Buying a car is one of the biggest decisions a person makes. Owning one is almost a necessity in this modern day and age.
Maybe that’s what motivated members of the House Transportation and Defense Committee to approve an administrative rule defining business hours for car dealers.
During its Wednesday hearing, the panel narrowly approved the administrative rules, written by the Idaho Transportation Department, mandating car dealerships have doors open to customers at least 20 hours each week.
An undefined amount of those 20 hours must fall Monday through Friday, the rules require.
Wholesale dealers must have doors open at least four hours a week. They must also be open an uncertain number of hours during business days.
The regulations also force all dealers to declare their business hours to ITD.
Christine Fisher, a program specialist for ITD, told committee members her agency wrote the rules with consumer protection in mind.
Bobby Peterson, owner of Boise’s Fairly Reliable Bob’s auto dealership, backed the rule. “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.”
Several lawmakers criticized the measure, arguing government has no right telling dealers when they can and cannot work. “This is a road we should not go down,” Rep. James Holtclaw, R-Meridian, said.
Others worried the rules might stifle small businesses because startups might need non-traditional hours in early operating years.
“Not everyone can start out working this much,” Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, said. “Maybe they only work on Saturdays, trying to grow to the point where they can work these hours. I’m confident there’s a different way to accomplish that.”
Rep. Patrick McDonald, R-Boise, sided with ITD and Peterson. “We need to support this because people in the industry support it,” he said. “Citizens of Idaho need this protection.”
The Senate Transportation Committee rejected the language dealing with dealer hours on Jan. 27.
Note: This story originally said that the rules would receive a future Senate committee hearing. After hearing from a reader, we corrected the final line in the article. We regret the error.
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