The House and Senate Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Licensing will hear the auto-dealer sponsored bill on Tuesday, November 19 at 1 pm in the State House.
The bill S 129 filed by State Senator Marc Pacheco of Bridgewater "clarifies" the dealer licensing law by adding a sentence to the existing law relative to the sale of new vehicles by entities owned by manufacturers:
"This blanket prohibition on manufacturer ownership applies notwithstanding whether a manufacturer or distributor has previously used independently owned or operated dealerships to distribute its vehicles."
Background: the Mass Auto Dealers Association has sued the Town of Natick for issuing a dealership license to a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tesla on the grounds that it violates existing law. So far the MADA has lost in court on this, so they seek to ensure that Tesla's operations will be outside of the law in future.
To be clear, this is not about electric cars - Pacheco is one of the biggest backers of alternative energy in the legislature. Unfortunately, he is also clearly in the auto dealers' pocket.
This is about a sales model that is as revolutionary within the industry as the technology is. If ever there was a chance to set the stage to be free of the tyranny of auto dealers, this is the moment. All we want is for the two sales models to be free to compete on a level playing field - and we'll see which one the consumer prefers. That's our pitch. And in the "Consumer Protection Committee," we would like to see our representatives advancing bills which protect consumers, not auto dealers.
Meanwhile, the bill H 241, filed by Rep. Linsky of Natick, does the opposite. He was so ticked off when the auto dealers sued Natick that he filed this bill to "clarify" the existing law such that sales by manufacturers and owners are legal when they do not compete with any franchised dealers. Fair enough, I would think.
In my opinion, we should request that the committee report H 241 out favorably, and delete the offending sentence from S 129.
Please join me at the State House on November 19 if you can. Legislators are used to hearing from lobbyists and people who are paid to show up at their hearings. It does get their attention when actual citizens show up to comment.