Louisiana House committee approves bill to prevent internal combustion car ban

Several other bills related to battery electric vehicles on Tuesday were deferred by the Committee on Appropriations.
Louisiana capitol

Protecting the sale of internal combustion vehicles will be considered through legislation in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Several other bills related to battery electric vehicles on Tuesday were deferred by the Committee on Appropriations. One would put a cap on the number of battery electric vehicles that can purchased by state agencies while another measure would allow zero-emissions vehicles to be sold directly to consumers was also paused.

House Bill 341 by Rep. Phillip Tarver, R-Lake Charles, would prevent the state from banning internal combustion vehicles. The bill, known as the Preserving Customer Choice Act, was approved by the House Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works on Tuesday. A similar bill was deferred by the committee on Thursday.

Tarver owns a Toyota dealership in Lake Charles.

"The proposed act seeks to insure that future actions do not prevent the emergence and expansion of developing technologies, such as battery electric engines, hydrogen fuel cells, or even natural/propane gas- nor the prohibition of continuation of long-standing and familiar technologies such as internal combustion engines," Tarver told The Center Square in an email. "What I and other dealers are saying and wanting is for our customers to be allowed to determine the market they want and for government to stay as quiet and not involved as can be reasonable allowed.

"Dealers want to be involved in the future developments of infrastructure to deliver customer satisfaction, whatever that may entail. They are certainly closer to the front lines of knowing what that customer message may be than government bureaucrats."

The committee deferred HB535, a proposal opposed by the state's auto dealerships. The bill, authored by Rep. Aimee Freeman, D-New Orleans, would've allowed EV manufacturers such as Tesla to sell directly to consumers without a dealership.

Freeman told the committee she knew her bill was on a "death spiral," but said "part of being here is having conversations about legislation and ideas."

She mentioned that a constituent told her they had to have their EV purchased online to be sent to their child's address in another state to get around the ban.

Coulter McMahen, the president and CEO of the Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association, told the committee that Freeman's bill would give special privileges to zero-emissions vehicle manufacturers without any regulations.

The House Committee on Appropriations paused HB201 by state Rep. Charles Owens, R-Rosepine, pending a discussion with Tarver about combining his bill with HB341. Owens' bill would cap the amount of battery electric vehicles bought by the state at 3% of the fleet. While Owens told the committee he thought issues brought up by HB201 and HB341 were separate, he'd discuss possibly merging his bill with Tarver's via amendment.