Jake Croman and Alex Ahdoot's Proposal on Car Dealership Restrictions

Context

Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

The issue in question is the Michigan Law, 435.251: Motor Vehicles; sale on Sunday unlawful.”  The law stipulates that no cars can be sold in Michigan on Sunday, unless the dealership is in a city with a population of less than 130,000. There is also an exception if the participants in the sale do not celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday. Michigan recently passed House Bill No. 4188, 4189, and 4190, which gives publicly funded adoption agencies the right to refuse to place children with same sex parents if the agency objects based on religious grounds. Similar to Michigan Law, 435.251, this bill imposes restrictions based on religion, despite the fact that our country has roots to freedom of religion.

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

The law prohibiting car sales on Sundays creates ambiguity and restrictions that directly affect all Michigan students who own cars and need parts or repairs, as well as students who need to buy cars to commute to school and/or jobs, and who have limited leisure time in which to shop.  It also affects students who would like to sell or trade cars they already own. The burden regarding purchasing cars or parts falls most heavily on students who have rigorous class and study schedules that keep them occupied all week, on those who have additional jobs during the week and/or on Saturdays, and on those who also have school or community service-related events on Saturdays, leaving Sunday as their only shopping day. Students who would like to purchase Tesla cars or car parts are especially adversely affected, since the law has indirectly given Michigan an excuse for banning Tesla dealerships in Michigan. Tesla seeks to sell directly to consumers online, thus circumventing the Sunday prohibition, and Michigan has consequently taken a hard line against all Tesla sales statewide. The law also directly affects students who want to advertise cars they want to sell on social media, or who seek to trade cars.  It is theoretically illegal for individuals to arrange a car sale on Sunday via Facebook or even email, since the law stipulates that one cannot even offer to “buy, sell, trade, or exchange vehicles on a Sunday.” The law’s reliance on the old ‘Blue Law’ concept, in which commerce was discouraged on Sunday in order to encourage individuals to keep the Christian Sabbath, further affects Michigan students would are concerned that the law might be prejudicial and even unconstitutional on principle. The law’s exception, stipulating that buyers and sellers can claim a religious exemption if they do not celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday, appears to create a religious test.  Can someone sell a car on Sunday using social media if he or she can prove that Sunday is not their Sabbath? If so, how would they go about proving this? And who would judge if they’d proved it sufficiently? Most importantly, wouldn’t the law then discriminate against certain groups, suggest that Christianity is an established, state religion, and impose unfair and arguably unconstitutional criteria for anyone purchasing a car on Sunday?

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

We first heard about the law when a student mentioned that his family couldn’t go shopping to replace their old car on a Sunday. We asked a few other students if they knew about the Michigan ban on Sunday car sales, and was intrigued to see that some did, while some had no idea that they couldn’t just visit a car dealership in a big city on Sundays. We then investigated more, by doing a number of internet searches.

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

During our service, we saw that many people in Michigan live on very tight schedules and desperately need their cars to transport them everywhere in their busy lives. For our service, we worked at the Neutral Zone in Ann Arbor. We helped underprivileged children draw and play games like pool and ping pong. We also worked with the kids in the recording studio making songs and helped to clean up the facility and cook lunch/dinner for the kids. Parents and other caretakers who dropped the kids off or picked them up were often incredibly hurried. Many of the adults had more than one job, or attended school in addition to working. When either of us asked them when they did their errands, many said that Sunday was their only free day. We realized that, for many Michigan residents, not being able to get car parts or repairs on Sunday would be a real hardship.       

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Jake Croman and Alex Ahdoot's Proposal on Car Dealership Restrictions:

Jake Croman and Alex Ahdoot's Proposal on Car Dealership Restrictions Document:

Consultations

Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1:   Interview with Brent Baldwin from Tesla

      Baldwin explained that Tesla, which is a strong presence in the Midwest, is prohibited from operating dealerships in the state of Michigan. He argued that consequently, Michigan is losing a company that would offer job opportunities across the state, while individuals who live in Michigan cannot conveniently purchase Tesla’s environmentally friendly cars. Baldwin stated that, in order to defy the ban as much as possible, Tesla is forging into the online market and promoting Tesla vehicles in neighboring states. He concluded by saying that Tesla is petitioning in court for the right to sell cars in Michigan. This interview relates to our topic because the ban on car sales on Sundays has been used as a reason to ban Tesla in Michigan. By targeting consumers directly online, Tesla has been found to be in violation of the law. Baldwin, however, implied that the law was being used to keep Tesla out so that other auto manufacturers who have more sway with the state government can avoid the competition; he suggested that this works against Michigan residents who could benefit from another locus of jobs in the auto industry.

