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Used tire bills move forward in Texas, Fla.

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AUSTIN, Texas—The Texas Senate is poised to vote on a bill setting strict guidelines for the sale and handling of used tires, while another bill is making headway in the Florida legislature, and the House and Senate versions soon could come up for a vote on the floors of both chambers.

The Texas Senate Committee on Transportation passed SB 459 by 9-0 on April 3. A Senate vote on an amended version of the bill was expected as early as April 11 (after Tire Business' presstime), said Dan Zielinski, senior vice president of public affairs for the Rubber Manufacturers Association, which drafted and supports the bill.

However, the Texas Tire Dealers Association (TTDA) said the bill will prove burdensome for the state's dealers. Because there is opposition to the bill, the Senate can't pass it under suspension but must debate it before voting, Mr. Zielinski said.

SB 459 would forbid the sale of any used passenger or light truck tire that has:

c A tread depth of less than 1/16 inch;

c Visible chunking, bumps, knots or bulges indicating a belt or ply separation;

c Exposed tire cords or belts;

c A repair in the shoulder, sidewall, bead area or belt edge area; or

c A puncture that is larger than 1/4 inch, or a puncture that isn't properly repaired.

It also would forbid the sale of tires that do not have a clear Department of Transportation identification number, are subject to a safety recall or otherwise do not meet federal safety standards.

Tires mounted on used vehicles are exempt from these provisions.

The bill also requires used and scrap tire transporters to register with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Retreaders are exempt from registration, as are farmers who use scrap or used tires for agricultural business and don't transport more tires at a time than a number to be determined by the TCEQ.

Registered tire haulers must file with the TCEQ a bond of at least $100,000, issued by a surety company licensed to do business in Texas. Haulers must also maintain records and use a manifest or other appropriate system to demonstrate their tires go to storage or disposal sites registered or permitted by the state.

According to information about SB 459 on the state's legislative website, any individual violating the provisions of the unsafe tire subsection of the bill could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which would be a fine of up to $4,000, jail time of up to one year or both for every violation.

The RMA was pleased at the bill's committee passage. “This is a very positive step in RMA's effort to address unsafe used tires,” Mr. Zielinski said.

But the TTDA said it will create costly and unnecessary burdens for the state's tire dealers.

“Of course we're disappointed, but we will continue to try to have legislators understand our position, and why we think this is so detrimental to small business owners in Texas,” said TTDA Executive Director Chuck Space.

Mr. Zielinski praised the bill at a March 27 hearing. “Requiring used tire sellers to be appropriately accountable when they return used tires back to road service is a simple, reasonable attempt to protect consumers.”

Dick Gust, director of government affairs for Liberty Tire Recycling L.L.C., praised the tire handling portion of the bill at the Texas hearing, saying that responsible tire generators ensure that they are registered with their state governments as generators. They also store scrap tires securely to prevent unauthorized access and deal only with licensed haulers.

“Unfortunately, this is not always being done today,” he said.

Thomas Baker, who testified for the TTDA at the hearing, said the needs of tire dealers weren't even considered in the writing of the bill.

“This proposed legislation has a very direct, onerous and costly impact on the small, independent tire dealer businesses in the state of Texas,” Mr. Baker said. “Yet no effort was made to contact the Texas Tire Dealers Association concerning the intent, language or provisions of this bill.”

In particular, the bill's requirements for the storage and transport of used and scrap tires would price many small but legitimate businesses out of the market, according to Mr. Baker. “Let's enforce the regulations and laws already on the books,” he said.

Bruce Ormond, government affairs chair for the Texas Automotive Recyclers Association, also testified against SB 459 at the March 27 hearing. Tire Business has asked Mr. Ormond for a copy of his testimony.

HB 3783, a Texas House bill identical to the original Senate legislation, is scheduled for a committee hearing April 16.

In addition, two committees in the Florida Senate and a subcommittee in the Florida House have approved two identical used tire bills, SB 1588 and HB 485.

SB 1588 and HB 485 have similar language regarding the sale of used tires to the Texas bill, but do not contain the Texas bill's provisions on used tire storage and transport.

The RMA has asked the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee to waive jurisdiction on SB 1588, which would allow the bill to go straight to the Senate floor. The House Appropriations Committee already waived jurisdiction on HB 485, leaving the House Regulatory Affairs Committee with sole jurisdiction, Mr. Zielinski said.
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