December 09, 2009
Klobuchar praised for working with auto dealers to keep dealerships open and for fixing Minnesota legal glitch in cash for clunkers program.
Washington, D.C. – The Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association is honoring U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar as their “Legislator of the Year” for her leadership in coming to the rescue of local dealers threatened with closure by General Motors and Chrysler. The association also credits her with intervening to fix problems with last summer’s “Cash for Clunkers” program.
“The senator is a true public servant who has gone out of her way to help Minnesotans in distress,” said Scott Lambert, executive vice president of the dealers association.
“One of the greatest satisfactions in my job is when I have the opportunity to really make a difference for people in Minnesota,” said Klobuchar. “Our local auto dealers weren’t being treated fairly, either in Detroit or Washington. These dealerships are vital to our state economy and our local communities. As Minnesota’s Senator, I had a responsibility to do everything I could to protect the interests of Minnesota businesses and communities.”
Earlier this year, as they emerged from bankruptcy, General Motors and Chrysler announced that they planned to close several thousand local auto dealers, including dozens in Minnesota.
In June, as a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Klobuchar pushed top auto industry executives to explain why they planned to close so many dealers and how they decided which dealers to close. Klobuchar noted that many of the Minnesota dealers who were notified of closure are dealers that are doing well, especially in the current economy.
Klobuchar worked directly with Minnesota dealers, the auto companies and the Obama Administration to seek relief for dealerships that have been designated for closure. As a result, both GM and Chrysler agreed to negotiate with national auto dealer representatives to address their concerns and ensure fair treatment.
In addition, the Special Inspector General of the Troubled Assets Recovery Program (TARP) is auditing the decisions of GM and Chrysler to terminate their dealership agreements as part of their restructuring plans. A report is expected early next year.
Klobuchar also came to the aid of Minnesota’s auto dealers in July, when the “Cash for Clunkers” program got off to a bumpy start because of computer problems at the U.S. Department of Transportation and misunderstandings about Minnesota’s vehicle registration system.
Klobuchar immediately brought the two issues to the attention of Transportation Secretary Roy LaHood, who responded promptly to fix the problems.
In the end, Minnesota ranked 13th in the nation for Cash for Clunkers sales, with over $72 million in approved rebates.
“Once the initial problems were corrected, Cash for Clunkers became one of the most successful initiatives under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” said Klobuchar. “It gave an immediate, strong boost to the American economy. It worked for our auto dealers, the auto industry and consumers.”