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Wisconsin proposal threatens HMV hobby

The Wisconsin State Department of Transportation (WI DOT) has proposed a new law that eliminates many Historic Military Vehicles from Wisconsin.
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July 17, 2009

The Wisconsin State Department of Transportation (WI DOT) has proposed a new law that eliminates many Historic Military Vehicles from Wisconsin. To help fight upcoming legislation, state MV hobbyists are asking fellow collectors to get involved. The first hearing on the proposal, called "Trans 123", will be held on Wednesday, July 29 in Madison, Wis.

“Trans 123” seeks to restrict or eliminate specialty and collector vehicles from Wisconsin roads. Opponents to the proposal cite four particular objections to the proposal's current wording:

1) It seeks to define ANY vehicle made after 1968 that is not 100% compliant with the NHTSA, as designed for “off road” only. MV advocates feel this will eliminate many collector vehicles in the hobbyist or historic military vehicle groups.
2) The proposal seeks to provide a single broad definition that affects too many collector situations
3) The proposal wording is very difficult to read or understand.
4) The proposal seeks to provide for public safety, but bans many post 1968 vehicles including Historic Military vehicles. These HMV’s have been legally registered and operated by collectors in Wisconsin since 1968 with no significant traffic safety issues that would support any call by the public to ban them.

Below is a more complete outline of the proposal, the objections by Wisconsin MV collectors, and what you can do to help out.



Since 2007 the WI Department of Transportation (DOT) has been challenged by an increasing number of applications for registrations (license plates) for a wide variety of specialty vehicles. Many of these vehicles do not meet U.S. Federal Safety Standards. This concern by the DOT includes both U.S. manufactured and imported foreign military vehicles. Examples of other vehicles include European race cars, Japanese mini trucks, off road motorcycles and many others.

The WI DOT recognizes that in the past the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has not been consistent in their approvals of specialty vehicle registrations. Some vehicles were registered that do not meet federal safety standards. Other applications for the same type of vehicles were denied.

The WI DOT is proposing to issue an administrative rule to create a new law called TRANS 123 in the WI Administrative Code. If adopted the rule becomes state law. The proposal to create TRANS 123 seeks to define the agency’s authority to prohibit registration of what are termed NON-CONFORMING VEHICLES.

A public hearing to receive public comments on the proposed rule is scheduled for Wednesday, July 29th in Room 254 of the Hill Farms State Office Building, 4802 Sheboygan Avenue, Madison. The proposed rule and details of the hearing are available at

Anyone can attend and may speak at the hearing. Written comments can also be submitted to the DOT. Jeff Rowsam will testify on behalf of WI Historic Military Vehicle
Collectors at the hearing. Under the proposed rule, vehicles (including former military) built after January 1968 will NOT be registered. Vehicles built after January 1968 will be considered “off road vehicles” and will not be registered unless they meet the requirements of the National Highway Transportation Safety Act of 1966 (NHTSA). Military vehicles are build to meet a military mission and do not meet NHTSA law.

Several Wisconsin collectors have been working with the Wisconsin legislature to present your collector interest and protect your ability to operate historic military
vehicles in the future.

The first hearing on July 29th is to hear public comments on the proposed new rule. After the hearing the DOT can drop the proposal or modify the proposal and then submit it to the legislative committee that reviews and approves these administrative rules. There will be a second public hearing at that time. The legislative committee can approve, modify or reject the proposed rule based on their review. If approved it becomes law. Other states including Florida, Ohio and Kansas have created specific laws under their collector or historic vehicle statutes that identify Historic Military Vehicles (HMV’s) and allow their registration and use as collector vehicles. WI DOT authorities have indicated they would likely not oppose a similar provision if it was introduced and approved by the WI legislature to operate HMV’s under the limits of current WI COLLECTOR plate rules.

We have contacted the legislature transportation committee Vice-chair Ted Zigmunt (D) 2nd district, to propose an HMV amendment. We received a positive commitment that Rep Zigmunt will sponsor a bill for collectors of HMV’s. Steps are being taken to write and introduce a new bill in the state legislature to create a provision to allow HMV’s to be operated under the current Wisconsin collector vehicle rules. Introduction could be as early as the fall session.

What can YOU do to continue to own and operate historic military vehicles in Wisconsin?
1) Stay informed. Register on the state website to receive updates. Register online at

2) Attend the hearings. You do not have to speak, but you should fill out a simple registration form when you arrive and indicate your position.

3) Write to the DOT with your concerns about TRANS 123.

4) Call, email and write your state legislators with your concerns about TRANS 123.

5) Call, email and write your legislators and ask them to contact Rep Ted Zigmunt’s office to help co-sponsor a bill for adding historic military vehicles collector vehicle laws.

6) The proposed law effects all collectors. We need everyone to voice their concerns, even if you own a vehicle made before 1968, the DOT and legislators still need to hear from you. This is about the future of our HMV hobby.

If you have questions or need more information, please contact Jeff Rowsam at Or by phone at 920-863-8656. Jeff has agreed to be the liaison person representing Wisconsin HMV collectors.

Status update:

The TRANS 123 meeting where public commentary was taken was held in Madison on July 29. The meeting room was PACKED with HMV collectors as well as old car, street rod, kit cars and others. An overwhelming NO VOTE was presented.

The fight is not over. If you are a Wisconsin HMV owner/advocate, the following is needed:

1. Contact Rep Ted Zigmunt and tell him you are against Trans 123 but would appreciate his support to in sponsoring a bill that protects HMVs and related collector status vehicles. (He has already agreed to do this but needs to hear from us)
(608) 266-9870

2. Contact your own local state rep voicing your no vote on TRANS 123.
To find you local rep:
and click on WHO REPRESENTS ME.

3. send these same comments to: <>

4. lastly send this same or expanded commentary to Paul Nilsen the state administrative attorney at:

and or

CLICK HERE to tell us what you think in the Militaria Message Board

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