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Senate committee airs bill to end emissions inspections for newer cars

Senate members made another attempt Tuesday to roll back the inspection requirements for some cars, this time with a bill to end emissions inspections for newer cars.

The Senate Rules Committee discussed a proposal to end the required emissions checks for cars from the three most recent model years, and for older cars with no more than 80,000 miles on the odometer. Safety inspections would not be affected.

"On the new cars you have very, very few emissions problems," said Sen. Harry Brown, a Jacksonville Republican.

The proposal, part of a recommended rewrite of a House-approved bill (H585), was amended to make 70,000 the odometer number.  The committee postponed voting on it after questions were raised about another section of the bill not related to inspections.

Efforts by Brown and other legislators to curtail inspection requirements have been defeated repeatedly in recent years, with committee votes that have prevented the issue from being discussed on the House and Senate floors.  In May, after legislators were lobbied heavily by garage owners who make money inspecting cars, a joint House-Senate transportation oversight committee killed a proposal to end safety and emissions inspections for newer cars.

Day 1: Legislators start shoveling the transportation stuff

It's Day 1 of the 2012 legislative session, and already we have action on ferries, car inspections, toll roads and other transportation stuff.

* Inspections will still be required for all cars. The House-Senate Joint Transportation Oversight Committee today had no interest in discussing, evaluating or modifying a proposal to end the required safety and emissions inspections for vehicles from the three newest model years. It simply killed the bill in a 7-5 vote (see today's story with reader comments).

Meanwhile, without dissent or discussion, the oversight committee approved other legislative proposals:

* Updating top DOT job titles. This measure would retire the venerable title of state highway admnistrator, and give a new title to the person holding that job (currently, Terry Gibson): chief engineer.  DOT explains: We're way more than highways now. We're also bikes, trains, ferries, etc., etc.

DOT used to have somebody else called chief engineer as the top honcho for  something else called operations. After a department reorganization intended to reduce layers of management, the old chief engineer was moved under the wing of the old highway adminstrator.  Jon Nance, formerly chief engineer, now is addressed as ... deputy chief engineer. ... [MORE]

Perdue calls for new scrutiny of NC's car inspection program

Gov. Bev Perdue said today that she has asked the state Division of Motor Vehicles for an assessment of North Carolina's mandatory car safety and emissions inspections because we "need to know if we need this kind of system," the Charlotte Observer reported. [11/3 update: see today's Perdue story.]

Perdue was responding to stories by The News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer raising questions about whether the inspections are reliable, effective and necessary. Inspection garages report finding safety flaws in one out of every 10 safety inspections, failing 3 percent of the cars and making repairs necessary to pass another 7 percent.

Legislators said this week they will push to eliminate the safety inspection requirement for all cars or at least for cars only a few years old.

Get my car inspected again? DMV fields more angry calls

More than a few drivers have been irked by a rules change implemented this week at DMV, where car owners are being told to pay for repeat safety and emissions inspections of vehicles that were checked just a few months ago.

DMV changed the rules Monday, saying now that your inspection is good only if it came no more than 90 days before the deadline to renew your car registration. This conflicts with DMV's pledge that nobody will be forced to get two inspections within 12 months.

Henry Martin of Charlotte called a toll-free DMV number (877-421-0020). Tracy Keel, who oversees DMV inspections, had promised N&O and Charlotte Observer readers that operators would solve such problems.

No such luck, Martin said. ... [MORE]

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