SEMA Federal Legislative Priorities: 2019

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.  SEMA is working with key members of Congress to pass the “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act” (RPM Act), 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.  For more information, visit


The Trump Administration has imposed or threatened to impose global or country-specific tariffs on many products.  While SEMA supports taking actions against unfair trade practices, tariffs are a blunt instrument for dealing with trade disputes and often have unexpected and unwelcome consequences.  Beyond imposing a tax on trade, tariffs create downstream price spikes, hoarding, marketplace confusion and supply chain disruption.  Although the intent may be to use the tariffs as bargaining chips in trade negotiations, they have already inflicted harm on many SEMA members who are now faced with trying to absorb higher prices.  SEMA is actively opposing the tariffs including testifying before the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) against potential tariffs of up to 25% on imported automobiles and auto parts.  The U.S. government has imposed tariffs on imported steel (25%), aluminum (10%), and tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese products (ranging from 10% to 25%).  A number of countries are now imposing retaliatory tariffs on American products.  SEMA is urging the president and lawmakers to use other mechanisms available under U.S. trade law to combat unfair trade.

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 to implement the law.  More information is available at

Collector Car Appreciation Day:

July 12, 2019 marked the tenth consecutive year that Congress has commemorated  "Collector Car Appreciation Day" with a resolution. This annual event raises 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 140 official events to commemorate the day in 2018.  Events ranged from car cruises to small-business open houses and product giveaways.  The next CCAD is scheduled for Friday, July 10, 2020 and SEMA will be working with Senators Burr and Tester to pass a CCAD resolution to honor the event.  For more information: Collector Car Appreciation Day

“Outdoor Recreation” Economy:

SEMA and over 25 other trade associations have established the “Outdoor Recreation Roundtable” (ORR) to showcase outdoor recreation as being a key contributor to the nation’s economy.  ORR works to promote federal policy and legislative reforms needed to grow the outdoor recreation economy—estimated to be $887 billion annually and supporting an estimated 7.6 million jobs.  SEMA’s focus is on motorized recreation (4-wheel, ATVs, UTVs, etc.) along with all the equipment that makes it possible to tow RVs, trailers, boats and off-road vehicles (suspension, wheels, tires, increased horsepower, etc.).  For more information:

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 have significantly decreased in size since the 1960s when the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued leases allowing salt brine to be channeled away to an adjoining potash mine. 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 BLM, which manages the land, Intrepid Potash-Wendover LLC, which operates an adjoining mining operation, and lawmakers/regulators in Washington, D.C., Utah and Nevada to pursue restoration.  A 10-year pilot program to restore the 13-mile speedway by pumping up to 1.5 million tons of salt brine a year is being developed through pumping infrastructure upgrades.  The current annual amount which is around 0.6 million tons.  The pumping upgrades will be largely funded through a federal appropriation along with state contributions and the program will be operated by the state of Utah.  Four major events took place at Bonneville in 2018, including Speed Week, where hundreds of teams raced every type of vehicle from hot rods to streamliners.  Track conditions were thin but hard.  Several new speed records were set above 400 mph including an exit speed of 503 mph, the first 500+ for a wheel-driven vehicle.  For more information, visit, 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 has been phased-in over many 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  Congress is divided on reforming the ACA.  Meanwhile Congress has repealed some provisions such as a mandate for individuals to purchase a policy or pay a penalty.  The Trump Administration is also pursuing regulatory options such as expanding the ability of trade associations to offer Association Health Plans.  SEMA is monitoring all of these new developments and 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.  For additional information, please click on the following link: Off Roading

National Monuments:

Under the Antiquities Act, a law dating back more than 100 years, the President has the authority to declare public land with “historic or scientific interest” to be a National Monument.  While a National Monument 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.  Under this law, hundreds of millions of acres have been set aside over the decades leading many to question whether the footprints are larger than necessary.  President Trump’s administration reviewed roughly 40 national monument designations dating back to 1996 to determine whether any should be rescinded, resized or modified.  SEMA supports legislation that would require approval by the U.S. Congress and impacted state legislature in order to establish a National Monument.

Clear Creek:

SEMA supports legislation to reopen the 75,000-acre Clear Creek National Recreation Area (NRA) in San Benito and Fresno counties California.  H.R.403, the “Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act,” would provide OHV access to over 240 miles of public trails closed in 2008 due to concerns surrounding exposure to asbestos, The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill during the last session of Congress, although the U.S. Senate failed to enact the bill before it concluded. 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.

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 $45 billion in annually, while providing jobs for more than one million Americans.  In its 23-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 or (202) 794-8279.


For more information about any of these issues, contact Eric Snyder at (202) 792-7793 or

Federal Issues Homepage