LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- A bill aiming to restrict who can sell cars in Arkansas has failed in committee. In an 8 to 8 vote Thursday, committee house members struck down the Salvage Vehicle Consumer Safety and Disclosure Act.
Each year, millions of cars are salvaged in the US due to collisions or flood damage that can occur in storms like Hurricane Sandy. Where those cars go after that has some Arkansas lawmakers questioning vehicle salvage regulations in the state.
Currently under Arkansas law, vehicles older than seven years are not required to carry a salvage title, regardless of the amount of damage. Lamar Murphy, an auto dealer and member of the Arkansas Independent Dealers Association, said this leaves Arkansas open to unlawful dealers.
"It's a huge problem because Arkansas' laws are none, so their bringing them from out of state--the cars from New Jersey, recently in Sandy. Where are they going to bring them? They're going to bring them to the states who have the least amount of restrictions," he explained.
Legislation this session would have required all vehicles with 70 percent or more damage to be branded salvage, but opposition for this bill said it's a consumer protection bill in disguise.
"When you think about it, branding of the title has very little practical impact on a buyer. Nobody who buys a car from a dealership gets the title before they buy it," said Rep. Darrin Williams, D-Little Rock.
Supporters even displayed an example of a salvage vehicle in front of the Capitol. Murphy said it was placed there in support of House Bill 1537.
"They can sell that car in the state of Arkansas with a clean title, no disclosures," said Murphy.
Rep. Williams said the bill would restrict out of state sellers. He said it's an attack on free enterprise.
"What I do support is a free enterprise system. I do support less government regulation when it's unnecessary," explained Williams. "I do support not requiring someone out of state to pay fees that are not necessary. That's why I spoke against this bill."
Murphy said he understands the other side's reasoning, but doesn't agree that they have the consumer at the top of their list.
"It's about money, and I'm about highway safety, and about consumer protection," said Murphy.
Although, Williams said he's all for consumer protection, he fears this bill was more about regulation.
Several other states including Texas require individuals to have a special deal and salvage license to purchase salvaged vehicles at an auction. Two years ago the state of Arkansas lifted those restrictions for dealers.