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July 30, 2020
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 Inside this issue
  Executive Directors Message  

It was a big week in Trenton this week with two pressing issues that affect all NJGCA businesses, both of equal importance to our members. When we last reported to you, we mentioned the Legislature was in the process of passing a 2.75% tax on health insurance premiums. Through the work of NJGCA, the other organizations in our coalition and especially your emails, we were successful having the bill amended in committee on Monday so that it would exempt NJGCA members who take part in our Association Master Trust (AMT) program.  Legislators were especially agitated that an effort was being made to burden small businesses in self-funded programs such as our with AMT. For mid-size and larger businesses the rate was lowered to 2.5%. Later today both houses of the Legislature will be voting on it. This bill was being moved very quickly and had the Governor's endorsement, so it is quite a victory that we were able to get most NJGCA members exempted.
The other big issue that has been pestering us for the last three months is a bill related to workers comp insurance. The bill makes the assumption that any employee at an essential business who gets COVID-19 is presumed to have caught it at their job, and therefore are entitled to workers compensation. The most important change we are asking for is to limit the timeframe just to the few weeks when the official stay-at-home order was in effect. Since it was removed, there have been many cases of people contracting the disease from other personal activities and social events. It would be unfair to automatically blame the employer knowing that these activities are still happening. All week we've been pointing to the example of the 35 lifeguards on LBI that have tested positive for COVID after attending a large indoor party together. Several members have contacted us about employees leaving the state and traveling to hot spots, our question is: If employees contract the disease while out of state visiting and socializing with others, and come back to work, how are employers to blame if they get Coronavirus, and why should their workers comp rates be affected?
We don't know how long the public health emergency is going to continue, it may be months or even years. All those employees getting sick and having workers comp pay them will stress the system in ways it wasn't designed for, eventually leading to much higher premiums for all employers. I can tell you that the Business Coalition has been fighting very hard on this issue. This week we made some progress in building support in the Assembly. The Senate has already passed the legislation, but we have gained significant support in the Assembly and are hoping that amendments are made on the floor today before the vote that will lessen the burden on small businesses with essential workers. All NJGCA members have been deemed essential businesses, and all of your employees will fall into this category. Since I'm writing this before the final outcome in today's legislative sessions, I will report back to you next week with the results, but depending on the actions of the legislature, we may be contacting you to ask you to reach out to the Governor with instructions, but I can't give those instructions until I know the outcome of today's votes.
This week, Governor Murphy announced a new program to help some small businesses with rent relief called the "Main Street Commercial Corridors Relief." This is an extremely limited program, it only applies to businesses located in the 64 municipalities that had been designated for redevelopment years earlier, it only provides up to $10,000, and the entire funding for the program is only $6 million. You can read more details about the program HERE. The application portal will open on Monday August 10th at 9am. Given the small amount of funding available, if you qualify for a grant be ready at exactly that time to apply for one. Governor Murphy also announced that he is allocating another $15 million to the EDA for their grant program, and all the money is being used to provide more relief to those businesses which already applied. If you applied but have not received any money yet, you can check the status HERE.
The Monmouth County government also announced that their grant program will open for applications on Monday August 3 at 8am. If you are located in Monmouth County, we encourage you to be ready right at 8am to apply for this grant. The details of what information you need to have ready can be found on this webpage which is where the application portal will be located.
In what has become a weekly theme during the pandemic, this week's bulletin brings with it yet another inspection sticker update.
We know that many members have experienced headaches in having their inspection sticker orders filled from Trenton. This has been especially upsetting as repair shop patrons are finally on the uptick after months of reduced customer traffic. What's more, the enormous volume and long lines at MVC CIF locations has pushed many motorists to pay to have their cars inspected by local PIFs. Together, this has created a shortage of stickers while frustrating motorists and owners like.
Still, even PIFs struggled to get their orders filled, we would be remiss if we didn't give a heartfelt Thank You to a handful of devoted MVC employees. This group went above and beyond in helping members get stickers; some even driving stickers out to their locations to hand deliver them. As we've reported in previous Road Warriors, the MVC workers who went out of their way to help shop owners all deserve our gratitude. (we wish there were more of them rather than the typical state worker that operate within the boundaries of their job description)
Thankfully this bottleneck may soon be over. While Trenton will continue to process your sticker orders, we have learned that a VID message was recently dispatched to PIFs, notifying them that the sale of inspection stickers will resume on August 3, 2020. If you are running low on stickers and can't wait for the order to be filled by mail in Trenton, or you can visit one of MVC's three specialty inspection sites to purchase stickers in person. Stickers will be sold from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
As a reminder, the State's three specialty inspection sites are located at:
410 South Ave
Westfield, NJ 07090
Asbury Park
1010 Comstock St
Asbury Park, NJ 07712
550 Spring Garden Rd
Ancora, NJ 08037
This is great news for PIF locations, but remember you cannot show up empty handed. If you want to purchase stickers in person, you must bring your signed laminated signature card, a business check, a request form for stickers (signed) and your driver's license. 

