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Oberweis makes another run at Sunday operations for dealerships

February 26, 2016
For the third time since he became an Illinois senator in 2013, Jim Oberweis is attempting to open the state's new- and used-car dealerships for sales on Sundays.
The latest legislation, Senate Bill 2860, is named the Religious Equality Act and allows a dealer to operate any six days of the week of his choosing. For dealers who worship on a day other than Sunday, the bill would allow them the opportunity to operate on Sundays.
Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, introduced the bill Feb. 17 and quickly gained two Democratic co-sponsors in the Senate, Chicagoan Heather Steans and Daniel Biss of Evanston. But the road ahead for the bill looks bumpy.
Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, who heads the Transportation Committee, has indicated the Oberweis bill would not be called for a vote but would receive a subject matter hearing only. That was the fate of three similar bills Oberweis introduced last year.
The Oberweis Dairy magnate in 2015 drafted three bills that attempted to open dealerships on Sundays, each from a different angle. The most far-reaching bill called for lifting the Illinois blue law, which took effect in 1984 and which prohibits new- and used-vehicle sales on Sundays. Another would have allowed the sale of motor vehicles for not more than two hours on Sundays, and a third would have permitted Sunday sales by a dealer who observes a religious day of worship other than Sunday. None of the bills earned a vote in the Senate.
Oberweis now appears focused on the religiosity of dealers operating on Sundays, and some think he might try to move the bill in a committee other than transportation. If that happens, the CATA and others who oppose the legislation will mobilize.
Few dealers support lifting the state’s blue law on auto sales. Instead, they favor giving employees that day off, especially since banks are not able to finance vehicles on Sundays. Lifting the ban on Sunday sales also would increase dealership costs without increasing sales, which could lead to higher prices for consumers.
"Our dealers like the current law," said Mike McGrath, chairman of the CATA. "Every state around Illinois is closed Sundays for car sales. Salespeople really like (to have) that day off."
McGrath added that some customers enjoy roaming dealer lots on Sundays at their leisure, with no employees present. The Illinois Automobile Dealers Association developed a list of reasons consumers prefer dealers to be closed on Sundays.
 
 

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