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Oberweis renews attempt to strike Illinois blue law on Sunday sales

February 27, 2015
Illinois state Sen. Jim Oberweis had a busy day Feb. 20, when he introduced three Senate bills that seek to repeal a 31-year-old ban on Sunday car sales in the state.
Senate Bill 1780, the most far-reaching of the trio, would lift Illinois’s blue law that prohibits new- and used-vehicle sales on Sundays. Another, SB 1835, would allow for the sale of motor vehicles by licensed dealers for not more than two hours on Sundays. And SB 1706 would permit Sunday sales of motor vehicles if the licensed dealer is a person who observes a religious day of worship other than Sunday.
Obwerweis (R-Sugar Grove) also introduced legislation last year to open dealerships on Sundays, but that effort faltered. All three current bills are before the five-member Senate Assignments Committee, which is led by Sen. James Clayborne Jr. (D-Belleville).
Several dealers told the Chicago Automobile Trade Association that they received an email from Oberweis’s legislative aide which asks dealers to choose one of three poisons regarding Sunday closing. While the correct answer to this multiple-choice question is "none of the above," that answer is not provided as an option. The CATA advises dealers to simply disregard the email. Since the inquiry usually is sent through dealer lead management systems, staff should be advised likewise.
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 Colin Wickstrom, chairman of the CATA. "Every state around Illinois is closed Sundays for car sales. Salespeople really like that day off."
Wickstom added that he doesn’t believe consumers are deprived by the Sunday closures. "In the old days, consumers probably would come out four or five times to a dealership. I think a lot of that stuff now is done online, and that’s open 24/7," he said, pointing out that some customers enjoy roaming dealer lots on Sundays at their leisure, with no employees present.
Illinois’ blue law took effect in April 1984. At the 1982 bill signing, then-Gov. James Thompson told the Associated Press, "Since consumers will still have a chance to purchase automobiles six days and nights a week … I will, in this instance, defer to the judgment of the Legislature."
According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, about 20 states ban auto sales on Sundays.