Ohio lawmakers nix bill to prohibit Tesla owned dealerships

An Ohio house committee declined to take up a one-paragraph amendment today pushed by the Ohio Auto Dealers Association that would have blocked an innovative U.S. carmaker's business model.

That means the fight between Tesla Motors and Ohio auto dealers will carry into next year. At issue is whether to prohibit an auto manufacturer from owning an auto dealership, the method Tesla desires.

Dealers wanted to stick the amendment in a non-controversial bill that would require drivers to move over when approaching a road maintenance vehicle. But with Tesla representatives pushing hard, the bill passed committee today with no amendments.

"I've watched amendments go through at the last minute and making mistakes," said Rep. Rex Damschoder, R-Fremont, the Transportation Committee chairman. "This issue is of such importance that it shouldn't be rushed."

Democrats also had concerns about the amendment.

"Are we standing in the way of something that is innovative?" said Rep. Robert F. Hagan, D-Youngstown. "This is an up-and-coming 6,000-employee group that should be given an opportunity to expand."

Tesla, a relatively new California-based maker of electric cars, intends to own all of its own dealerships, opening its first Ohio outlet on Friday at Easton, and a second one next week in Cincinnati. Nearly all other auto dealerships in the country are franchises.