Published: December 11, 2007
In May 2007, Senate Bill 908 (SB 908) was introduced in the Pennsylvania State Senate. SB 908 seeks to amend the Pennsylvania Auctioneer and Auction Licensing Act by exempting “a sale conducted through a trading platform based on the Internet” from regulation. Simply stated, this bill would enable anyone to sell items via the electronic/ Internet auction process without any regulation.
The introduction of this bill caught the attention of the Pennsylvania Auctioneers Association (PAA) for two reasons, according to Robert H. Clinton, past president for the organization and its current legislative committee chairman. “First, passage of SB 908 would fail to provide for adequate consumer protection against unethical or unscrupulous practices by those engaging in electronic/Internet auction activity,” said Clinton. “Second, passage of such a bill would effectively disrupt the auction industry in Pennsylvania by having the traditional segment of the industry subject to regulation, while the electronic/Internet segment would be allowed to operate free of any regulation at all.”
Clinton contended that the PAA seeks to create a level playing field for all auction professionals, whether they employ traditional or electronic methods. Consumers, he added, can best determine who provides the best service for the best value.
He took issue with a recent AP article titled “eBay Traders Warned They Need a State License,” and stated that Pennsylvania’s auctioneers “are not trying to protect themselves because we fear competition or are trying to limit competition through the law. Nor, as was written elsewhere, are auctioneers relying on an antiquated license law for protection. In fact, the PAA has taken an active role over the last six months in leading the effort to amend the licensing act to allow for the electronic/Internet auction professionals to become licensed fairly under the act.”
As a result, House Bill 1899 (HB 1899) was introduced in October by Representative Michael Sturla of Lancaster County. HB 1899 would effectively create a new entity with a new definition placed under the special license section that already exists in the licensing act. This new entity, an Electronic Auction Broker, would apply only to those persons who are engaged in the business of conducting Internet auctions and acting as a third party in a transaction between buyer and seller, facilitating the sale of merchandise and accepting a fee for services rendered.
This provision would not apply to those individuals buying and selling merchandise for their own account.
Further, the Electronic Auction Broker would not be licensed as a traditional auctioneer, so would not be subject to educational or apprenticeship requirements that apply to the traditional auctioneer.
The PAA is encouraging all interested parties to review HB 1899. To learn more about the PAA’s position on this issue, contact Jeanie Crowl at email@example.com ; president Sandra Brittingham at firstname.lastname@example.org ; or PAA legislative committee chairman Robert H. Clinton at email@example.com .
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