House panel approves LaSata’s bill easing restrictions on car dealer hours of operation

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Kim LaSata that would provide better flexibility for Class A and Class B car dealers to run their business was approved Tuesday by the state House Committee on Regulatory Reform.

Current law requires car dealers to be open to customers at least 30 hours per week, 52 weeks a year. LaSata’s bill would reduce that requirement to 48 weeks and remove the hours of operation restrictions for the remaining four weeks of the year.

“Ensuring car dealers are open during certain times helps protect consumers from shady businesses, but the current mandate requiring every dealer to be open every week no matter what puts significant strain on small and family owned and operated dealerships,” said LaSata, R-Coloma. “These businesses don’t always have the manpower to meet the requirement, especially in times of emergency, and it stunts their ability to offer professional development opportunities and vacations, which are common offerings of any business.

“Reducing the number of weeks dealerships must be open per year simply gives them better flexibility to run their business, respect their employees, and attract talented workers and create jobs, while still allowing for important consumer protections.”

Senate Bill 128 would also require dealerships to provide seven days’ notice to the secretary of state before implementing a temporary change in hours of operation but allow the secretary of state to waive the notice requirement in emergency situations.

Chris Britton, executive director of the New Heights Christian Community Development Association, which oversees New Heights Auto Service in St. Joseph, brought the issue to LaSata’s attention and testified before the House committee.

“The current requirement to maintain 30 business hours per week is cumbersome at times,” Britton said. “The burden of the current regulation was quite evident around Christmas last year. That time of year is particularly slow for us and, as a way to show appreciation to our staff, I wanted to give everyone the week off as paid vacation. However, because of the current law we were unable to do this for our staff.”

The bill, which was previously approved by the Senate unanimously, awaits further action in the House.