January 11, 2024

Legislative Session Ends, New One Begins

On Tuesday, the 220th session of the NJ Legislature formally ended and the 221st began. The 40 members of the Senate and 80 members of the Assembly elected back in November officially took office. Over 25% of the members are completely new to the Legislature, the biggest overturn in at least 15 years. NJGCA will be working hard to make sure these new faces understand your industry and the challenge of keeping a small business open in this state. 

The end of a session means that every bill which was not signed into law by the Governor expires, and the lawmaking process has to start all over again. For the last several weeks we have been monitoring closely the agendas (which are sometimes updated with just hours notice) to see if they would succeed in moving something through that would hurt our industries. Despite a big push, the ban on menthol cigarettes (expanded to include flavored cigars and nicotine pouches) has failed to get a floor vote in either house of the Legislature. That means the sponsors will once again need to push it through four different committees just to get it eligible again for a full vote. We will of course be monitoring it closely, but it's a big win. 

Another problematic bill that expired would have threatened rewards and loyalty programs as well as manufacturer coupons. It looked to mandate that any kind of discount available online or through a mobile app have an analogue alternative. We, and many other industry groups, feared that the big companies which design these loyalty programs would not be able or willing to create special versions of their program just for NJ and would simply not offer them in our state. This bill was also eligible for a floor vote and will now have to go through the entire committee process again, if the sponsors have enough support for it.

A third piece of legislation on the fast track that failed was the attempt to expand the worker protections of the Paid Family Leave Act. Under current law, a business with more than 30 employees is required to bring back an employee who takes family leave at the same pay rate, hours, and job duties. The bill would have originally eliminated the small business exemption entirely, but we were able to force amendments that would lower it to 5. The bill passed the Assembly 44-27, but thankfully did not see any action in the Senate. 

A hugely watered-down reform of restaurant liquor licenses was pushed through. It mostly deals with helping out independent local breweries and making available some restaurant "pocket licenses", which are licenses whose owners have simply kept in their pocket and off the market. This is nowhere near the real reform needed to address the problem but ultimately the Governor decided it was better to get a little something rather than nothing. We are still hoping that in the new session the bill we support to allow c-stores to sell beer and wine will see movement in some capacity. 

You can see the difficulty in making any progress on this issue in this public comment from Senate President Nick Scutari (D-Union): “I’ve said it before, if we have a pie that’s this big regarding the consumption of liquor in New Jersey and we give a lot more licenses, I don’t think that pie gets any bigger. So we want to be concerned about the folks that have put their life savings into these liquor licenses.” He is explicitly and proudly more interested in helping current license holders than small businesses who can't get a license. He also added in another interview "I don’t think it’s gonna be any expansion of licenses” referring to further changes to the law. Since he has the power to prevent any bill from even getting a hearing, this is certainly a problem. 

With the start of the new session and a new two-year cycle of lawmaking, we are looking at pushing for increases in the minimum markup for motor fuel and cigarettes, beer in c-stores, safety inspections and enhanced Right to Repair protections, preventing DTW gouging of dealers, and continuing our efforts to prevent the State selling lottery tickets without retailers. We are also on the lookout for plans to increase or otherwise change the gas tax, which had been rumored to be on the agenda the last few weeks but ultimately nothing came of it. 

A total of 10,590 bills were introduced in this session, thousands of which would have affected your business in ways big and small. Only about 400 became law, the rest expiring on Tuesday at 12pm--only for several thousand to be re-introduced at 12:01pm. 

Safety Reminder--NJ Mechanic Dies

We learned that last weekend at a repair shop in Jackson, a 29-year-old mechanic died after a recreation vehicle fell on him at a local shop. He was "servicing the vehicle 'when it slid off of jack stands and came down on him, ultimately causing his death.'" The local police chief said that he had notified OSHA about the accident. Tragedies like this are a reminder for you and all your staff to always keep safety in mind when working around motor vehicles, especially when they are elevated, up on jack stands or lifts. It's not uncommon to feel so comfortable around the shop that people start to get complacent, and that's when accidents can happen. 

It's also a good reminder to make sure that your lifts are regularly inspected. Even if well maintained, over time things like cables can start to fray. It's also possible that following this accident OSHA may make an effort to inspect more repair shops. If they ask when the last time your lifts were inspected was, would you have a good answer? Feel free to reach out to Joe@njgca.org or Nick@njgca.org with any questions, or at 732-256-9646.

Reminder: Compliance Calendars Available Now

The 2024 New Jersey Fuel Dispensing Facilities Compliance Calendar is now available for members to download and use.

You can find the file hosted on our website by CLICKING HERE.  

The DEP's compliance calendar is an essential tool, and we encourage our members to use it daily. It is full of useful reminders, procedures, and related details.  You should print out a copy, record the required information, and keep it close on hand.  Using the calendar isn't only a good habit to have, it will also save you from possible headaches and costly penalties if DEP comes to your station inquiring after your environmental compliance.  

Please call or email Nick@njgca.org if you have any questions. 

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News Worth Knowing:

Member Benefit Partner (MBP) Spotlight: Quick & Fresh

Quick and Fresh (Q&F) is a new, bold, innovative approach to the convenience store retail business. Quick and Fresh provides Savings, Solutions, and Services to all its branded members. Quick and Fresh intends to elevate the competitive landscape of the C-Store market. They are in the process of expanding our footprint in the state of New Jersey and beyond. Their team has more than 35 years experience in retail marketing and are focused on consumer demand for immediacy, quality, and fresh products.

Quick and Fresh is committed to build an exciting, strong, and modern brand of C-Stores. By being a member of Quick and Fresh you can enjoy the benefits of pre-negotiated group pricing and lower cost of goods, better discounts and rebates from manufacturers. Let them do the work for you! Join them and become a new member of Q&F brand Convenience stores.

Contact: Ebbie Ashabi, 201-417-0155 ebbieashabi@aol.com 

Available Real Estate

Station for Sale

Thriving High Profit Gas/Service Station close to Major Highway in Prime Location. 

This Exclusive Gas Station is the Sole Provider in the entire town, achieving a remarkable fuel profit of up to and sometimes over 1$ a gallon. Consistently selling 45,000 gallons monthly. Most fuel customers come from Highway so fuel prices do not have to be competitive. 

Also included with the Property is a Reputable High End Auto Repair Facility. Repair shop has all required Specialty and Diagnostic Tools for servicing mostly High End Vehicles. Advertising is no longer used do to an enormous Demand and large Customer Base. Repair Business has has potential for increased profitability and expansion, the business is open to experienced buyers for a possible partnership or profit sharing arrangement. Location is 1 out of 100. Fuel sales make 20-40K a month and repairs can do the same with the right operator. 

This one of a kind opportunity can include seller financing for those with High-Level Automotive or Gas Station Experience.

Contact Greg

Cape Harbor Shell

795 Route 109

Unit B

Lower Township, NJ, 08204

CLICK HERE to view the listing

Our Road Warrior newsletter is brought to you by the following Member Benefit Partners:

New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association
615 Hope Road, Bldg. 2, 1st Floor
Eatontown, NJ 07724


Phone: 732-256-9646
eMail: info@njgca.org