A bill which could make it almost impossible for Californian automaker Tesla Motors to sell directly to customers in the state of Missouri is likely to die on the house floor this week, meaning Tesla fans in the Show Me State will still be able to get their hands on a luxury Tesla Model S.
That’s the opinion of Republican House Majority Leader John Diehl, who told the St. Louis Post Dispatch yesterday that he had no intention of bringing the offending bill — HB 1124 — up for debate before the current session ends this Friday.
As with a sneaky amendment tacked onto a bill in the Ohio senate last year regarding the safety of road maintenance personnel, Missouri’s HB 1124 isn’t focused on Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] or on electric cars. It’s focused on all-terrain and off-highway vehicles.
Yet like the sneaky attempt in Ohio, pro-dealer representatives have tacked on an amendment to the otherwise benign bill which would prevent Tesla or any other automaker from selling direct to customers. Instead, if passed, the only way for automakers to sell cars would be through franchised third-party dealerships.
Sponsored by the Missouri Auto Dealers’ Association, the amendment to HB 1124 would certainly protect the interests of powerful auto dealers to the detriment of free market principals. But Representative Diehl, who has ultimate control of when and how bills are discussed, said he has no intention of bringing the bill to debate.
“I’m not bringing it up,” he said.
Last week, at the behest of powerful auto dealers, the Missouri Senate actually passed a bill with wording which would prevent direct-to-customer sales from automakers. Without a similar bill passed in the Missouri House of Representatives however, it cannot be signed into law by the Missouri Governor.
But as anyone who has watched The West Wing or House of Cards will tell you, anything is possible in the world of politics.
It’s a view shared by Rep. Chris Kelly, (D-Columbia) who notes that the HB 1124 — and the anti-Tesla amendment — won’t be truly dead until the close of play on Friday.
“For now, it’s certainly sleeping,” he confirmed.
With a similar automotive bill passed recently — one which didn’t include anti-Tesla legislation — the chances of the House of Representatives passing HB1124 are slim.
Even though the signs are good however, Tesla and its fans will be playing a watching and waiting game for the final gavel to fall on Friday at 6pm.
We’ll keep you posted.
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