SEMA Law And Order: Tying Up 2016 Legislation

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The last year has been a bustling one for the automotive industry, with a handful of new classic vehicles coming onto the market, like the Ford-backed Revology 1966 Shelby GT350 that sat in Ford’s display at the latest SEMA Show. This last year has also been a busy time in the legislative sector of the automotive world. So for this month we’ve detailed some of the highlights and low lights of automotive legislative action, on the state level from the 2016 year thanks to the fine watchdog work of the SEMA Action Network. There are even some new updates to start 2017 off in an exciting way!

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In 2016, we saw a lot of legislative action in a number of main categories, including emissions, specialty plates, fees and titling. When it came to emissions, we saw bills introduced New Hampshire and New Jersey to exempt historic vehicles from emissions testing. In California we saw a bill introduced aiming to expand the perimeters of the group of vehicles already exempt from emissions testing in the state to include all pre-1981 vehicles. Unfortunately, only the New Jersey bill made it all the way through the legislative process and was signed into law, exempting a number of classic model years from emissions testing in the future.

An ever-popular topic, the use of specialty plates, was a big factor in many state legislatures this year. Bills were introduced to allow for single plates to be run on historic vehicles, specialty plates to be provided for historic vehicles, Year of Manufacture (YOM) plates to be allowed to act as the vehicles’ main license plate on historic vehicles, and antique plates to be run on historic vehicles in 11 different states.

When all was said and done, laws allowing for single license plates to be run on historic vehicles were enacted in Nebraska and South Dakota, while antique plates could be run on a larger group of historic trailers in New Hampshire and YOM plates could be run on a larger group of historic vehicles in California.

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Law makers are always trying to increase fees of some sort on classic vehicles it seems, and 2016 was no different. Requests to increase registration fees, gas tax or road use fees were made in Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire and Vermont this last year. Luckily, only the Vermont request has been answered with an enactment of a law so far. The request in New Hampshire died when legislation adjourned for the season. On the lighter side, there was a bill introduced in Missouri asking for historic vehicles to be exempt from state and local taxes. It too died upon the state’s legislation adjournment for the year.

When it came to the issue of vehicle titles, New Hampshire, Alabama, West Virginia and Connecticut, all saw bills introduced to either exempt historic vehicles from a certificate of title requirement or allowing for new titles to be provided for older or abandoned vehicles.

While two of these bills died in legislation, two were signed into law, making Alabama-based historic vehicles exempt from a certificate of title requirement and allowing Connecticut-based historic vehicles to be provided with a new title.

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Other interesting little tidbits that happened this last year include a law being enacted in West Virginia allowing for more racing events to take place in the state and a law being enacted in Maryland that will revise registration requirements for historic vehicles.

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We’ve seen a lot of legislative action this last year when it came to our beloved hobby – some good and some bad. But no matter the issue, we could always rely on the SEMA Action Network to keep us informed, keep us on track to have our voices heard and ultimately, fight against anti-hobbiest legislation no matter where in the country it was introduced. We look forward to another informed year in 2017.

About the author

Lindsey Fisher

Lindsey is a freelance writer and lover of anything with a rumble. Hot rods, muscle cars, motorcycles - she's owned and driven it all. When she's not busy writing about them, she's out in her garage wrenching away. Who doesn't love a tech-savy gal that knows her way around a garage?
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