CONSULTATION2:  Interview with Lindsey Laporte from the Ford Motor Company

       Laporte stated that she has a strong awareness of what Michigan consumers need and want in car dealerships owing to her work selling vehicles in the Midwest fielding calls from reporters, bloggers, and students regarding the Ford Motor Company. Laporte argued that the Blue Laws are extremely limiting and unnecessary in today’s world. She said that the Blue Laws reduce profits for the major American car manufacturers, as well as decreasing wages for workers at dealerships. She also stated that she knows from experience and from consumers’ comments that in today’s busy, multi-tasking world, many people, no matter what their religion, have only Sunday as a leisure space when they can shop for cars and visit dealerships. Laporte’s interview was important to our topic because Laporte, as a representative of a major automobile dealership, made it clear that many dealers now oppose the ban on Sunday car sales. This suggests that while some small number of dealers might wish to close on Sundays and save the costs of wages to employees, the larger dealerships where the majority of people shop, would vastly prefer to stay open all week. 

CONSULTATION 3: Interview with Howard Landow, Assistant Director of the Michigan Association of Auto Dealers

       Landow expressed concern about repealing the ban on Sunday car sales. He argued that since the law has been on the books for a long time, many dealerships have incorporated the ban into their business strategy. He said that they seek to maximize car sales on particular weekdays and to cut costs on weekends. He claimed that some dealerships, presumably in smaller markets with populations of under 130,000, have come to feel that the Sunday closure law, which covers only dealerships in cities with populations greater than 130,000, gives them an advantage. When asked if he thought the law should be revised in any way, Landow avoided answering directly and said that he would need to do further research. He said that he would not want to revise the law in a manner that would give any particular market sector an explicit advantage. Landow also avoided commenting on how the ban affects consumers; he focused on individuals who seek to sell their vehicles, and stated that most individual sellers go through brokers who would abide by the law, while individuals advertising or interacting online “should,” in Landow’ view, “be able to sell their vehicle on Sunday.”  This interview related to our topic because Landow represents one of a dwindling number of car dealers who support the ban.  Landow, who represents an organization that includes dealers in cities of all sizes, seemed reluctant to take a position that would alienate dealers in small towns, who feel that they benefit from the Sunday ban on car sales in cities with populations over 130,000. The interview made us aware that the most resistance to repeal would likely come from smaller market dealers. 

CONSULTATION 4:  Interview with Joey, owner of a Tesla vehicle.

     Joey, who owns a Tesla vehicle, represented the point of view of a consumer who is greatly inconvenienced by the Sunday sales ban. He explained that he constantly deals with “annoying things with Telsa in Michigan.” Joey said that he can’t get parts for his car in the state, and complained that Tesla is not allowed to compete fairly with other dealerships. He ventured the opinion that Tesla is viewed as a “disrupting force” in Michigan that will take jobs away from the major car manufacturers and dealers and that this is the real reason for Michigan’s opposition to Tesla. He explained that he recently needed to purchase a new bumper; since he couldn’t go to a Michigan Tesla dealer, he was forced to travel to Ohio to get the part. Joey’s interview was important to our topic because it reinforced the sense that consumers are inconvenienced by the Sunday ban. In Joey’s case, the ban, which is used to prohibit Tesla sales in Michigan, is especially onerous since he can’t service his own car in the state. The interview also showed that consumers view the law as unnecessary, and that some strongly feel that the law is being used as a pretext to keep new competition out of Michigan, to the detriment of consumers and workers.  

