By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion Magazine
Back in the old days, when somebody complained about something, somebody else would reply “Yeah, there ought’a be a law.” Congress has little else to do besides making laws, and there are always a batch of new ones percolating through various committees. Here’s an overview of some that will affect the transportation industry on a national level.
— High on the to-do list this fall will be re-enacting the taxes generated by the “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users” better known as SAFETEA-LU. It was enacted in 2005 and was partially designed to raise additional funds for the Highway Trust fund, money used for bridge repairs, repaving, etc. The Act expired in 2009 but carried a two year grace period.
That period is up at the end of September, 2011. Without a renewal, certain taxes on vehicle fuels, heavy vehicles and truck tires will vanish. Observers note that the renewal may generate quite a partisan battle because the result (either way) will almost certainly affect fuel prices. Many think it unlikely that there will be any resolution or reauthorization by the September 30 deadline.
— The attempt at a national Right to Repair Act has surfaced again through separate bills in both the House and Senate. In previous years, similar bills either died in committee or did not get sufficient votes to progress.
Supporters claim that the bill is needed to put independent repair shops on an equal footing with dealerships in terms of access to all factory information. The bill would require OEMs to “provide full and fair access at a reasonable cost to all non-proprietary service information, tools, computer codes and safety-related bulletins needed to repair motor vehicles.”
Opponents say the bill is a ploy to allow aftermarket tool and other companies to hijack manufacturers’ proprietary information and computer software. They say “fair access at a reasonable cost” is already available on the OEM service websites and that factory tools or their functional equivalent are available in the marketplace.
— Although similar laws frequently appear on the local or state level, the federal “Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers Act” or the “ALERT Drivers Act” has been introduced in both the House and Senate. It’s exactly what it sounds like, but we wonder who dreams up these names. They must pick the acronym first, then find wording to match.
— Another contentious point showing up in other highway bills is an attempt to raise the permitted weight limit for over-the-road trucks. The present overall limit is 80,000 pounds on 5 axles, but many large shippers are supporting a raised limit of 97,000 lbs on 6 axles. The benefit is obvious – more cargo on one truck – but opponents say the additional weight raises additional safety hazards for other vehicles on the road and additional wear or damage on the road itself.
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.