Legislation that would allow Berkshire Hathaway Automotive to lawfully operate its more than two dozen dealerships in Texas is headed to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.
On Friday, the Texas House of Representatives voted unanimously to approve Senate Bill 1415, which would allow a vehicle manufacturer or distributor to also own a dealer or dealership, as long as it was for a different type of vehicle than what that company manufactures or distributes.
Berkshire Hathaway Automotive's parent company -- Berkshire Hathaway Inc. -- also owns Forest River Inc., an Indiana manufacturer of RVs. Texas law prohibits a vehicle manufacturer from also operating dealerships.
Abbott, a Republican, has 10 days to act on the legislation. He could sign the bill, veto it or allow it to go into effect without signing it. A message seeking comment was left for the governor's press secretary on Friday. If enacted, the law would become effective Sept. 1.
Last month, the Senate bill passed 30-1, with Kirk Watson, a Democrat, casting the only no vote. In early March, Senate Bill 1415 and companion House Bill 2940 were introduced. The 2019 bills followed an effort and legislation that had been introduced in 2017 to aid the dealership group, but the previous effort died in that year's legislative session.
Berkshire Hathaway Automotive's dealerships also are contesting several alleged violations of state law dating to 2017 from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
Berkshire Hathaway Automotive CEO Jeff Rachor could not immediately be reached for comment.
In March 2015, Berkshire Hathaway, led by famed investor Warren Buffett, bought the Van Tuyl Group, then the nation's largest privately held dealership group with 81 stores. Today, Berkshire Hathaway Automotive's website lists 85 dealerships in 10 states.
The 2019 bills had to be acted on by May 27, when the Texas legislative session ends.
This spring, the Texas Legislature worked with Tesla Inc. and others on a substitute bill to alleviate worries that the electric vehicle maker would no longer be allowed to service vehicles in Texas if the legislation passed as introduced.
The Texas Automobile Dealers Association also has supported the legislation.