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Lack of Trump Appointees Keeps Tire Registration in Limbo

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Lack of Trump Appointees Keeps Tire Registration in Limbo

It’s been almost two years since mandatory tire registration became law. But the waiting for action continues.

The Tire Industry Association (TIA) provided an update on tire registration, and other legislative issues, during a Global Tire Expo forum, held during the 2017 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show.

On tire registration, Roy Littlefield, executive vice president of TIA, said the association has set up a task force, and its members include both tire dealers and representatives of the tire manufacturers. He said the group is looking at scanners and putting readable chips inside of tires to register tires and track them throughout their life cycle.

Littlefield said the data would be stored in an independent repository. “We’re looking to protect your customer list,” he said, referring to the concern of tire makers having access to consumer information.

But the issue remains held up because President Donald Trump has yet to appoint someone to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The federal highway bill, passed in December 2015, which contained the tire registration requirement, also promised a study on the feasibility of tire makers’ abilities to install electronic monitors in all tires. That work by NHTSA remains incomplete.

Infrastructure spending is another hot topic, Littlefield said. Trump has said he plans to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure, but Littlefield noted the president doesn’t usually provide the detail that the big dollar figure also includes improvements to utility systems, and isn’t just about bridge and road work.

Still, Littlefield said there are 39 bills in Congress, and about 30 of them include provisions to reintroduce a federal excise tax on passenger tires. There are other options that would increase taxes on truck tires.

Another element is the thought of privatizing roads, Littlefield said. The trucking industry has expressed its concern about more privatization, and it’s an issue Littlefield thinks TIA should get involved in, too.

Littlefield’s son, Roy Littlefield IV, is director of government affairs for TIA. The younger Littlefield highlighted marketplace fairness, which applies to the imposition of a sales tax on online retail sales.

And though TIA supports the tax, Littlefield IV said there’s division among Republicans on the issue. Republicans in the Senate support it, but Republicans in the House are opposed because they consider it a new tax.

One issue that TIA hasn’t taken a public opinion on is the tariffs on medium truck tires. The younger Littlefield said the association was shocked by the decision of the U.S. Department of Commerce not to impose tariffs on truck tires imported from China. He said TIA thought “Trump would force his hand” on the issue, but that didn’t happen.

Littlefield said TIA’s 10,000 members represent differing segments of the industry, and after the DOC announced it wasn’t going to impose tariffs, the association’s phones were flooded with calls on all sides. There were retreaders who said the imported tires were killing them, and there were sellers who said they were making money off the imports.

The result: TIA is staying neutral on the issue, though the younger Littlefield said, “we’re absolutely willing to help either side on that.”

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