LEGISLATIVE QUICK HITS
Arkansas Street Rods/Customs: SEMA-model legislation to amend the vehicle titling and registration classification for street rods and to create a classification for custom vehicles was approved by the Arkansas Legislature. 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, kit cars and replica vehicles will be assigned a certificate of title bearing the same model-year designation as the production vehicle they most closely resemble.
Arkansas Historic Vehicles: SAN-opposed legislation that would amend the state’s current law governing historic or special-interest vehicles to require that these vehicles be 30 or more years old and pay a $25 registration fee has been introduced to the Arkansas House of Representatives. Under current Arkansas law, historic vehicles are only required to be 25 years old or older and owners are required to pay a $7 registration fee.
Illinois Inoperable Vehicles: A bill introduced in the Illinois House of Representatives would further restrict the ability of Illinois vehicle hobbyists from maintaining inoperable vehicles on private property. The SAN-opposed measure would redefine “inoperable motor vehicles” to include vehicles incapable of being lawfully driven on state highways in full accordance with Illinois vehicle laws. The bill would also expand the definition of inoperable vehicles to include dismantled and unlicensed vehicles. Under current law, localities may authorize fines and disposal of inoperable vehicles on public and private property. The pending legislation would give local authorities an inordinate amount of power when determining the disposition of inoperable historic project cars. The bill would make it virtually impossible for Illinois hobbyists to maintain inoperable collector vehicles on private property. This demonstra! tes a clear disregard and lack of understanding of the vehicle hobby and the rights of hobbyists. The measure makes no legal distinction between an owner using private property as a dumping ground and a vehicle enthusiast working to maintain, restore or construct a vehicle.
Iowa Antique Use: SAN-supported legislation that would amend the state’s current law governing antique motor vehicles to permit their occasional use for up to 1,000 miles per year has been approved by the Iowa Senate Transportation Committee. Under current law, the use of antique vehicles is strictly limited to exhibitions or educational purposes. The proposed legislation would provide Iowa citizens the opportunity to enjoy occasional recreational driving, in addition to the other sanctioned uses.
Iowa High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlamps: In what could be the state’s first step towards limiting lighting options for motor-vehicle owners, SAN-opposed legislation that would prohibit the operation of motor vehicles equipped with HID headlamps has been introduced in the Iowa State Legislature. The bill would subject vehicle owners to a $20 fine. The bill has been referred to the House Transportation Committee for consideration. Sponsors of the measure ignore the fact that HID headlamps that meet applicable photometry standards are not prohibited by Federal law and should not be restricted in Iowa. The proposed bill would require owners of vehicles currently equipped with HID headlamps (including those purchased with equipment from a dealership) to remove these lamps.
Kentucky Inoperable: A bill was approved by the Kentucky House Local Government Committee, that would overturn exist! ing hobbyist protections for inoperable vehicles, including parts cars that are stored out of ordinary public view on private property. The existing law, which was established in 2005 and is now threatened, is based on SEMA-model legislation and was enacted with the support of the hobbyist community in Kentucky. Unfortunately, the new bill would reverse the existing law and allow local governments to impose more restrictive standards against project cars. The bill would override safeguards provided for in the current law that allow hobbyists to work on collector vehicles on private property and would allow local governments to impose more restrictive standards against project cars. It would also override reasonable provisions enacted in 2005 that vehicles be located out of ordinary public view by means of suitable fencing, trees, shrubbery, etc.
Maryland 25-Year Exemption: A bill has been introduced to the Maryland House of Delegates to exempt vehicles mo! re than 25 years old from the state’s mandatory biennial e missions inspection and maintenance program. Existing law in Maryland only exempts vehicles manufactured before the ’77 model year from emissions inspection. The SAN-supported bill provides for a rolling emissions-inspection exemption that would exempt qualifying vehicles upon enactment and would pick up an additional model year for each year the law is in effect. The proposed bill recognizes that such vehicles constitute a small portion of the vehicle fleet and are well maintained and infrequently operated, and it also acknowledges the relatively minimal environmental impact of these older vehicles.
