May 23, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Congress passes bill to end 'outdated' auto dealer paperwork bill

The U.S. Senate on Friday unanimously approved a bill to end an "outdated" paperwork requirement the nation's 17,000 auto dealers face under the Clean Air Act and sent it to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The bill eliminates a provision that requires dealers to provide consumers with a certificate confirming a vehicle’s compliance with the law even though every new model meets that standard — something the bill's authors called "redundant and outdated."

The bill took more than five months to get through Congress — a sign of the difficulty getting anything approved even with unanimous support in the current political climate.

“This is a simple and straightforward way to get rid of needless paperwork and reduce the burden of duplicative regulation on Michigan’s small businesses. This bill cuts red tape for Michigan auto dealers and consumers so folks can focus on what matters — finding the right car for themselves and their families,” said Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, who cosponsored the bipartisan measure with a Ohio Republican, Rep. Bob Latta.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, sponsored the bill in the Senate.

“Cutting red tape is a win-win for Michigan small businesses and consumers,” Stabenow said. “Eliminating redundant paperwork is just common sense and will allow our auto dealers to focus on selling cars and trucks and the needs of their customers."

The National Automobile Dealers Association-backed measure ends a 1977 federal mandate requiring auto dealers to verify that new vehicles are compliant with the Clean Air Act.

“All new cars and light trucks delivered to dealerships from the factory already come with documentation that the vehicles conform to federal emission laws,” said Forrest McConnell, chairman of NADA and a Honda and Acura in Montgomery, Ala. “Requiring dealerships to fill out a form to recertify that a new vehicle complies with the Clean Air Act is redundant and unnecessary.”

McConnell added that new vehicle owners can find documentation of Clean Air Act compliance under the hood of the vehicle, on the Internet, or in the owner’s manual and supplements, making the other government paperwork provided by the dealer unnecessary.

The U.S. House approved the bill 405-0 in early January.

dshepardson@detroitnews.com