Each month, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has a lot on its plate, from major events to actions within the community. June is no different as SEMA continues to keep tabs on all the proposed legislation in the country that could affect you as a hot rod connoisseur. From California to New York, this is what you should know.
This month, SEMA kicks off their Law & Order update with good news coming out of Arkansas. Working with state law makers, SEMA was able to help amend legislation that threatened to ban any type of headlight covering that reduced the visibility of the original headlights on a vehicle. Although this proposed legislation would have only affected vehicles when the lights were in use, SEMA feared that the regulations could be misinterpreted to mean that covers such as those used at car shows, during the day and during exhibition by many hot rodders would not be allowed. The bill now reflects this clarification.
As of last month, SEMA was fighting against legislation in Connecticut that would require vehicles being registered as antique, rare or special interest vehicles to be at least 30 years old or older, rather than the current 20-year regulation. Unfortunately, the Connecticut Joint Committee approved the proposed bill by a 10 to 9 margin and it will now be sent to the House of Representatives for a full vote. This bill, if approved, would not only increase the age requirements of antique vehicles, but also make room for a $2,500 maximum assessed value for all vehicles registered as antique, up from the current $500 maximum.
In Florida, SEMA is continuing to support a bill that would repeal the ethenol requirement for all gasoline sold within the state. Currently, 9 to 10 percent ethanol content is required by the state, but the proposed bill wishes to do away with this so that access to fuel for collector vehicles that can’t process the ethanol content would be made easier. The bill has tentatively been approved by the House of Regulatory Affairs Committee and now moves on to the House of Representatives.
In New York, SEMA-model legislation has been reintroduced into the Senate to create a special titling and registration class for street rods and custom vehicles. We saw similar legislation introduced and failed in New York last year when legislatures went on recess.
Also from the East Coast comes news out of Maine, where SEMA successfully fought against a bill proposing that an individual get police approval and a certificate in order to lift their vehicle, as well as Maryland, where SEMA supported legislation has been introduced to provide vintage reproduction registration plates to qualified vehicle owners.
Identical bills were introduced in the Maryland Senate and the House that would require the Maryland Vehicle Administration to provide the reproduction plates to owners for one year. The bill now moves to the other chambers for approval. If approved, Maryland antique vehicle owners will be able to obtain vintage reproduction plates resembling the 1910 yellow plates with black lettering. Similar legislation, aiming to allow 1948 through 1950 model-year vehicles to display a year-of-manufacture plate in Montana was recently signed into law by Governor Steve Bullock.
In Virginia, another pro-hot rodder bill has been signed into law. This time, it’s a law completely exempting all vehicles and parts cars stored on private property for the purpose of restoration from the state’s licensing tax. The bill was signed into law by Governor Bill McDonnell.
Last but not least, a final sigh of relief can be had for West Virginia’s antique vehicle owners. After a SEMA amendment was put into place, proposed legislation to increase the assessed value of all antique vehicles to $5,000 was changed to allow those antique vehicles valued at less than $5,000 be valued at the lowest value in a national used car guide. If approved, the bill will allow for a lesser assessed value for cars valued at below $5,000, and a maximum assessed value of $5,000 for those vehicles valued at more.
The Specialty Equipment Market Association is always on its toes when it comes to proposed legislation that could affect our hobby. Lucky for us, they’ll continue to fight the good fight in months to come.
For instant updates on legislation SEMA is working for or against in the hobby, be sure to become a member of the SEMA Action Network.