If someone were to ask me if I could only own one truck and which one would it be, I think I would have to say my barn-find '56 Big-Window Ford. That said, I don't know if I really could narrow it down to just one truck-six maybe, but not one.
That's the beauty of this country: if a fellow wants to wear a dress and hang out with other guys who wear dresses, or collect a bunch of old trucks and keep them on his property, our nation's laws protect those rights-right? That's what I used to think before I logged onto SEMA's Action Network and discovered that almost every state in our country at one time or another has drafted, or triedM to draft, a law to seize personal property from folks who love old vehicles. I think the best way for me to cite an example is to publish a direct quote from the SEMA Action Network's Web site regarding what the politicians in West Virginia are up to:
"Urgent Legislative Alert:
Backyard Vehicle Restoration Jobs Again Under Siege in West Virginia
"For the third time, a bill (S.B. 143) has been introduced in the West Virginia State Legislature by State Senator Frank Deem (email@example.com) that would further restrict the ability of West Virginia vehicle hobbyists from maintaining inoperable vehicles on private property. S.B. 143 would redefine 'abandoned motor vehicles' to include vehicles or vehicle parts which are either unlicensed or inoperable, or both, are not in an enclosed building and have remained on private property for more than 30 days. Under current law, the abandoned vehicle law applies primarily to vehicles on public property. The bill would make violation a misdemeanor offense punishable by substantial fines, community service, and jail. Contact members of the West Virginia Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to Voice Your Opposition to S.B. 143."
Had I not researched this subject, the odds would have been pretty good my money would have been on my home state of California to be the nation's leader in drafting laws of this nature, but surprisingly it's not the case. That doesn't mean California automotive enthusiasts haven't had near brushes with anti-hobbyist legislation- because we have. The only thing that is standing between bad laws and California's populace of automobile collectors is SEMA. What surprised me was to discover that some of the states I would have thought were safe from this kind of totalitarianism were at the forefront of programs,that verge on fascism.
None of this is to say that it is all doom and gloom, because thankfully this is not the case. The good news comes from the state of Utah, where, on January 22, 2008, Representative Neal Hendrickson introduced H.B. 147. Again, I think it's best if I quote directly from the SEMA Action Network's Web site:
"Pro-Hobbyist Inoperable Vehicle Bill Introduced in Utah
"SEMA model legislation (H.B. 147) has been introduced in the Utah State Legislature by Representative Neal Hendrickson (firstname.lastname@example.org) that would exempt certain owners or occupants of land in a municipality from ordinances or land use regulations that prevent automobile collectors from pursuing their hobby. Junked, wrecked, or inoperable vehicles, including parts cars, stored on private property would only need to be maintained out of ordinary public view."
There's a lot more to this subject, but I had to cut it short because we are running out of room on this page. I hope at the very least I've inspired some of you folks to check out the SEMA Action Network's Web site at www. semasan.com and find out which politicians you need to support and which ones you need to help vote out of office. -John Gilbert