Please let us know if you have any problems buying stickers in person by contacting Nick De Palma nick@njgca.org.
Be Well -  
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
September 16th & 17th, 2020

After a long delay due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, NJGCA is pleased to announce that our training classes will resume! If you, a colleague, or an employee technician wishes to become a NJ Emissions Inspector, we can help and now is your chance! NJGCA will offer a two-day class with all the information and training you need to become a NJ Emissions Inspector.
On day one you will receive in-class instruction from NJGCA's instructor. We will break for lunch (provided), and the State will administer the written test in the afternoon. On day two will go over the hands-on test at an emission inspection location to fully prepare you for the hands-on test.
In light of the current crisis, and to protect both students and staffers, all participants must wear facemasks at all times while on the premises and respect social-distancing guidelines.

September class registration click here



  News Around The State  

Liability Legislation Introduced in Senate
Senate Republicans unveiled legislation this week marking their wish list for a fourth COVID-19 stimulus package. A key pillar of the Senate Republicans' plan is legislation that would provide liability protections from COVID-19 exposure claims. The SAFE TO WORK Act, introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), would protect businesses, schools, universities and nonprofits from legal claims provided they took responsible measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. 

N.J. Small Businesses Reject GOP Claim That People Won't Work If Unemployment Payments Are Extended
A group of N.J. small business owners said they'd love to rehire the employees they were forced to furlough due to the coronavirus pandemic. The problem is they have no work to offer them. And, they say, the extra federal unemployment insurance benefits scheduled to run out Friday are essential to keeping their workers above water until they can return to their jobs. . .Under the $1 trillion Senate GOP stimulus package, the extra federal payments would be cut to $200 from $600 until state unemployment offices can rejigger their systems to pay out 70% of a recipient's salary. The Senate proposal was released Monday, more than two months after House Democrats passed a $3 trillion measure.

Average Age Of Vehicles In The U.S. Increases To 11.9 Years, And It Could Get Worse With COVID
The average age of vehicles on U.S. roads is on the rise, a new study from IHS Markit has revealed. While analyzing the average age of vehicles, HIS Markit discovered it has increased to 11.9 years in 2020, a 24 per cent increase over the average age of 9.6 years from 2002. It is also well up on the average age of 10.3 years reported in 2009. "A lot of it has to do with quality of the vehicles on the road," aftermarket specialist with IHS Markit, Todd Campau, explained. "They are comfortable keeping that vehicle longer than they would in the past. In the mid-'90s, 100,000 miles was about all you would get out of a vehicle. Now, at a 100,000 miles a vehicle is just getting broken in."

Op-Ed: NJ Legislation to Shift COVID-19 Costs to Workers' Comp Would Leave Federal Funds on Table
Legislation that would shift the cost of the COVID-19 pandemic to New Jersey businesses and taxpayers is set to be voted out of the Assembly this Thursday and sent to the governor's desk. The bill would dictate that "essential" employees who develop COVID-19 are presumed to have caught it on the job, and therefore are entitled to full workers' compensation benefits, in place of otherwise available federal funding. At a time when the pandemic has put the entire state in a cash crunch, this legislation would have the effect of leaving federal dollars on the table, shifting cost of COVID-19 infections from federal CARES Act programs to New Jersey's workers' comp system.

