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Panel votes to free auto dealers from hours mandate

Panel votes to free auto dealers from hours mandate

Dustin Hurst
February 18, 2015
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February 18, 2015

Idaho auto dealers are one step closer to having more flexibility to run their businesses as they see fit after a House panel voted Monday to fix an aggressive mandate.

The House Transportation and Defense Committee voted nearly unanimously Wednesday to allow dealers to post their direct phone numbers on their facilities, an option lawmakers wrote to fix an administrative rule mandating the auto-sellers keep doors open 20 hours a week.

Only Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, opposed the bill in committee.

The House panel originally approved the rule two weeks ago when the Idaho Transportation Department presented the regulation to the committee. The mandate, authored in the spirit of consumer protection, required dealers to remain open 20 hours each week, with some of those hours coming Monday through Friday.

The department also required dealers to report hours of operation to the department.

Advocates for limited government objected fiercely after the House panel’s vote, describing the rules as overreach and an offensive intrusion into business.

The bill’s sponsor said the measure would address those concerns.

“This would allow the free market to still reign here in Idaho,” said Rep. Kelley Packer, R-McCammon, the bill’s sponsor.

The new bill only requires dealers post their phone numbers on their place of business.

Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, offered an unenthusiastic endorsement. “This is as good a fix as any,” the Boise lawmaker said.

Wintrow told IdahoReporter.com following the meeting she thinks requiring hours for urban dealers -- those in the Treasure Valley, primarily -- is probably a good idea. But, she also sympathized with dealers in the rural parts of the state who might not be able to fully comply.

The bill now moves to the House floor.

The Legislature’s only auto dealer, Rep. Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene, called the hours mandate ‘terrible’ in a previous interview with IdahoReporter.com. Sims has operated a dealership for more than four decades.

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