What would you do if one day you weren’t allowed to enjoy your hot rod, classic, custom or muscle car like you want to? You could break the rules and do it anyway, but that would only get you into trouble. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of all the proposed legislation and regulations that could affect the automotive industry and your hobby. By doing so, you not only remain aware of where the industry is going, but also have the opportunity to speak up against unfair legislation affecting your rights as an automotive enthusiast in your area.
Thanks to the Specialty Equipment Market Association, we’ve brought you updates on pending automotive legislation for the last couple months. Just like in April and May, this month’s SEMA Law & Order update is packed full of important news that could affect you. Check out the latest proposed legislation and updates on pending legislation below.
If you’re a classic car owner in Texas, listen up. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has recently issued its policies and procedures regarding titles and specialty license plates for cars registered as street rods or customs. Under these new policies, a custom is designated as any altered vehicle that was manufactured after 1948 and at least 25 years old, while a street rod is designated as any altered vehicle manufactured before 1949.
Under the new DMV laws, you can use non-original materials in your project builds and still register your vehicle as the model-year of the vehicle it most closely represents. The law also only holds these vehicles to the equipment standards of the car’s individual model year designation. Unfortunately, those owners seeking street rod or custom registration will have to carry a title with a “Replica” brand due to interpretation by the DMV. SEMA is working with Texas legislature to amend this.
A bill has been signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett that allows classic car owners to use original model-year license plates on their vehicles for a $75 application fee in Pennsylvania. This SEMA-supported legislation now allows vehicle owners the use of plates issued by the state between 1906 and 1975 that are legible from an appropriate distance.
In Nebraska, a bill aiming to give special-interest vehicles their own registration class was recently signed into law. This approved legislation now allows special-interest vehicles to be driven on public roads for parades, public display, hobby or pleasure activities and occasional transportation with a single license plate displayed on the rear of the vehicle. Special-interest vehicles are defined as leisure vehicles that are being collected, maintained, preserved or restored for purposes other than general transportation.
If you’ve you live in Hawaii and have a hobby car, legislation has been introduced that aims to give you a 10-percent vehicle registration credit for driving under a limited amount of miles per year. This credit would go to residents that could provide proof that less than 3,000 miles were driven in the vehicle between the last two safety inspections of at least 11 months apart.
If you own a specially constructed vehicle such as a kit car in California, you probably know that SEMA had worked to get a program in place that would shield owners and builders of these cars from prosecution for improperly or illegally titling and registering these vehicles in the past. This amnesty program went into effect back in July of 2011 and allowed specially constructed vehicle owners to show compliance with current smog requirements and to properly register their vehicles without risking law enforcement actions. This program is set to end at the end of June this year but SEMA has solved program implementation problems, so specially constructed vehicle owners will still be able to properly register their cars and receive amnesty if they knowingly represented the car or its value incorrectly on previous documentation.
A couple months ago, we told you about legislation that had been proposed that would exempt all 1981 and older vehicles from emissions testing in California, extending the current exemption model year cut off by five years. Although the legislation failed to pass with a 3-4 vote by the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, the bill has been granted reconsideration and will be heard and voted on again at a future committee hearing.
Last month, SEMA-opposed legislation had been proposed in Connecticut that aimed to increase the age requirement for vehicles eligible to be registered as “antique” to 30 years from the current 20-year rule, as well as increase the assessment value of these vehicles from $500 to $2,500 for property taxes. Unfortunately, this bill was passed by the Connecticut Joint Committee on Planning and Development by a 10-9 vote and will now move on to Connecticut House of Representatives for a further vote.
The bill approved by the West Virginia State Legislation last month that would have put a $5,000 cap on antique and classic vehicle property taxes has been vetoed by Governor Early Ray Tomblin. While the original bill capping property taxes at $1,000 was supported by SEMA, an amendment was put in place upping the amount to $5,000, which would have benefited classic car owners with vehicles worth more than that, but penalized owners of vehicles that were worth less.
SEMA had worked hard to defeat legislation in Virginia that would allow the license tax for vehicles not displaying current license plates to be upped from $100 to $500. Although the legislation was still being voted on, SEMA had amended the bill to exempt all vehicles that were being restored or repaired, or parts cars being used for that purpose, stored on private property. Governor Bob McDonnell has vetoed the bill in the last month, meaning localities don’t have the right to up the license taxes on any vehicles without current plates for the time being.
Knowing how laws and pending legislation could affect your hobby in different states is important, so we plan on bringing you regular updates from SEMA’s Law & Order publication. For more information regarding legislation affecting other areas of the industry, be sure to visit SEMA.org.