Who has your back?
In 1973, the federal Environmental Protection Agency was pushing for regulations that would require emission-restricting equipment on all vehicles, new or old. Here in Arizona, seven car clubs got together, united their efforts and convinced the state legislature to exempt cars produced before 1967 from having to be retro-fitted with PVC valves or even undergo routine emission testing.
Those clubs called their new association the Arizona Automobile Hobbyist Council. The group’s motto is “United We Drive, Divided We Park.”
But from time to time, the AAHC does get together specifically to park its cars, as it did recently when it staged its annual car show in conjunction with its 42nd anniversary. But the group also likes to drive. For example, the members hosted a cruise to raise money for the 19 firefighters killed in the Yarnell fire and another with help — monetarily and with food and other donated goods — for the people whose houses were burned in that fire.
In 1989, when the then-governor of Arizona wanted to force a 4 percent sales tax on private sales of cars, the AAHC got a 15-year exemption for cars that carried collector insurance.
More recently, it has gotten the state to agree to expand that 1966-and-earlier emission exemption to include collector-insured cars through the 1974 model year.
It also fought against six different proposals for an Arizona “cash for clunkers” bill and helped overcome “anti-cruising” legislation.
Though primarily organized to watch the backs of classic car owners, the AAHC is working to protect all Arizona drivers.
One of its big issues in recent years is toll roads, which some politicians see as a way to fund road building and maintenance. The AAHC notes that drivers already are paying 18 cents per gallon to the state (and another 18.4 cents to the federal government) in taxes, and that the state pulled $1.4 billion out of the earmarked highway tax fund last year not for road work but to balance the overall state budget.
And toll roads aren’t an issue only in Arizona. A lengthy report by the Associated Press notes that many states are looking for ways to “address an aging network of roads, highways and bridges during an era in which federal money for such projects has remained stagnant or declined.”
The story said, “Governors and lawmakers in several states are proposing new taxes, tolls and fees to repair a road system whose historical reliance on fuel taxes no longer is providing enough money…”
In looking at tolls, the report noted, “One study found that covering the cost of rebuilding a 200-miles stretch of Interstate 70 in Missouri could mean tolls as high as $30 per car and $90 for heavy trucks.”
Five states recently increased their gasoline taxes. Later this year, Oregon will test an alternative scheme, recruiting 5,000 drivers who will allow their vehicles to be tracked via GPS recorders and will pay 1.5 cents per mile traveled while getting their at-the-pump gas taxes refunded.
On a national level, SAN — the SEMA Action Network — works on auto-related legislative issues and even maintains an office in Washington, D.C. In Arizona, we have the AAHC. Who’s watching your back in your state?
Please use the ‘Share your comments’ section below to update everyone on the situation in your home state.
Photos by Larry Edsall