Legislation Update

Various bills for classic car owners

Andy Bolig - January 29, 2014 04:02 PM


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United groups of automotive hobbyists are a proven political force.

The SEMA Action Network (SAN) is a nationwide partnership between vehicle clubs, enthusiasts and members of the specialty auto parts industry who want to protect their hobby.

Founded in 1997, the SAN was designed to help stamp out legislative threats to the automotive hobby and pass favorable laws. United groups of automotive hobbyists are a proven political force. To date, SAN efforts nationwide have resulted in positive outcomes on a wide range of issues, including vehicle scrappage ("clunker") laws, equipment standards, registration classifications, emissions-test exemptions, and hobbyist rights. You can be certain that these issues will continue to pop up at the state and federal level in the future. Here are a few recent legislations introduced in their various states.

West Virginia: Legislation (H.B. 4265) to provide for the issuance of special plates for use on collector vehicles and allow for the transfer of the special plates temporarily between the collector motor vehicles owned by the collector was introduced in West Virginia.  Delegate Gary Howell, the sponsor of the bill, indicates that most cars 25-years old and older will qualify for the collector plates.

  • H.B. 4265 defines a “Collector motor vehicle” as a motor vehicle that is a restricted and limited-use vehicle which is a unique commodity having a current monetary value in excess of similar make and model vehicles. Collector vehicles may not be driven in excess of the maximum mileage permitted by the terms of a valid limited-use motor vehicle insurance policy.
  • H.B. 4265 provides that motor vehicle collectors may not offer for sale more than four motor vehicles at any specific time.
  • H.B. 4265 provides that collector plates may be used by the motor vehicle collector for the sole purpose of transporting or moving motor vehicles either titled or purchased by the collector.
  • H.B. 4265 provides that a collector may operate collector vehicles on the streets and highways without registering each collector motor vehicle if the vehicle displays the special plate.
  • H.B. 4265 provides that special collector plates shall be valid for a period of one year or portion of one year and that the annual fee is $100 for the first plate and $50 for each additional plate issued, not to exceed a total of five plates.


Tennessee: Legislation (H.B. 1487/S.B. 1688) has been introduced in the Tennessee House and Senate to allow counties to exempt owners of antique motor vehicles from the privilege tax. The county may also only require a one-time only payment of the tax.  According to the state, the average amount of the one-time tax imposed would be $43.10.

  • In Tennessee, an "antique motor vehicle" is a motor vehicle over twenty-five years old with a non-modified engine and body that is used for participation in, or transportation to and from, club activities, exhibits, tours, parades, and similar uses as a collector's item; on the highways for the purpose of selling, testing the operation of, or obtaining repairs to or maintenance; and for general transportation only on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Sixty out of ninety-five counties in Tennessee impose a motor vehicle privilege tax. The average tax rate among the 60 counties that impose the tax is estimated to be $43.10.
  • H.B. 1487/S.B. 1688 recognize the fact that existing antique motor vehicles constitute a small portion of the vehicle fleet and are well-maintained, infrequently operated hobby cars and deserving of tax benefits.


Hawaii: Legislation (H.B. 2209) to require official inspection stations to test vehicles to determine if their exhaust systems “emit noise noticeably greater than that emitted by the vehicle as equipped from the factory” was introduced in Hawaii.  Under the bill, inspection stations found to have issued a certificate of inspection in violation of this provision could be fined up to $1,000 and have their inspection permits suspended or revoked.

  • H.B. 2209 provides no test by which vehicles could be tested.  Many states have established noise limits for modified exhaust systems based on an easy to administer objective test standard (SAE J1169) to a fair noise limit of 95-decibels.
  • H.B. 2209 would force inspectors to fail vehicles for violation of an unspecified test.
  • H.B. 2209 does not provide inspection stations with decibel readings on factory-installed exhaust systems.
  • H.B. 2209 ignores the fact that aftermarket exhaust systems are designed to make vehicles run more efficiently without increasing emissions.
  • H.B. 2209 would make it impossible for hobbyists to replace factory exhaust systems.


Virginia: Legislation (H.B. 623) has been introduced in Virginia to impose a $64 annual road usage fee on any other motor vehicle that has a combined city/highway fuel economy rating equal to or greater than 40 miles per gallon according to standards and regulations of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

  • H.B. 623 seeks to penalize national efforts to create a more fuel efficient vehicle fleet.  As gas tax revenues decrease due to hybrid and electric vehicle ownership, states are looking for new sources of funding for pet projects.  Owners of fuel-efficient vehicles should not bear an increased burden for choosing these vehicles.


Enthusiasts are encouraged to contact their representatives and participate in the preservation of the automotive hobby by voicing their support or opposition to legislation pertaining to their favorite hobby. For more information, contact the SEMA Action Network.