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Anchorage – Monday, Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed legislation sponsored by Representative Matt Claman (D-Anchorage) to improve laws controlling franchise agreements between auto dealers and manufacturers. House Bill 136 updates Alaska’s franchise statutes to improve protections for auto dealers, auto manufacturers, and Alaska consumers.
Following the economic recession in 2008, national manufacturers shuttered more than 2,000 dealership franchises nationwide resulting in lost economic opportunity and lost jobs. Lessons learned from those terminations resulted in revisions to franchise laws in several states. Prior to the introduction of HB 136, Alaska’s statutes hadn’t been updated since 2002.
“The auto dealers in Alaska employ nearly 4,500 people, and car sales account for about 14 percent of total retail sales in Alaska,” said Rep. Claman. “We recognized the need to update Alaska’s statutes to protect Alaska workers, Alaska-owned businesses, and Alaska consumers while continuing to strengthen manufacturer’s brand quality and warranties.”
House Bill 136 is a product of extensive negotiations between the Alaska Automobile Dealers Association and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers with a focus on Alaska consumers. The collaborative effort, led by Rep. Claman and Sen. Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage), resulted in a bill that clarifies dealer and manufacturer responsibilities and strengthens protections for Alaskans.
House Bill 136 updates statutes relating to warranty repair work and warranty repair policies to be more consumer friendly. Specifically, the bill establishes new warranty repair work guidelines for consumers who live 100 miles or more away from a dealership and requires similar labor rates for both warranty and non-warranty repair work. Further, House Bill 136 details what constitutes good cause for dealership terminations and sets out the manufacturers’ and dealers’ financial responsibilities during terminations. The bill also updates the provisions for transferring or selling a dealership.
“Everyone involved in the auto industry wants Alaska’s dealerships to be successful. It became apparent that the standard motor vehicle franchise agreements didn’t address some of the unique circumstances in Alaska. I thank Governor Walker for signing HB 136 into law because this bill creates a sound system for dealers and manufacturers to thrive while improving consumer protections for all Alaskans,” said Rep. Claman.
House Bill 136 passed the Alaska House of Representatives this year by a vote of 36-3 and the Alaska Senate passed the bill by the unanimous vote of 19-0. Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed the bill into law today during a ceremony in Anchorage.