 

Prospectus:

Describe the specific issue or problem, being sure to provide sufficient context so that someone less familiar with the issue has a sense of the bigger picture, but know that your focus here is on a more detailed spelling out of the specific problem or issue that you’ve identified. (250 words minimum)

The issue in question is the Michigan Law, 435.251: Motor Vehicles; sale on Sunday unlawful.”  The law stipulates that no cars can be sold in Michigan on Sunday, unless the dealership is in a city with a population of less than 130,000. There is also an exception if the participants in the sale do not celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday.

This law, which was enacted in 1953, has two major rationales. The first is a legacy from the nation’s Blue Laws, which began in the 17th century, with the Puritans. These laws, which were termed “blue” because they were written on blue paper, prohibited many commercial activities on Sundays, with the purpose of forcing people to keep the Christian Sabbath by eschewing all work and attending church.  Most blue laws, many of which were enacted between the 17th and 19th centuries, have been repealed, with the exception of bans on car sales in over a dozen states.

The other rationale – that for this law’s being enacted in 1953 -- combined the initial legacy of ‘no commercial activity on Sunday,’ with a very specific desire on the part of many car dealers. Many car dealers wanted to close on Sundays because they felt that keeping their dealerships open and paying staff was not worth the effort. Some dealers simply wanted a day off; others wanted to attend church and have a family day, while others felt that it wasn’t cost effective to pay staff on a slow business day. Dealers wanted to be certain that all dealers would close if they closed, so that the competition did not get an edge.

Things have changed greatly since 1953, however, and there have been a number of initiatives to repeal this law. Sunday has become an important shopping day and, for many people, one of the only two shopping days of the week.  While some car dealerships still support the law, most dealers, along with consumers, now oppose it on the grounds of lost sales and inconvenience.  Forcing big city dealerships to close on Sundays loses sales for the owners and commissions for the sales people; smaller markets get an unfair advantage. On the consumer side, many residents of Michigan argue that the law is anachronistic and ridiculous, since it eliminates a key shopping day when entire families would be available to visit dealerships and choose a car.

Another issue that has arisen lately is the ambiguity regarding the law’s effect on online car shopping that directly targets consumers. This issue became apparent when Tesla’s recent proposal to sell cars directly to Michigan consumers was challenged. The Sunday ban became a serious hazard blocking consumers from purchasing directly from Tesla, and Tesla, retaliating against Michigan’s locking them out, threatened to abandon plans to open a factory in Michigan that would employ many.

Consumers who advertise cars on social media or seek to trade cars are also faced with ambiguity owing to the law:  it is theoretically illegal for individuals to arrange a car sale on Sunday via Facebook or even email, since the law stipulates that one cannot even offer to “buy, sell, trade, or exchange vehicles on a Sunday.”

This last wrinkle brings up a problem with the law that makes it highly objectionable and perhaps even unconstitutional on principle. The law’s exception, stipulating that buyers and sellers can claim a religious exemption if they do not celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday, appears to create a religious test.  Can someone sell a car on Sunday using social media if he or she can prove that Sunday is not their Sabbath? If so, how would they go about proving this? And who would judge if they’d proved it sufficiently? Most importantly, wouldn’t the law then discriminate against certain groups, suggest that Christianity is an established, state religion, and impose unfair and arguably unconstitutional criteria for anyone purchasing a car on Sunday?

  The law’s inherent ambiguity, its implication of a religious test, and the inconvenience it causes, suggests that it is time to consider if it should remain on the Michigan books.           

 

 

 

“At Flint, Michigan, If You Sell Your Car on Sunday – You Could Go to Jail.” Odyssey, 17 Jan. 2017.

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/sell-car-sunday-jail

 

Bauer, Julia. “Changing state's 56-year-old ban on Sunday car sales would help dealers.” The Grand Rapids Press, 2 Aug. 2009.

http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2009/08/changing_states_56yearold_ban.html

 

“Dealers Say No to Sunday Car Sales.” WKKL.com 5 Aug. 2009.

http://www.kwwl.com/story/10856154/dealers-say-no-to-sunday-car-sales

 

Delmore, Erin. “Behind Bergen County’s Blue Laws.”  NJTV News. 26 Nov. 2015.

http://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/behind-bergen-countys-blue-laws/

 

Edelstein, Stephen. “Michigan says Tesla sales ban not unconstitutional, responding to lawsuit.” Green Car Reports. 21 Dec. 2016.

