Legislative Issues to Watch in 2022
TIA Focuses on Estate Tax, Fuel Efficiency, Right to Repair and More
"We’re going to see a lot of legislation on both the state and federal levels” during 2022 that will impact independent tire dealers, notes Roy Littlefield IV, director of government affairs for the Tire Industry Association (TIA.)
At the federal level, “the first issue that’s going to be very important to tire dealers is the estate tax,” he says. “The majority of our members are small, family-owned businesses and TIA does not believe that death should be a taxable event.
“TIA has pushed for full repeal of the estate tax in years past and we were able to double the exemption levels,” which will benefit business owners, says Littlefield.
“But in 2026, we’re going to revert to previous levels if something is not done.”
TIA also is pushing for supply chain relief and new ways to counteract the “extreme truck driver shortage.
“We’ve been extremely active on these issues. We’ve seen some action, but not enough. Certainly some (tires) are hard to get right now.
“When it comes to the driver shortage, this is an issue we’ve been facing for years, but I think COVID-19 has amplified the issue. It’s so hard to find reliable drivers right now.”
Turnover at fleets also is high, he notes.
“So TIA has done some things to try to address this issue,” including supporting the DRIVE Safe Act, which is part of the Biden Administration’s infrastructure bill.
The legislation creates a pathway for people under the age of 21 to qualify for a commercial drivers license after completion of training.
“We think potentially there is a large pool of younger drivers,” he says.
Fuel and fees
A possible consumer tire fuel efficiency mandate in California and tire registration fees are two other issues that TIA is tracking.
As detailed in the September 2021 issue of MTD, the California Energy Commission has been asked to adopt and implement a “statewide fuel efficiency program to ensure replacement tires sold in California are at least as energy efficient” as original equipment tires.
“Now it’s finally at the stage where we can see some action,” says Littlefield.
“TIA has been very involved in talking with the commission. They want to hear from different actors in the industry. What TIA has really pushed for is education.
“We spoke to the commission last (month). They’re going to begin testing rolling resistance levels of certain tires during the first half of 2022.
“The commission wants to take a hard look at the market to see what’s out there, what’s being sold and what the limitations are.
“If the commission is going to issue a proposal, it would come probably — at the earliest — at the end of 2022 and then there would be another comment period at that point.”
The issue of tire registration fines also remains on TIA’s radar, says Littlefield.
Last year, the United States Department of Transportation posted a notice in the Federal Register indicating that it had increased fines that could be applied to dealers who register tires incorrectly.
“It’s $24,000 per violation and up to $113 million per location,” says Littlefield.
“The fact (these fines) are still on the books and could be issued is very worrisome for us. We have still seen no action from” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“I think what NHTSA is waiting for is the industry to come together — the retail side and the manufacturing side — and (issue) a proposal to solve this. We’re still going to meet with NHTSA and will still meet the issue head-on.”
Littlefield notes that commercial truck tires also have to be registered properly at the point of sale.
Right to Repair update
Ensuring that tire dealers have access to telematically transmitted vehicle diagnostic and repair data will remain another important effort, according to Littlefield.
“Last year, we had a ballot referendum that passed in Massachusetts and we worked closely with the New England Tire & Service Association on this.”
The effort “really showed the power of local, grassroots connections.
“This ballot issue is going to allow owners of vehicles to get the mechanical data they need to allow their (preferred) shops to repair” their cars. "But we really need a federal response."
Three U.S. lawmakers recently introduced two bills in an effort to back the Right to Repair movement.
Reps. Mondaire Jones (D-New York) and Victoria Spartz (R-Indiana) last Wednesday introduced the Freedom to Repair Act, which would reform copyright law to provide easier access to essential repair documents.
Bobby Rush (D-Illinois) last Thursday introduced separate legislation that, if passed, would "ensure vehicle owners and independent repair shops have equal access to repair and maintenance tools as automakers' dealerships."
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