BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






           SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE       BILL NO: sb 1224
          SENATOR MARK DESAULNIER, CHAIRMAN              AUTHOR:  la malfa
                                                         VERSION: 2/23/12
          Analysis by:  Eric Thronson                    FISCAL:  yes
          Hearing date:  April 10, 2012




          SUBJECT:

          Smog check program exemption

          DESCRIPTION:

          This bill increases the number of vehicles exempted from the 
          smog check program by excluding vehicles with model years 
          between 1976 and 1980.

          ANALYSIS:

          To meet federal air quality standards, existing law requires 
          California-registered, gasoline-powered vehicles and certain 
          diesel-powered vehicles to undergo biennial smog inspections to 
          measure motor vehicle-related pollutants.  State law exempts 
          vehicles with a pre-1976 model year from the smog check program. 


          Upon initial registration and upon a change of ownership and 
          registration of a vehicle, the vehicle owner must submit to the 
          Department of Motor Vehicles a valid certificate of compliance 
          indicating that the vehicle has passed its smog inspection.  If 
          a vehicle fails any component of a smog inspection, the vehicle 
          owner must, with some exceptions, repair the vehicle and pass a 
          subsequent smog inspection before being able to register or 
          renew the registration of the vehicle.  

           This bill  exempts vehicles with model years between 1976 and 
          1980 from the smog check program.
          
          COMMENTS:

           1.Purpose  .  According to the author, this bill serves two 
            purposes.  First, this bill provides needed relief to 
            lower-income drivers who might own vehicles from this time 
            period and who cannot afford the repairs necessary to meet the 




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            state's emission standards.  Second, this bill enables car 
            collectors to enjoy an exemption from smog inspections because 
            these vehicles are driven less and therefore do not contribute 
            significantly to poor air quality.  The author points out 
            that, according to the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), 
            approximately 162,000 vehicles with model years between 1976 
            and 1980 received smog checks during the past two years.  
            Compared to the roughly 27 million motor vehicles in 
            California, this bill will provide an exemption for just over 
            one-half of one percent of vehicles on the road today.

           2.Exempting the highest polluting vehicles  .  This bill exempts 
            from the smog check program many vehicles contributing the 
            highest levels of pollution in the state.  In 2004 the 
            California Air Resources Board (ARB) estimated that, by 2010, 
            pre-1982 cars would account for more than one-fifth of the 
            hydrocarbons and one-tenth of the nitrous oxide emissions in 
            the state despite representing only 2.6 percent of the vehicle 
            population and 1.3 percent of the vehicle miles traveled.  On 
            average, 1975 model-year vehicles emit 30 times more 
            hydrocarbons per mile than a 2000 model-year vehicle and 
            despite their much smaller share of the vehicle population, 
            continue to emit two to three times the volume of pollutants 
            in aggregate.  Once a vehicle is exempt from the smog check 
            program there is no incentive for its owner to continue to 
            maintain emission control equipment or any mechanism to assure 
            that such equipment has not been modified or removed. 

           3.History of the hard cap  .  Prior to 2005, existing law 
            contained a 30-year rolling smog check exemption, allowing 
            vehicles to "graduate" from the program once they reached 30 
            years of age.  The Legislature set a hard date at which cars 
            aged out of the smog check program by passing AB 2683 
            (Lieber), Chapter 704, Statutes of 2004, which repealed the 
            30-year rolling exemption and instead created an exemption for 
            vehicles manufactured prior to the 1976 model year.  

           4.Weakening smog check standards can lead to unintended 
            consequences  .  Opponents, including local air quality 
            management districts, argue that this bill potentially 
            increases the burden on regions to meet air quality standards 
            set by state and federal governments.  For example, SB 375 
            (Steinberg), Chapter 728 of 2008, required the ARB to set 
            greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for regions to meet 
            through local regulatory and planning efforts.  Regional 
            agencies are developing future mitigation plans with the 




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            expectation that current air quality regulations, such as smog 
            check standards, will not be less stringent than they are 
            today.  If the Legislature weakens the current air quality 
            standards for vehicles, it increases the amount of alternative 
            mitigation the regions will need to consider in order to meet 
            the ARB reduction targets.  

           5.The state's consumer assistance programs  .  The state makes 
            funding available for owners whose vehicles fail smog 
            inspections and cannot afford the necessary repairs through 
            the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP), which BAR administers.  
             Under the program, BAR will pay up to $500 to qualifying 
            owners for repair costs necessary to meet smog standards.  
            Alternatively, CAP also provides vehicle owners compensation 
            to voluntarily retire their vehicles that have failed a smog 
            inspection.  In addition, some funding is available until 2015 
            to retire high polluting vehicles even if they are able to 
            pass a smog inspection.  Currently, BAR provides $1,000 to a 
            vehicle owner who retires his or her vehicle and is working to 
            amend its regulations to provide $1,500 to owners who are 
            low-income.  

           6.Collector motor vehicles provided certain exemptions  .  In 
            order to not discourage classic car collectors in California, 
            existing law includes certain exemptions for owners of 
            collector motor vehicles.  If a vehicle is more than 35 years 
            old, insured as a collector motor vehicle, and passes the smog 
            check's exhaust and fuel cap tests, it is exempt from the 
            visual and functional test component of the smog inspection.  
                




















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          POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the committee before noon on 
                     Wednesday,
                     April 4, 2012)

               SUPPORT:  Association of California Car Clubs
                         Burgiemen Capitol City Car Club
                         Sierra Mustang Club of Sacramento
                         Rods and Relics of Lincoln Hills
                         Capital City Mopars
                         Specialty Equipment Market Association
                         Redding British Car Club
                         Pontiacs of Bakersfield
                         Roughly 550 individuals
          

               OPPOSED:  California Air Pollution Control Officers 
          Association
                         Bay Area Air Quality Management District
                         American Lung Association of California