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Auto mogul Sims on dealership hours mandate: ‘Terrible, terrible, terrible’

Auto mogul Sims on dealership hours mandate: ‘Terrible, terrible, terrible’

Dustin Hurst
February 6, 2015
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February 6, 2015

The Idaho Legislature’s only auto dealer said Friday she’s disappointed by regulations approved days ago mandating how long car sales shops should be open each week.

“I thought it was the worst thing I’d seen,” state Rep. Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene, told IdahoReporter.com. “I thought it was a terrible, terrible, terrible rule.”

The House Transportation and Defense Committee narrowly affirmed the rules Wednesday.

With approval, auto dealers must be open at least 20 hours a week, some of which must fall in the regular business week. Dealers must also report working hours to the Idaho Transportation Department.

The rule, written by ITD last year, won industry support. Bobby Peterson, owner of Boise’s Fairly Reliable Bob’s auto dealership, backed the measure in the House panel’s meeting. “A lot of times, it’s a paperwork issue where the parties need to be there,” Peterson told lawmakers. “Less-than-scrupulous dealers hide and don’t respond to emails.”

The agency sold the plan as consumer protection, telling legislators it needs the requirements to scare off shady dealers.

Sims, who runs a Honda dealership in Coeur d’Alene and has sold cars for 43 years, says the requirement just isn’t necessary.

“Good businesses make it, bad businesses don’t,” Sims said.

The regulations, she added, needlessly burden small dealers who might have a regular job and sell cars on the side. “You can’t tell a businessman when he can open and when he can close,” she said. “They have lives and families, too.”

Sims said ITD didn’t ask for her input on the matter. The agency did garner comments from its dealer advisory board, which weighs in on issues just like this one.

Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, told IdahoReporter.com he’s working to craft language to address the problem, but didn’t offer specifics. Palmer cast the deciding vote to affirm the rules.

Sims said Palmer, who heads up the House Transportation and Defense Committee, knows exactly how she feels about the rules. “He’s a businessman,” she said of Palmer. “I was totally surprised he voted for it.”

The Senate Transportation Committee stripped the time requirement from the regulations, but because the House panel affirmed the rules, they stay in place unless Palmer’s fix passes both legislative bodies.

Rep. Patrick McDonald, R-Boise, told IdahoReporter.com he’s fine with the regulations. “There has to be some assurances that people have access to the people that sell them these vehicles,” he said.

The regulations aren’t burdensome enough, he added, to stifle business operations. “They’re only asking 20 hours, out of how many?” he asked. “Six times 24? That’s 150 hours. It’s not going to inhibit industry one bit.”

Palmer didn’t hint about when he might bring the potential fix.

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