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SEMA LEGISLATIVE QUICK HITS

The SEMA Action Network is a nationwide partnership of car clubs, and individual enthusiasts (like you) who work together to impact legislation that affects car and truck hobbyists of all kinds.  Here are some Legislative Quick Hits:

California Specially Constructed Vehicles: SAN-supported legislation to increase the allowable number of exempted specially constructed vehicle registrations from 500 to 750 vehicles per year was approved by the Assembly Transportation Committee. Current law provides for emissions-system certification and a model-year designation for specially constructed vehicles, including kit cars. Under the law, vehicle owners choose whether a smog-test referee certifies the engine model year or the vehicle model year. To determine model year, inspectors compare the vehicle to those of the era that the vehicle most closely resembles. If there is no close match, it is classified as a ’60 vehicle. Only those emissions controls applicable to the model year and that can be reasonably accommodated by the vehicle are required. The Department of Motor Vehicles provides a new registration to the first 500 specially constructed vehicles per year that meet the criteria.

Kansas Specialty-Vehicle Fees: The SAN is opposing legislation to raise the registration fee on antiques, street rods and special-interest vehicles. The bill has already passed the House. The Senate substituted the House bill with all-new language to increase the state’s revenue. One section of the substituted bill increases the registration fee for all passenger vehicles, while two separate sections were inserted to specifically target antiques and street rods/special-interest vehicles. Under the substituted bill, each of the registration fees would increase by $10 on January 1, 2013, and by another $10 on January 1, 2014.

Mississippi Nitrous Oxide:
The SAN was successful in negotiating a compromise on legislation that originally threatened to prohibit public road use of all motor vehicles equipped to supply the engine with nitrous oxide. The bill was signed into law by Governor Haley Barbour. Originally written as an outright ban, the new law allows for the installation of nitrous-oxide systems as long as the feed lines are disconnected or the canisters are removed while the vehicle is being operated on a public road. The SAN amendment better protects public road safety while ensuring legitimate off-road uses of nitrous-oxide systems.

Massachusetts Exhaust Noise:
A bill targeted for defeat by the SAN to ban the “use and sale of any exhaust pipe that increases the sound emissions of any vehicle, including motorcycles,” was set aside for study by the legislature. This action means that the measure is unlikely to be considered by the legislature this year. Among other things, the measure ignored the fact that aftermarket exhaust systems are designed to make vehicles run more efficiently without increasing emissions and did not supply law enforcement with a clear standard to enforce, allowing officers to make subjective judgments on whether or not a modified exhaust system is in violation. Legislation to require the incorporation of noise-level testing into the vehicle inspection process was also set aside. The bill did not define a noise-level limit but allowed it to be determined by the regulators.

West Virginia Exhaust Noise:
A SAN-opposed bill to provide that the noise from a motor-vehicle exhaust system that has been deemed “disturbing or unreasonably loud” constitutes the crime of disturbing the peace is dead for the year. Under the bill, violators could have been fined up to $1,000 per occurrence, jailed for six months or both. Among other things, the bill did not supply law enforcement with an enforcement standard, allowing officers to make subjective judgments on whether an exhaust system is “disturbing or unreasonably loud;” failed to recognize that a better way to address this issue is by establishing a fair and reasonable exhaust-noise decibel limit; ignored the fact that aftermarket exhaust systems are designed to make vehicles run more efficiently without increasing emissions; and would make it difficult for hobbyists to replace factory exhaust systems with more durable, better-performing options.

 

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