Potential law changes for enthusiasts
Andy Bolig - February 08, 2014 05:27 PM
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.
New Jersey: Reintroduces Bill (A.B. 2199) that would amend the state’s current law governing historic motor vehicles to permit their use for pleasure driving one day per week has been reintroduced in the New Jersey State Assembly. Under current New Jersey law, use of historic vehicles is strictly limited to exhibitions and educational purposes by the owner.
Under current New Jersey law, a "Historic motor vehicle" is any motor vehicle which is at least 25 years old and which is owned as a collector's item and used solely for exhibition and educational purposes by the owner.
- A.B. 2199 will provide New Jersey historic vehicle owners the opportunity to enjoy recreational driving on weekdays in addition to the other sanctioned uses.
- A.B. 2199 provides added incentive to owners of qualifying historic vehicles (more than 25-years old) to register as “historic.”
New Jersey: A SEMA-supported bill (S.B. 1098) has been reintroduced in the New Jersey Senate to exempt shops in the business of restoring antique or classic motor vehicles from the requirement that they provide a written estimate for anticipated repairs, including the price for parts or labor charges. Under current regulations, an automotive repair dealer who, prior to commencing work for compensation, fails to provide a customer a written estimated price to complete the repair can be found to be in violation of the consumer fraud law.
- S.B.1098 defines "antique or classic motor vehicle" as any motor vehicle which is at least 25 years old and which is owned as a collector's item and used solely for exhibition and educational purposes by the owner.
- S.B. 1098 would allow restoration shops to accurately inform customers of actual costs and materials, removing vagueness associated with shops attempting to “guess” probable time for unique tasks and probable costs for unique, and in some cases, yet to be fabricated, parts.
- S.B. 1098 recognizes that restoration shops constitute a small portion of shops that work on vehicles within the state and fulfill a unique niche that does not conform to that of standard repair shops.
- S.B. 1098 acknowledges that restoration shops are not “parts changers” and are thus unable to calculate precise estimates on parts to be used in a custom job. Each job presents new challenges requiring varying amounts of time and different parts. Often, parts must be reworked or altered for different purposes or completely new parts must be fabricated.
New Jersey: Legislation (S.B. 1108) has been introduced to require the motor vehicle commission to issue exempt certificates for motor vehicles not required to be inspected. Under current law, motorcycles, registered historic motor vehicles, motor vehicles designated as collector vehicles, and certain diesel-powered passenger motor vehicles built before the 1997 model year are exempt from emissions inspections and equipment inspections.
- As exempt motor vehicles are not subject to inspection, no certificates of approval (windshield “stickers”) are issued for them to display. On occasion, the operators of these exempt vehicles are stopped by law enforcement because there is no certificate of approval affixed to their windshield. As a result, the owners of these vehicles must carry all the documentation that is needed to prove their exempt status. S.B. 1108 would eliminate that problem by requiring the motor vehicle commission to issue a certificate of exemption for display on these vehicles.
Virginia: Legislation (H.B. 741) that originally sought to allow Virginia’s antique vehicle hobbyists to install and use aftermarket exhaust systems was amended and approved by the Virginia House Transportation Committee. Under the amended bill, antique vehicles would remain exempt from the requirement that they have exhaust systems of a type installed as standard factory equipment, or comparable to that designed for use on the particular vehicle as standard factory equipment. However, they would continue to be required to be “in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual levels of noise.” Under Virginia law, an antique motor vehicle is every motor vehicle which was actually manufactured or designated by the manufacturer as a model manufactured in a calendar year not less than 25 years prior to January 1 of each calendar year and is owned solely as a collector's item.
- H.B. 741 still remedies the enforcement policy currently used by police officers in which nearly all exhaust systems not of a type installed as standard factory equipment are considered illegal.
- H.B. 741 still recognizes that factory replacement parts or comparables are not always readily available for antique motor vehicles.
- H.B. 741 still does not provide for an objective noise testing program or decibel limit and leaves enforcement largely in the hands of individual law enforcement officers.
Kentucky: Legislation (H.B. 94) to change the valuation procedure on vehicles registered in the state for purposes of the property tax was amended and approved by the House Transportation Committee. Under the amendment, newer vehicles would be valued at the “average trade-in” value. Previously, the bill required these vehicles to be valued at the higher "clean trade-in" value. The "clean trade-in" value is used when a vehicle is in excellent condition and not in need of repairs. The bill now moves to a vote to the full Kentucky House of Representatives.
The bill continues to put a new valuation procedure in place for older vehicles. Vehicles 20 years old or older would no longer be presumed to be in "original factory" or "classic" condition. Original factory and classic vehicles are assessed as high-value collectibles. The measure instead provides three options for assessing the value of these vehicles: (1) the owner may appear before the property valuation administrator to request a special assessment; (2) if the vehicle was registered in Kentucky in its 19th year, it will be assessed at the value it was assessed at in its 19th year and that value will be reduced by 10% for each year after its 19th year; and (3) if the vehicle was not registered in Kentucky in its 19th year, it will be valued according to its "clean trade-in value" in its 19th year, which would be reduced by 10% for each year after the vehicle's 19th year. The bill preserves the tax assessor's ability to deviate from this valuation formula if information is available to warrant such a deviation from standard value.
Washington State: Legislation (H.B. 2359) to exempt collectible vehicles of any age from emissions testing was approved by the Washington State House Environment Committee. The bill now moves to the House floor for a vote by all members.
- H.B. 2359 defines collectible vehicles as a vehicle of unique or rare design, of limited production, and an object of curiosity that is maintained primarily for use in car club activities, exhibitions, parades, or other functions of public interest or for a private collection, and is used only infrequently for other purposes.
- H.B. 2359 requires that the vehicle have collectible vehicle or classic automobile insurance coverage that restricts the collectible vehicle mileage or use, or both, and requires the owner to have another vehicle for personal use.
- H.B. 2359 recognizes the minimal impact of collectible vehicles on emissions and air quality.
- H.B. 2359 acknowledges that collectible vehicles constitute a small portion of the overall vehicle population and are a poor source from which to look for emissions reduction.
- H.B. 2359 endorses the fact that collectible vehicles are overwhelmingly well-maintained and infrequently driven.
Ohio: Legislation to amend the state’s current law defining historical motor vehicles to permit their use on public roads to and from a location where maintenance is performed was combined with another bill and approved by the House Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. Under current Ohio law, a “historical motor vehicle" is any motor vehicle that is more than twenty-five years old and owned solely as a collector's item and for participation in club activities, exhibitions, tours, parades, and similar uses, but not for general transportation. The new bill (S.B. 194) will now be considered by all House members.
- S.B. 194 will give Ohio motorists the opportunity to have their historical vehicles serviced or repaired without the threat of being cited by law enforcement for violation of the Motor Vehicle Code.
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.