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February 27, 2020
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 Inside this issue
  Executive Directors Message  

Shop owners: Over the last week, we have heard from a number of Members asking about the Community Right to Know (CRTK) survey. There is a great deal of confusion on who needs to complete the survey, who is exempt, and when the survey is due. Compounding this confusion is some anxiety about why some businesses received a paper survey, while others received an email - or nothing at all. We have spoken to officials at DEP in an attempt to alleviate some of your concerns and wanted to pass along the following details:
1 -Please CLICK HERE to review a DEP CRTK Compliance Advisory. 
The Advisory is short, but packed with links and information. If you aren't sure if you need to submit a survey, start with the Advisory to make such a determination. What's more, if you are pressed for time, at the very least, please READ this Advisory.
2 - The CRTK Survey (or an exemption) is due on March 1, 2020.
It's important to make that deadline, but if you exceed the allotted time, get it in soon thereafter.  While I cannot promise you won't receive a violation, DEP does have some discretion. Stated simply, the sooner you get it in, the more likely you are to avoid any fines.
3 - If you are a regulated entity [as dictated by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Codes], and believe that you are exempt from the reporting requirements, you can only be exempted after submitting an initial notification to DEP. 
Please see the Advisory for more details.
4 - This year DEP attempted to send out emails to potential CRTK survey respondents. If an email message failed, they would then send a paper survey to that location. 
However, complicating this process was that such attempts were hindered by a lack of general location/ownership information. For example, if a new location owner or lessee looked up their location, it's entirely possible that information existed from last year's survey; but they were unable to access it or "link" their own credentials to that location. For that reason, and for informational purposes alone, you are encouraged to set up a NJDEP Online account. A link to the website is listed on the Advisory, along with related information.
5 - Lastly, if you should have any questions about the survey, you can very easily email a dedicated Right to Know address to seek help and information. That address is rtk@dep.nj.gov
There is also additional information on the CRTK website, which can be found HERE.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to our office.
Effective on March 1st, it will be illegal in New Jersey for any retailer to provide to a customer or accept from a customer any form of coupon, price reduction promotion, or rebate in connection with the sale of any cigarette, tobacco, or vaping product. Hopefully your wholesalers have already been in contact with you about the effects of this law change on your product selection. Take care also to look over your store to ensure there is nothing around which promotes any kind of discount, or states that you accept any form of coupon related to these products. We have already been in contact with the Department of Taxation about this issue in order to try and sort out some of the nuances of what the law will mean. They have stated to us that "tobacco products may be sold for whatever the listed price is for the product and may not be reduced by any subsequent promotional activity such as coupons or in-store advertising." So, if you have a product with a price printed on it by the manufacturer, you may sell it for that price, but you can in no way advertise or promote that price point. If you have any questions about what this law will mean, I encourage you to check the webpage set up by the State, and to email their dedicated account for questions about this issue: Tobacco.Tax@treas.nj.gov
If you do receive a helpful response from the State, please forward it Eric@njgca.org so that we may all understand better how the State will be interpreting this law.
Thanks to those of you who sent emails to your Member of Congress regarding the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019, we were pleased to see that some members of Congress actually replied to NJGCA members who wrote them. At the time of this writing we don't know the results from the House of Representatives as the vote is scheduled for today, but we will certainly report it next week. The bill would ban all forms of flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars, and smokeless tobacco. This ban would be across the country, not just in New Jersey. 
If the national efforts weren't enough, Governor Murphy unveiled his fiscal year 2021 budget, which includes an increase on a pack of cigarettes to $2.70 per pack to $4.35 per pack. This would be the highest state level tax in the nation tied with New York and Connecticut. Yes, we completely understand the pain that this will cause those of you who sell cigarettes in your convenience stores. We were made aware of this the night before the governor's speech. Although he did not mention this tax increase in his speech, Eric began combing through the budget as soon as it became available online and found it listed there. It is projected to bring in over $215 million in additional revenue to the state of New Jersey, taking into account a 12% immediate decline in sales in the state, which will obviously be higher along the state borders. We have already been reaching out to legislators and I can only tell you that legislators both Republican and Democrat are lukewarm to the governor's proposal. They all understand the impact of this tax increase and I am quite certain that the pressure NJGCA and other retail organizations will put on the legislature will mitigate this tax in some form. What that is right now, I do not know, and knowing the lunacy with which our legislature and governor operate, I am unwilling to make any predictions as to how successful we would be. Be prepared to write emails, send letters, call your legislators, and also be prepared to show up at hearings in Trenton so that you can personally testify to the budget committees when they convene to discuss this issue.  

