Law and Order

SEMA News—August 2017


By Steve McDonald

Law and Order


California Emissions: Legislation has been approved by the California Assembly to extend the emissions inspection exemption for new cars from six to eight model years. Under the bill, the newly exempted motor vehicles (model years seven and eight) would be subject to an annual smog abatement fee of $24. If enacted into law, the bill would become effective on January 1, 2018. The measure has now been referred to the Senate for consideration.


California Labeling: A bill was approved by the Senate and referred to the Assembly 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. Further, the measure adds to Proposition 65 and other laws that already require warning labels for chemicals known to pose health risks.

California OHV Programs: Legislation was approved by the full Senate 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 OHMVR program currently provides funds to local, state and federal agencies, educational institutions and nonprofit entities for OHV management on both federal and
state lands.

Connecticut Hobby Cars: A measure to increase the age requirement of an antique, rare or special-interest motor vehicle from 20 years old or older to 30 years old or older was amended to remove all restrictions to these hobby vehicles. The amendments also removed language that would have increased the maximum property tax assessment on any antique, rare or special-interest motor vehicle from $500 to $1,000. As introduced, the bill provided that those vehicles no longer eligible for antique, rare or special-interest motor vehicle status would be valued at the same percentage of their actual valuation, thereby increasing the property tax.

Florida Warranty: Legislation to require new-car dealers to provide purchasers with a statement declaring that it is illegal for manufacturers/dealers to void a warranty or deny coverage because aftermarket or recycled parts were installed died without committee consideration when the legislature adjourned for the year. 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. 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.

Hawaii Legislation: Several bills introduced in Hawaii in 2017 failed to be approved by both houses of the legislature prior to the adjournment of the session. Each is eligible for consideration during the 2018 legislative session. Among the bills were legislation to provide that no motor vehicle muffler or exhaust system shall emit a noise level greater than 60 decibels; a series of bills 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; and legislation to increase annual registration fees, increase the gas tax and increase the motor vehicle weight tax.

Kentucky Mileage-Based User Fee: A House Concurrent Resolution to create a mileage-based transportation funding task force to determine the feasibility of implementing a road user fee instead of the gas tax died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The resolution would have required the Mileage-Based Transportation Funding Task Force to submit its findings, recommendations and any proposed legislation by December 1, 2017. In addition to creating privacy concerns, the user fees penalize national efforts to create a more fuel-
efficient vehicle fleet by taxing drivers based on vehicle mileage. As gas tax revenues decrease due to hybrid and electric vehicle ownership, states are looking for new sources of funding for pet projects.

Maine Single Plate: A bill to remove the requirement that a motor vehicle must display a registration plate on the front of the motor vehicle was introduced and referred to the Joint Transportation Committee. The bill would protect the aesthetic contours of collector cars and relieve vehicle owners of the burden of having to create mounting holes on fabricated bumpers, etc. It would also save money, conserve resources and bring Maine in line with other states that have moved to a single-plate requirement.

Maine Excise Taxes: Legislation to reduce motor vehicle excise tax mill rates by 10% each year beginning in 2018 until the rates reach half of the current rates in 2022 and subsequent years was not considered in committee and is essentially dead for the year. Under the law, an excise tax is levied for the privilege of operating a motor vehicle or camper trailer on the public ways.

Maine Mileage-Based User Fee: A proposal to establish a task force to guide the development of a mileage-based user fee pilot program has been amended to remove reference to the user fee. The revised bill seeks to establish the Commission to Study Transportation Funding Reform, charged with studying how to reform and supplement funding for transportation infrastructure to promote equity, sustainability and predictability. Under the bill, the commission is required to report its findings and recommendations, including suggested legislation, to the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation no later than December 6, 2017.


Missouri Historic Trailers: A bill to allow a camping or fifth-wheel trailer more than 25 years old to be permanently registered for a $52.50 fee was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee and will now be sent to the Senate floor for a vote by all members. The bill has already been approved by the Missouri House of Representatives. The bill also allows those possessing a year-of-manufacture license plate more than 25 years old to use the plate as a historic trailer plate if the configuration of letters and numbers has not been issued to someone else. Under the measure, the owner of the historic trailer must keep the certificate of registration in the trailer at all times.


Ohio Kit Cars: Legislation was introduced to allow the issuance of only a single rear license plate for specialty kit cars. Owners or operators choosing the single-plate option would be required to pay a $150 fee. The bill defines a “specialty kit car” as a motor vehicle that is assembled by the purchaser or a third party from a set of parts that is produced and sold by a manufacturer. The House Transportation and Public Safety Committee will consider the measure.

