Statewide Statutes

Potential law changes for enthusiasts

Andy Bolig - March 23, 2014 02:09 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.

New Hampshire: Legislation (H.B. 1220) to prohibit a person from selling or offering for sale gasoline that contains corn-based ethanol as an additive at a level greater than 10% was amended and approved by the New Hampshire House Science, Technology and Energy Committee.  Under the amendment, the bill would take effect only if any two additional New England states adopt similar legislation limiting the amount of corn based ethanol in gasoline to 10 percent.

Tennessee: Legislation (S.B. 1688) to allow counties to exempt owners of antique motor vehicles from the privilege tax was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam. Under the new law, 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. Sixty out of ninety-five counties in Tennessee impose a motor vehicle privilege tax.

In Tennessee, an "antique motor vehicle" is a motor vehicle over twenty-five years old with a nonmodified 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.

Virginia: Legislation (H.B. 741) that originally sought to allow Virginia’s antique vehicle hobbyists to install and use aftermarket exhaust systems was held over to the 2015 legislative session by the Senate Transportation Committee.  The bill had already been amended and approved by the Virginia House of Delegates.  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.”   While we find that this is only a marginal improvement over the current law and still provides no real objective noise standard, we still think it’s worth supporting and will support the bill in 2015.

Maryland: Legislation (H.B. 1290) to increase the age requirement for vehicles eligible for registration as “historic motor vehicles” has been reintroduced in the Maryland Legislature.  Under the bill, the age requirement would be raised from 20 to at least 25 years old, require that an historic vehicle be insured by an historic vehicle, show vehicle or antique insurance policy and require that the owner have a “daily driver” vehicle registered in Maryland.  A hearing to consider the bill is scheduled for Tuesday, March 4, 2014 in the House Environmental Matters Committee.

Washington State: Legislation (H.B. 2359) to exempt collectible vehicles of any age from emissions testing was approved by the Washington State House of Representatives.  The bill now moves to the Senate Transportation Committee for consideration.    

West Virginia: Legislation (H.B. 4233) to provide that a motor vehicle that has been started by use of a remote starter when the vehicle is locked is not an “unattended vehicle” and not in violation of the law was approved by the House Roads and Transportation Committee.  The bill will now be considered by the House Judiciary Committee.

Arizona: Legislation to exempt all vehicles manufactured in the 1974 model year and earlier from the state’s mandatory biennial emissions inspection program was signed into law in 2011.  Under previous law, only vehicles manufactured in 1966 and earlier and “collectibles” were exempt.  Under Federal law, changes to the state’s inspection and maintenance program must be approved by the EPA.  The EPA has not yet approved the expanded exemption.

In 2014, legislation (H.B. 2600) has been introduced to exempt all vehicles manufactured in or before the model year “that is forty years before the year in which the inspection is due.”  While the bill does not expressly state it, it’s likely that it would require similar EPA approval if enacted into law.

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.