There’s no denying the passion that exudes from the automotive industry, but where there is a lot of passion, there’s usually a lot of rules and regulations. As much as we’d all like to do what we want with our hobby vehicles, it never fails that certain legislatures want to limit us. Luckily, the SEMA Action Network keeps tabs on these sort of things and keeps us “in the know” about both positive and negative effects the law makers are having (or trying to have) on our beloved automotive world. This month, the SEMA Law & Order Update is filled with processes of exemption, and not in a bad way. Let’s take a look!
The first area of exemptions this month, which is typically a hot-button issue for the majority of us in the automotive world, deals with emissions! As it turns out, many state legislatures are coming around to see our point of view on exempting older vehicles from emission testing.
Over the last month, the New Hampshire governor, Maggie Hassan, signed a bill into law that exempts “rare or historically significant” vehicles from emissions testing. The bill, which expands on the state’s emission exemptions for vehicles 20 years old or older will go into effect January 1st, 2017.
In New Jersey, legislators are looking to solve an issue brought on by their emission testing exemptions for older cars by proposing a bill that would allow emission exemption stickers to be issued to individuals with exempt vehicles. Not an ideal solution, but it is a step in the right direction.
These stickers would be displayed on exempt vehicles and act as confirmation of the exemption status for law enforcement to see, rather than having police pull over vehicles because they aren’t displaying an emissions sticker only to find out that the vehicle is in fact exempt. This bill moves to the Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration after recently being passed by the Senate Transportation Committee.
In similar news, a bill aiming to amend the current emissions exemptions list, which would include more vehicles, is continuing to be reviewed in California. The bill, if approved, would provide vehicles built between 1976 and 1981 emission exemptions if their owners could prove they were insured as collector vehicles. This would be a two year trial run and then need further legislative action to continue passed 2019. Though the bill is in the consideration process, the committee hearing for the bill keeps being postponed until a further date, so we hope to hear an answer either way when it’s decided.
Another type of exemption that was a hot topic last month, is title exemptions. Last month in Alabama, a bill was signed into law that exempts all vehicles 35 years old or older, from requiring a certificate of title. Previously vehicles built before the 1974 model year were exempt.
In Connecticut, legislators are taking a different approach to the age-old title certificate hassle by looking to pass a law that would require the state to issue a certificate of title to all vehicles that are 20 years old or older, upon the request of the owner. This bill now moves to Governor Dannel Malloy for his signature to enact it into law.
Year of manufacture (YOM) plates are still a popular topic, and this last month California has been considering a bill that would expand the eligibility of vehicles considered for these iconic plates. The bill is set to make its way to the Senate for consideration in the next month.
This time of year is the time when a lot of legislatures adjourn for the season and even more states have retired their legislative efforts in the past month. These states include Hawaii and Missouri. Legislators have also adjourned in Iowa, which killed a bill aiming to allow historic vehicles to run single license plates in the state – an unfortunate result of the short legislative season. Similarly, legislators also adjourned in Vermont, although this adjournment means good news for the automotive hobby, as legislation aiming to penalize vehicle owners running aftermarket exhaust systems died upon adjournment.
While most of the updates this month are positive, there are a couple that are not so settling for hot rodders. In California, a bill aiming to increase transportation fees and taxes has been approved by the Senate Committee and continues from there for further approval. The cash strapped state is still seeking ways to increase revenue, and raising fees seems to be the popular choice.
In Maryland, a seemingly good bill has been signed into law in the last month, but there are some catches that aren’t so extraordinary. While the new law was amended to exempt historic vehicles from the model year 1986 or later from periodic inspections, it does prohibit the use of historic vehicles for employment, transportation to employment or school, and transportation for commercial purposes. The law also subjects said historic vehicles to potential repair orders if the vehicle is seen to have vehicle safety equipment that is in disrepair (if seen on routine traffic stops or similar incidents). Once repair orders have been given, a subsequent inspection would be required to make sure the repair had been made. This move is targeted to make vintage vehicle owners subject to a “super fix-it ticket.”
The world of historic automobiles is a passionate one, but also one that can be challenging given the parameters legislatures try to put on it by passing laws and regulations against our hobby. Because the SEMA Action Network is constantly watching, no legislative action goes unnoticed! For up-to-the-minute updates regarding legislative actions in your state or on a federal level, be sure to sign up for the SEMA Action Network (it’s free!) and get on board with the good fight for our beloved hobby today!
A Final Reminder: Remember that Collector Car Appreciation Day is coming up soon. SEMA has officially declared July 8th as the official day of celebration but states, provinces, including the Province of Prince Edwards Island, just proclaimed July to be Automotive Heritage Month. Car clubs, automotive manufacturers and more automotive groups, are celebrating all throughout July with events running throughout the summer month. To see what events are taking place near you or to add your own Collector Car Appreciation celebration, be sure to check out the official SEMA Action Network calendar HERE!