Tesla bill dies in the House, sparks debate


Abigail Norton
Capital West News

SALT LAKE CITY – House members appeared close to a riot as they debated a bill to allow online car sales in the state. In the end, lawmakers said Telsa won’t be able to sell its cars in Utah.

The bill failed in the House, 32-41-2.

A Tesla promo photo from the Tesla public relations office.
A Tesla promo photo from the Tesla public relations office.

The bill would directly impact electric carmaker Tesla, which was set to open a brick and mortar store Friday, March 6 in South Salt Lake. The bill would have let the Tesla make direct sales in Utah.

Currently the Attorney General has denied Tesla’s business license because they are considered a manufacturer, not a franchise owner.

“We’ve created a black market of Teslas,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan. Currently, anyone wanting to buy a Tesla within the state must go out of state to purchase one.

“Is it possible that the golden freeway the legislature has created for these businesses now has a pothole?” said Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton. The bill’s controversy has stemmed from the bill appearing after Tesla arrived and changing how businesses operate in Utah.

Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, and Rep. Bruce Cutler, R-Murray, joined criticism of the bill, suggesting it be studied in order to find a more comprehensive fix next year.

Rep. Dixon Pitcher, R-Ogden, spoke in support of the bill, but said that he has a conflict of interest and recently flew out of state to buy a Tesla.

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