PLATTSBURGH — Congressman Bill Owens co-sponsored a bill, later signed into law, that removes an obsolete federal mandate that affected automobile dealers.
Under the law, dealers are no longer required to keep copies of the booklet “Relative Collision Insurance Cost Information” on hand for distribution to customers who request it.
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Failure to provide the booklet had been punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. That mandate had been in effect for 21 years.
$300,000 PER YEAR
“I’m very pleased we were able to accomplish this,” Owens said.
On Tuesday morning, he presented a framed copy of the legislation with the signature of President Barack Obama to Bill McBride Sr. of Bill McBride Chevrolet.
Owens said he has known McBride for years; they worked together on boards at CVPH Medical Center and Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corp.
He said McBride provided input on the needless requirement.
“We’ve never had anyone come in and ask for this (information),” McBride said.
Owens said it cost the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration an estimated $300,000 a year to prepare the booklet and distribute about 17,000 copies to dealers.
Michael Harrington, the National Automobile Dealers Association’s executive director for legislative affairs, said a survey of 815 automobile dealers revealed that 96 percent said they had never had a customer request the information.
The booklet offers a comparison of how much it would cost to repair certain makes and models of vehicles if they were involved in a crash and has always been of limited use to consumers, Harrington said.
“The legislation the congressman sponsored was very dealer inspired,” he said.
The bill was passed by the House of Representatives last July and by the U.S. Senate in December and then was signed into law by the president this year.
Harrington said most people do their research on the Internet when buying a car and that the agency is exploring making the information available there rather than in a hard copy.
“We’re saving the taxpayers a little money,” he said.
Owens, a Democrat, worked with Republican Congressman Gregg Harper of Mississippi to bring the bill to the House.
That has helped the two develop a collegial relationship, Owens said, more of which would benefit the political atmosphere in Washington.
The insurance industry raised no objections, he said.
“We did not hear any objection from any corner,” Owens said.
McBride said he was grateful for Owens’s efforts.
“He’s the one that carried the ball and got it done.”
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