Parts Bills Flood State Legislatures
Notice and consent, total loss, salvage legislation considered
The 2012 state legislative sessions have seen a large number of parts bills introduced across the nation. The substance of these parts bills has varied greatly.
The Automotive Service Association’s (ASA) Collision Division Operations Committee and the Government Affairs Committee spent the last half of 2011 debating crash parts issues and concluded with a new ASA crash parts policy: ASA supports requiring insurers and auto collision facilities to provide disclosure of part type, description and warranty information to the consumer for all part types including, but not limited to, original equipment manufacturer, aftermarket, recycled, remanufactured, reconditioned and rebuilt crash parts.
ASA supports quality parts, certified and verified in which the quality is determined based on empirical and measurable evidence equal to the standard of OEM parts. ASA recommends quality verification and testing related to metallurgy, fit, functionality and responsiveness.
ASA believes a competitive parts marketplace, of tested and verified quality parts, is in the best interest of the motoring public. ASA continues to oppose parts policies that focus solely on cost efficiency without regard to certification, verifiable quality and safety.
Oklahoma, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina all saw crash parts bills introduced. Bills in Oklahoma, Mississippi and Georgia are dead for the session. A look at Oklahoma’s Senate Bill 1458 highlighted the need for consumer notice and written consent. Similar legislation has been introduced in other states and is law in a few others but Oklahoma is unique in that it requires notice and written consent for mechanical parts.
“Emission part” means “a replacement of parts or systems related to the control, monitoring and release of waste gases and particles created as a byproduct of combustion including, but not limited to, oxygen sensors, catalytic converters, exhaust pipes, exhaust manifold, fuel distributor, electronic emissions control unit (ECU) or computer, onboard emissions diagnostic device or computer (OBD) and related parts and components.” Also included are “safety parts.”
In Florida, legislation passed the House that would eliminate the current 80 percent threshold for a total-loss vehicle to receive a certificate of destruction, thus allowing potentially unsafe vehicles to be branded as “repairable” and put back on the roads. The amendment would allow insurers to determine whether the vehicle receives a certificate of destruction. ASA opposed the legislation. The Florida session concluded without final action on the total loss bill.
Efforts to expand the number of persons, removing restrictions, with access to purchase vehicles from salvage pools continued this session and are still alive in Ohio. Virginia legislators have sent their own salvage legislation to their governor for signature. The bill includes language that allows insurers to avoid obtaining a salvage certificate altogether.
At the federal level, U.S. Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced H.R. 3889, the Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade and Sales (PARTS) Act in the House of Representatives. The bill would amend the U.S. design patent law to change the period of design patent protection for automakers from 14 years to 30 months.
Both members serve on the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet. Lofgren introduced auto parts patent legislation in the last Congress.
The new subsection reads as follows: “It shall not be an act of infringement of such design patent to make or offer to sell within the United States, or import into the United States, any article of manufacture that is similar or the same in appearance to the component part that is claimed in such design patent if the purpose of such article of manufacture is for the repair of a motor vehicle so as to restore such vehicle to its appearance as originally manufactured; and after the expiration of a period of 30 months beginning on the first day on which any such component part is first offered to the public for sale as part of a motor vehicle in any country, it shall not be an act of infringement of such design patent to use or sell within the United States any article of manufacture that is similar or the same in appearance to the component part that is claimed in such design patent if the purpose of such article of manufacture is for the repair of a motor vehicle so as to restore such vehicle to its appearance as originally manufactured.”
This is just a snapshot of state and federal legislation currently in play. Collision repairers are encouraged to go to ASA’s legislative website, www.TakingTheHill.com, to track legislation in their states and in Congress. Also, be sure to see Net Worth on page 6 to sign up for our MegaTrack feature.
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