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November 12, 2020
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 Inside this issue
  Executive Directors Message  

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There's probably very little you need to hear from me about last week's presidential election results. While the Trump campaign has filed over a dozen lawsuits to dispute the results and continues to say they have a chance of being declared the winner, it is nevertheless a near guarantee that Joe Biden will be inaugurated as President on January 20th. While some point to the 2000 election as precedent, in 2000 it was a fight over a few hundred votes in a single state, the Trump campaign this time would need to throw out tens of thousands of votes spread across multiple states, and more than a week after the election they still haven't produced evidence of anything on that scale that stands up to more than a few minutes of research. The size of the Biden Electoral College victory is shaping up to be the same as the Trump victory in 2016.
As important as who won the Presidency is who will control Congress. Democrats had hoped to expand their House majority and flip control of the Senate, but have fallen short on both goals. Republicans increased the number of House members they have, meaning that while Democrats still control the chamber their majority will be narrow. They had a net gain of two seats in the Senate, leaving the current breakdown at 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats. Georgia will have a runoff election for its two Senate seats on January 5th. If both are won by the Democrats, then they would have the narrowest of Senate majorities with the 50-50 tie broken by the new Vice President Kamala Harris. Even in the best-case scenario for Democrats now, their ability to pass expansive legislation that will severely disrupt your business has been severely reduced. Votes are still being counted in New Jersey, but it's clear Vice President Biden has won with the state by a roughly 57%-41% majority. Senator Booker (D) has been reelected by a similar margin, and all 12 of the members of our House have been reelected (10 Democrats and 2 Republicans). 
Also on the ballot last week was a referendum to legalize the sale of marijuana products in New Jersey (which will now be called "cannabis" when the product is in a legal and regulated form). It has passed 67%-33%. On Monday legislators are set to work on passing the enabling legislation, a massive bill over 200 pages long. There are two points relevant to our members. The first is the employer protections in the bill. It explicitly states that it shall continue to be the right of an employer to maintain a drug and alcohol free workplace and that employers are under no obligation "to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, being under the influence, possession transfer, display, transportation, sale or growth of cannabis or cannabis items in the workplace, or to affect the ability of employers to have policies prohibiting cannabis use or intoxication by employees during work hours."
One of the big problems with legalization has been the fact that there is no effective scientific test to determine if someone is currently intoxicated from marijuana. A urine or blood test will only show whether the person has consumed marijuana at some point within the last two weeks or more. The bill does give the employer the ability to fire or penalize any employee who tests positive for having consumed a cannabis product on their own time, but only if the employer has a "rational basis for doing so which is reasonably related to the employment, including the responsibilities of the employee."
So while any employer can fire an employee for being under the influence of cannabis during working hours, an employer cannot fire an employee only because a drug test was positive for cannabis-unless the employer has a "rational basis" for guaranteeing that the employee is never intoxicated. The discussion during the committee hearing was focused on jobs involving safety. For example, there would be a rational basis to say that a repair shop could still fire a mechanic simply for testing positive for cannabis on a drug test because of the inherent danger involved in putting vehicles on lifts, using power tools, and potentially improperly repairing someone's car. But that policy could not extend to an employee who only does clerical and scheduling work. An employee working at a register was an example given by the sponsor as a job that would not pass the rational basis test. To repeat though, if any employee is on the job and intoxicated by cannabis or any substance, they can be terminated or penalized. Believe me, I understand if this sounds confusing, and thankfully the sponsor has agreed to come up with some clarifying amendments before the bill is finalized. We will continue to provide details on the impact of this legalization as it relates to employment law as things develop. Earlier this week Gov. Murphy said he expects it to take about a year before cannabis products are actually able to be legally sold at retail stores.
Those retail stores are the other aspect of this ending of prohibition that might have impacted our members. The legislation continues to specify that the only stores which will be able to sell these products at retail are dedicated cannabis stores which sell only cannabis products. This means convenience stores will not be able to get a license to add these products to their stores. Rather, they would have to operate an entirely separate business. It's possible that in the future this rule could be loosened, but for now there is not enough political support for it.
