Today in Hilarious Ironic News, we learn that lawmakers in Texas — a state where car dealer campaign contributions led to regulations preventing Tesla Motors from selling cars directly — wrote Elon Musk letters asking for his Gigafactory battery plant. Oh, Texas!
The news comes from the Texas Tribune, which says that when Tesla announced the Lone Star State was one of four finalists for Tesla's $5 billion battery plant, some lawmakers were so excited they wrote to Musk asking him to bring the factory to Texas because it's so pro-business and pro-free market.
The announcement excited Texas lawmakers like state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, who this month penned a letter to Elon Musk, the company's CEO, listing Texas' business-friendly ways, including a lack of corporate or personal income taxes and "low regulations and limited government interference."
"I can attest to you that there is no better state in the Union to begin, grow and expand a new and thriving business such as Tesla Motors," Villalba wrote.
You know, Texas. The same state where car dealer-supported laws keep you from buying a Model S at a Tesla-owned store. Say it with me now: LOL.
The backstory, in case you're new to this debate: Tesla likes to sell their cars direct to customers rather than through third-party middlemen like car dealers. Car dealers don't like where that might lead, so they've used their considerable political influence (read: cash) to bar direct sales. Right now, those laws are pretty squarely aimed at Tesla, as they're the only ones really trying it at the moment.
While states like Texas have Tesla "galleries" that show off the cars, they can't discuss pricing, offer test drives, or even deliver the cars that are ordered online.
(To his credit, Villalba, the guy who wrote the letter, says he'll try again next legislative session for a "middle ground" solution that would let electric car companies to sell 5,000 cars in Texas before the existing auto franchise laws come into effect. That's a good start.)
The Tribune points out that Texas' anti-Tesla regulations could hurt their chances of getting the Gigafactory, with vice president of business development Diarmuid O'Connell saying "The issue of where we do business is in some ways inextricably linked to where we sell our cars."
As a proud native Texan myself, I'd love to see the Gigafactory come to my home state. Lots of tech jobs and potential millions in tax revenue? Heck yeah. It would be a great get for sure.
But I'd also like to see Texans be able to buy a car in accordance with the principles of the free market, which the state's GOP majority claims to support even as they rake in dealer money and fight to ban direct sales. This is what is commonly known as "hypocrisy."
However! Lest you think we're only picking on Republicans, let it be known that gubernatorial candidate State Sen. Wendy Davis of the Democratic Party (Or as we call them in Texas, "lib'ruls") told the Tribune she would she would "stop short of pushing for an overhaul of the auto dealership law."
"As governor, I'd promote these kinds of initiatives while making sure that we also takes steps to retain existing businesses – like car dealerships, in this case – that contribute to and make a huge difference in the local and state economy."
Get your shit together, Texas politicians. All of you.
Photo credit AP
Hat tip to Muffin!