Chicago Automobile Trade Association

Oberweis' open Sundays bill stalls

May 20, 2016
With the Illinois General Assembly’s scheduled spring adjournment days away, the clock has seemingly expired on state Sen. Jim Oberweis’s latest attempt to open car dealerships to sales on Sundays.
This year’s legislation, Senate Bill 2860, is named the Religious Equality Act and would allow 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 a chance to operate on Sundays.
Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, introduced the bill in February 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 has been dark.
Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, who heads the Transportation Committee, has not called the Oberweis bill for a vote, giving it a subject matter hearing only. That was the same 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 this year appears focused on the religiosity of dealers operating on Sundays, and some thought he might try to move the bill in a committee other than transportation. 
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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