Sen. Bert Brackett, R- Rogerson, used his special chairman’s privilege to kill a measure to end a far-reaching regulation that could shutter small Idaho businesses.
Brackett, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, chose not to hear House Concurrent Resolution 25, a measure that would have repealed a section of administrative code forcing small auto dealers to remain open at least 20 hours a week.
The small dealers, who must sell more than four cars a year, must also report their hours to the Idaho Transportation Department, the state agency that wrote the rule.
The Legislature failed to kill the regulations, even though they had several attempts to get there. The Senate committee overseeing the issue stripped the mandate from a larger rules package, but the House panel approved the full slate.
Then, the House cleared a bill to ease the regulations, but the Senate killed that measure over wording concerns.
In the final try, Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, pitched the resolution, which simply would have rendered the regulation null and void. He pushed the measure through committee and the House floor, but Brackett never gave it a hearing.
“They didn’t do it,” Palmer said when asked about the measure and why it failed.
Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, added a bit more insight.
“The chairman just told me we weren’t going to hear it,” Vick said. “I asked him about it.”
Palmer’s push came in the final few days of the 2015 session, which adjourned around 1:30 a.m. Saturday, after lawmakers passed a $95 million tax hike to fund road and bridge repairs. Both Palmer and Brackett were part of a six-member panel tasked with hammering out that plan. That committee met for several hours Thursday and Friday as the House and Senate tried to find common ground.
That might have contributed to Brackett not taking up the plan. “He hinted -- we were working on transportation -- that was his priority,” Vick said. “He didn’t want to elaborate.”
ITD officials say they will enforce the rule through surprise inspections and regularly scheduled visits with dealers.
Palmer isn’t done with the issue, though.
“I’ll fix it next year,” he said.
Brackett said he plans, like Palmer, to address the problem next year. "The clock just ran out on that this year," he said.
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