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SEMA Action Network

Fact Vs Fiction: New York Exhaust Noise Legislation

By General Posts

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SEMA’s Government Affairs staff have been successful thus far in killing or amending many onerous proposals before they become law

In 2021, New York enacted a bill into law–the SLEEP Act–that aims to crack down on excessively loud vehicles. The law goes into effect on April 1, 2022. Unfortunately, vague local news reporting has created confusion amongst enthusiasts about what the law will actually do. The SEMA Action Network (SAN) is here to set the record straight.

NOTE: The contents of this article focus on the impact of the new law on light-duty cars and trucks, not motorcycles.

Background:
Since 2021, over a dozen states, including New York, have introduced bills aiming to curb the amount of noise emitted from a vehicle’s muffler. While no two state’s means of achieving this goal have been identical, they all have one thing in common: they were requested by constituents upset by loud vehicles in their community. Why? For many workers across the country, the pandemic meant an unexpected shift to remote work. As a result, people became far more aware of their surroundings, and the noises that come with them, especially from cars and trucks. Fortunately for enthusiasts, SEMA’s Government Affairs staff have been successful thus far in killing or amending many onerous proposals before they become law.

So, what about in New York?

Claim: A new bill in New York will ban exhaust modifications

Rating: Fiction
In January 2021, lawmakers in New York introduced a pair of bills (S. 784 and A. 471) seeking to curb loud cars and trucks. The bills were amended several times prior to passage and were approved by Governor Kathy Hochul in late October. Importantly, the proposal did not change the state’s existing exhaust noise laws, which require every motor vehicle to be equipped with a muffler in working condition and prohibits the installation of bypasses, cutouts, or similar devices. Comparable language is universally used by states across the country and is designed to prevent motorists from deleting their muffler and/or catalytic converter.

So, what does the new law change? Put simply, it allows for larger fines for those breaking existing law pertaining to the use of cut-outs, bypasses or similar devices. Prior to enactment, New York had one of the lowest exhaust noise fines in the country. This law allows larger fines to be issued (capped at $1,000) if the situation warrants.

Claim: New York’s new exhaust noise bill creates a 60-decibel muffler limit

Rating: Fiction
As mentioned above, S. 784 and A. 471 do not change New York’s underlying exhaust noise laws, it simply gives the legal system more discretion to enforce against bad actors. However, the initial versions of the bill were quite different from the final product, and some in the automotive media have used early versions of the bill as their reference when reporting on the proposal.

So, what sort of differences are we talking about? As initially drafted, cars and trucks would have been limited to 60-decibels of exhaust noise, subject to a flat $1,000 fine, and police cars would have been equipped with sound meters to help enforce the law. None of these proposals made it into the final version of the bill. The decibel limit was removed as it would have rendered practically every car on the road illegal, the universal fine was changed to a cap, and the sound meters were scrapped as well.

Claim: A letter sent to retailers and vehicle inspectors states that all exhaust modifications are illegal.

Rating: Fiction
In advance of the SLEEP Act going into effect on April 1, 2022, a letter signed by the DMV Commissioner was sent to automotive retailers and vehicle inspectors in the state notifying them of the law change. The letters are misleading and make overly broad statements about what the new law does. As it relates to cars and trucks, the SLEEP Act added one new section to the law on which the state may begin to enforce starting April 1–VTL 375 (31)(b)–which states that a “cutout, bypass, or similar device” may not be used to increase a vehicle’s muffler noise. As stated above, these parts were already illegal for street use across the country and in New York. SEMA is actively working with the DMV to clarify this guidance.

Claim: A car or truck with modified exhaust will now automatically fail inspection in New York.

Rating: Fiction
According to the state’s DMV, their vehicle inspection procedures have not changed as a result of the new law. Inspectors are not equipped with decibel readers and do not perform sound checks on vehicles. To learn more about the inspection process for cars and trucks, please click here.

Claim: The phrase “cut-out, bypass, or similar device” could be interpreted as meaning any aftermarket device.

Rating: Fiction
The use of “cut-outs, bypasses, or similar devices” is universally illegal in the United States regardless of whether or not they make a vehicle louder. For most states, comparable language explicitly banning these devices has been on the books for over 60 years, including in New York. While no state has explicitly defined the phrase, a definition can be found in the United States Code of Federal Regulations and in municipal ordinances across the country. In each instance, the definition is substantively similar to that of the federal government’s: “Cutout or by-pass or similar devices means devices which vary the exhaust system gas flow so as to discharge the exhaust gas and acoustic energy to the atmosphere without passing through the entire length of the exhaust system, including all exhaust system sound attenuation components.”

Questions? Please contact Christian Robinson at stateleg@sema.org

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Another Victory in Kansas: Law to Ease Titling Procedures for Antique Vehicles

By General Posts

Another Victory in Kansas as Governor Signs into Law Bill to Ease Titling Procedures for Antique Vehicles—Congratulations!

