LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
By Stuart Gosswein
In California, exhaust systems installed on motor vehicles with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating of less than 6,000 lbs., other than motorcycles, may not exceed a sound level of 95 decibels when tested under Society of Automotive Engineers procedure J1492 (formerly J1169).
The bill has generated significant concern within the industry and among the enthusiast community. The SEMA Action Network has created a “Fact vs. Fiction” page on the www.semasan.com website to clarify the matter.
Colorado—Military Vehicles: Legislation has been introduced in the Colorado Senate to create a process for the titling and registration of demilitarized motor vehicles. The bill defines a demilitarized motor vehicle as a vehicle purchased for nonmilitary use that was commonly used by the U.S. Armed Forces to transport persons or property over the highway. Currently, such vehicles are not allowed to be registered or titled for on-road use in the state. The bill awaits consideration in the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee.
Connecticut—Trailers: Legislation was introduced to allow for vehicles with hitches or towing equipment to be exempt from displaying an unobstructed motor-vehicle number plate. The bill is currently awaiting consideration in the Connecticut Joint Committee on Transportation.
Delaware—Street Rods: Legislation has been introduced that would ease the process for registering a street rod in Delaware. If enacted, the bill would change the definition of a street rod from a pre-’70s vehicle to one 25 years old or older. The legislation also removes the requirement that a street rod’s tires be covered by a fender. The bill is currently awaiting consideration in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
Hawaii—Military Vehicles: Legislation has been introduced that allows for the titling and registration of former military vehicles. The bill defines a former military vehicle as a 25-year-or-older vehicle that is a Pinzgauer, a Kaiser Jeep M715, a Humvee, or a DUKW. Currently, former military vehicles are not allowed to be registered or titled for on-road use in the state. The bill has been referred to the House Transportation Committee.
Indiana—Collector Vehicles: Legislation has been introduced in the Indiana House to exempt certain collector vehicles from the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax. To be eligible, a collector vehicle cannot be operated on the highway. In Indiana, a collector vehicle is defined as a vehicle at least 25 years old; owned and operated as a collector’s item, a leisure pursuit, or an investment; and not used primarily for transportation. The bill currently awaits consideration in the Roads and Transportation Committee.
Maine—Ethanol: Legislation has been introduced to allow the sale of ethanol-free gasoline statewide. Under current law, the counties of York, Sagadahoc, Androscoggin, Kennebec, Knox and Lincoln forbid the sale of ethanol-free gasoline. The bills will be considered by the Senate and House Environment and Natural Resources Committees.
Maryland—Low-Mileage Vehicles: Legislation has been introduced to exempt vehicles driven under 5,000 mi. annually from inspection and testing requirements. Under current law, low-mileage vehicle exemptions are available only to those with disabilities and to persons age 70 years or older. The bill is currently in the Assembly Environment and Transportation Committee.
Massachusetts—Antique Vehicles: Legislation that would have created a separate definition for “antique motor vehicles” and required that they undergo annual emissions inspections to ensure that they meet emissions standards in effect at the time of manufacture failed to pass out of the Joint Transportation Committee prior to the end of the 2018 legislative session.
Massachusetts— Single License Plate: A bill that would have allowed vehicle owners to choose whether to display a front license plate failed to pass out of the Joint Transportation Committee prior to the adjournment of the 2018 session.
Massachusetts— Year-of-Manufacture Plates: A bill that would have allowed vehicles registered as antiques to display year-of-manufacture plates with DMV approval passed its House committee but failed to receive a final vote on the House floor prior to the adjournment of the 2018 session. Antique vehicles are defined as vehicles more than 25 years old that are maintained solely for use in exhibitions, club activities, parades, and other functions of public interest.
Minnesota—Military Vehicles: House and Senate counterpart legislation has been introduced to aid in the registration of certain decommissioned military vehicles as standard motor vehicles. The bills will be considered by the Senate and House Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committees.
Nebraska—Military Vehicles: Legislation has been introduced to create a process for the titling and registration of former military vehicles. The bill defines a former military vehicle as a vehicle that was manufactured for use in any country’s military forces and is maintained to accurately represent its military design and markings, regardless of the vehicle’s size or weight, but is no longer used or never was used by a military force. The legislation currently awaits consideration in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.
