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Deadline kills Tesla direct sales bill in Texas House

by Autoblog Staff | Auto Blog | 05-22-2015

A Texas House deadline has come and gone, killing many top-priority bills for both parties — among them one that would allow Tesla-backed direct car sales and another to regulate ride-hailing companies. Midnight Thursday was the last chance for House bills to win initial, full-chamber approval. Since any proposal can be tacked onto other bills as amendments, no measure is completely dead until the legislative session ends June 1. But even with such resurrections, actually becoming state law now gets far tougher.

Regulations for ride-sharing companies passed out of committee, but never reached the House floor, despite strong lobbying efforts that cost both the taxi industry and companies such as Uber and Lyft up to a total of $1 million.

Among the casualties of bills that didn't make the first round of cuts was House Bill 1653, which would permit electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors to sell cars in Texas at up to 12 locations. Identical measures by a House Democrat and a Senate Republican both got stuck in committee after facing strong opposition by car dealers. Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson — one of the House's most senior members currently serving her 20th term — said it was the company's own fault that the bill didn't pass.

"I can appreciate Tesla wanting to sell cars, but I think it would have been wiser if Mr. Tesla had sat down with the car dealers first," she said. It is possible to own a Tesla in Texas, but it's not easy to do.

The AP contributed to this report.