Maryland/Connecticut Tires: The SAN is opposing legislation in Connecticut and Maryland that would require the development of statewide programs to mandate that replacement tires for passenger cars meet fuel-efficiency standards. The SAN recommended that the bills be rejected since these types of replacement tire-efficiency programs conflict with federal law, are anti-consumer and anti-small business and would require a substantial appropriation by the legislature.
Massachusetts Exhaust Noise: After being stalled for the last several years, a bill to ban the sale or installation of “an exhaust system which has been modified in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the exhaust” has been reintroduced in Massachusetts. As in the previous version, the bill’s sponsor is attempting to divide the hobby on this issue by excluding limited-use “antique motor cars” from the proposed ban. Under current Massachusetts law, “antique motor cars” are defined as those vehicles over 25 years old which are used exclusively for exhibitions, club activities, parades, etc. The proposed measure does not supply law enforcement with a clear standard to enforce, allowing them to make subjective judgments on whether or not a modified exhaust system is in violation. The bill fails to recognize that aftermarket exhaust systems offer increased performance, which can make a vehicle ! safer by improving its ability to merge, pass, travel uphill, etc. and would make it difficult for hobbyists to replace factory exhaust systems with more durable, better-performing options.
Minnesota Racetracks: SAN-legislation that would increase the number of facilities that would qualify for an exemption from civil lawsuits based on racetrack noise has been introduced to the Minnesota Legislature. Under the bill, racetracks that were in operation on or before July 1, 1996, would qualify for the exemption but would still be subject to regulation by local government. The proposed measure would allow all Minnesota tracks to benefit from the same exemptions and would continue to allow local governments to control the regulation of noise.
Minnesota Off-Road: Legislation that would limit modified 4x4 trucks to minimally maintained roads and to the area specifically designated for their use has been reintroduced to the Minnesota Legislature. The SAN-opposed measure would severely restrict 4x4 truck access to Minnesota hobbyists by prohibiting use of “trails,” including those des! ignated south of Highway 2 and those north of Highway 2 that are currently open for off-road use. The proposed bill also defines 4x4 trucks as four-wheeled motor vehicles manufactured to operate on public roads and subsequently modified with special tires, suspension or other equipment. Montana Exhaust Noise: SAN-sponsored legislation has been introduced in Montana to permit vehicles with modified exhaust systems that do not emit an excess of 95 decibels as measured by SAE test standard J1169. Under the SAE standard, a sound meter is placed 20 inches from the exhaust outlet at a 45-degree angle, and the engine is revved to three-quarters of the maximum rated horsepower. The highest decibel reading is then recorded. The SAN has been successful in enacting the 95-decibel limit in California, Washington state and Maine.
West Virginia Expanded Use: Legislation that would amend the state’s current law governing antique motor vehicles to permit their use for “occasional recreational driving” has been introduced to the West Virginia House of Representatives. Under current West Virginia law, use of antique vehicles is strictly limited to club activities, exhibits, tours, parades, testing, obtaining repairs and for recreational purposes only on Friday evenings, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The SAN-supported measure will provide West Virginia citizens the opportunity to enjoy recreational driving on weekdays in addition to the other sanctioned uses. The bill also provides added incentive to owners of qualifying antique vehicles (more than 25 years old) to register as “antique” thereby reducing registration fees. Currently, antique vehicles in West Virginia are only required to pay a $2 annual registration fee.
Wyoming Street Rods/Customs: Prior to the Legislature’s adjournment, SEMA-model legislation to create vehicle titling and registration classifications for street rods and custom vehicles has been approved by the full Wyoming House of Representatives and the Senate Transportation Committee. Unfortunately, the bill was not considered by the full Senate and will have to be reintroduced in 2008. 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 measure, kit cars and replica vehicles will be assigned a certificate of title bearing the same model-year designation as the production vehicle they most closely resemble.