Flint, MI—Governor Whitmer signed a bill this week reducing the required operating hours for automobile dealerships in Michigan—though it may not translate to big changes for all of Flint’s dealerships.

“We were unaware that anything had changed,” said Tony Ives, sales manager at Harvey Auto Sales, LLC. “We run 48 hours a week, and I would assume that we’re just going to continue to maintain that.”

Prior to the bill, Michigan’s car dealerships had to be open for at least 30 hours a week for all 52 weeks each year. That requirement that created a challenge for dealerships–especially smaller–independent dealers, to accommodate emergencies, vacations, and other closures.

Ives said that the flexibility is nice, but his team is already able to take holidays off under their current operations schedule.

The new legislation reduces dealerships’ operating requirement to 30 hours a week for 48 weeks per year, giving them greater flexibility in determining open hours. 

“We can’t wait to go on vacation,” said Nicole Titmus of Hogan Auto Sales.

Titmus and her husband are the sole employees of their business. She said it had been four years since they had been able to take any real time off, and the bill would give them the chance to do so.

“It’s awesome,” she laughed.

There are more than fifteen dealerships in Flint. Even if not all of them plan to modify their operations, the point of the new legislation was to at least give them the option.

“The idea for this bill was brought to me by a nonprofit in my district that had a difficult time allowing employees to take time off for professional development training or family events,” said Sen. Kimberly LaSata (R-Coloma), who sponsored the Michigan Senate bill.

“Ensuring dealers are open and committed to customers is a noble and worthy pursuit, but these mandates from the state have a real impact on how individuals can run their business. They put a major strain on smaller, family-owned dealerships and nonprofits that can’t really afford the extra burden right now.”

The legislation applies to both Class A (new vehicle) and Class B (used vehicle) dealerships throughout the state.

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....