Temperatures are skyrocketing all over the country already this summer with little relief in sight. Similarly, things are starting to heat up even more in the legislative world as late May through mid-June have brought about some real eye-opening results that affect our beloved automotive hobby even as more and more legislatures are dismissed for the season. Luckily, the SEMA Action Network is on top of these legislative moves, allowing us to bring you the highlights (and lowlights) of the last month!
Whenever asked whether we would like to hear the good news or the bad news first in a conversation, we always go with the bad news, just to get it out of the way. So, that’s where we’re going to start with this month’s SEMA Law & Order update – the bad news.
The first piece of bad news comes out of Vermont this month where an increase in taxes on vehicle registrations, plates, titles and even administration has been signed into law. This increase in fees, though minor, does include even rarely used “exhibition vehicles,” such as hot rods used for club activities, parades and seldom transportation. For regular “pleasure vehicles,” registration fees have been increased from $69 to $74 annually, diesel-powered exhibition vehicle registration has been increased from $26 to $74 and regular exhibition vehicle registration fees have been increased from $15 to $24. Not even trailers are exempt from the fee increase, with light trailers seeing a registration increase of $2 up to $27 and heavy trailers seeing a registration increase from $49 to $52 annually.
The next round of bad news comes out of California this month, with two actions worth noting. First and foremost, an amended bill aiming to expand the range of model years exempt from emission inspections in the state from 1976 and older to 1981 and older failed to be passed before the bill’s final deadline of June 3rd. Because the bill, which would have given 1976 to 1981 model year vehicle owners the chance to submit proof their vehicle was insured as a collector vehicle – therefore exempting them from future emissions inspections – failed to be passed before the early June deadline, the bill will have to be reintroduced to be reconsidered at a future time.
Though it looked as if there might be some positive legislative actions for the hobby coming out of California earlier in the year, the state has managed to sneak another alarming bill in regards to “retiring” older vehicles from road use into the mix. If signed into law, the bill, which has already been approved by both the Transportation Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee as well as the full assembly and now moves on to be voted on by the Senate, would require California to expand the Air Resource Board’s current program to retire and replace older passenger vehicles.
While the aim of the bill is to decrease pollution and vehicle emissions even further, the bill does not take into consideration that all scrappage programs limit and even eliminate resources to rare, hard-to-find, and often valuable restoration parts.
On a more positive note, California is currently working on passing a bill that would expand the number of model years eligible for year-of-manufacture plates in the state. If passed, the bill would allow vehicles manufactured in 1980 or before, to legally display year-of-manufacture plates. Currently, year-of-manufacture plates can only be used on vehicles from 1972 or before.
More good news comes out of Connecticut this month as a bill was just passed into law by Governor Dannel Malloy that requires the state to issue titles for vehicles 20 model years old or older, even ones that didn’t previously have to be titled under Connecticut law, upon the request of their owners. This not only gives older vehicle owners a means to obtain a title for their own records, but also increases the value of their vehicles and helps open up more opportunities for sale of such vehicles to out-of-state buyers looking to have a title with the vehicle purchase.
Just like last month, a number of legislatures have adjourned for the season within the last 30 days, killing bills that were up for consideration but had not yet been passed. This is good news in the case of Arizona, where a bill that aimed to increase the state’s current gas tax and create a study that would look at taxing vehicle owners based on the number of miles they travel, died upon legislative adjournment, as well as in New Hampshire, where a bill aiming to implement a “road user fee” also died when that state’s legislature adjourned for the season.
As far as legislative news goes, it is certainly a mixed bowl of good and bad this month. Either way, the SEMA Action Network is on top of it, monitoring legislative actions on both the federal and state levels to make sure that we as hobbiests don’t get blindsided by new rules, regulations and laws that could negatively affect our hobby.
In celebration of all their work and the work of so many in the industry and car scene to maintain the classic car hobby, SEMA and the SEMA Action Network have declared Friday, July 8th to be Collector Car Appreciation Day. Most recently, the Province of Saskatchewan has joined the upcoming celebration by once again declaring July “Automotive Heritage Month” in the province. For more information on what events celebrating Collector Car Appreciation Day will be going on in your area, be sure to check out the official Collector Car Appreciation Day web page. As always, sign up to be a free member of the SEMA Action Network for timely updates on legislative actions going on in your state HERE!