Fighting the Good Fight: Laws and Regulations

SEMA News—February 2019

Fighting the Good Fight: Laws and Regulations

Chris Kersting

Chris Kersting

Election season is over, and SEMA is now focused on the new legislative sessions in Washington and state capitols across the nation. Heading into 2019, this column provides a brief update on some key federal initiatives.

As this article goes to press, the federal legislature is surprisingly still in session, struggling to complete must-pass legislation before the 115th Congress expires in December. Based on an outstanding effort by our industry and enthusiasts to build support for the bill, the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act is positioned to be included among the last bills that will be considered. The legislation confirms that the Clean Air Act allows motor vehicles to be converted into dedicated race cars and that it is legal to sell parts for such vehicles. While the fate of the bill is uncertain, SEMA has led a nonstop push on Capitol Hill to get the legislation passed this year. We’ll be updating the industry on this issue as developments occur.

As most of you are aware, a top priority for President Trump has been to renegotiate trade deals to ensure that America is treated fairly. The president has placed tariffs ranging from 10%–25% on imported steel and aluminum and products made in China. While SEMA supports the Trump Administration’s efforts to protect fair trade and intellectual property rights, the association remains concerned that the tariffs are not accomplishing that objective and may be counterproductive. SEMA is working with other industry associations to urge the Trump Administration and Congress to work with our allies to break down free-trade barriers and enforce against countries that allow intellectual property rights to be violated.

On a different topic, SEMA spearheaded legislation in 2015 to allow small automakers to sell up to 325 turnkey replica cars a year in the United States that resemble classic cars produced at least 25 years ago. The law required the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue regulations deemed necessary to implement the law by December 2016. Despite SEMA’s ongoing advocacy and intervention from members of Congress, NHTSA has yet to write regulations to implement the law. SEMA has conducted a grassroots and media campaign to help spur action by NHTSA. SEMA has communicated the industry’s frustrations to NHTSA and made them aware that, absent favorable action, the association is prepared to take the agency to court.

Which brings us to the Bonneville Salt Flats.

The iconic salt flats are part of our industry’s history—nature’s test track for speed equipment. But the venue has decreased in length from 13 mi. to less than 8 mi. since the ’60s, when the U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued leases allowing salt brine to be channeled away to an adjoining potash mining operation.

The good news is that SEMA and the Save the Salt Coalition are working with the mine owner as well as federal and state lawmakers on a program to restore the 13-mi. speedway by pumping up to 1.5 million tons of salt brine onto the flats each year. The current pumping program moves around 0.6 million tons annually. The increase would be accomplished through pumping infrastructure upgrades, which would be funded by the state of Utah and the federal government. We look forward to sharing more information surrounding this effort in the coming months.

SEMA and its members are eager for lawmakers to succeed in 2019 in addressing the many issues facing the industry and nation. One easy way SEMA members can help strengthen the industry’s ability to impact a wide range of legislative and regulatory issues is through the SEMA Political Action Committee (SEMA PAC).

By law, the association itself is prohibited from using its funds to contribute to lawmakers and political candidates. However, SEMA PAC allows the individuals in our SEMA family to pool their personal contributions to help in the election campaigns of lawmakers who support our industry’s positions and initiatives. The more people who join, the greater our ability to impact change. To learn more, simply visit If you are already a PAC supporter—thank you! We look forward to your continued support in the coming year.

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