All nine members of Arizona’s House delegation signed a letter (.pdf) to Tesla Motors on Tuesday hoping to convince the company’s CEO Elon Musk to bring a $4 billion to $5 billion battery factory to Arizona . . . ahem, Tucson. Arizona’s House delegation continues Tesla courtship:
The letter bragged about Arizona’s corporate-friendly tax structure, ample use of solar electricity and other points that could make the state attractive for the massive “gigafactory” that Tesla announced last month.
“Locating in Arizona will allow Tesla Motors to take advantage of our state’s low cost of doing business, simplified tax system, highly skilled workforce, unique access to major markets and extraordinary quality of life. For these and many other reasons, Arizona presents an ideal choice for this revolutionary factory,” the letter said.
Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican, took the lead on the letter, but it also was signed by Trent Franks, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, Ron Barber, Raul Grijalva, Ed Pastor, Kyrsten Sinema and Ann Kirkpatrick.
“We realize there are opportunities that abound here and we should be on the forefront of recruiting companies to come here,” Gosar said Tuesday. “When you start looking at what we have to offer, we have more than any other state can offer.”
Gosar said it was the only time during his term in office the entire House delegation from Arizona spoke in unison on an economic-related issue.
“We can work together when we put our mind to it,” Gosar said.
Tesla operates a showroom at Scottsdale Fashion Square but cannot sell directly to customers in Arizona because of a law that prohibits manufacturers from acting as auto dealers. Customers instead can order a Tesla online with a deposit.
KOLD 13 NEWS in Tucson reports, Tesla get pass on dealer rules from Senate panel:
The [Arizona] Senate Commerce, Energy and Military Committee on Wednesday approved an amendment to an unrelated House bill giving Tesla . . . an exemption from rules requiring it to maintain a dealer network to sell cars in the state.
House Bill 2123 was strongly opposed by traditional auto manufacturers and dealers.
But bill sponsor Rep. Warren Peterson says dealers and manufacturers are trying to do is stifle innovation.
According to the legislature’s web site, however, HB 2123 failed on a 1-5-1 vote in committee, with only Democrat Sen. Robert Meza voting yes. So the KOLD 13 report may be inaccurate. [UPDATE: The legislature’s web site has been updated to reflect a vote of 3-2 in favor of the bill, with 2 members not voting. It now goes to the Rules Committee.]
Meanwhile, the state of New Mexico is seeking to jump ahead of Arizona. According to the Albuquerque Journal, Governor weighs special session in wooing Tesla:
Gov. Susana Martinez said her office is evaluating whether a special legislative session is necessary to complete the package of economic incentives being crafted to make New Mexico more appealing to Tesla Motors.
“There are discussions whether or not it needs to be,” Martinez said Monday after she addressed an Albuquerque meeting of NAIOP, the area’s commercial real estate development association. “If it’s necessary, we are open to whatever we can do that would even include that sort of thing. I’ve had legislators say, ‘If it’s necessary, we’ll come.’ ”
Martinez said the state is in the running for the company’s $5 billion battery manufacturing plant in part because of tax code changes made during recent legislative sessions, such as the state’s reduction in corporate income taxes and tax cuts for manufacturers who export their products out of state.
“Because we are now more competitive, we’re in the game. We’re negotiating, we’re talking, we’re trying to do the very best to stay in the game, and with the help of some of the things that happened during the session, we are going to keep our fingers crossed,” Martinez said, adding that she could not discuss details of the negotiations.
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Democratic legislative leaders said a special session to woo Tesla would be unprecedented, and appropriate only if New Mexico has evidence that it was Tesla’s pick.
“If there is a possibility of a special session, I believe there’s going to have to be some pretty concrete evidence that what we would do here would mean that Tesla would, as a matter of fact, come to New Mexico,” said Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen.
“… It’s a matter of efficiency and not wasting taxpayer money and spinning our wheels for a company that’s looking to see where they can get the best deal,” Sanchez said.
The House majority whip, Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, who unsuccessfully sponsored legislation during this year’s session to provide reduced electricity rates to lure companies such as Tesla, said the Legislature could get a deal done if called upon.
“These are high-level negotiations with the executive branch. If there was some certainty with regard to Tesla’s commitment, then I’m confident the Legislature would do what it takes,” Maestas said.
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A New Mexico law that prohibits car manufacturers from selling vehicles directly to consumers, a model Tesla uses to sell its cars in other states, has not been a factor in negotiations with the company’s battery manufacturing operations, Martinez said. Nevada is the only one of the four finalist states that doesn’t have such a law.
Is Arizona serious about bringing manufacturing jobs to Arizona — Tucson in particular — or not? Get rid of the antiquated protectionist dealership law and make Arizona competitive for new technology and new jobs.