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Lawmaker: Corvette bill’s doom is snub to GM

Lawmaker: Corvette bill’s doom is snub to GM


Mar 29, 2010 5:54 PM CDT

Political leaders in Kentucky may have snubbed General Motors a second time in a week by killing two bills to name the Corvette as the state’s official sports car.

State Rep. C.B. Embry Jr., R-Morgantown, said Monday the Corvette proposals have been sent to legislative committees to die.

Embry said inaction on the bills sends the wrong message to GM, which builds the sleek sports cars at an assembly plant in Bowling Green. He said he fears the cold shoulder given to legislation honoring the Corvette could be seen as a slap in the face of an automaker that employs 500 people at the Corvette plant.

"With or without a bill, the Corvette is an iconic American sports car, and we’re proud to build it in Kentucky," said GM spokesman Greg Martin. "It shouldn’t be perceived as a snub, and we don’t take it as that."

However, news of the Corvette legislation’s plight comes a week after Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill giving automobile dealers leverage over GM in the scramble for franchises. GM has called on Gov. Steve Beshear to veto that bill.

So far, Beshear has been mum on both bills.

House Democratic Whip John Will Stacy of West Liberty acknowledged Monday that the Corvette bills appear dead, but he didn’t know why.

"Sometimes things happen that no one has a good explanation for," Stacy said. "And this may be one of those times."

Several lawmakers from south-central Kentucky area have been pushing to honor Corvette as official state sports car. State Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, said hasn’t given up yet, although only three days remain in the legislative session.

"I’m still working on it," Richards said Monday.

The legislation that passed last week gives car dealers who lost franchises first crack at new ones. Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said the governor is reviewing the measure.

Lawmakers in Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio also are considering legislation to improve the lot of car dealers who have lost franchises.

GM told 2,000 dealers nationwide it planned to revoke their franchise agreements in October, and Chrysler cut off 789 dealers because of lower demand for cars and trucks. Dealers complained that some of the targeted sales lots are still profitable and that the automaker hasn’t offered enough details about how it’s choosing which businesses to shutter.

Martin said 38 car dealers in Kentucky were notified that their franchises were being canceled. Of that number, 25 contested the decision and sought federal arbitration. Of those, 13 have received letters of intent to reinstate the franchises from GM.

The Corvette legislation is House Bill 104 and Senate Bill 111.

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