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Palmer promises repeal of auto dealer mandate after Senate kicks the can

Palmer promises repeal of auto dealer mandate after Senate kicks the can

Dustin Hurst
March 24, 2015
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March 24, 2015

Consider the can kicked.

The Idaho Senate decided not to ease an overreaching mandate requiring small auto dealers to remain open 20 hours a week. The Senate Transportation Committee killed the bill last week due to language concerns.

The committee chose not to send the measure to the Senate’s amending order for alterations, a common practice for bills needing small fixes.

That was the sound of a tin can tumbling down State Street in Boise.

House Transportation and Defense Committee Chair Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, told IdahoReporter.com Tuesday he plans on addressing the issue in 2016.

“We will fix that next year,” Palmer promised.

The Idaho Transportation Department wrote the 20-hour mandate last year to clear up an ambiguity in a 2014-passed law. Palmer’s committee originally approved the rule, but then reversed course and voted to ease the regulation by simply requiring small businesses to post their phone numbers.

That wording doomed the plan, though. Senators worried the bill would require small dealers to have a place of business, rather than simply working from their homes, as is common for small sellers.

The rule also requires small dealers to report their business hours to ITD.

But how does a state agency, tasked with road-building and other administrative duties, enforce such a far-reaching regulation?

“ITD’s Division of Motor Vehicles has motor vehicle investigators that regularly visit dealerships across the state,” said ITD’s Steve Grant, one of the agency’s communications staffers. “If the rule goes into effect, those investigators will continue to meet with dealerships during their business hours to ensure they comply with state laws.”

Investigators could show up at any time, Grant said.

“The visits are typically based on a need to meet with a dealership due to a request from a consumer to solve a question or complaint,” Grant explained. “These usually are done randomly unless a dealership calls for assistance, then it is done with an appointment.”

Grant said his agency’s inspectors perform their work with improvement -- not malice -- in mind.

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