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1107913_michigan-says-tesla-sales-ban-not-unconstitutional-responding-to-lawsuit

 

 

Editorial Board, “Editorial: Why Can’t You Go Car Shopping in Illinois on Sunday?” Chicago Tribune. 15 May 2015.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-sunday-car-sales-edit-0516-20150515-story.html

 

Gardner, Greg, “Tesla exec: Michigan ban on direct sales may cost it a future car plant.” Detroit Free Press, 29 Sept. 2016.

http://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2016/09/29/tesla-exec-says-michigans-ban-wont-attract-investment/91265328/

 

Gottschall, Terry. “‘A Puritan Sunday’: Base Ball and Blue Laws in Walla Walla, Washington.” falseJefferson7.1 (Spring 2013): 154-169.  Web. ArticlesPlus.

 

“It is Illegal to Sell a Car on Sunday.” Idiotlaws.com.

http://www.idiotlaws.com/its-illegal-to-sell-a-car-on-sunday/

 

LaReau, Jamie. “'NEVER ON SUNDAY': The battle over Sunday sales, Legislation to allow sales not good for business or workers.” Automotive News, 3 May 2015. More +

http://www.autonews.com/article/20150503/RETAIL07/304279869/the-battle-over-sunday-sales

 

MacKinnon, J.B. “America’s Last Ban on Sunday Shopping.” Currency. The New Yorker.  7 Feb. 2015.

http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/americas-last-ban-sunday-shopping

 

News Staff, “2016’s Top Legislative Issues to Watch.” Politics. Governing, Jan. 2016.

http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-2016-legislative-issues-to-watch.html

 

“Repeal this Blue Law.” Petoskey News. 12 Aug. 2009.

http://articles.petoskeynews.com/2009-08-12/ban-on-sunday-car_24015264

 

Section 435.251.   Sale of Motor Vehicles on Sunday (Excerpt).

Act 66 of 1953     Michigan Legislature.

https://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(kcqcpwwcjb5sexcaopu1rkr2))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=mcl-435-251

 

Stamato, Linda. “Keeping Old, Dumb Laws on the Books is Dangerous.” New Jersey Opinion.  NJ.com True Jersey, 23 Jan. 2016.

http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/01/dumb_laws_old_laws_and_even_some_good_laws_that_ne.html

 

Voelcker, John. “Tesla sues Michigan over ban on direct sales of its electric cars.” Green Car Reports, 23 Sept. 2016.

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1106283_tesla-sues-michigan-over-ban-on-direct-sales-of-its-electric-cars

 

Winters, Scott. “Strange Michigan Law: No Car Sales on Sunday.” 98.7 WFGR, 18 Jan. 2017.

http://wfgr.com/strange-michigan-law-no-car-sales-on-sunday/

 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ck9_Xk_cu7PkCecUG6_2w2nXEs-gEVjHJQMCDYrkSL0/edit?usp=sharing

Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Solution One would remove the religious exception and also the exception for dealerships in smaller towns.  Although this solution would totally eliminate the implication of a religious test and, while it would balance the competition between large and small markets, it would not solve the problem of lost sales and consumer inconvenience.  Since this is a legislative solution, it could be launched by citizens circulating a petition and getting enough signatures for a referendum aimed at repealing the law on a ballot. The costs involved here would be those of mounting the petition and investing in an advertising campaign to get signatures. The costs would vary based on the scope of the campaign.  Opposition would come from those who support the ‘blue law’ aspect of the sales prohibition and from car dealerships that want to close on Sundays to save costs and/or pursue religious obligations and/or family time. 

