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September 24, 2020
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 Inside this issue
  Executive Directors Message  

As the budget gets voted on today, we close the book on another fight that saw some victories for our industries and some setbacks for our state overall:
First, the victory: We were successful in killing the cigarette tax . . .  for now. I want to make this clear - this issue is never dead, it will likely be back next year. In previous years we have had to defeat various taxes on tobacco products and have been successful in stopping or blocking taxes as high as $2.70 on each individual cigar. I was very surprised that this tax didn't show up in this budget, but it could be back on the table next year because they will be searching for revenues. That much we know for sure.
The two big setbacks coming to New Jersey are the corporation business tax increase and the millionaires tax. The corporate business tax will have a surcharge on net income over $1 million. The surcharge is an extra 2.5%, and will last until December 31, 2023. There is currently a 1.5% surcharge that was scheduled to expire at the end of 2021. These surcharges are on top of the 9% rate. This will make New Jersey the second highest corporate tax in the nation. The income tax is also being increased on income between $1 million and $5 million, from 8.97% to 10.75%. Income above $5 million has been taxed at that rate for the last two years. New Jersey has the third highest income tax rate in the nation. Both of these increases will apply to income in calendar 2020.
The Senate Environment and Energy Committee advanced legislation that will expand access to charging stations for drivers of electric vehicles. The legislation establishes a statewide policy for the construction and availability of charging stations for electric cars at gas stations. We don't have any details on when this will be discussed next, but we will be watching this legislation closely as it moves forward as this could be beneficial to all of you in the future. To read our position on this, you can read our testimony to the committee HERE.
Last week NJGCA heard anecdotal rumblings from members about MVC auditors conducting "hands on" inspection spot checks at PIF facilities. In doing so, MVC officials asked INL license holders to walk them through an inspection (from start to finish) as part of a routine visit. They openly sat back and observed if the inspection was done properly. NJGCA reached out to MVC and can confirm that the rumblings are true.
You'll recall that a "hands on test" is part of the evaluation process that a technician must pass in order to win their INL credentials. For many, their initial "hands on test" was the last time an MVC official watched over their shoulder to observe them perform an inspection, use the equipment terminal, or scan and review relevant documents. 
Now it appears this is about to change, even if it is not entirely a new idea. Twenty-plus years ago "Evaluation Checks" were not unheard of. However, it has not been a routine MVC practice for many years. In reviving an old custom, MVC is hoping to keep PIF locations on point and inspectors from veering from proper procedures.
Even if a PIF inspector has been doing inspections for decades (and never been cited for a violation, besides) he/she may be asked to walk through an inspection while an MVC official observes their progress.

Of course, this all leads to an obvious question: What happens if an inspector does something wrong? Will that INL face a violation or sanction of some kind? For now, at least, it appears as though inspectors will receive a warning. However, it would not surprise us if such warnings were to evolve into fines in time.

We will continue to watch this development and listen out for member anecdotal reports.  Still, to avoid any possible entanglements, the solution is obvious -- Do the inspection and demonstrate to MVC that you are doing things correctly. If you are rusty, make sure to carve out time to review the procedures and feel free to reach out with any questions.
Since the start of the pandemic in March, nearly 1.6 million workers have applied for unemployment benefits in New Jersey exhausting the state's unemployment trust fund. The trust fund has paid out $4.7 billion in benefits so far, and the state already has used a $1.7 billion federal line of credit to continue paying out benefits interest-free through Dec. 31. Employees and employers both pay into the unemployment trust fund, but employer contributions are dependent on the overall health of the fund and how many employees in the business claim benefits. Businesses were not faced with the increase this July because the rates were set before the coronavirus hit the Garden State, however, without federal relief business may be looking at a dramatic increase to this tax. Even with federal relief, this will still be a loan to be paid back, not a grant, triggering tax increases regardless. 
The attorney general released a press release this week detailing a number of businesses in various industries were listed as receiving penalties because they were deemed to have been in violation of the gouging laws. In previous months, we've made mention to you about generic warning letters that many of you have received on price gouging. Overall, I have great faith that NJGCA members are not breaking the law intentionally. However, we have been made aware of several instances where the attorney general was unable to pin price gouging on our members but their investigation did find that products on c-store shelves were not properly labeled. This is generally an infraction that members contact me about because it is part of Weights and Measures regular inspections, and over the years we have had to defend many of these situations. The law is clear: your products must be labeled properly so that the consumer knows the price when they take it off the shelf and to the register. If you use a scanner, make sure that the price that gets scanned is the price that is on the product! This is a violation that many pharmacies and supermarkets get caught up in. It is extremely difficult to defend. In all instances, I always ask my members to put yourselves in the shoes of the consumer. Personally, I am angry when I go to the supermarket and am unable to find the proper price either on the product or on the shelf.
This is your official reminder - the gas tax goes into effect next Thursday, October 1st. You do not have to do anything ahead of this! There is no floor tax, you will not have to file a form or pay the tax on what is already in the ground at midnight on October 1st. However, every delivery you receive after midnight on October 1st will have an additional 9.3¢ in petroleum products gross receipts tax. Do not forget to raise your price at midnight on October 1st. Previous tax increases have always resulted in my phone ringing because a member forgot to change his price and had to eat the tax increase. Don't let this happen to you!
It has come to my attention through our contacts in other states that some convenience stores selling JUUL vape products may be receiving a letter from a law firm threatening a lawsuit. This picture is just developing so I can only relay what I know at present. Retailers in six states have received lawsuit threats similar in nature to the threatened lawsuits that were sent to members engaged in selling male enhancement products. Apparently, there are unscrupulous vendors selling JUUL products that are not completely genuine, or may even be stolen. They are selling these products at very attractive prices which of course should be the first clue that something is wrong. These vendors generally sell out of their vans or the trunks of their cars, hence the reference to them as "Trunk Slammers." I have advised multiple times that convenience stores should ONLY buy their products and inventory from reputable distributors. NJGCA has several distributors that operate with the utmost integrity. Harold Levinson Associates, Quick & Fresh, Chetak NY, and CBDelight are all NJGCA MBPs. If you have made a purchase of any JUUL product from any vendor other than an authorized distributor, you will always have to worry about the integrity of the products you sell. It is important for you to do an inventory analysis to determine that all of the JUUL products on your shelf are genuine. If you receive any letters from any law firm threatening a lawsuit, please contact me immediately.
Be Well -  
Sal Risalvato
Executive Director