Freeholders Announce Monmouth County Cares Program; Provide Covid-19 Free Testing Updates
 On behalf of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone and Freeholder Deputy Director Susan M. Kiley announced Monmouth County CARES, the Coronavirus Economic Assistance Grant Program for small businesses and nonprofits, and provided updates on the recently launched COVID-19 free testing program at a press conference held today. "The Freeholders have worked alongside chambers of commerce and mayors to deliver assistance to our small businesses and I am excited to announce that the Monmouth County CARES Economic Assistance Grant program will be ready to launch at 8 a.m. on Monday, August 3 at monmouthcountycares.com," said Freeholder Director Arnone. "I encourage businesses to spend the next few days reviewing their COVID-19 costs and related paperwork so that they are prepared when the application process opens on Monday."

Frustrated Drivers Still Camping Out At Mvc In The Heat As Some Spots Close For 'Deep Cleaning'
Agencies in Flemington, Lodi, North Bergen and Randolph were closed Tuesday for deep cleaning for "health precautions" and will reopen on Wednesday, MVC officials said on the agency website. The Wayne agency was closed on July 21 for a week after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus. MVC officials said they were working on answers to emailed questions sent by NJ Advance Media. Some drivers said on social media they didn't learn the agencies were closed until they had waited in line and were told by police. As of 10:30 a.m., the MVC reported an additional five agencies in Newark, Hazlet, Lakewood, Manahawkin and South Brunswick were closed after reaching their capacity to process customers. For drivers who found an open agency, they faced long lines, multiple hour waits under a blazing sun.

Governor Murphy Announces Additional $15 Million in CARES Act Funding to Recovery of Small Businesses
Governor Phil Murphy announced today that an additional $15 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding has been made available to New Jersey small businesses struggling with the pandemic. This funding is in addition to the $100 million the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) is currently administering through programs to COVID-19-impacted businesses. . .The $15 million in CARES Act funds announced today will bolster the NJEDA's Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, which provides grant funding for small businesses struggling with COVID-19-related challenges. Launched in early April with $10 million of NJEDA funds, the Program initially offered grants of up to $5,000 to a narrowly-targeted set of small businesses that included restaurants and in-person retail establishments.

If you Buy Gas in New Jersey, You Might be Paying More Before Long. Here's Why
New Jersey motorists should know within a matter of weeks whether they are going to get hit with a gas-tax increase later this year. Some of the state's top public-finance officials are required to meet by the middle of next month to discuss the current pace of gas-tax collections. And, if they detect a significant shortfall, a rate hike could be announced by the end of August. The last increase came in 2018, and the latest tax-collection reports from the Department of Treasury don't offer motorists much hope of a reprieve as revenues have been lagging last year's totals nearly across the board, including when it comes to fuel taxes. Treasury officials say they are "still analyzing the data" and that no final decision has been made. If there is an increase in the gas tax this year, it would hit motorists in October, just weeks after highway tolls are due to go up across New Jersey.

New Gop Small Business Rescue Plan Sparks Lobbying Fight
Senate Republicans on Monday unveiled their opening offer for a new round of small business aid in upcoming economic relief legislation, setting off an immediate lobbying push by business groups and other advocates who said the plan was too narrow. The proposal released by Senate Small Business Chair Marco Rubio of Florida would let businesses apply for second Paycheck Protection Program loans. The loans, which Congress created in March to avert layoffs during the pandemic, can be converted to grants if employers agree to maintain payroll. Under the GOP plan, Congress would provide $190 billion for the loans. It would also make available funding for separate low-interest loans that could be paid back over 20 years, to provide working capital and refinance existing debt.

Essential Employees Would Benefit Under Senate Bill
Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) last week introduced the FRNT LINE Act (S. 4213), which seeks to exempt wages earned by frontline workers in essential industries, including convenience stores, from federal income tax from April 1, 2020, until the end of the year. The legislation further exempts wages for those same workers who make less than $50,000 annually from federal payroll taxes. NACS needs retailers' help to ignite support for the bill among other senators to get this legislation included in the next round of federal stimulus legislation currently being negotiated. Please take a few moments to visit the NACS Grassroots Action Center and send senators a letter asking them to co-sponsor S. 4213 as soon as possible. The FRNT LINE Act would provide an immediate benefit to essential workers by allowing them to increase their regular take-home pay by changing their withholdings. This method is one of the fastest ways possible to get additional funds into the hands of essential workers. House democrats included bonus pay for frontline workers in their version of a stimulus bill passed a few weeks ago, though in a different form.

