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Spin on Spinners: New York, Iowa Want to Put the Halt on Spinner Wheels

New York, Iowa Want to Put the Halt on Spinner Wheels

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Here’s a strange piece of proposed legislation in the Empire State. Although spinner wheels are a popular add-on item for the cosmetic markets on both coasts and a few hot spots in between, they won’t be legal in New York State if state senator John Sabini has anything to say about it.

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A bill introduced by Sabini (S.B. 4740) would prohibit the sale and use of motor vehicles equipped with “spinner hubcaps,” as Sabini refers to them. Those convicted of selling the eye-catching wheels would be fined $150 for each violation. The bill would also subject vehicle owners to fines of up to $750 for a third or subsequent violation.

Does that mean the vehicle owner gets two chances to remove the wheels before his or her wallet is emptied? And, when do the sellers have to cough up the dough? Lots of questions here, but a call to Sabini’s office went unanswered.

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For now, the New York bill has been referred to the transportation committee for consideration.

A similar bill, H.F. 108, introduced in January by Iowa State Representative Doug Struyk, would also ban spinner wheels. According to sources, the bill was referred to committee, where it is expected to die.

Maine Rights a Wrong

Remember all the hoo-hah in Maine about a 2003 law that required motorists to replace their OE tires with tires that met or exceeded the load and speed ratings of their OE tires? That’s history.

A new statute cleared the governor’s mansion in April that eliminates language from the previous law that would have mandated OE-for-OE sales. Now, tire dealers don’t have to put the same tire back on their customer’s vehicles, giving them and Maine motorists the right to make another tire choice.

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Under the old statute, vehicle owners who wanted to replace their T-speed rated OE tires with an S-rated, all-season tire could not do so. State troopers were given the right to impound vehicles they stopped if equipped with the “wrong” tires. Of course, the obvious question is: How would they know?

The New England Tire & Service Association (NETSA), which focused its attention on this language change from the outset, was pleased.

Going to Waste?

The Georgia state senate easily passed legislation to extend a $1 tire disposal fee for another three years. According to the Georgia Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association (GTDRA), the tire disposal fee generates more than $6 million annually, funds that are supposed to go to the Solid Waste Trust Fund. But will they?

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No, says the GTDRA. For the third straight year, much of that money has been redirected to other programs. Worse, only $1.5 million is in next year’s Waste Trust Fund budget. Where is the money going, and why? For now, the governor’s office has pledged to work toward full funding of the program. Georgia tire dealers will presumably be doing a lot of bird-dogging.

Getting the Lead Out

It’s safe to say that lead wheel weights are on the way out.

Just last month, the Ecology Center, an environmental organization based in Ann Arbor, Mich., formally filed a citizens’ petition asking the EPA to develop rules that would ban the sale of lead wheel weights in the U.S. The group has called for all automakers and tire retailers to phase out the use of lead wheel-balancing weights in the U.S. by July 2006. (A ban on lead weights in Europe starts next month.)

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TIA continues to review the results of a lead weight survey it sent to its members earlier this year. Preliminary results indicate that 50% of tire dealers do not recycle lead wheel weights properly.

The EPA estimates that 10% of wheel weights fall off vehicles and wind up on roadsides and in waterways, and that of all the lead purchased vs. recycled, 21 million pounds remain unaccounted for. Further, the government agency calls lead and lead compounds “persistent bioaccumulative toxic chemicals.”

“If the EPA becomes convinced that a ban on lead is necessary, we will have to change,” says representatives of the Mid-America Tire Dealers Association (MATDA). “But, before that happens, we’re asking our members to improve their recycling habits dramatically.”

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MATDA suggests checking with wheel weight makers for recycling programs or contacting battery recyclers and local smelters, which may pay for used lead.

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