The Mississippi Senate voted 39 to 13 on Thursday in favor of placing restrictions on electric vehicle (EV) dealerships in the state—a bill that could severely set back the EV industry in this southern state.
- HB401 does not ban EV sales in the state. However, it does amend provisions in the state’s motor vehicle laws to disallow companies from directly selling their vehicles and that they must sell through franchise dealerships.
- Mississippi only has one Tesla dealership, which operates as a “store,” and it may need to rearrange how it is organized to continue operating in the state if the law passes.
- The bill, sponsored by Republican Representative Trey Lamar, is now on the desk of Republican Governor Tate Reeves, who has not indicated whether he will sign the bill.
Why It’s News
Mississippi isn’t the first state to push back against the spread of EVs. Six Republican state lawmakers in Wyoming sponsored a non-binding resolution in January to phase out EV production in the state by 2035 in a bid to protect the state’s oil industry and the job market. They also noted the state’s lack of EV charging infrastructure and other adverse issues with battery technology.
As we previously reported, President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act signed $369 billion worth of clean-energy investments into law and set aside tax credits for EVs. The European Union is currently drafting its own version with the European Sovereignty Fund. This rise in clean energy investment has spurred the EV market, with most automakers preparing to phase out gas-powered vehicles by 2035.
The bill has received criticism from other Mississippi politicians, notably other Republicans. Senator Brice Wiggins dismissed the bill as “protectionist,” while Senator Joey Fillingane alleges that the bill would set the state back as EVs become more popular, AP reports.
“Maybe we just like being last all the time. Maybe it’s a badge of honor—we’re the last ones to change. If we’re not careful … we could deprive our citizens of opportunities they really ought not to be deprived of,” says Fillingane.
Republican Senator Daniel Sparks fired back, arguing that Tesla and EV companies shouldn’t be given special privileges not afforded to franchise car dealerships. “We’re saying if you choose to have a brick-and-mortar dealership, you have to follow the same laws that everyone else has to follow,” he says.