Washington, D.C. -- In a victory for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and the Arizona Automobile Hobbyist Council (AAHC), the first state-legislated program for voluntary vehicle repair and upgrade has been signed into law by Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull.
The bill (S.B. 1427) substitutes the voluntary emission system repair and upgrade program for a previously proposed vehicle scrappage program. Under the new law, owners may voluntarily repair and upgrade their vehicles to comply with state emission requirements. Vehicles qualifying for the program must be emission tested, functionally operational, titled in Arizona for at least a 2-year period and be at least 12 years old.
Set to begin on January 1, 1999, the repair/upgrade program will receive an initial appropriation of $800,000 for fiscal year 1998-1999. In addition, the program will only be established in counties with a population of more than 400,000 people. Equally important, the law mandates the appointment of an advisory committee composed of parties affected by the program, including hobbyists and the automotive aftermarket products industry, to advise and make recommendations on the development and implementation of the program. SEMA worked in conjunction with the AAHC to help generate support for S.B. 1427 by disseminating information that provided a factual account of the inefficiencies of scrappage programs and the benefits of voluntary repair and upgrade as an alternative.
In a paper ("Voluntary Repair and Upgrade as an Alternative to Motor Vehicle Scrappage Programs") distributed to Arizona legislators earlier this year, SEMA advised adapting newer technologies to older vehicles on a voluntary basis as a means to achieve surplus air quality benefits. "Numerous commercially available products and technologies exist that can substantially lower the emission rates of older vehicles while also offering the owner considerable benefits in terms of performance, driveability and fuel mileage," the paper read in part. "The gains associated with both repair and upgrade have demonstrated durability over time and the emissions reductions can be expected to last at least as long as the remaining life assigned to vehicles in most scrappage programs. An approach that allows for a repair/upgrade option also would provide maximum benefits to those entities that require flexibility in meeting their emission reduction requirements without hurting those who must rely on low cost transportation."
SEMA Director of State Relations Steve McDonald commented, "We are pleased that Arizona legislators were convinced by the logic of repair and upgrade as an alternative to motor vehicle scrappage programs. Not only will this new law clean up the air and benefit hobbyists by avoiding the destruction of collector vehicles and parts cars, it will preserve the restoration market for the many SEMA manufacturers who do business in the state and provide additional opportunities for companies that produce emission system upgrade equipment. We look forward to working with Arizona officials as they implement the program."