In 2000, prominent local businessman Larry H. Miller lobbied for a law to keep car dealerships closed on Sunday. He got his wish.
SB 163 – Sale of Motor Vehicle, which was sponsored by former Representative Paula Julander (Democrat – Salt Lake City), prohibited dealerships from selling or leasing motor vehicles on consecutive Saturdays and Sundays. With Saturday being a big day for car sales, Sunday was the obvious choice for closure. The bill received little opposition and passed the Senate 25-1; the House put up some fight, with a 49-21 vote.
[pullquote]You have probably heard of “blue laws” that prevent the sale of things like alcohol at certain times or on certain dates – but did you know that Utah had a blue law for selling cars? Representative Roberts (Republican – Santaquin) wants to change that.[/pullquote]Fast forward sixteen years, Representative Marc Roberts (Republican – Santaquin) is seeking to undo the effects of SB 163 with his bill HB 176 – Motor Vehicle Business Regulation Amendments, which will repeal the prohibition.
Roberts ran the same bill during the 2015 General Session. HB 295 – Motor Vehicle Business Regulation Amendments, which sat in the House Business and Labor Committee before being returned to Rules to die an unceremonious death.
Roberts is trying to right a serious wrong with HB 176. The Sunday-closing rule imposed by the legislature is completely antithetical to the notion of a free market. Yes, sometimes the government needs to intervene in business affairs for the common good of the people, but creating blue laws and controlling when a dealership can and can not conduct otherwise legal commerce seems a bit much in this case.
It is unclear whether this bill has a chance of passing. Some of the car dealers and special interest groups who were around to advocate for the original bill are no doubt still on the scene today. The car dealership lobby is a powerful one – and the question is whether people are fed up enough with this law to give the bill the momentum it needs to pass.
As of this writing, HB 176 has once again returned to the House Business and Labor Committee for its consideration, but has not been placed on the agenda yet.
To contact Representative Roberts, click here or call 801-210-0155 (Cell).
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