SOLUTION 2: Solution Two would alter the day on which all dealerships (in both large and small towns) must close to a weekday instead of Sunday. This would eliminate the problem of religious bias and unfair market competition, and it would also address the concerns of dealerships that want to close on Sundays to save the costs of employee salaries one day a week. The costs involved in a legislative initiative would pertain, along with the costs of determining which day of the week would be chosen. In order to choose the day, it would be necessary to contact dealerships and dealership organizations, such as the Michigan Automobile Dealers’ Association, in order to determine which weekday produces the fewest sales.  It would also be necessary to poll dealers regarding the day that they would prefer to take as ‘personal time.’ This would solve the religious issue, but would still result in lost sales and consumer inconvenience. Objections would still arise from those who endorse the ‘blue law’ aspect and who specifically want to take Sunday as a personal religious and/or family day.  This solution might also end up losing even more sales if the figures regarding high and low profit weekdays are not fully reliable. 

SOLUTION 3: Solution Three would entail a complete repeal of the law. This would solve all of the law’s inherent ambiguities, losses, and inconveniences, but would face opposition from two constituencies: those who support the ‘blue law’ aspect, and dealerships that want to save money and take personal time by closing on Sundays.  The costs involved would those of mounting a legislative initiative and, since we would be seeking total repeal, the costs of running an ad campaign would undoubtedly be higher since the level of public persuasion and education regarding the law’s downside would need to be more intense. 
    

“Ballotopedia: The Encylopedia of American Politics.”      https://ballotpedia.org/Laws_governing_the_initiative_process_in_Michigan

Clark, Zoe. “How State Lawmakers are Making Sure you Can’t Repeal Their Laws.” Michigan Radio. NPR. 28 Oct. 2011. 
http://michiganradio.org/post/how-state-lawmakers-are-making-sure-you-can-t-repeal-their-laws

MADA. Michigan Automobile Dealers Association.  2017.
http://www.michiganada.org/

 

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

   After meeting with Brett Spielman, one of the Michigan Student Caucus Topic Coordinators, we gained a perspective that we previously lacked. Brett insured us that our proposal was on the right track, but he made it clear that some minor changes would positively impact the proposal as a whole. To start, Brett indicated that we needed to prioritize one of the two issues we originally presented. The initial proposal included issues regarding Michigan’s Blue Laws and direct consumer sales like Tesla. Brett instructed us that, to make our proposal as convincing as possible, we needed to make it relatively simple. We decided to take Brett’s critique and limit the emphasis we put on Tesla sales and instead focused the majority of the proposal on Michigan’s Blue Laws. Following this decision, we asked Brett for advice on who we should look to consult with on our proposal. Originally, we were confused whether we should focus on consumers or the owners of the car dealerships. Brett emphasized the importance of the consultations and suggested that we use a combination of the two resources to get the best overall complexion for our proposal. This help allowed us to gain well rounded perspective on both sides of the issue which helped us to formulate both solutions and counter-arguments. Finally, we asked Brett about incorporating religion into our proposal. Brett responded by saying that, although we should not avoid the religious aspect entirely, we should not make it one of the major issues associated with the law. Brett advised that religion could become a more controversial issue for the legislator and that focusing on the business aspects of the law would help the proposal more. Overall, Brett’s advice was invaluable in helping us to grasp the right direction for this proposal. 

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

We began our research by talking to other students and acquaintances, and learning that the Michigan prohibition on Sunday car sales is part of a long tradition in which commerce has been banned in the U.S. on Sundays. As we became more interested in the topic, we investigated the Michigan library and other online resources to understand the thinking behind Blue Laws in general. In reading about Blue Laws, we realized that the Michigan Law, like other extant Blue Laws, is an anachronism. It is arguably unconstitutional, or at least highly prejudicial, since it is a vestige of a Puritan America in which Christianity was the predominant and often ‘expected’ religion. This awareness made us eager to understand why such a law would remain on the books since, over the years, most other Blue Laws have been repealed. We were even more intrigued when we saw that the Michigan law was relatively ‘modern,’ having been passed in the 1950s, a time when religious diversity was certainly greater than in colonial America.