Our friends at the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) (I use the term friends very loosely) have once again pushed back the deadline to accept bids for a new inspection system to April 28th. One can write a book about the circus that MVC has turned the inspection system into. Unfortunately, the esteemed leader of MVC refuses to meet with me on this subject, and I have been told so in writing. You can access the bid solicitation HERE
For you shop owners, the issue of telematics is going to get bigger and bigger, and renews the need to update the previous success that we had with right to repair getting information to fix your customers cars. The car manufacturers have been putting up a big fight, and it appears as if they are going to continue to do so. Thankfully, the state of Massachusetts has the ability to get around legislators by asking the voters to approve language that will require manufacturers to have telematic data sent to independent repair shops rather than the dealership if the customer chooses to do so. As of now, the manufacturers have spent over $1 million on a public relations campaign trying to persuade voters to oppose this referendum based on cyber security reasons. We are watching this very closely as the result will either help us or hinder us in our effort to get a similar law enacted in New Jersey. I will keep you posted, you can read more about Massachusetts's efforts HERE
That's all for this week -  
Sal Risalvato
Executive Director




  Training Class Schedule  

All classes held at NJGCA HQ -- 4900 Route 33 West, Wall Township, NJ 07753

Two-Day Emissions Inspector Training Class
April 22nd & 23rd

Want your technicians to become a NJ Emissions Inspector? We can help!

Our new two-day class will provide all the information for becoming a NJ Emissions Inspector. Day one will consist of written test training and the State will administer the written test the very same day at our offices. Day two will be a hands-on training course to prepare you for the hands-on test. Class will run from 7:00am to 4:00pm on day 1. Class will begin at 12:30 PM on day 2. Cost is $479 for members.

April class registration click here




  News Around The State  

Murphy's Cigarette Tax Hike Already Up In Smoke? It's 'a Big Problem,' Top Dem Says
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney wasted little time Tuesday snuffing out Gov. Phil Murphy's proposal to raise an extra $218 million in his proposed state budget by hiking New Jersey's tax on cigarettes. "(The) cigarette tax is a big problem," Sweeney, D-Gloucester, told reporters immediately after the governor delivered his third budget address. At $2.70, New Jersey's tax on a pack of cigarettes is already tenth-highest in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation. Murphy wants to raise the tax to $4.35, which is on par with New York and Connecticut and behind only Washington D.C., which tacks on $4.50 to each pack of cigarettes sold. The state Treasury Department estimated the tax hike would bring in an extra $218 million and the state would take in a total of $742 million in cigarette tax revenue next year.

Murphy Budget Targets Cigarette Sales, Corporate Responsibility Fee
His budget also calls for increasing the tax on cigarette sales in New Jersey, which would make it the highest cost in the country. Under the proposal, and what would be the first increase in 11 years, the state would tack on $1.65 to the existing $2.70 per pack, currently the 10th highest in the nation. The proposed $4.35 per pack would make New Jersey's cigarette tax the highest of any state in the nation. Only Washington, D.C. has a tax rate anywhere near as high - at $4.50 a pack - according to the Tax Foundation. New York City smokers pay $5.85 per pack. This increase could bring in upwards of $218 million, meaning the state would earn a total of $742 million every year from the sale of cigarettes.

Vape And Tobacco Flavors Under Attack, This Time From NJ (Opinion)
The reality is bans are counter-productive when it comes to trying to prevent kids from breaking the law. Even now, around 1 in 4 high school kids vape compared to about the same number of high schoolers who smoked in 2000. Today, the CDC reports that many of the teen vapers are using flavored products so naturally ban the favors! Of course correlation is NOT causation and there is no evidence to suggest that the kids only broke the law because of a certain flavor.

Murphy Will Propose Increasing N.J. Cigarette Tax To Highest Level Among U.S. States
Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday will propose raising taxes on cigarette sales in New Jersey by $1.65 a pack as part of his third state budget plan - which would tie the Garden State for the highest such tax among U.S. states. If approved by state lawmakers, the increase in the cigarette tax would be New Jersey's first in 11 years, funneling about $218 million more into state government coffers, three legislative sources familiar with the proposal confirmed to NJ Advance Media.

N.J. Man Paid For Gas With $100 Bill Marked 'for Motion Picture Use Only,' Cops Say
A clerk at a Middlesex County gas station unwittingly accepted a fake $100 bill that was intended to be used in movies, authorities said. South Brunswick police on Monday tweeted a photo of the front and back of the phony bill, which has the words "For Motion Picture Use Only," printed on both sides.

Sweeney Will Back Murphy Millionaires Tax If Public Worker Pension Funding Gets Huge Boost
After two years of opposition, New Jersey's most powerful state lawmaker will consider working with Gov. Phil Murphy to hike taxes on millionaires in exchange for a hefty tradeoff: an extra $1 billion for the state's strapped pension fund, NJ Advance Media has learned. State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he's softening his stance on Murphy's millionaires tax, but only if it means addressing the chronic underfunding of the state's public-worker pension system.