  Training Class Schedule  

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




  News Around The State  

Newsom calls for California ban on new gas-fueled cars by 2035
Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling for California to ban new gasoline-fueled vehicles within 15 years in a bid to combat climate change and make the state the first in the nation to stop sales of cars with internal combustion engines. The Democratic governor on Wednesday signed an executive order that directs the California Air Resources Board to establish regulations requiring that all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California in 2035 be zero-emission vehicles.

NJ Lawmakers Find Millions For Pet Projects In Budget That Borrows Billions, Raises Taxes
Dozens of spending items were tucked into the state budget at the last minute by lawmakers this week, while they are arguing the financial strain of the coronavirus pandemic is forcing New Jersey to borrow billions of dollars to maintain core services like education and public safety. Among the various projects now in line to be funded by state taxpayers amid the health crisis are shade tree management in Metuchen, a municipal facility renovation in East Brunswick, and the dredging of a reservoir in Clark, according to budget documents made public this week.

New Budget Deal Kills Murphy Plans To Raise N.J. Taxes On Cigarettes, Firearms But Hits Corporations, Millionaires
Gov. Phil Murphy and his fellow Democrats who lead the New Jersey Legislature have agreed on a state budget deal that raises taxes on high-income earners and HMOs while extending a 2.5-percentage point surtax on corporations with over $1 million in income. The agreement also jettisons Murphy's other proposed tax increases on sales of cigarettes, firearms, boat sales, limousine rides and a tax on opioid manufacturers, according to two legislative sources who were not authorized to publicly discuss the plan and requested anonymity. It was still unclear early Monday how much the governor and legislative leaders have agreed to raise through borrowing. Murphy's proposed budget anticipated taking on a $4 billion, 10-year loan as the state copes with cratering tax revenue in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Need Money For Childcare While Your Kids Are Remote Learning? How To Apply For A New $150M N.J. Program
New Jersey families looking for help watching their children while they are remote learning can apply for a new state program that will cover all or part of their childcare costs through the end of the year. The new program, called the New Jersey School-Age Tuition Assistance Program, is open to families with annual gross household incomes of $75,000 or less. The state-provided tuition money can be used to pay for childcare costs for students between ages 5 and 13 attending schools that are remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly 100,000 Businesses Permanently Close Doors
Across the United States, more than 160,000 businesses have indicated on Yelp that they have closed since March 1, CNBC reports. Of those closures, 97,966 are permanent, Yelp's latest Economic Impact Report reveals. "Overall, Yelp's data show that business closures have continued to rise with a 34% increase in permanent closures since our last report in mid-July," said Justin Norman, vice president of data science at Yelp. "Despite the hard hit small businesses have certainly taken, we've seen that home, local, professional and automotive services have been able to withstand the effects of the pandemic better than other industries."

What's Next For NJ's Sweeping Plastic Bag Ban?
A key committee approved a bill to ban single-use carryout plastic and paper bags, as well as other plastics, but now even some of its supporters acknowledged their backing could end without major changes in the legislation. The measure, a top legislative priority of most New Jersey environmental organizations for the past few years, won approval Thursday from the Assembly Appropriations Committee - seen as a victory by environmental advocates who have pushed for the legislation for the past few years. The victory might be short-lived, however,  given that there seemed to be widespread opposition from both Republicans and Democrats over a provision in the bill to ban single-use paper bags, as well as polystyrene-foam food containers

Plan Advances For $500 Fines For Not Wearing Masks In NJ Stores
People who don't properly wear a mask over their nose and mouth in stores in New Jersey could be fined as much as $500 for violating Gov. Phil Murphy's executive orders declaring a coronavirus public health emergency, under a bill endorsed Thursday by an Assembly committee. . . The bill, A4453, wasn't listed on the original Assembly Appropriations Committee agenda but was "waived on" at the start of the meeting. In fact, the bill started the morning in the Assembly Judiciary Committee but was transferred. The deadline to sign up to testify at the remote hearing was 3 p.m. Wednesday, so nobody from the public was able to testify on the bill.

Most Consumers Still Prefer In-Store Shopping
Sixty-five percent of U.S. consumers surveyed in a new poll are OK with traditional in-store shopping, with the remainder saying they'd prefer to avoid brick-and-mortar retailers, Business Insider reports. What's more, 72% of 2,000 people polled said they are more likely to shop with retailers that offer contactless, curbside pickup. The poll was conducted by market research firm Harris Insights and Analytics and Sense Photonics, a company that makes 3D sensors and industrial robotics. The 2020 Retail Consumer Behavior Poll found that shoppers want less human interaction and more automation. Seven in 10 respondents said they'd prefer zero human contact during their shopping experience. Retailers worldwide are responding to these changes in consumer attitudes.



  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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