California introduces bill would exempt pre-1981 vehicles from emissions inspection

1947 Ford Coupe

Air quality has long been an issue in major California cities. For example, in 2009, a report by the American Lung Association indicated that three of the top five cities with the worst air quality in the United States were in the Golden State – Los Angeles, Bakersfield and Visalla-Porterville.

Because of reports like this, there has been a growing legislative movement in the state to put tougher restrictions on automobiles, one that has often run head-first into issues of drivers’ rights and prompted debate among many citizens and lawmakers.

On February 23, Senator Doug LaMalfa introduced senate bill 1224, a piece of legislation that many auto enthusiasts are hoping will set the tone for legislation around the country due to its stance on classic and antique vehicles. The bill’s provisions include measures that would exempt all motor vehicles manufactured before 1981 from the requirement to adhere to the state’s emissions testing regulations.

The proposed legislation indicated that these provisions were meant to acknowledge the fact that many classic and antique vehicles are well-maintained and infrequently driven, and as such, don’t strongly contribute to the state’s air quality issues. Following the announcement earlier this year, the bill was endorsed by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), which told its members to make their support for the law heard.

The bill was originally scheduled for consideration by the state’s Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on March 27. However, drivers in the state now need to wait until April 10 for news on its potential transition into law, as the hearing has been formally postponed until that date.

S.B. 1224 stands in stark contrast to other provisions up before lawmakers around the country. For example, earlier this year it was revealed that Connecticut lawmakers were attempting to make it harder to classic vehicle owners to achieve many of the driving benefits previously granted to them by law.