If you operate a business in Newark, you may have already heard about the new restrictions created by Mayor Baraka's new Executive Order. They went into effect immediately and he has promised to be strict in enforcing them. These restrictions are the most severe anywhere in the state at any point in this crisis. They include temperature checks for all customers entering a building and the closure of the business for two weeks if an employee tests positive. They also state that even essential businesses located in zip codes 07104, 07105, and 07107 must close at 9pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends. You can read the order HERE. Cases are skyrocketing in Newark, much worse than anywhere else in the state, so hopefully these restrictions are not a vision of what may be coming elsewhere. They are, however, an indication that the New Jersey economy is much more likely to see more restrictions rather than fewer in the next few weeks and months. These rules have been enacted with no debate or warning and despite the Governor's Executive Orders saying that local governments do not have the power to authorize rules this strict. So far, the Governor's Office has not acted or clarified their position on these rules. In theory, any business penalized for not following these rules could sue and say that they are invalid under the Governor's Executive Order, though the Governor could also change his own rules to allow the Mayor to do what he wants. Fighting the Mayor's Office also runs the risk of upsetting local enforcement officials. Mayor Baraka said he will reevaluate the rules on December 1st.
Last week the governor signed into law S-864, the bill restricting a variety of disposable products. Effective in one year, no food service business (including c-stores) can provide their customers a single-use plastic straw unless the customer requests it. Retailers must still carry at least some plastic straws to provide if specifically requested. Starting in 18 months (May 2022), no retailer may offer its customers a single-use plastic carryout bag. Also effective in 18 months, no grocery store (defined as a retailer that sells food products and occupies at least 2,500 square feet) may give out a paper bag. The plastic bag ban does not apply to certain types of small bags, including a bag "used solely to contain food sliced or prepared to order, including soup or hot food" as well as a bag "used solely to package loose items such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, grains, baked goods, candy, greeting cards, flowers, or small hardware items." Convenience stores may continue to give out paper bags if they are under 2,500 square feet, they are also free to stop giving out bags or charge a fee for them if they wish.
Also beginning in 18 months is a ban on "polystyrene foam food service products," more commonly known under the brand name Styrofoam. This includes cups, plates, and food containers. There is an exemption provided for foam soda spoons "used for thick drinks," for portion cups under 2 ounces, for trays holding raw meat and fish, and for food products pre-packaged by the manufacturer with polystyrene foam. However, this exemption expires in May 2024, though it may be extended by the DEP.
One important concession granted by this bill is that it overrides all local ordinances governing these products. Well over one hundred of the state's local governments have passed a local restriction on at least one of these products, and often there are different standards in different towns. This law will ensure a uniform standard once it goes into effect. The bill also guarantees that any store which violates any of these provisions is guaranteed to be given only a warning for a first offense, followed by a $1,000 fine if the offense was not corrected. 
Year after year, we have battled to keep additional taxes off of tobacco products for the simple reason that we don't want the competition with other states potentially stealing our customers, though it's getting harder every year. In last week's election, Colorado and Oregon voters approved of an increase in taxation of cigarettes, tobacco products and nicotine products (including vaping products). This year, NJGCA was successful in keeping a significant tobacco tax out of the state budget, despite facing deficits from the pandemic. However, If New Jersey does something similar to Colorado and Oregon and leaves the decision to voters, we will never be able to battle this. No one loves taxes, but voters do tend to lean towards approving of taxes on items that are considered harmful on society, such as tobacco and alcohol. We have to be alert, as we have no way of stopping it from going to the voters if the legislature does this with tobacco, like they did with marijuana.
This year has been a particularly challenging one for families around New Jersey and the country. We are approaching the season of giving; now more than ever it is important we give to those in need. We are especially mindful of those who are hungry and food insecure throughout the state, and may not necessarily have a holiday meal to put on the table for their families. NJGCA Young Professionals group will be continuing their annual turkey drive this year and collecting donations entirely virtually in order to slow the spread of the virus. This year, donations will be sent to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, which serves the entire state. Please CLICK HERE to visit our team page and contribute to our goal. If you have any questions regarding the turkey drive or are interested in learning more about the Young Professionals group, please contact michelle@njgca.org.
Lastly, I want to wish a happy Veterans Day yesterday to those who served in our nation's military. Our deepest gratitude for your service. Additionally, Saturday marks the Indian holiday of Diwali, the festival of lights. I see that the holiday celebrates "the victory of light over darkness and good over evil." For all those who celebrate, I am wishing you a happy holiday. May the lights of Diwali surround you and your loved ones with happiness and positivity. 
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
November 17th & 18th, 2020
December 16th & 17th, 2020

