A long-contemplated bill to allow the direct-to-consumer sale of certain electric vehicles has again stalled in the Connecticut state Senate, its chief proponent said Monday as the legislative session entered its final days.
A handful of high-end, electric-only auto manufacturers like Tesla, Rivian and Lucid have for years sought an exemption to a state law requiring auto companies to sell their vehicles through franchise dealerships.
This year, a bill creating that exemption made its way to the Senate calendar despite opposition from state auto dealers. However, it won’t likely see a vote before the session concludes on Wednesday at midnight.
Sen. Will Haskell, D-Westport, said that’s due to time constraints rather than a lack of support.
“I think we have the votes in the Senate, I just think we’re out of time,” Haskell said outside the Senate chamber.
Even if the Senate were to pass the bill, there was little time left in the session for the House to raise and debate the issue.
The Senate has often marked the end of the so-called “Tesla Bill’s” legislative journey. The bill expired there last year. In 2015, another version of the bill passed out of the House of Representatives only to die on the Senate calendar.
That may be because the policy draws both support and opposition from both sides of the aisle. While proponents frame the bill as a free market, job-creating policy, opponents including the state’s car dealers call it an unfair leg up for a small group of manufacturers that are not willing to play by state rules.
Last week, one of Haskell’s Democratic colleagues, Sen. Julie Kushner, D-Danbury, hosted a press event with representatives of the United Auto Workers union opposing the bill.
On Monday, Haskell, who is not running for re-election, acknowledged there was opposition from within his party but said he saw increasing support among Republicans.
“What we saw this year in the Senate was a lot of Republican support that hadn’t previously been there. I don’t think it’s a question of if this change will happen. It’s much more a question of when it will happen. It won’t happen while I’m here, unfortunately,” Haskell said.