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December 2001 Rant

"Inoperative Vehicles are 'Litter'"

I know all of you are familiar with our struggle to find some brave member of the General Assembly to sponsor a measure to allow car hobbyists to keep project vehicles and parts cars that do not meet the requirements of being operable. This all came about due to a measure introduced in the assembly last year which would have forced all car hobbyists in this state to keep their projects and parts cars in a fully enclosed garage. That measure didn’t make it. It could be introduced again this coming session. We are fortunate that we live in Virginia and not other states that have even more restrictive laws governing vehicles that do not meet the definition of “operative”.

Senator Joe Young, Jr. of the Michigan Legislature has introduced Senate Bill 0631. This bill is very scary if you’re a car hobbyist. The way he is going about trying to get this bill enacted is even scarier.

Senator Joe Jr. has sponsored a measure to get rid of inoperative vehicles. He has done so in a unique way. His bill would classify autos, projects and parts cars that are inoperable, as litter! By classifying the autos as litter certain things can happen. A citizen could take civil action against the owner of the property where the “litter” (old car) is being stored. So Joe wants our neighbors to sue us for having a future project on our own land. A court order could be issued to force the property owner to dispose of the auto litter. Perhaps you would be able to haul the vehicle to the dump and toss it in one of those big dumpsters. If an owner fails to comply with the court order that person faces imprisonment not to exceed 6 months and/or a fine of up to $1000. And the jerk that takes you to court can get attorney fees and other costs.

Why should we fear this? The quick, short answer is copycat legislation. You can just take a look at the legislation that is popular in other states and see that our Virginia General Assembly just copies that legislation. Seldom does a bill get introduced in the assembly that has not been introduced earlier in some other state legislature.

Making old vehicles litter solves several problems for those that have nothing better to do than to snoop around in other people’s backyards. They only have to prove that the vehicle cannot be used for the purpose for which it was manufactured. No new vehicle is manufactured for the purpose of providing parts for a project.

According to Senator Joe Jr. cars that don’t run are in the same category as rubbish, refuse, scrap, waste materials, garbage, offal(?), paper, glass, cans, bottles, trash, debris or other foreign substances. This is not good if you’re a car hobbyist who happens to live in Michigan.

This kind of thinking underscores that fact that we need to be proactive in the hobby. Hopefully we can get a sponsor for a measure that puts common sense first when it comes to inoperative vehicles of historical significance. Let’s hope there are no Joe Jr.’s hiding in this year’s assembly.

Special thanks to Bob Robb for sending the information on this bill in Michigan to the council.

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