Legislation updates auto dealer franchise laws

Legislation signed into law on July 2 by Gov. Bill Walker updates Alaska’s franchise statutes to improve protections for auto dealers, auto manufacturers, and consumers.

House Bill 136, sponsored by Rep. Matt Claman, D-Anchorage, 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 Claman and Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, resulted in legislation clarifying dealer and manufacturer responsibilities and strengthened protections for Alaskans.

In the wake of the economic recession in 2008, national manufacturers shuttered over 2,000 dealership franchises nationwide, resulting in lost economic opportunity and lost jobs.

HB 136 updates statutes relating to warranty repair work and warranty repair policies to be more consumer friendly. Specifically, the bill reestablishes 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. The bill also retails what constitutes good cause for dealership terminations and sets out the manufacturers’ and dealers’ financial responsibilities during terminations, and updates provisions for transferring or selling a dealership.