Business Tax Should Be Hiked To Fund NJ Transit, Senate President Says
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney on Friday proposed using a 1 percent tax on corporate income in New Jersey to provide a permanent source of funding for NJ Transit, the state's beleaguered rail and bus system. The tax would guarantee NJ Transit $250 million to $300 million a year in state tax support, an amount equal to about 10 percent of its total operating budget. It would provide at least one stable source of income.

Freelancers should watch out for backroom deals in Trenton | Kass
Just a few weeks ago, legislation that would crush freelance workers with the most restrictive employment test in the country was a top priority.  The bill flew back and forth between New Jersey's Senate and Assembly committees, as sponsors struggled in vain to find the votes that would get it done. Today, that legislation has been reintroduced, but the committee of jurisdiction has met twice, with no discussion of S863. The assemblyman who sponsored the companion bill last session hasn't even reintroduced his Assembly version.Does this mean legislators are watching the ongoing disaster with California's AB5, which is based on the same ABC employment test in New Jersey's S863, and realizing nothing good could come of adopting a similar set of problems here? Could legislators be taking this time to develop a measured and thoughtful approach that updates worker classification standards to reflect the innovative work freelancers do and stop trying to cram individuals into a 1930s-style employment model?

NJ Vape Shops Face a Choice: Close or Rebrand?
Darth Vapor, like roughly 270 similar shops in New Jersey, is filled almost entirely with products that will be illegal to sell in the state by mid-April. Faced with growing fear about the risks of vaping, New Jersey last month became the second state to adopt legislation outlawing all nicotine vaping liquids other than those flavored to taste like tobacco. It has banned all fruit- and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes and cartridges, which are popular with teenagers, as well as most nicotine-infused liquids that are used in larger, hand-held vaping devices and are commonly sold in vape shops. . . Many shop owners say they are selling off as much inventory as possible, operating on month-to-month leases and preparing to close. Others are making plans to sell pipes, tobacco products, CBD oil and kratom, an herbal supplement that the Food and Drug Administration has said can be dangerous, to try and stay afloat. New Jersey's move is part of a flurry of government action aimed at slowing the alarming rate of vaping by teenagers. Vape shops nationwide are grappling with F.D.A. restrictions on flavored e-cigarette cartridges that took effect this month.

With Budget Season at Hand, A Competition for Ears in Trenton
A new budget season is about to begin in Trenton, but the public jockeying over which fiscal concerns get the attention of Gov. Phil Murphy and state lawmakers is already well underway. . . Among their policy goals are boosts in the state income tax, including a true millionaires tax - something Murphy, a first-term Democrat, has been trying unsuccessfully to get the Democratic-controlled Legislature to support for over two years. But others are pitching a far different message, renewing calls to address New Jersey's significant debt burden and counter the state's reputation for high taxes.

JCP&L Wants To Raise Your Bill By Over 8% To Recoup Costs Of Storm Damage
JCP&L is looking to raise energy rates by 8.5% following a series of winter storms that heavily damaged power lines across North Jersey, according to a filing with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. The average increase would work out to about $9 for the average residential household, the company said in a statement. A series of storms in 2018 and 2019 caused over $300 million in damages, JCP&L said in a statement. Paired with an increase likelihood of severe weather, the company said it was necessary to raise rates to recoup costs and harden infrastructure.

Ban On Styrofoam, Paper And Plastic Bags Hits Snag
The bid by lawmakers to ban Styrofoam, and paper and plastic bags, has once again stalled in the state Legislature as the two houses butt heads over a timeline for rolling out restrictions. Although a Senate panel approved a version of the measure in January - Senate Bill 664 - that would ban all three in 18 months, rather than two years as initially proposed earlier that month, Assembly leadership has begun to question that schedule. During his monthly radio segment on Feb. 14, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, floated an idea to stagger a stoppage on all three. "Is 18 months the right time, should it be shorter, should it be faster, should it be staggered," the speaker said. "Do we stagger the paper bag and plastic bag implementation period, there's issues around that for example."

Global Oil Demand to Drop
Worldwide, the demand for oil is set to contract for the first quarter of 2020, the first drop in more than 10 years, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), CNBC reports. The decreased demand comes as China experiences a slowdown of its economy amid the spreading coronavirus, which has impacted business across the globe. IEA predicts demand will decline by 435,000 barrels a day (b/d) during the year's initial quarter, less than 2019's first quarter. The anticipated decrease led the agency to slash its annual growth estimates to 825,000 barrels a day, the lowest forecast since 2011.


  Energy Information Agency Weekly Retail Gasoline Prices  
Each week, the Energy Information Administration publishes a list of average gasoline prices for the previous three weeks. NJGCA will begin including this list with the Weekly Road Warrior. Remember, these prices are reflective of self-serve everywhere except NJ.


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  Classifieds: For Sale and Help Wanted Ads  



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