation Authority. The bill has already been passed by the full House of Representatives and now moves to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration. The measure would provide recreational opportunities for, among other things, all-terrain vehicle riding, motorcycle riding, rock climbing, off-highway vehicle driving, and pleasure driving.

Massachusetts Antique Motor Vehicles: Legislation has been introduced to create a separate definition for “antique motor vehicles” and require that they undergo annual emissions inspections to ensure that they meet emissions standards in effect at the time of manufacture. Under current Massachusetts law, an “antique motor car” is any motor vehicle more than 25 years old that is maintained solely for use in exhibitions, club activities, parades and other functions of public interest. The state already exempts all vehicles manufactured before 2003 from emissions tests.

Montana Single Plate: A bill was approved by the Montana Senate in a vote by all members to provide for the issuance of a single rear-mounted license plate for certain motor vehicles. Having already been approved by the House, the bill will now be sent to the governor for his signature and enactment into law. Under the bill, “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.

Nevada Classic Vehicles: Legislation to alter the requirements for vehicles eligible for registration as “classics” has been introduced. Under the bill, an owner of a vehicle with a “classic rod” or “classic car” special license plate who is seeking an emissions-inspection exemption must provide a verification of the odometer reading of the vehicle. Those verifications would be completed for a fee by an approved inspector at certain emissions compliance stations to determine that the vehicle was driven less than 5,000 miles the previous year. The bill also requires proof that the vehicle is covered by only a collector motor-vehicle liability policy.

New York Street Rods/Customs: SEMA-model legislation to create a vehicle titling and registration classification for street rods and custom vehicles has been reintroduced. The bill defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after 1948. Under the bill, a kit car or replica vehicle will be assigned a certificate of title bearing the same model-year designation as the production vehicle it most closely resembles.

Rhode Island Antique Motor Vehicles: Legislation has been introduced to require owners of antique motor vehicles to register them at an increased annual fee based upon the vehicle’s weight. Currently, antique vehicles are registered for a flat fee of $5. In Rhode Island, an antique motor vehicle is any motor vehicle that is more than 25 years old. The House Finance Committee will consider the bill.


Virginia Antique Tax: Governor Terry McAuliffe signed into law a measure to exempt a motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer that is licensed as an antique from the imposition of local license taxes and fees. Virginia law defines an antique motor vehicle as “every motor vehicle which 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 is owned solely as a collector’s item.”


West Virginia Off-Highway Vehicles: A bill was approved by the West Virginia Senate to empower two 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 those authorities work on the initiatives with private landowners, county officials, community leaders, government agencies, recreational user groups and recreational entrepreneurs. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will next consider the bill.

West Virginia Abandoned Vehicles: An effort was approved by the 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 Government Organization Committee will next consider the bill.

West Virginia OHV Areas: Legislation has been introduced to require the state to create and publicly post a list of state-managed areas where the operation of off-highway vehicles by the public is permitted. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will consider the bill. “Off-highway vehicle” refers to a vehicle designed for off-highway use and includes all-terrain vehicles and utility-terrain vehicles. The bill recognizes the fact that publicizing recreational opportunities for off-highway vehicle enthusiasts is an important tool to promote tourism in the state and strengthen the local economy.

West Virginia Light Bars: Legislation was reintroduced to eliminate the requirement that roof-mounted off-road light bars be covered when vehicles are operated on roads and highways. The bill also raises the number of permissible auxiliary passing and driving lamps from one to two. The measure still requires that light bars be turned off when vehicles are being operated on roads and highways.

West Virginia Collector Plates: A bill was approved by the House Roads and Transportation Committee to provide for special plates for use on collector vehicles and allow for the transfer of those plates between the collector vehicles owned by the collector. The bill defines a “collector motor vehicle” in part as a restricted and limited-use motor vehicle that is a unique commodity having a current monetary value more than similar make and model vehicles. The term does not include vehicles being used for regular transportation and does not include motor vehicles with elevated chassis height that are subject to inspection. The Finance Committee will now consider the bill.

Canada (Nova Scotia) CCAD: Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has again issued a proclamation designating July 2017 as Automotive Heritage Month in the province. Since 2010, the U.S. Senate has passed resolutions at SEMA’s request to acknowledge Collector Car Appreciation Day, which serves to raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. This year’s celebration is scheduled for Friday, July 14.

E15 Ethanol: SEMA-supported legislation has been reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to cap the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 10% and prohibit the sale of E15 (gasoline with 15% ethanol). The bill would also eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) mandate that 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol be blended into the U.S. fuel supply each year. While the RFS was intended to reduce the nation’s dependency on foreign oil, the 2007 law has translated into ever-increasing corn production so that the ethanol byproduct can be blended into gasoline. The EPA has turned to sales of E15 to achieve the law’s artificial mandate. Ethanol, especially in higher concentrations such as E15, can cause metal corrosion and dissolve certain plastics and rubbers in automobiles produced before 2001 that were not constructed with ethanol-resistant materials. SEMA has joined with more than 50 other organizations from the auto/boat industries to the food, energy and environmental community to support passage of the legislation.


RPM Act: The Recognizing the Protection of Motor-sports (RPM) Act continues to gain support in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. The RPM Act clarifies that federal law allows motor vehicles to be converted into dedicated race cars and that it is legal to produce, sell and install race parts for these vehicles. The bill has more than 100 House sponsors and more than 25 sponsors in the Senate. SEMA members are playing an integral role in raising the profile of the RPM Act in the halls of Congress. Letters and emails from member companies, their employees and enthusiasts have been extremely helpful in building support. If you haven’t already signed a letter to your members of Congress, please visit

Frivolous Lawsuits: The U.S. House of Representatives passed three bills to combat frivolous lawsuits, which are a distraction for businesses and can create financial hardship. Small businesses are especially vulnerable to these kinds of abuses. In many instances, defending a small business in court drains precious resources, which could otherwise be used to make investments needed to grow the company.

OSHA Injury/Illness Record-keeping Rule: President Trump signed a resolution overturning a regulation that allowed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to cite companies for failure to record work-related injuries and illnesses during the five-year retention period. In 2012, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in the so-called “Volks” lawsuit that OSHA could not issue citations beyond a six-month statute of limitations set out under law. To get around the court finding, OSHA issued a rule before the Trump administration took office to clarify that an employer had a duty to make and maintain accurate injury/illness records for the entire retention period and that the duty did not end if the employer had failed to create the necessary records during the initial six-month citation period.

Outdoor Recreation Economics: SEMA has joined with many outdoor recreation groups to promote federal policy reforms for rebuilding and expanding the nation’s recreation-related infrastructure. Members of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable (ORIR) represent everything from motorized recreation to boating, camping, fishing, hiking and archery. The various business sectors within the outdoor recreation industry generate $646 billion per year in economic activity and provide an estimated 6.1 million direct jobs. The ORIR was organized to demonstrate to lawmakers and regulators the value of outdoor recreation to the nation’s economy. The group advocates for public/private partnerships as the means for addressing deferred maintenance on public lands and waters and for making recreational access and high-quality visitor experiences a priority.

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