SEMA Federal Legislative Priorities: 2017
RPM Act:In July 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inserted a provision into the proposed greenhouse gas rule for trucks and buses stating that the Clean Air Act (CAA) prohibits emissions system modifications to motor vehicles that are converted for racing. The language also provided the EPA with the authority to regulate race products which can be installed on highway vehicles. While the EPA removed the provision from the final greenhouse gas rule, the agency continues to assert its newfound authority to regulate race parts and its position that converted street vehicles are illegal even if there is no enforcement against the individual. In March 2016, SEMA’s congressional allies introduced the “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act” (RPM Act), H.R. 4715/S. 2659, which clarifies that the CAA allows for emissions modifications to motor vehicles used exclusively for racing and that it is legal to produce, sell and install race parts for these vehicles. SEMA and its coalition partners built strong bi-partisan support for the legislation in 2016, including 120 House sponsors (16 Democrats) and 28 Senate sponsors (5 Democrats), although Congress’ limited election-year schedule precluded further action on the bill. Passing the RPM Act into law is the SAN’s top legislative priority in 2017. For more information, visit www.sema.org/rpm
Replica Vehicle Law: SEMA worked with leaders in Congress to enact a 2015 law permitting small volume automakers to each sell up to 325 turn-key replica vehicles in the U.S. (5,000 worldwide per company) under a simplified regulatory system. Replica cars resemble production vehicles manufactured at least 25 years ago such as 1930s-era hot rods and 1960s-era Cobras. Before the law was enacted, the federal government did not differentiate between a company producing millions of vehicles and a business producing a few custom cars. As a result, a small “kit car” market emerged where a manufacturer sold car parts, frequently assembled, and the buyer installed the engine/transmission. While states have often regulated kit cars built by hobbyists by the model year they resemble, the federal government viewed a manufacturer-completed replica car to be a current model year vehicle. The law now allows each manufacturer to sell up to 325 completed replicas in the U.S. subject to equipment regulations, the same as kit cars. Hobbyists will still have the freedom to assemble their own vehicle if they prefer. SEMA is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the EPA as they draft regulations implementing the law. More information is available at www.sema.org/replica.
Collector Car Appreciation Day: SEMA worked with U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Jon Tester (D-MT) to pass a U.S. Senate resolution, S. Res. 507, which designated July 8, 2016 as "Collector Car Appreciation Day." It marked the seventh consecutive Senate commemoration in what has become an annual event to raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. The resolution noted that “the collection and restoration of historic and classic cars is an important part of preserving the technological achievements and cultural heritage of the United States.” With the support of SEMA and the SEMA Action Network (SAN), car clubs, enthusiast organizations, and affiliated businesses hosted more than 100 events to commemorate the day in 2016. Events ranged from car cruises to small-business open houses and product giveaways. SEMA is working with Senators Burr and Tester to pass a CCAD resolution in 2017. For more information: www.semasan.com/ccad
Comprehensive Tax Reform: At the end of 2015, lawmakers enacted legislation making two SEMA-supported tax credits permanent rather than extending them a year at a time. The research and development tax credit is now permanent along with the Section 179 deduction limits, which allow smaller companies to write off their capital investments up to $500,000 a year with a $2 million cap on annual investments, indexed for inflation. The bonus depreciation was renewed for investments in capital equipment made through 2019. However, it will also be gradually reduced from 50% depreciation through the end of 2017 to 40% depreciation in 2018 and 30% depreciation in 2019. While addressing tax credits, SEMA is now working with members of Congress to build support for comprehensive tax reform to lower overall corporate tax rates and encourage investment.
E15 Ethanol: Ethanol can cause metal corrosion and dissolve certain plastics and rubbers, especially in older cars that were not constructed with ethanol-resistant materials. The EPA has approved the sale of gasoline containing 15% ethanol (E15) for use in 2001 and newer vehicles while making it illegal to fuel older cars and motorcycles based on evidence that it could cause damage to those vehicles and engines. The issue is especially problematic since the EPA only requires a gas pump warning label, which may be inadequate to prevent misfueling by motorists unfamiliar with potential E15 harm. The EPA approved E15 in part since it helps the agency meet “Renewable Fuel Standard” (RFS) mandates, a federal law that requires increasing amounts of biofuels be blended into gasoline each year, from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022. SEMA is working with a diverse coalition of organizations opposed to the law’s artificial mandates, from the auto/boat industries to the petroleum, food and environmental communities. SEMA’s position on E15 is clear: Congress needs to reduce the RFS mandates and ban E15.
