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Should States Turn a Blind Eye To Auto Repair Shops?


The movement to cut government and lower taxes has taken some unusual twists and turns in different states, but in the state of Florida, it could bring about an effective deregulation of auto-repair shops.

The slow burn going on in Florida over loosening control on industry is the result of Governor Rick Scott's campaign promises to fight laws he feels stifle employment. According to My Suncoast he's called taxation, regulation and litigation the "axis of unemployment."

The law-lopping is meant to stimulate job openings, but one bill--HB 5005--could actually shut down about 100 jobs at the call center of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which fields consumer complaints for everything from intrastate movers to rooming houses to car repair shops. 

The move could effectively end oversight of repair shops, which grew stricter in the early 1990s. At that time Florida had just passed a new law designed to cut down on auto repair fraud and had sent out inspectors to register 17,000 auto repair shops. That stricter regulation of auto repair shops in Florida was the result of a public outcry as well as an effort by industry leaders to clean up their profession.

In the 11 months ending with May 1994 auto repair complaints fell to less than 1900 compared with 4125 for the recording period of 1992-93. According to the Lakeland Ledger, auto repair complaints then, as now, were among the most reported consumer problems--so much so that, after the inception of the new law, the call volume spiked to 27,000 calls.

There is a revenue aspect to deregulation as well, since current licensing fees are said to generate $6 million for the state. One proponent of HB 5005 said that those fees are ones that the state would be better off not collecting. The idea is that the forces of the marketplace and the private sector are better equipped to regulate than governmental sanctions are.       

The bad players may be beyond the control of the free market, but deregulation hasn't been notably successful in the world of auto repair in the past. The opposite has been true more often--as in the case of the California Bureau of Auto Repair, which has a strong record as an activist agency that finds plenty to do as it patrols that state's repair shops.

[Lakeland Ledger, Miami Herald, My Suncoast]

 
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