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California Gov. Gray Davis unexpectedly vetoed a bill that would have extended to 45 feet, from 40 feet, the length of motorhomes allowed on the state’s highways.

“We are shocked and dismayed that after working for over a year with state officials to address all of their safety concerns that the governor would veto the bill,” said Craig Kirby, vice president and general counsel of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

Davis said he vetoed the bill because out-of-state drivers would not have been required to pass a skills test and provide a medical certificate to drive a 45-foot motorhome in California. Such requirements were contained in the bill for California residents.

“We may be able to ensure California drivers can competently operate extra-long motorhomes. We cannot, however, ensure that out-of-state drivers meet similar testing requirement for driver competency,” Davis said in his veto message to the California Assembly. “This bill would allow an out-of-state driver to operate a 45-foot motorhome with only minimum license requirements, and I will not subject California motorists to the hazards that could result.”

Because of reciprocity agreements between the states, California cannot impose special licensing requirements on out-of-state residents.

Kirby said the governor’s safety concerns are unwarranted. “These vehicles have an excellent safety record,” Kirby said, pointing out that nine other states this year extended their length limits to 45 feet.

It was not immediately clear when California authorities would begin enforcing the 40-foot limit by issuing citations to drivers of over-length RVs. California authorities began enforcing the length limitation last summer after registering and collecting sales tax on 45-foot RVs for nine years.

Of immediate concern to the RVIA is its trade and retail show scheduled for Oct. 13-22 in Pomona, Calif.

“We are not going to measure every coach that comes into the show,” Kirby said. “But we are going to tell manufacturers that it is not in their best interests to bring these (longer than 40-foot) units to Pomona.”