Nebraska—Single License Plate: Legislation has been introduced to require the issuance of only a single license plate for all motor vehicles. The bill currently awaits consideration in the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.
New Hampshire— Single License Plate: Legislation has been introduced in the New Hampshire House of Representatives to require the issuance of only a single license plate for all motor vehicles. The bill currently awaits consideration in the House Transportation Committee.
New Mexico—Dual License Plates: Legislation has been introduced to require registration plates on the front and back of all motor vehicles. Under current law, all motor vehicles in the state are issued only a single plate. The bill is currently in the House Transportation, Public Works, and Capital Improvements Committee.
New York—Street Rods: A bill that would have defined a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before ’49 and a custom vehicle as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after ’48 failed to receive consideration in the Assembly Transportation Committee as the legislature adjourned for 2018. Under the bill, kit cars and replica vehicles would have been assigned certificates of title bearing the same model-year designations as the production vehicles they most closely resemble.
New York—Historic Vehicles: A bill that would have provided that historical-vehicle owners pay only a one-time registration fee of $100 upon initial registration failed to receive consideration in the Assembly Transportation Committee prior to the adjournment of the 2018 legislative session.
West Virginia—Collector Cars: Legislation was introduced to provide for special plates for use on collector vehicles and allow for the transfer of those plates between the collector vehicles owned by an individual. A similar version of the bill failed to be passed during the previous year’s legislative session. The bill will be considered by the House Technology and Infrastructure Committee.
West Virginia—Military Vehicles: Legislation was introduced to provide antique military vehicles with an exemption from the requirement to display license plates. The bill creates an alternative registration insignia that does not interfere with the traditional military markings on the vehicle. The legislation has been assigned to the House Committee on Technology and Infrastructure.
West Virginia— Motorsports Committee: Legislation was introduced that will create the West Virginia Motorsports Committee to aid in the development of racing events and facilities throughout the state. The bill is currently awaiting consideration in the Senate Government Organization Committee.
West Virginia—Motorsports Complexes: Legislation has been introduced in the West Virginia Senate to aid and incentivize the construction of motorsports complexes. The bill exempts certain building materials from the sales tax and provides a process by which a qualified company may claim the exemption. The bill currently awaits consideration in the Finance Committee.
State Sales Taxes: Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states may require internet retailers to collect sales taxes even when they have no physical presence in the state. The Court overturned the 1992 Quill vs. North Dakota decision, which said that retailers must have a certain level of physical presence (nexus) before that state can force the retailer to collect taxes.
The Court supported a South Dakota law passed in 2016 that requires an out-of-state retailer to collect sales taxes regardless of whether there was a physical presence. The South Dakota law established a small- business exemption for retailers with less than $100,000 worth of annual sales or fewer than 200 transactions. The Court found that the combination of an exemption and free or affordable software for calculating the taxes should help address collection challenges.
More than 30 states will now require collection, immediately or in the near future. Most of the states have taken South Dakota’s approach and created a small-business exemption for retailers with less than $100,000 worth of annual sales or fewer than 200 transactions per year, or a bit more than that amount. A few state laws are already in effect, and many others are scheduled to start in 2019, including California, which is set to start on April 1, 2019. The list of states requiring collection include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Five states do not impose sales tax: Delaware, New Hampshire, Montana, Oregon and Alaska (although some municipalities in Alaska do).
The U.S. Supreme Court noted that Congress has always had the authority to enact legislation to authorize collection, but that has not occurred to date. The Court ruling, along with implementation by many states, may spur Congress to establish a single federal standard, including a uniform small-business exemption and limited ability for states to pursue out-of-state audits. Various studies estimate that the potential amount of uncollected state sales taxes may range from $13 to $33 billion each year.
OHVs in Ochoco National Forest, Oregon: A federal district court judge upheld a lower-court ruling issued last September that rejected a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) plan to add 137 miles of off-road vehicle trails in central Oregon’s Ochoco National Forest. A conservation group had challenged the plan’s environmental analysis regarding habitat for elk, wolves and native fish. The USFS plan would have expanded the existing off-highway vehicle trail system of 674 mi. by 20%, including 53 mi. of newly developed roads and trails connecting to the existing system. The USFS must now pursue a new plan.