Are Murphy's NJ Reopening Decisions Data-driven? Health Experts Say They're Being Ignored
Some of New Jersey's own health experts - data and infection control specialists on the state payroll - said they were equally caught off guard, even if they agreed with the decision. At least three of Murphy's biggest decisions in the reopening process - the pause on indoor dining, requiring face masks outdoors and plans to reopen schools in the fall, followed by a surprise announcement that he would allow a virtual learning option - were made with little or no consultation with the public health experts, according to multiple interviews with people in the administration. . . New Jersey remains one of the few states in the nation, along with neighboring New York, that so far have successfully clamped down on the spread of coronavirus after suffering through a springtime fraught with anxiety, shutdowns and thousands of deaths - with more than 6,000 of those in nursing homes. Many of the measures put in place - aggressive social distancing, mask wearing, and the continued shutdown of indoor, close-quarter places such as restaurants, bars and gyms - have been credited with the turnaround. Deaths and hospitalizations have fallen precipitously from their peaks in April and the transmission rate has hovered around 1.0, meaning for each person who is infected, they pass the virus on to just one other person, rather than about five at the beginning of the crisis. Now, as the state works to get businesses, schools and recreational activities up and running, questions are being raised as to what metrics and exactly which experts are driving the decisions. Murphy has not offered specifics but has said he's consulted with a wide range of experts in the state, the White House and the private sector. 

'A Band-aid On A Bullet Wound': Workers Are Getting Laid Off Anew As PPP Runs Out
The phone stopped ringing at the Nelsons' auto-body shop in Broomfield, Colo., in March. The normal four-to-six-week wait for customers looking to have dents or bumps fixed on their cars disappeared, leaving the shop silent. Tammy Nelson and her husband, Scott, applied in April for a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program - the federal government's chaotic $660 billion aid program meant to help businesses and their workers stay afloat. But the PPP loan had only delayed the inevitable - the phone didn't start ringing again amid the surging pandemic. Nelson laid off her five employees at the end of June, including herself and her husband. They are among the first wave of PPP layoffs happening across the country, as the loan program begins to expire. The PPP loan program was intended to be a short-term measure, just like the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits, to help get small businesses through the worst of the pandemic. But the pandemic outlasted the PPP. Layoffs are beginning to spike again across the country - the number of new unemployment claims rose last week for the first time since March - as coronavirus cases soar, spurring cities and states to backtrack on reopenings only a month after appearing to turn the corner. "It was just a Band-Aid on a bullet wound," Nelson said of the PPP. "All it really did was prolong the agony of having our workers file for unemployment. Whether it's April 15 or June 30, the end result is still the same."

Governor Murphy Announces Main Street Commercial Corridors Relief
Governor Phil Murphy today announced a new relief program for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Small Business Lease - Emergency Assistance Grant Program (SBL-EAGP) will allow businesses in 64 eligible municipalities to apply for grants of up to $10,000 for lease costs. The program will assist small business owners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which also assists landlords, many of whom are also small businesses. "We are committed to helping small businesses across our state survive this unprecedented crisis," said Governor Murphy. "A stronger and fairer New Jersey starts from the bottom up. The Small Business Lease - Emergency Assistance Grant Program will infuse much needed funding into local economies by assisting both small businesses and the landlords that they rent from." "The Small Business Lease Emergency Grant Assistance Program is directly geared toward keeping the mom-and-pop shops on main streets and business centers afloat in this time of need, specifically in our most vulnerable communities in New Jersey," said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs and Board Chair of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority. "Governor Murphy and I remain as committed as ever to supporting New Jersey's small businesses and this new lease program will work hand-in-hand with other state assistance programs to help them emerge from this crisis stronger."



  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  

New! Sites for lease: Lease Opportunities Immediately Available at Hough Petroleum
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Parts For Sale: Incon TS-1000 tank monitor works well just taken out of service. Printer is aprox 2 months old. Also, Incon 8, tank probes. System replaced because on an Exxon upgrade. Call John Twin Towers Exxon (201) 224-8444