Arizona bill failure may help bring Tesla Motors to New Mexico

Created: 04/14/2014 5:22 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Don’t look now – but one of the other guys in the race for Tesla Motors just stumbled. There were four states in the running for the huge new Tesla battery plant – and Arizona may have just taken itself out of the competition.

A bill to allow Tesla to sell its electric cars directly to customers without dealers appears to be dead in the Arizona legislature. The legislation would have let the company bypass dealers in the middle of the sales process, siphoning off some of the profits. Will that kill Arizona’s bid to get the battery plant and 6.500 new jobs?

“It can’t help,” said the bill’s sponsor, Arizona State Sen. John McComish. Earlier in the debate McComish said “I think we should be about opportunities for innovation rather than staffing innovation.”

Last month New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said she was considering a special legislative session to sweeten the deal for Tesla. Rep. Moe Maestas and other Democratic leaders agreed with the Republican governor – as long as there was certainty about what Tesla wanted and what the state was willing to give.

“But I don’t know now if a special session is necessary,” Maestas said Monday. “I think we’ve got good laws on the books and good incentives now, but if we need to tweak something or change something then we should definitely consider it and do it.”

Texas is one of the four finalists, and Gov. Rick Perry wants his state’s lawmakers to consider changing the Texas law against direct auto sales.

“I think it’s time for Texans to have an open conversation about the pros and cons,” Perry said. “I’m going to think the pros of allowing this to happen outweigh the cons.”

Nevada, another finalist, already has legalized direct car sales. Those sales are not legal in New Mexico, but maybe they could be – just maybe. The car dealers are a powerful and popular lobby group and the political fight would probably be spectacular.

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