 As we researched more, we learned that there were economic reasons for the law as well as the traditional religious ones:  Michigan’s late-comer car-sales ban was passed in part owing to pressure from car dealers who wanted to take Sundays off or save money by not paying employees one day a week. These dealers wanted to be sure that their competition had to close as well. The 1953 law, in an attempt to be less religiously biased than its obviously Christian-oriented predecessors, adds an exception, in which individuals who celebrate the Sabbath on another day are exempted. It also stipulates that the rule does not apply to car dealerships in towns and cities with populations of under 130,000. We realized that these exceptions, in themselves, create more even more problems because they heighten the religious aspect of the law by allowing individuals who can somehow prove that Sunday is not their Sabbath to purchase, sell, or advertise cars, and they also create a very unfair trade imbalance between large and small markets.

One of the things that most intrigued us as we delved deeper was the controversy regarding the sale of Tesla cars in Michigan that derives indirectly from the law. Tesla emphasizes online car shopping that directly targets consumers. The Michigan state government viewed Tesla’s online sales as a means of getting around the Sunday ban and thus taking business away from Michigan brick and mortar dealers and thus, by extension, taking business away from Michigan workers. This issue became apparent when Tesla’s recent proposal to sell cars directly to Michigan consumers was challenged. The Sunday ban became a serious hazard blocking consumers from purchasing directly from Tesla, which is now prevented from operating dealerships in Michigan.  Tesla, retaliating against Michigan’s locking them out, has threatened to abandon plans to open a factory in Michigan that would employ many.

 Our consultants broadened our thinking and offered nuance as they each offered reasons why car dealers, who have at times, opposed initiatives to repeal the ban, would greatly benefit from its removal from the books. They also heightened our sense that Michigan workers, as well as Michigan consumers, would benefit from the law’s repeal. Brent Baldwin, from Tesla, explained that Tesla suffers from Michigan’s banning it from the state. He also pointed out that, in the long run, Michigan workers will be hurt since Tesla’s presence could actually “lead to an increase in job opportunity across the state.” Baldwin felt that the Blue Law was largely an excuse for Michigan’s protecting “other automotive manufacturers” whose voices were more persuasive to Michigan officials. Lindsey Laporte, a Ford Motor Company Manager, spoke for the many dealers who feel that the “Blue Laws are unnecessarily limiting” and that they “take away potential profit from an American owned company as well as limiting wages of hourly dealership employees.” Lindsey also argued that “in today’s time, you have clients of every religion who sometimes only have Sundays to come into a dealership.” Finally, Joey, who owns a Tesla vehicle, discussed the inconvenience that Tesla owners face in Michigan. Since he can’t get parts in Michigan, he had to go to Ohio to replace a bumper.

Our research deepened our understanding of why the law still exists on the books, and also convinced us that despite the few dealerships that might like to close on Sundays, most dealerships, along with Michigan consumers and workers, are eager to do all the business that they can, all seven days of the week.

 

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

      Throughout this process, Jake and I have learned a great deal about Michigan legislation, specifically automotive laws. At the beginning of the process, we discussed the strengths we felt each of us brought to the table, and equally distributed the work needed for this proposal. We agreed that some of the work would be best done if we were to conduct it separately and other parts of the proposal would be done together. My role specifically included finding the historical background on Michigan Law 435.21 and referencing a current Michigan bill that related to the issue. Through my initial research, I was able to grasp a basic understanding of the law’s restrictions and how it effected both consumers and businesses. This basic understanding helped me develop more relevant consultations. Specifically, I called and interviewed Brent Baldwin from Tesla and Lindsey Laporte from the Ford Motor Company. After discussing some of the law’s implications with them, I was better suited to develop some potential solutions to this controversial law. Together, Jake and I gathered relevant research that helped us to eventually write major portions of the proposal together.

    On the other hand, Jake worked on researching articles, academic papers, and government research regarding the proposal. He also gleaned pertinent information from these sources and used them to bolster the project. Further, he contacted and interviewed both Joey (Tesla Owner) and Howard Landow (Assistant Director of the Michigan Association of Auto Dealers). The information he gained allowed him to successfully formulate the “Therefore Be it Resolved” and counter-arguments. Lastly, he calculated the rough cost of enacting the proposal and the appropriate funding it would require.

