Reminder that tomorrow at noon we are hosting a webinar with the EV Charger provider FreeWire to discuss a new grant opportunity from the State that could pay for a huge portion of an EV fast charger. Register now HERE. We expect the presentation to take less than 30 minutes, followed by Q&A. You can read more about the program here.
The self-serve issue continues to be covered extensively by the New Jersey media, more so than just about any other issue of public policy I can recall. We are in our third week of heavy coverage, and the record high prices at the pump recently are part of what is driving it all. The hosts on 101.5 radio have been extremely supportive of this effort, and yesterday Deminski & Doyle hosted me for a full hour to have a lively chat with them and callers about the issue, and to bust some myths.
We know that there continue to be some rather grumpy people out there who are contacting their legislators telling them not to change the current law. State legislators don't get a lot of contact on bills from regular people, so even a dozen angry phone calls can have an effect, and there are a few legislators who were happy to support us in private but now are softening. Thankfully our major sponsors are still totally onboard. If you haven't already, please go to https://fuelyourwaynj.com/take-action/ and send an e-mail to your legislators. Feel free to share with friends, family, and on social media. You may have also seen some headlines about a Rutgers poll that showed huge support to keep full-serve only among the public. You can read the full statement we put out in response here. In short, the poll didn't ask a question about our bill, which provides choice, it asked people's personal preference, we know a lot of people who might prefer full-serve in a vacuum support having the option of self-serve, and would choose it once they saw how much more convenient it was for them.
CATALYTIC CONVERTER THEFTS
On Monday, the Senate Commerce Committee passed legislation, S-249 sponsored by Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson), that aims to crack down on catalytic converter thefts by requiring scrap yards to collect more records from sellers of converters, including their personal information and the VIN that the vehicle came from. It exempts auto repair shops from these added requirements though. As you know converter thefts are a big and growing problem nationwide, driven by the surge in value for the rare metals inside the converter (platinum, palladium, and rhodium). This problem is likely to get worse before it gets better as Russia is a major supplier of these metals. Part of the attraction of this crime to criminals is how easy it can be to saw off the converter and then sell it quickly. Making it harder to sell will hopefully reduce the problem. You may want to consider advertising to your customers that you can give them some simple protections like engraving their converter with their VIN and/or adding a protective cage around the converter, as many shops are now offering. The bill passed unanimously, you can read our testimony here.
No further news about the Lukoil situation (which is probably good news). The Washington Post wrote a very good article about the situation focusing on some New Jersey franchisees. You can read it here. In Newark, the one government body that did get headlines for trying to shut down their two Lukoil stations, no action has been taken to close those stations. The Council did not technically shut them down, they "strongly urged" the Business Administrator to suspend their licenses. We are hopeful that having gotten their headlines, the City will hear the noise that NJGCA has made and not take action. NJGCA has also proactively reached out to the Governor's Office, the entire state Legislature, and the municipal government of all 100+ towns that host a Lukoil station to make sure they understand that these are American small businesses who would be hurt by an action like what Newark attempted to do.
STATE GAS TAX HOLIDAY?
There has been news for a few weeks about the potential for a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax of 18.4¢ a gallon. Now there is also serious talk about some form of temporary suspension of the New Jersey tax on fuel, currently 42.4¢ per gallon for gas and 49.4¢ per gallon for diesel. A bill was proposed for introduction on Monday (A-3669) that would suspend half the state gas tax if the average retail gas price hit a certain level, and fully remove it if it hits another level. Currently though those levels are $4.50 a gallon and $5.50 a gallon (average), which hopefully we will not hit this summer. We are already in contact with the sponsors of the bill to address a few technical issues with the language of the bill. The chief one is a statement that when the tax is lowered retailers shall immediately lower their price that amount. We believe that the authors of the bill do not understand that when retailers take a delivery of fuel, it already has all taxes paid, so any fuel in the ground will have the higher tax on it. We are hopeful that we will be able to correct this misunderstanding. It is possible that this legislation will actually move very quickly. Pay close attention to your emails because if it does we may need your support to get these issues resolved. Hopefully we will have more details to share next week.
The rack prices continue to fall, following the steep drop in oil prices from around $125 a barrel just over a week ago to under $100 now. The average price with taxes is now about $3.50, down from $4.10 on March 8th. The level of volatility in the marketplace over the last two weeks has been incredible, with prices see-sawing over ten cents a gallon from one day to the next, often more. No one knows the future of oil prices, they may spike again based on something Russia does, they may fall further if there is a ceasefire soon, or if there is a big hit to the Chinese economy which some analysts are now forecasting. If competition allows for you to keep your margins high, its important you use the opportunity while you can, because if the volatility returns and pushes things back up, you will get squeezed.
OSHA INJURY FORM REMINDER
For employers with 11 or more employees, this is a reminder for the annual OSHA 300A Form, which lists out all work-related injuries and illnesses to any employee for calendar year 2021. It is due April 30th. The form is available here. Thanks to our Member Benefit Partner Steve Horowitz, Esq. for pointing this out. If you have any questions or issues about this or employment law in general, please contact Steve email@example.com or 973-789-8300.
INFO ON DUES RENEWALS
All members who are scheduled to renew their membership will receive an email with an electronic invoice and a link to pay for it. When you go to the site to pay you will have to retrieve your logon information as it has changed from last year. You'll receive an email with the new logon credentials.
