Mississippi Bill Would Restrict Electric Vehicle Dealerships 

March 3, 2023

Mississippi’s state senate gave final approval to a bill Thursday that would restrict electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers from opening dealerships unless they comply with the same laws as traditional carmakers.

The bill, passed along bipartisan lines 39-13, now heads to Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who has not indicated whether he’ll sign it. 

On Thursday the bill sparked debate among Republican state lawmakers. Opponents said it would go against conservative principles by involving the government in private business. Supporters said the legislation would ensure that all manufacturers play by the same rules. 

The bill comes as the Biden Administration has opened up tax breaks for purchasers of EVs under the Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed into law this past summer.

EV maker Tesla sells vehicles in person at one facility in Mississippi that’s technically classified as a store, not a dealership. This allows the company to operate outside the state’s franchise business laws. 

State Senator Daniel Sparks (R) argued, that distinction allows such companies special privileges not given to traditional carmakers. However, another Republican state Senator, Brice Wiggins, asserted that the “protectionist” bill came from traditional car dealers who feel threatened by EVs. Meanwhile GOP Sen. Joey Fillingane said he’s concerned that the bill could cause Mississippi to fall behind in the race to attract the fast-growing EV business. 

The bill does not restrict the direct sale of EVs since people can buy them online. Rather, under the bill EV makers could not open a new brick-and-mortar dealership unless they enter a franchise agreement.

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