===FORMAL PROPOSAL===

The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

Michigan Law, 435.251: Motor Vehicles; sale on Sunday unlawful,” stipulates that no cars can be sold in Michigan on Sunday, unless the dealership is in a city with a population of less than 130,000. There is also an exception if the participants in the sale do not celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday. This law and its exceptions create inconveniences for consumers, cost car dealership employees much-needed wages, offer a pretext for banning Tesla dealerships in the state, and suggest religious prejudice and a religious test for buyers and selling. 

WHEREAS....

Sunday has become an important shopping day and, for many people, one of the only two shopping days of the week. Forcing car dealerships to close on Sundays thus eliminates a key shopping day when consumers could visit dealerships and choose a car. It also impedes individuals from buying car parts and making necessary repairs on Sundays, thus diminishing their quality of life and their ability to maintain their primary means of transportation.

WHEREAS....

Dealers and workers at dealerships suffer from lost sales and lost wages on Sundays. Dealers in big Michigan cities lose business as consumers go out-of –state to purchase cars or parts on Sundays, or visit smaller markets, which receive an unfair advantage. Workers lose wages and commissions when they are not allowed to work on Sundays. 

WHEREAS....

Tesla dealerships have been banned from Michigan owing to that company’s determination to engage in direct sales to consumers online, thus circumventing Michigan Law, 435.251. Consumers are thus prevented from buying environmentally friendly Tesla cars in Michigan or purchasing parts to repair their own Tesla cars. In addition, Tesla, retaliating against Michigan’s locking the company out, has threatened to abandon plans to open a factory in Michigan that would employ many. 

WHEREAS....

The law places consumers who advertise cars on social media, or who seek to trade cars, in an unacceptably ambiguous position. Since it is theoretically illegal for individuals to arrange car sales on Sunday via Facebook or even email, individuals who advertise or interact privately online regarding car sales or trades on Sundays are in violation of the law. 

WHEREAS....

The law’s exception, stipulating that buyers and sellers can claim a religious exemption if they do not celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday, suggests religious prejudice. Individuals seeking to buy, sell, or advertise cars on Sunday are mandated by the law to prove that they do not celebrate their Sabbath on Sunday. This amounts to a religious test, which places an undue burden on consumers and sellers, invades their privacy, and conflicts with the principle of religious freedom that is constitutionally guaranteed.  The law further suggests, by its connection with Blue Laws, that Christianity is an established, state religion, whose requirements can dictate laws regarding commerce in Michigan.

 

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....

1. That Michigan Law, 435.251 and its exceptions be repealed, allowing all Michigan car dealerships to open on Sunday and do business as they see fit. 

2. That Michigan Law, 435.251 not be used to ban Tesla sales from Michigan.

3. That Michigan Law, 435.251 be altered to not prohibit the sale of automobiles on Sunday between the everyday consumer that does not enlist the help of a car dealership.

(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)

Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. Those who support the ‘blue law’ aspect of Michigan Law, 435.251 argue that the tradition of keeping the Christian Sunday Sabbath is an intrinsic part of American culture and should not be changed.

2. Dealerships that want to save money and/or take personal time by closing on Sundays, argue that the law is necessary to protect them from competition from dealerships in particular markets that would profit from keeping their businesses open on Sundays. 

3. Those who support the ‘blue law’ aspect of Michigan Law, 435.251 argue that the established existence of the law has created a stable market, and any drastic change would result in potential confusion and economic loss for both the car dealerships and the consumer.

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

The costs are those of mounting a legislative initiative and running an ad campaign to gain public awareness. Citizens would circulate a petition and seek enough signatures for a referendum aimed at repealing the law on a ballot. Citizens who committed to the circulation could lose wages or earnings, depending on the amount of time they commit to the initiative. An advertising campaign to get signatures would vary greatly based on the scope of the campaign, and whether major media, such as television, was used. Funds for the campaign could be raised from consumer groups, associations of car dealers, and individual dealerships. Funds could also be raised from organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, and from individuals who object to the implication of a religious test and of religious prejudice that makes the law an anachronism in a religiously plural society. 

References:

These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.

“At Flint, Michigan, If You Sell Your Car on Sunday – You Could Go to Jail.” Odyssey, 17 Jan. 2017.

