Hobby Legislation Update

Bills address imports in Wisconsin, hot rods in Massachusetts
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Wisconsin bill would prohibit certain imports

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has proposed a new regulation (Chapter Trans 123) to prohibit the registration of imported vehicles manufactured after 1967 that do not meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).

U.S. law specifically exempts imported vehicles that are 25 years old and older from these safety standards. Trans 123 offers no such reasonable exemption. The regulation permits the continued registration of subject vehicles that are already legally registered in Wisconsin, but only until they are transferred to a new owner.

The rule is currently under review by the Senate and Assembly Transportation Committees, which have until Sept. 10, 2010, to raise an objection.

Contact the Wisconsin Senate and House Transportation Committee Members in opposition to Trans 123, which fails to recognize the fact that collector vehicles are overwhelmingly well-maintained and infrequently driven.

Trans 123 is inconsistent with federal law and would prohibit the registration of vehicles coming in from other states that have already been proven safe on U.S. roads. It does not appreciate the fact that imported vehicles 25 years old or older are usually brought into this country by hobbyists as collector vehicles.

Trans 123 would deny legal registration to these imported vehicles once sold or transferred to a different owner.

Email a copy of your letter to Steve McDonald at stevem@sema.org.

Massachusetts governor signs hot rod bill into law

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law a version of SEMA-model legislation to create a vehicle registration classification for street rods, custom vehicles, replicas and specially constructed vehicles, SEMA reports.

“After five years of working with the legislature on various iterations of this bill, we are extremely grateful to State Rep. Carolyn Dykema, in addition to Rep. Brian Dempsey, Rep. Joseph Wagner, Rep. Charles Murphy and Sen. Steven Baddour and their staffs for taking it over the last hurdle,” said Steve McDonald, SEMA vice president of government affairs, on SEMA's website (www.sema.org).

The new law defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after 1948. Replica vehicles are defined as being assembled by a non-manufacturer from new or used parts that replicate an earlier year, make and model vehicle.

Specially constructed vehicles are those reconstructed or assembled by a non-manufacturer from new or used parts that have an exterior that does not replicate or resemble any other manufactured vehicle. Replica vehicles will be assigned a certificate of title bearing both the year in which the vehicle was built and the make, model and year of the vehicle intended to be replicated.

Through the persistence of former Methuen City Councilman Joe Leone, the bill was given consideration amongst the chaos that exists in the closing days of a legislative session. An avid enthusiast and owner of a FFR Roadster, Leone worked to educate lawmakers and regulators on the positive benefits that this bill would have on the enthusiast community.

“We are deeply indebted to Joe for his determined efforts to get the bill through the legislature,” said McDonald. “From countless e-mails, phone calls and visits to the State House, he helped to ensure that this pro-hobby bill would receive attention from lawmakers. Special thanks are also due to Factory Five Racing, Chop-Shop Customs, Dominators Car Club, Mass Cruisers Car Club and to the officers and member clubs of the Massachusetts Association of Automobile Clubs.”

Under the new law, street rods and custom vehicles are exempted from emissions inspection requirements. In a compromise made with the state air-quality regulators, the measure also provides that specially constructed and replica vehicles registered on or before April 30, 2012, will be exempted from emissions inspection requirements. Specially-constructed and replica vehicles registered after April 30, 2012, will be subject to emissions control requirements based on the model year and configuration of the engine installed, whether the engine is an original equipment manufacturer's production engine, rebuilt engine or crate engine.

“Street rods, custom cars, replicas and specially-constructed vehicles are the same rarely driven crowd pleasers that participate in exhibitions and as parade vehicles, and whose owners regularly contribute to charities and civic events,” McDonald added. “This new law simply recognizes the immeasurable amount of time, money and attention automotive hobbyists invest in their cars. For many vehicle enthusiasts in Massachusetts and throughout America, building, maintaining and enjoying their vehicles is a favorite pastime. This new law represents an opportunity to acknowledge their commitment to the hobby and to protect it for future generations.”

To date, the SEMA-model bill has been enacted in one form or another in Washington state (1999), California (2001), Illinois (2002), Missouri (2004), Rhode Island (2004), Hawaii (2004), Montana (2005), Maine (2005), Colorado (2006), Arkansas (2007), Virginia (2007), Nevada (2007) Florida (2007), Idaho (2008), Iowa (2008) Tennessee (2008), Utah (2009), Wyoming (2009), North Carolina (2009) and now Massachusetts (2010). The New York, New Jersey and Ohio Legislatures have introduced and are currently considering the model for the 2010 legislative session.

For more information, contact Steve McDonald at stevem@sema.org.

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