When you pay the invoice, a confirmation email will be generated. Also, when you click on the "continue" link in the email, you will see the actual invoice with details and an option to print it or download it to your computer. For all other members renewing throughout 2022, this is the new procedure for billing and payment. It is important to check your emails on or about the first of the month of your renewal. Reminder invoices will also be sent out on or about the first of the month. Any questions or concerns can be addressed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
All classes held at NJGCA HQ -- 4900 Route 33 West, Wall Township, NJ 07753
ASE Training Course - Reach Out Today!
Are you (or an employee) getting ready to take your A6, A8, or L1 in preparation to recertifying your Emission Repair Technician (ERT) credentials through the State's Emission Technician Education Program (ETEP)?
We can help --- but we need to hear from you, first! NJGCA wants to hear from students interested in our ASE-prep training program, so we can gauge demand and schedule our next session series.
As you know, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has always maintained a "dual-track" system to allow technicians to earn their Emission Repair Technician (ERT) credentials through New Jersey's Emission Technician Education Program (ETEP). In doing so, technicians were allowed to certify as ERTs through either an ASE-test track or an ETEP-educational class track. Starting on January 1, 2020, NJDEP amended the ETEP criteria, and the ETEP-educational class track was abolished.
Today, only the ASE-test track remains, and all ERTs must certify or re-certify their credentials though ASE to remain in the Program.
NJGCA has recently offered an ASE-prep class to help you get ready for the A6, A8, and L1. In doing so, students were welcome to participate in a ten-session preparatory class that covered material for all three ASE exams. We also had a handful of students who joined us only for the A8 or L1 sections.
Once completed, students took their ASE exams with a local ASE-approved test proctor (NJGCA can train you to prepare for the ASE exams, but are not permitted to offer the actual exam - students must make these arrangements individually themselves).
Building on that success, we are now seeking student participation in our next training series session. To make arrangements and organize a session, we need to hear from you!
No matter what you may be hearing from other residents, and no matter how much you be paying per gallon, gas stations in New Jersey are not price gouging. . . "Right now, if I want to go out and raise my price to $10 a gallon, there is absolutely nothing stopping me from doing that, nor should there be," said Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience Store and Automotive Association. "And what you're seeing right now is the retailer passing on the costs as they receive new gasoline deliveries." Even during a state of emergency, Risalvato noted, retailers can increase their prices if the reason is to make up for their own additional costs.
Within the $1.5 trillion spending package to keep the U.S. government funded, Congress included language that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate synthetic nicotine products. The measure was included in the omnibus bill that passed out of the House of Representatives on Wednesday and the Senate yesterday, the final step before the president signs it into law. The FDA has had regulatory and enforcement authority over tobacco products since 2009 when Congress passed the Tobacco Control Act. This new measure will give FDA that same authority over products that contain nicotine that isn't derived from tobacco but made in a lab, known as synthetic nicotine.
NACS asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to authorize the year-round sale of gasoline blended with up to 15% ethanol (E15) to reduce the U.S.'s reliance on foreign energy sources. "This common-sense step would provide much-needed price relief at the pump while enhancing America's energy security and improving gasoline's emissions characteristics," wrote NACS, along with SIGMA, in a letter to the EPA. Congress has given the EPA the authority to allow E15 fuel to be sold year-round when there are extreme or unusual fuel or fuel additive supply circumstances. Oil prices are spiking in large part due to Russia's attack on Ukraine, and in February ahead of the invasion, inflation rose to its highest level in 40 years. Neither of these trends is likely to dissipate in the coming months, according to NACS.
The latest idea of several designed to provide relief from high gas prices, was proposed Thursday by a South Jersey legislator to give taxpayers an immediate $250 to $500 tax credit. Proposed by State Senator Edward Durr, R-Gloucester, the legislation would give a $500 tax credit to families earning under $250,000 and $250 to single or individual filers earning less than $125,000. Nine other Republican legislators have co-sponsored the bill.
Oil prices are falling amid rare progress at peace talks between Ukraine and Russia in addition to COVID-19 lockdowns in China, reports Reuters. Monday morning oil trading had Brent crude down by $4.67, or 4.1%, at $108 a barrel, and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell $5.71, or 5.2%, to $103.62 a barrel. Both contracts are up 40% year to date. COVID-19 cases are up in China, which is the largest crude oil importer and second largest consumer after the U.S. "Oil prices might continue moderating this week as investors have been digesting the impact of sanctions on Russia, along with parties showing signs of negotiation towards (a) ceasefire," said Tina Teng, an analyst at CMC Markets.
Lukoil, one of the world's largest energy producers and the second-biggest oil company in Russia, is caught in the middle of an economic war with the West, as previously welcomed Russian companies are cut out from the international system. The broad and swift unwinding of Russia's ties to the global economy - spurred by public backlash to Russia's invasion and the pressure on Western governments to respond - has led to confusion and chaos, resulting in collateral damage for people including American franchise owners Tusinac and Gill, whose stations don't even sell Russian gasoline, as well as for Lukoil, which former executives and experts described as maintaining a degree of independence from Putin during his decades in power.
I refuse to play into this notion that's been pushed the past few decades that full-service gas is part of our charm. It's not culture, it's lazy. While I've spent the majority of my adult life in Jersey I have had the opportunity to live in one of the 49 other states that allow self-serve gas. It's not that big a deal. You pull in, swipe your card, pump your gas and leave. It's an errand, not part of your identity.
Oil prices have fallen, with West Texas Intermediate dropping below $95 a barrel, down 13% this week already, reports Bloomberg. COVID-19 lockdowns in China have impacted oil markets, as the country is the world's biggest crude importer. The Federal Reserve is meeting this week and is expected to implement an interest rate hike of a quarter percentage point, reports CNBC.
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.
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