Bonneville Salt Flats: The Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) are a national treasure and unique resource of international significance central to the history of motorsports. Hundreds of land speed records have been set there in a variety of automotive and motorcycle classes. However, the BSF is endangered, having significantly decreased in size, strength and thickness over a number of decades as salt brine was channeled away from the area. The last few years have been particularly challenging. Most of the 2014 and 2015 racing events were cancelled due to rain and the salt surface’s poor condition. To address this ongoing issue, SEMA helped organize the Save the Salt Coalition, companies and organizations with a vested interest in protecting the BSF. The Coalition is working with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages the land, and Intrepid Potash-Wendover LLC, which operates an adjoining mining operation. SEMA is also working closely with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and in Utah and Nevada to pursue restoration. The Governor of Utah signed a SEMA-supported resolution into law in 2016, which urges the U.S. Congress and Utah's congressional delegation to take action to ensure that the Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway is restored to safe racing conditions. For more information, visit www.savethesalt.org, a website maintained by SEMA.
Health Care: Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted in 2010, it continues to cause confusion amongst small and mid-size business owners alike. The law is being phased-in over a number of years. Mandates for large companies (50 or more full-time workers) to offer affordable coverage began in 2014. Smaller companies are not required to offer health insurance but the government provides tax credits to very small companies (25 or fewer employees). SEMA encourages member companies to review their current situation, speak with health insurance professionals and determine how to proceed. SEMA Government Affairs staff has compiled these resources with an easy to use website to assist our member companies with compliance at www.sema.org/healthcare. Congress is working to reform the ACA and repeal provisions within the law in 2017. SEMA is monitoring these efforts and is advocating for reforms that help bring down the cost of health insurance for small employers.
OHVs and Land Use Legislation: Threats to off-highway vehicle (OHV) access typically take form in legislation passed by Congress or regulations issued by the BLM, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and other federal and state agencies. The actions threaten recreational access, designate lands as “wilderness” (roadless) or “National Monuments,” or unnecessarily close lands to protect endangered species. Public land access issues are of keen interest to off-roaders and the SEMA-member companies that market products to those groups. SEMA supports land-use decisions that are reasonable and enjoy local community support and will continue to monitor and keep SAN members informed of restrictive legislative proposals.
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National Monuments: Under current law, the President has the authority to declare public land with “historic or scientific interest” to be a National Monument. While the designation does not immediately close any roads, it prohibits new roads or trails for motorized vehicles and will require drafting of a new land management plan. President Obama has created 23 national monuments while in office including the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains National Monuments in California's Mojave Desert. The three monuments span from just outside of Palm Springs to Nevada, totaling 1.8 million acres. As he leaves office, President Obama is being pressured to establish additional national monuments such as a 1.7 million acres “Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument” and 1.4 million acres “Bears Ears National Monument.” SEMA supports legislation that would require approval by the U.S. Congress and impacted state legislature in order to establish a National Monument.
Utah Public Lands Initiative: SEMA supports legislation to reopen the 75,000-acre Clear Creek National Recreation Area (NRA) in San Benito and Fresno counties California. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill in 2016 that would provide OHV access to over 240 miles of public trails closed in 2008 due to concerns surrounding exposure to asbestos. The California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission ordered an independent risk assessment study and concluded that the land could be managed without exposing the public to unacceptable risks. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate did not vote on the bill during the 2015-2016 session, so SEMA will be working to enact the bill in 2017.
Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus: The Caucus was formed in 1996 in honor of the 100th year of the American automobile and to recognize the contributions the automotive performance and motorsports industry has made to the U.S. economy. This informal and bi-partisan Congressional Caucus, which now has over 75 members, pays tribute to America’s ever growing love affair with the car, motorsports and the specialty auto parts industry. Consumer sales of motor vehicle performance, appearance, comfort, convenience, and technology products total $39 billion in annually, while providing jobs for more than one million Americans. In its 20-year history, the Caucus is serving to raise the industry’s profile on Capitol Hill and in the eyes of the public. The Caucus does not seek to reach a consensus on legislative issues. For more information on joining the "Motorsports Caucus,” please contact Christian Robinson, PAC & Congressional Relations Manager, at ChristianR@sema.org or 202.783.6007 ext. 20.
For more information about any of these issues, contact Eric Snyder at 202/783-6007, ext. 39 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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