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/sell-car-sunday-jail

 

“Ballotopedia: The Encylopedia of American Politics.”         https://ballotpedia.org/Laws_governing_the_initiative_process_in_Michigan

 

Bauer, Julia. “Changing state's 56-year-old ban on Sunday car sales would help dealers.” The Grand Rapids Press, 2 Aug. 2009.

http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2009/08/changing_states_56yearold_ban.html

 

Clark, Zoe. “How State Lawmakers are Making Sure you Can’t Repeal Their Laws.” Michigan Radio. NPR. 28 Oct. 2011.

http://michiganradio.org/post/how-state-lawmakers-are-making-sure-you-can-t-repeal-their-laws

 

“Dealers Say No to Sunday Car Sales.” WKKL.com 5 Aug. 2009.

http://www.kwwl.com/story/10856154/dealers-say-no-to-sunday-car-sales

 

Delmore, Erin. “Behind Bergen County’s Blue Laws.”  NJTV News. 26 Nov. 2015.

http://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/behind-bergen-countys-blue-laws/

 

Edelstein, Stephen. “Michigan says Tesla sales ban not unconstitutional, responding to lawsuit.” Green Car Reports. 21 Dec. 2016.

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1107913_michigan-says-tesla-sales-ban-not-unconstitutional-responding-to-lawsuit

 

Editorial Board, “Editorial: Why Can’t You Go Car Shopping in Illinois on Sunday?” Chicago Tribune. 15 May 2015.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-sunday-car-sales-edit-0516-20150515-story.html

 

Gardner, Greg, “Tesla exec: Michigan ban on direct sales may cost it a future car plant.” Detroit Free Press, 29 Sept. 2016.

http://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2016/09/29/tesla-exec-says-michigans-ban-wont-attract-investment/91265328/

 

Gottschall, Terry. “‘A Puritan Sunday’: Base Ball and Blue Laws in Walla Walla, Washington.” falseJefferson7.1 (Spring 2013): 154-169.  Web. ArticlesPlus.

 

“It is Illegal to Sell a Car on Sunday.” Idiotlaws.com.

http://www.idiotlaws.com/its-illegal-to-sell-a-car-on-sunday/

 

LaReau, Jamie. “'NEVER ON SUNDAY': The battle over Sunday sales, Legislation to allow sales not good for business or workers.” Automotive News, 3 May 2015. More +

http://www.autonews.com/article/20150503/RETAIL07/304279869/the-battle-over-sunday-sales

 

MacKinnon, J.B. “America’s Last Ban on Sunday Shopping.” Currency. The New Yorker.  7 Feb. 2015.

http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/americas-last-ban-sunday-shopping

 

MADA. Michigan Automobile Dealers Association.  2017.

http://www.michiganada.org/

 

News Staff, “2016’s Top Legislative Issues to Watch.” Politics. Governing, Jan. 2016.

http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-2016-legislative-issues-to-watch.html

 

“Repeal this Blue Law.” Petoskey News. 12 Aug. 2009.

http://articles.petoskeynews.com/2009-08-12/ban-on-sunday-car_24015264

 

Section 435.251.   Sale of Motor Vehicles on Sunday (Excerpt).
Act 66 of 1953     Michigan Legislature.

https://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(kcqcpwwcjb5sexcaopu1rkr2))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=mcl-435-251

 

Stamato, Linda. “Keeping Old, Dumb Laws on the Books is Dangerous.” New Jersey Opinion.  NJ.com True Jersey, 23 Jan. 2016.

http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/01/dumb_laws_old_laws_and_even_some_good_laws_that_ne.html

 

State of Michigan, Department of State. “Initiative and Referendum Petitions.” Mar. 2015.

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/Ini_Ref_Pet_Website_339487_7.pdf

 

Voelcker, John. “Tesla sues Michigan over ban on direct sales of its electric cars.” Green Car Reports, 23 Sept. 2016.

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1106283_tesla-sues-michigan-over-ban-on-direct-sales-of-its-electric-cars

 

Winters, Scott. “Strange Michigan Law: No Car Sales on Sunday.” 98.7 WFGR, 18 Jan. 2017.

http://wfgr.com/strange-michigan-law-no-car-sales-on-sunday/

 


 

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Total votes: 34

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