By Miles Moore, Senior Washington Reporter
WASHINGTON (July 16, 2015) — By a 13-11 party-line vote, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has passed a combined transportation funding and safety bill that includes a provision to re-establish mandatory tire registration.
The 497-page bill that passed July 15 was sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., who offered it as a substitute to the original legislative package, which did not contain the mandatory tire registration provision.
The amendment incorporates the content of S. 1741, which was introduced in the Senate July 9. S. 1741 would require independent tire dealers to register each tire they sell and transmit the data electronically to tire manufacturers.
It also would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to establish minimum performance standards for fuel economy and wet traction, and also to create an easy-to-use, consumer friendly database to look up tire recalls.
The language of S. 1741 was drafted by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president of public affairs, said the association is “very pleased” at the passage of the Senate Commerce bill containing the language of S. 1741.
Although many provisions of the Senate Commerce transportation package are highly partisan, the S. 1741 language has bipartisan support, according to Mr. Zielinski. The substitute package sponsored by Ranking Minority Member Bill Nelson, D-Fla., also contained the provision, he said.
According to tradition, the Commerce bill—S. 1732—will advance to the full Senate along with S. 1647, the DRIVE Act, which was previously passed by the Senate Committee for Environment and Public Works, the Commerce Committee said in a July 15 press release.
Other Senate transportation bills will be considered along with the DRIVE Act and S. 1732 to create a surface transportation reauthorization for consideration on the Senate floor, the committee said.
The Tire Industry Association (TIA) has organized a grassroots effort consisting of its members and state tire dealer associations, to fight passage of the mandatory tire registration language in S. 1741, S. 1732 and the GROW AMERICA Act, the Obama administration's transportation reauthorization package.
Small tire dealers could be ruined by the fines under mandatory registration, which total up to $700,000 per location, TIA said, while larger dealers would also be hurt by having to send their customer lists to the manufacturers.
Congress faces a deadline of July 31 to reauthorize transportation funding, and is scheduled to recess the day before. Without reauthorization, all highway and other transportation projects in the U.S. would be unfunded.
The same day that Senate Commerce passed S. 1732, the House of Representatives passed an $8.1 billion extension of current transportation funding, running until Dec. 18.