Calif. smog-testing proposal withdrawn

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jun. 03, 2009
The California state senate has backed away from a proposed law that would make motorcycle smog testing mandatory. Instead, law enforcement officers will be allowed to ticket motorcyclists who remove anti-smog equipment.

Senate bill 435, authored by Democrat Sen. Fran Pavley, would have mandated biennial smog testing for post-2000 motorcycles with engine displacements over 280cc.

The bill, as was originally written, would not have earned the 21 votes required to pass. Instead, Pavley withdrew the mandatory smog testing provisions and the bill was amended to authorize law enforcement to issue fines to motorcyclists who remove their bikes’ catalytic converters.

The amended bill was passed by a 22-17 vote on June 1, and will now move on to the Assembly.

“This is an initial victory for California motorcyclists, but we can’t let our guard down just yet,” says Nick Haris, AMA western states representative. “Senators deserve credit for recognizing how this proposal would have created an added burden for motorcyclists, motorcycle businesses, and the cash-starved state bureaucracy, and they reworked the measure to limit its scope to focus on catalytic converters. The bill is on its way to the state Assembly, but we have to remain vigilant because it could revert back to its original form.”

Peavey argued that motorcycles produce over 14 times the amount of smog-producing pollutants as cars and motorcyclists often remove their catalytic converters. Those opposed to the bill countered by pointing out that motorcycles make up less than 3% of motor vehicles in California, and that the bill was little more than a tax for motorcyclists.

“California’s motorcyclists are willing to do their fair share to keep our skies clear, but this bill asked motorcyclists – whose two wheels are far less of a resource drain than four-wheelers – to shoulder an extra burden,” says Haris. “The California Legislature has already raided $90 million of user-generated fees from the state’s OHV fund. Some legislators saw this as an opportunity to create yet another motorcyclist-funded program with no thought as to the burden it placed on the backs of motorcyclists.”

The AMA says more than 3,000 motorcyclists used the Action Alert section of its website,, to voice their opposition to bill 435. The California Motorcycle Dealers Association, ABATE of California and the Motorcycle Industry Council also opposed the bill.

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