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DeWine pulls tire-aging bill

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Intense lobbying from the tire industry led a senator to withdraw a tire-aging bill he intended to add to an omnibus highway and transit bill on the Senate floor.

Staffers for Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, told representatives of the Rubber Manufacturers Association and the Tire Industry Association Feb. 11 that DeWine won't include the tire-aging language as part of his auto safety amendments to the highway reauthorization bill.

"TIA mobilized its members and the state associations and got the message up to Capitol Hill to stop a proposal that made no sense to our industry," TIA President Larry Morgan said in a Feb. 12 statement.

DeWine's tire amendment contained a provision requiring tire retailers to give consumers the month and year of manufacture for every tire they sell. It also called for the National Academy of Sciences to perform comprehensive testing on the effect of aging on tires.

The RMA, TIA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association and state tire dealer organizations told DeWine they support the concept of further testing. But they opposed the requirement of date-of-manufacture disclosure before the NAS has completed testing and Congress has considered the results.

"Without context, consumers may misinterpret the information and refuse to buy perfectly good tires or discard used tires before it is necessary," stated a Jan. 29 joint letter to DeWine from TIA and SEMA. "This could cause a nightmare of inventory problems for our member businesses and lead to the premature scrappage of tires, adding to environmental issues and consumer costs."

A date-of-manufacture disclosure requirement "would create a panacea," said Howard Levy, president of Boca Raton, Fla.-based Used Tires Inc. "It would make tires like milk and eggs. Buyers would insist on getting the freshest, newest product."

The tire industry has agreed to continue the dialogue with DeWine's office on the subject of tire aging and its relationship to tire safety, according to Ann Wilson, RMA senior vice president of government affairs. "We agree that this is an important issue," she said.

The Senate voted 75-11 on Feb. 2 to proceed with floor consideration of the $318 billion highway reauthorization bill. The legislation as written already faces veto threats from the Bush administration, for reasons unrelated to the DeWine auto safety amendments.