If you, a colleague, or an employee technician wishes to become a NJ Emissions Inspector, now is your chance! NJGCA will offer two upcoming two-day classes 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.

We are offering the class: 
Tuesday November 17th, 7:00am to 4:00pm & Wednesday, November 18th, 12:30
Click HERE for the November registration form. 

Wednesday December 16th, 7:00am to 4:00pm & Thursday, December 17th, 12:30
Click HERE for the December registration form. 

Contact Nick De Palma at Nick@njgca.org to inquire on additional class dates



  News Around The State  

Governor Murphy Announces Additional $60 Million to Fulfill Pipeline of Small Business Grant Applications
Today, Governor Phil Murphy announced a commitment of at least $60 million in additional Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to fulfillment of grants under Phase 3 of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority's (NJEDA's) Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. This funding is in addition to $70 million in federal funds already allocated for the current phase of the program and will enable the NJEDA to fulfill grants for the entire pipeline of eligible businesses that applied for Phase 3 funding prior to the application deadline. Without this supplemental funding, approximately 13,000 of the nearly 22,000 businesses that applied for Phase 3 grants would have been declined based on the program being oversubscribed.

Newark To 'shut Down' Swaths Of City As Pandemic Surges (Updated)
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said Monday he was enacting sweeping restrictions on businesses, travel, and public and private gatherings in some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19, as the city finds itself as ground zero for a second wave of outbreaks. "The people who live in this community are more likely to catch COVID-19 than anybody else and are more likely to die," Baraka said on a Monday evening Facebook Live announcement. "We need another remedy. We need another prescription." Baraka said the restrictions were triggered in part by a citywide positivity rate of 19%, compared to the statewide infection rate of over 7.5%. And the rates have soared closer to 35% in three zip codes in the East Ward and North Newark:  07104, 07105 and 07107. Businesses in those three zip codes have to shut down by 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. during the weekends, while pharmacies might soon be added to that list.

Murphy Announces New Restrictions On Indoor Dining In New Jersey As Covid Cases Surge
New Jersey will require restaurants to stop indoor dining by 10 p.m. and will prohibit all indoor, interstate organized sports up to the high school level in an effort to slow the resurgence of Covid-19, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday. The new rules take effect Thursday morning, the governor said during his regular coronavirus briefing in Trenton. "The last thing I want to do is shut our economy back down. Thankfully, we're not at that point," Murphy said. "These are the measures we are taking now, and they do not preclude us from taking further action in other areas or placing other restricting on these in the near future."

Colorado, Oregon Voters Approve Cigarette, Tobacco Tax Increases
Colorado and Oregon voters approved measures in the Nov. 3 general election that increase the taxation of cigarettes, tobacco products and nicotine products (including vaping products). Click into the article to read the specifics of both the Colorado and Oregon measures.

New Jersey Bans Plastic Bags Effective May 2022
This week, Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a ban on businesses giving customers single-use plastic bags, paper bags, polystyrene food containers and plastic straws, NJ.com reports. The law, approved by state legislators in September, is the strictest in the United States and will become effective in May 2022. "Plastic bags are one of the most problematic forms of garbage, leading to millions of discarded bags that stream annually into our landfills, rivers and oceans," Murphy said in statement. "With today's historic bill signing, we are addressing the problem of plastic pollution head-on with solutions that will help mitigate climate change and strengthen our environment for future generations." The new mandate forbids foodservice stores from handing out polystyrene food containers and single-use plastic bags. Businesses included in the ban are convenience stores, restaurants, food trucks, movie theaters and supermarkets 2,500 square feet and larger. Grocery stores also cannot give customers paper bags under the new regulations.

Gas Stations Eye an EV Future
Electric vehicle fast charging: "Why now? Why not now?" That point was made by Brad Petersen, director of retail fuels at Kum & Go, a retail chain with more than 500 stores in 11 Midwestern states. "Yes, the new EV sales are not drastic in numbers-less that 2% of the vehicle fleet-but we know it's coming, and we want to be prepared for it and offer fuel to all of our customers, whether that be gas or charging." . . . As covered in the session, there are three basic EV charging options. The first involves an electric vehicle manufacturer such as Tesla establishing a charging network to support vehicle sales. The second involves an independent third party, such as EVgo, that will essentially partner with a retailer through a rental agreement (or with a municipality or commercial fleet) to support its charging network. The third model involves retailers working with a company like National Car Charging to set up and operate their own charging infrastructure. Supporting a third-party network is painless to the retailer, but the retailer ends up giving away control in such areas as pricing, which can conflict with retailer goals. At the same time, the third party assumes the bulk of the risk, as well as most of the headaches with adding EV charging, in exchange for that loss of control.

N.J. 'Close' To Ordering New Coronavirus Restrictions As Cases Surge. 'We Will Clearly Be Taking Action,' Murphy Says
Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday he's considering new restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus after new cases have been surging and hospitalizations are steadily climbing from the second wave of the outbreak. "How close are we to doing something?" Murphy said. "Close. So bear with us. We will clearly be taking action." The governor, however, didn't give any details on what steps he may take or whether that would include a new round of business restrictions or closures. Instead, he said his administration is reviewing multiple options.



  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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