Oregon Military Vehicles: Legislation has been signed into law by Governor Kate Brown to allow a military vehicle the opportunity to be registered as a “vehicle of special interest.” Included in the definition would be a “high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle originally manufactured for military use.” Owners may apply for the special-interest vehicle registration for a one-time fee of $81 and a single plate for a one-time fee of $12. Special-interest vehicles may be used only for exhibitions, parades, club activities and similar uses.

Pennsylvania Historic Military Plates: A measure to allow owners of historic military vehicles the opportunity to obtain Historic Military Vehicle License Plates was approved by the Pennsylvania House and sent to the Senate for consideration. These plates would have the same force and effect as antique or classic registration plates and would require a $75 application fee. The bill defines “historic military vehicle” to mean an antique or classic vehicle, including a trailer, that was manufactured for use in any country’s military forces and is maintained to represent the vehicle’s military design and markings accurately.

West Virginia Abandoned Vehicles: Legislation was signed into law by Governor Jim Justice 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 new law, the state will search for the owner of the vehicle and provide notice that an application has been filed for title to the vehicle. The law also creates a fair procedure for an owner to reclaim the vehicle within 30 days of notice of an application for title to the vehicle and creates a misdemeanor and imposes fines for interfering with an owner’s attempt to reclaim a vehicle. Antique motor vehicles are those vehicles manufactured more than 25 years before the current date.

West Virginia OHV Recreation Areas: Legislation was signed into law by Governor Jim Justice to require the state to create a searchable digital road map that indicates the condition of public roads. The new law requires that the digital road map indicate whether public roads are unpaved and unimproved, unpaved and improved, unlined and paved, or lined and paved. The digital road map will also indicate the types of vehicles that may use each road, including fullsize vehicles and off-highway vehicles, such as all-terrain vehicles, utility-terrain vehicles, motorcycles and off-road vehicles.



RPM Act: Support for the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act continues to grow in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. More than 150 members of Congress have now co-sponsored the bipartisan bill. The RPM Act clarifies that the Clean Air Act 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. Passage of the RPM Act will protect sales beyond emissions-related parts, including racing tires, wheels, brakes, suspension equipment and rollcages. Customers won’t be buying and installing these products if a car or motorcycle can’t be converted into a dedicated race vehicle. While the bill has strong support, there is currently a backlog of legislation that has delayed committee action on the RPM Act.

Flexible Overtime: The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Working Families Flexibility Act, which would allow private-sector employers to provide their workers with the option of receiving an hour-and-a-half of comp time or time-and-a-half pay for overtime hours worked. The bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act, which currently requires non-exempt employees—including management, administrative and professional employees who earn a salary of less than the threshold (an amount subject to change under a 2016 rulemaking that’s being challenged in federal court)—to be paid overtime wages after 40 hours of work a week. The comp-time option would be subject to a collective bargaining agreement or the consent of affected employees. A companion bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate, but there has been no action to date.

Regulatory Reform: The U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee passed five bills to reduce burdensome regulations:

  • The Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act requires Congress to approve regulations that have a $100 million impact or greater on the economy before they can take effect.
  • The Midnight Rules Relief Act makes it easier for Congress to overturn last-minute regulations issued by an outgoing president.
  • The Regulatory Accountability Act requires federal agencies to calculate the costs and benefits of new regulations and factor in both to determine the most cost-effective option.
  • The Early Participation in Regulations Act requires federal agencies to provide at least 90 days advance notice prior to publishing a proposed
  • The Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act eliminates loopholes that have reduced the effectiveness of the 1980 law that has provided small businesses with a greater voice in the regulatory process.

Each of the five bills will require 60 votes for passage by the U.S. Senate. The REINS Act and Midnight Rules have already been approved by the U.S. House
of Representatives.

Patent Trolls: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that patent troll suits are to be filed in the state in which the alleged infringer is incorporated or has its place of business. Courts had previously allowed patent infringement suits to be filed in any district where the defendant does business. The ruling should reduce the number of suits that are filed in areas of the country deemed to be friendly forums for the plaintiff. At issue are frivolous
lawsuits asserting that a company or individual is infringing a patent. The entity making the assertion is usually seeking licensing fees but not actually manufacturing a product or supplying services. The allegations are frequently associated with common technologies or business practices rather than a single patent. The lawsuits have exploded in recent years, costing small and large businesses billions of dollars. Many companies have settled rather than fight the cases, allowing the patent trolls to secure funds to pursue other

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