WASHINGTON (March 17, 2010)—Advocates of the retread industry are happy about defusing a threat to retreads in the U.S. Congress, but deeply concerned about a bill that has already passed the Georgia House of Representatives and is now in the state Senate.
The Tire Industry Association and others acted quickly in January to contact senators to change language in S. 554, a bill setting forth safety regulations for motor coaches.
In the original version sponsored by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), S. 554 contained a provision requiring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to establish performance standards for retreaded motor coach tires to ensure they achieved a level of safety performance at least equivalent to new commercial tires.
“As soon as TIA got word of the legislation, we were able to meet with Sen. Sherrod Brown's staffer on the bill,” the association said on its Web site. “He was very open to hearing what we had to say and wanted to let us know that the language was going to be different.”
By the next time TIA heard from Sen. Brown's office, the language in the bill had been changed to require a general upgrade of performance standards for motor coach tires, including an enhanced endurance test and a new high-speed performance test, said Paul Fiore, TIA director of government and business relations.
S. 554 has a sister bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 1396. It, too, contained language to establish safety performance standards targeted at retread tires, but has since been softened, according to Fiore. Neither bill has advanced far in Congress, he said.
However, another bill—House Bill 981, which sets new standards for Highway Patrol and emergency vehicles—swept the Georgia House of Representatives by a 159-3 vote on Feb. 18 and has been referred to the Georgia Senate.
H.B. 981 has both TIA and the Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau deeply concerned, for it contains the following provision: “Retreaded tires shall not be used on official state vehicles which may be used to respond to public safety emergencies.”
Both TIA and TRIB have sent urgent messages to their Georgia members calling on them to contact their state senators and representatives about the damage H.B. 981 could cause.
“We're the Rodney Dangerfield of the tire industry anyway,” said TRIB Managing Director Harvey Brodsky. “If this bill is allowed to pass unchallenged, who knows what will happen next?”
Both Brodsky and Fiore said they had been unable to reach the sponsors of the bill—Republican Reps. Burke Day, Jill Chambers and Chuck Martin—either to express their concerns or to find out the rationale behind forbidding retreads on emergency vehicles. “It's fairly well-known that retreads are on fire trucks and aircraft,” Fiore said.
Other than the emergency vehicle provision, H.B. 981 is generally friendly to retreads. It would require all state agencies, departments and authorities to either replace all truck tires above 16 inches with retreads or subscribe to a retread service to retread the casings of old tires. The same agencies may also use retread tires of other sizes if they deem them to be “economical, feasible, and desirable.”
Reps. Day, Chambers and Martin did not return calls seeking comment.