Bill to allow Sunday sales of automobiles gets boost Anne Arundel senators back 'blue law' repeal

March 12, 1997|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

The Anne Arundel County Senate delegation voted yesterday in favor of a bill that would repeal the last remnants of the county's so-called "blue laws" and allow auto dealers to open on Sundays. Now Baltimore County also is considering Sunday openings.

"Everything changes now that the Anne Arundel County bill is moving along," said Sen. F. Vernon Boozer, a Towson Republican. "Most of the car dealers in the county didn't want to open on Sunday, but I'm not sure what their thinking is now that the Anne Arundel bill was approved" by the senators.

Approval by the Anne Arundel delegation does not ensure passage by the full Senate, but it represents a major boost to the bill.

Boozer said he would meet with Sen. Michael J. Collins, the Democrat who heads the Baltimore County Senate delegation, in the next couple of days to discuss what action that delegation might take.

Boozer said the Senate could hold up action on the Anne Arundel County bill, SB-462, "until the first of next week so that it could be amended to include Baltimore County. This will give us time to poll the dealers and see what they want to do."

He said some dealers in Baltimore County prefer to open on Sunday.

The Anne Arundel delegation voted 3-2 in favor of repeal, with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, whose district includes a small portion of the county, casting the pivotal vote.

Sen. Edward Middlebrooks, the Republican who heads the Anne Arundel delegation, said he voted in favor of repeal because "it was going to happen this year or next because of changes in the auto industry."

Noting that the bill does not force any dealer to open on Sunday, he said repeal would attract new business to the state.

The Anne Arundel move is designed to clear the way for Auto- Nation USA, the used-car superstore chain launched by billionaire entrepreneur H. Wayne Huizenga. AutoNation wants to open a large used-car lot near Glen Burnie and a vehicle restoration center near Pasadena that could employ as many as 560 workers.

AutoNation, however, wants the right to sell cars on Sundays.

During a meeting with the Anne Arundel County Senate delegation Monday night, dealers opposed any change in the current law.

Joseph P. Carroll, president of the Maryland New Car and Truck Association, said that the vast majority of dealers in Anne Arundel prefer to remain closed on Sunday. He said a seven-day-a-week operation adds to a dealer's overhead without the benefit of selling additional cars.

"We welcome AutoNation," Joseph Adams, head of a Buick, Pontiac and GMC truck dealership in Annapolis, testified, "but let's not change the rules for them."

Pub Date: 3/12/97

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