Utah House defeats “Tesla” bill... HB 394 would have cleared the way for Tesla to sell cars directly to Utah residents, but it was defeated on Tuesday. There were two major drivers for its defeat, one openly discussed, the other not so much.
The in-the-open reason was the fear that sales taxes from new car sales would decline. This is at least a real issue, but it illustrates nicely the inertia of an established tax. Once something is taxed and there's a dependency on the “revenue” from that tax, then it becomes very, very hard to do anything that would disturb that tax.
The not-so-open reason for the bill's defeat is the fact that the auto dealership lobby (which is vehemently opposed to direct sales of new cars) contributes a great deal of money to politician's campaign funds. There's nothing illegal or surprising about this; they're doing the same thing any business would do to protect their own interests. Politicians are perennially searching for campaign funds, so naturally they're going to think twice about pissing off a major contributor.
If we want a Tesla, it looks like we'll have to travel to Nevada or Idaho to buy it, or else arrange for delivery here. I've already informed my state legislators that their vote on this issue will be remembered come election time. Apparently I have no pull :)