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Oswego

Area auto dealer, lawmaker speak out on Sunday car sales ban bill

Rick Chignoli, owner of Chignoli Auto Sales in Joliet, said he does not like the idea of his business being open on Sundays at all.

Chignoli said it's been his experience that customers use Sundays as an opportunity to shop on the lot on their own without salespeople bothering them. He also said it's nice to have one guaranteed day off, especially since staff for the family owned and operated business, which has been open for 45 years, comprises nearly all of his family members.

“It would be really difficult for me to tell them that they have to work on a Sunday,” Chignoli said.

Chignoli's comments come after State Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, proposed Senate Bill 22, which would repeal the 1982 prohibition of dealerships selling cars on Sundays. The bill, which has been proposed in the Illinois General Assembly for six years in a row so far, would allow for the sale of motor vehicles on any six days of the week chosen by the business owner.

Oberweis said he posed the question of why car sales were banned on Sundays when he was first elected and has wanted to keep addressing the issue since then. As a believer in free enterprise, he said, he thought it should be up to individual owners of when they could operate their business, especially considering religious reasons like not being able to conduct business on the Jewish Shabbat on Saturdays and Fridays being a holy day in Islam.

"I think that’s just fundamentally wrong," Oberweis said.

Chignoli said the mandated closure helps regulate business expenses and it would be difficult to verify loan approvals or anything requiring banks to be open on a Sunday anyway. He said he is also skeptical of how well it can be regulated to verify that dealerships still close during one day of the week and that the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association has opposed the bill.

“They have all kind of banded together and said, 'Hey, if we all close, then it's not like you're losing any competition from people that are open on Sunday,' ” Chignoli said

Sunday car sales are banned on Sundays in 13 different states, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maine. Sunday sales are limited to certain hours or specific counties in Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Maryland, Utah and Texas.

Oberweis said the bill is essentially dead for the session unless the state's transportation committee chairman State Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, decides to bring it back out to subcommittee.

"That happens occasionally, but it is rare," Oberweis said.

Sandoval did not immediately return requests for comment from Record Newspapers.

Ed Hettinger from Hetts Auto Sales in Oswego declined comment to the Record Newspapers on Monday, April 1. Representatives from D’Arcy Motors in Joliet and Star European Mercedes Benz in Yorkville also did not immediately return requests for comment.

Oberweis said lobbyists from larger dealers contributed to why the bill didn't go out to the Senate floor. He said he believes the ban is a case of the bigger guys beating out the smaller guys.

“And we in government should be standing up for the smaller guys,” Oberweis said.

Note to readers: A previous version of the story said the owner of Hetts Auto Sales was Ed Hetts. The owner's name is Ed Hettinger. The Record Newspapers regrets the error.

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