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Oberweis bill goes after Sunday closings, again

January 25, 2019
Hours after the state’s 101st General Assembly was seated on Jan. 9, Illinois Sen. Jim Oberweis, took a step he has repeated annually since 2014 and introduced legislation to open the state’s car dealerships to sales on Sundays.
Senate Bill 22, which Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, refers to as the Religious Equity Act, would allow for the sale of motor vehicles on any six days of the week chosen by the business owner, instead of on any day but Sunday, as the Illinois Vehicle Code currently allows.
The legislation is a repeat of last year’s Freedom to Choose Act, which also would have allowed dealerships the opportunity to be open on any six days of the week of their choice, including Sunday. This is another Oberweis attempt to allow vehicle sales on Sundays. His focus is that if one dealership opens on Sundays, many others will follow. 
Sunday car sales have been banned in Illinois since 1984. Automobile dealers largely supported the ban when it was enacted because it gives them a chance to close one day a week, giving workers a day off and saving the business the cost of opening. The Chicago Automobile Trade Association still supports the Sunday ban.
Oberweis apparently remains surprised by that stance shared by the CATA and the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association.
"I thought I would be the hero of the automobile industry by getting (government) off their backs," he said, "only to find out instead that this is promoted by many of the car dealers. That makes it even worse in my opinion. Then what you are doing is using the power of government to thwart competition and control the marketplace."
The bill wouldn’t force dealerships to be open on Sunday, but competition might essentially force them to be.
"If one dealer is going to be open, they’re all going to be open," CATA Chairman Tony Guido said. "It can be a hardship on the smaller people. Who wants to work seven days a week?"
All of Illinois’ neighboring states have the ban, but 32 states do allow Sunday sales. Guido said he isn’t sure being open an extra day is necessary for consumers to shop for cars.
None of Oberweis’s previous bills earned a vote in the Senate, but were given hearings instead.