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State laws won't help car dealers get their franchises back

State laws won't help car dealers get their franchises back



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SALT LAKE CITY -- An effort by state lawmakers to help car dealers who lost their Chrysler or GM franchises appears to be falling short.

A number of lawmakers were trying to craft legislation to force the automakers to give the franchises back, or least keep them from opening new franchises without first offering the franchise to those who were cut out.

Executive director of the New Car Dealers of Utah Craig Bickmore said a federal bankruptcy judge made a ruling that basically stopped any efforts made by the states.

"In the bankruptcy court case, Judge Gonzalez ruled very broadly that it would not allow those dealers to get those back by franchise law changes in the state of Utah or other places," Bickmore said.

He said they'll just have to see what happens in Washington this week when a number of groups representing car dealers meet with Chrysler and GM to discuss their concerns.

"It's a Federal issue now, at this point," Bickmore said. "We just commend and applaud the state legislators for doing their best to help us and help the industry. It's just frustrating that we are not able to get it done here because of the ruling by the bankruptcy court."

Bickmore said it was heartbreaking to see dealers lose their franchises. The situation became even more controversial when Chrysler decided to reopen a franchise in St. George but didn't give it back to the dealer it had cut a few months before.

State Senator John Valentine, R-Orem, told KSL Newsradio the whole situation was very frustrating and there wasn't a lot they could do. He said there were some state lawmakers still looking at options, but Valentine said they haven't come up with a law that he thought could pass Constitutional muster.

E-mail: rjeppesen@ksl.com

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Randall Jeppesen

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