Another win in Kansas! Governor Laura Kelly signed into law SAN-supported legislation (H.B. 2595) to allow vehicles registered as “Antique” which are 60 years old or older the ability to forego a VIN inspection when applying for a title. The new law expands vehicles eligible for certain titling procedures by allowing Antique vehicles that are at least 60 years old needing only a bill of sale as proof of ownership and an application when applying for a title.

Prior to the new law, only antique vehicles with a model year of 1950 or earlier could forego the VIN inspection when applying for a title. Additionally, the new law recognizes 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. It will go into effect upon publication in the Kansas Register statute book.

Congratulations and thank you to those who supported this effort!

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Political Agendas on Electrical Vehicles Charge Up Emotions

By General Posts

by Colby Martin from SEMA Action Network (SAN) at https://www.semasan.com

GROUNDING THE “EV” BUZZ

Political Agendas Surrounding Automobiles Charge Up Strong Emotions

The impending arrival of electric cars and trucks has caused quite a stir. Sure, everyone shares the well-intentioned notion of a healthier environment. But constant announcements about the potential phasing out of new gas-powered vehicles have enthusiasts worried about the future of the hobby. Thanks in part to a 24-hour news-cycle, the automotive-minded are forced to ponder this great unknown with greater frequency. With the topic weighing heavier on many minds, the question arises: what’s to become of the tailpipe—and when? Clearly there are crossed wires needing to be untangled.

Acronym Soup

First, we must understand the common lingo used in automotive discussions. The gasoline-sipping internal combustion engine (ICE) has long been the motivator of choice. However, the low- and zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) categories have emerged and made significant improvements in recent years. There are several different models of these cars and trucks such as electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrids, and those running on hydrogen fuel-cells. With such competition, it may seem like traditional rides could have a tougher existence in a yet-uncertain future of alternative powerplants.

Government Directives

The latest update in the automotive world came from the nation’s top office: the Biden Administration. President Joe Biden signed the “Executive Order on Strengthening American Leadership in Clean Cars and Trucks” in August. In short, the measure calls for 50% of all sales of new cars and light trucks in the US be ZEV by the year 2030. “It is the policy of my Administration to advance these objectives in order to improve our economy and public health, boost energy security, secure consumer savings, advance environmental justice, and address the climate crisis,” said President Biden.

Biden’s action was preceded by California Governor Gavin Newsom’s controversial notice last year. That order instructed the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to draft regulations requiring that all new cars and passenger trucks sold in the state be zero-emissions by 2035. Once drafted, CARB’s proposed regulations will be subject to a lengthy regulatory process, including legal, economic, and environmental analyses, public comment, and hearings. The Governor’s order is also expected to face numerous legal challenges from opponents.

Cause for Concern?

The concern surrounding EVs is understandable, but premature. Many of the proposed rules and legal mandates are far more symbolic in nature. For example, President Biden’s actions were merely issued as an Executive Order, meaning it is not a federal law and has no binding authority. In fact, the following disclaimer is included at the end of the Order:

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Directives like President Biden’s also tend to be highly aspirational with ambitious time frames for implementation. For example, many of the President’s proposed benchmarks extend beyond his time in office, giving him little say on the final product.

Realities: Supply vs. Demand

Perhaps the most direct impact to personal transportation will come from the automakers themselves. The evolving market is already experiencing highs and lows. While seeking to boost ZEV sales, major brands have been subject to factors beyond their control. Supply chain shortages and logistical issues have impeded production schedules, causing delays, and price surges. Additionally, massive investment of resources will be required for materials and retooling throughout the entire manufacturing process.

Many fundamental issues need to be resolved before any major shift to “clean” vehicles is feasible. Most importantly, more than 281 million rides share US roads—a small fraction of which are EVs. Such a massive fleet won’t be replaced anytime soon. Of course, the lion’s share are newer vehicles, which often have a life spanning a decade or longer. Also, the urge to trade-in for an electric model decreases without widespread options for “refueling.” Charging woes include long recharging time, charger availability, and standardization of hardware between brand offerings. Additionally, the U.S. electrical grid can hardly handle its current strain—let alone an entire nation needing to recharge at home or on-the-go. At this point, clear solutions appear far from sight.

Informed & Involved

Although the future of EV adoption remains to be seen, the SEMA Action Network (SAN) believes a balance can be achieved and has made this fight a top priority. Our community’s rich history of innovation should be celebrated as it continues evolving with emerging technologies. As always, the SAN opposes proposed efforts to ban the ICE and other such mandates impacting vehicles of all kinds—vintage collectibles and their fuel supply included.

With the ever-growing voice of advocates from our hobby, politicians are increasingly aware of how many passionate voters are paying attention to their actions. SAN contacts like you will receive details direct to inboxes as opportunities to act arise—stay tuned for further updates.

Meantime, please spread the word to get others involved in the good fight: CLICK semaSAN.com/Join

–IGNITED WE STAND!

About SAN: https://www.semasan.com/about

EDITOR’s NOTE:
“Here’s the wildest truth. Climate Alarmism or Climate Doom IS misinformation. Oops.” –Bandit