Target: Missouri State Senator Mike Kehoe
Goal: Expose Missouri state legislators’ attempts to block Tesla Motors car sales in their state
The Missouri state legislature, caving to pressure from the auto dealers lobby, recently attempted to bar direct sales of Tesla Motors’ electric cars to consumers in their state. By sneaking a major amendment into an otherwise unrelated bill the dealers hoped to protect themselves from the competition that naturally comes from innovative new technologies, thus subverting the free market and restricting consumer choice. Although the bill was shelved for this year, the Speaker of the Missouri State House of Representatives has promised to reintroduce the bill next year.
While the original bill was about laws regarding all-terrain vehicles, recreational off-highway vehicles and utility vehicles the new language was an attempt to completely reinterpret an existing law that bars franchisors from competing with franchisees (so that Ford, for example, cannot compete against independently run Ford dealerships). Since Tesla only sells directly from the manufacturer they have no franchises to compete with, and so the revised statute didn’t apply to them; but the bill attempted to redefine “franchisor” to mean “manufacturer,” essentially barring any Tesla sales at all in the state. Not surprisingly the Senator who drafted the amendments has been an auto dealership owner for over 20 years.
The dealers proposed the new language after the bill had already passed the state House, and only one week before Missouri ended its current legislative session. The new bill then passed the state Senate with no chance for public debate or even public awareness. Due to the last minute changes the bill was sent back to the House where it faltered because public outcry and Tesla’s intervention. Had the new language not been brought to their attention, however, the bill would have essentially created monopoly protection in the state of Missouri for conventional car manufacturers.
This anti-competitive attitude and innovation-suppressing behavior is unfair to Missouri voters and consumers and has no place in public policy. Tell the lawmakers involved that their corporate pandering will not be tolerated, this year or the next.
Dear Senator Kehoe,
The recent anti-Tesla language inserted into House Bill 1124 is an affront to the free market and unfair to Missouri consumers. Capitalism runs on creative destruction, with old technology necessarily making way for new and better innovations, and the state has no right to try and force consumers to choose old outdated products when new and more efficient ones are readily available.
The Federal Trade Commission has openly stated their support for Tesla’s direct sale model, saying that “regulators should differentiate between regulations that truly protect consumers, and those that protect the regulated.” Your amendment was clearly an attempt to suppress innovation and deny consumers access to a competitive vehicle market. This shady back-room dealing is not how effective government runs, and I hope you will refrain from such discriminatory behavior in the future.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson via flickr