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June 29, 2022
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 Inside this issue
  Executive Directors Message  










For all of you shops that have been anxiously awaiting news on a Motor Vehicle inspection program, we mentioned in a recent Road Warrior that a contract had been awarded after a lengthy protest from the current contractor Parsons. Parsons is currently trying to appeal the decision that decided against their protest. However, we are hearing from reliable sources that this appeal will not be lengthy, and we expect a decision to be made sometime in the next several weeks. We will be reaching out to all shop owners with details on the new equipment and the new program as information becomes available to us. The request for proposal from state of New Jersey states that any new contractor must work with NJGCA to assist and enable shop owners to have a smooth transition to participate in the new program. 


The massive drain on the State's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund caused by the COVID-19 shutdowns forced the State to raise unemployment insurance payroll tax rates to rebuild this fund. Rates went up last year, and are scheduled to be automatically increased soon. State legislators from both parties have put forward legislation that would prevent this increase by shifting money into the fund to avoid the worst of the increase and to help small businesses still recovering from the pandemic. Despite bipartisan agreement, we have heard that Governor Murphy is considering vetoing this legislation to force small businesses to pay these higher rates. This week, we sent out a Voter Voice link to send a message to the governor and your senator on how important signing this legislation will be for your business. If you have not done so yet, please take a minute to CLICK HERE and send a message out on how important it is that this become law. 


I have received some phone calls from the press that concern me because once they start noticing something, it's not long before regulators at Consumer Affairs or worse, legislators, start paying attention to the same issue. They have been calling because they've noticed gas stations with a cash/credit difference of up to 20 cents a gallon. Of course, they all want to know if this is legal and I explained to them there is nothing in the law that prevents you from giving as much of a discount on gasoline as you wish to give. However, there is a written opinion from the attorney general that says that the rules permitting cash/credit pricing are to be tied directly to the cost of the credit card. Certainly, if the attorney general's office wants to file a complaint or lawsuit against a location for going beyond these parameters, you could defend yourself in a court of law. My issue stems from thinking about the entire gasoline retail community as a whole and what could be a probable outcome if legislators want to limit or end cash/credit pricing. We have stopped many legislative attempts in the past ten years that would limit the discounts you would be able to offer. If you are trying to create a bigger spread between your cash and credit pricing, you are not only jeopardizing yourself, but all of the other gasoline retail locations that offer cash discounts. At a time when gasoline prices are as high as they are and the motoring public, the media and legislature are fixated and emotional about the high prices, you should rethink your practices. Last time this came up in 2016 we sent a wildfire message out warning our members of an unreasonable price difference between cash and credit.  The object of cash/credit pricing is to permit you to recoup your credit card fees, and anything more than that will be considered by the authorities as taking advantage of consumers. This is not the time to be caught in this kind of position.  A good rule of thumb is to calculate 3% of the per gallon price.  At today's pump prices a 15 cent difference is not unreasonable.  If any of you are paying fees more than 3%, then you are being taken advantage of by your credit card processor.  This is a good time to contact us and learn how to participate in the NJGCA credit card program. Contact Nick or Joe: nick@njgca.org  joe@njgca.org 


Related to the cash/credit pricing issue, last week, legislation was on my desk due to an effort from legislature to investigate price gouging. Eric and I have been working on this all week and teamed up with our friends at Fuel Merchants Association (FMANJ) and Food Council (NJFC) on the issue. It was quickly added to the agenda, and we have been meeting with sponsors in both Assembly and Senate all week. We agreed on a compromise that would more broadly review pricing and why gas prices are as high as they are without have a focus solely on gas station operators. Of course, legislators and officials from the Department of Consumer Affairs are reacting to the many complaints that they are receiving all day long every day from consumers believing that they are being overcharged. I have clearly expressed that any investigation will show NJGCA members are not breaking the law. Here is a very comprehensive memo by Eric that has been sent to all the members of the Senate and Assembly Budget Committee detailing the reasons why the current prices are not a result of greedy gasoline retailers. 


Last week, the FDA announced that they would be banning all juul products to combat teen vaping. All vaping products have to submit themselves to the FDA to be approved, and found that Juul products lacked evidence that the chemicals used would be "appropriate for the protection of public health." Juul sued and the court on Friday stepped in and gave Juul a stay that allows them to continue to sell their products while they figure out if the FDA was fair in their decision to ban their products from the market. Right now, because the decision is in a holding period you can sell these products. It is not clear how much longer until a final decision is made. In the meantime, here is a list of vaping products that were granted approval by the FDA to be sold.

Finally, happy Independence Day from all of us at NJGCA! Have a safe and Happy 4th of July and don't forget those who made this day possible!      

Be Well -  

Sal Risalvato
Executive Director



  Training Class Schedule  

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! 

If you are interested, please email us at training@njgca.org ASAP. 

We'll record your interest, inquire on your availability, and schedule a class once we have a full complement of students.   

Only with your feedback can we gauge student headcount and participation.  

Please reach out to us today, and thank you for your interest! 

Contact Nick De Palma at Nick@njgca.org to inquire about potential trainings and class dates



  News Around The State  


Gas Exec Refutes Reasoning Why We Can't Pump Our Own Gas In NJ

So how did we get into this fine mess in the first place? Why can't New Jersey people pump our own gas? An article in the New York Post says "the New Jersey legislature has published 10 findings and declarations that detail why people aren't allowed to pump gas themselves." I asked Sal Risalvato of the New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association to reply to the 10 findings in the Post article.


Small N.J. Businesses Desperately Need Tax Relief After Pandemic Unemployment Surge, Leaders Say

The New Jersey Assembly recently passed legislation that would ease the burden of tax increases on small businesses after a surge in unemployment claims during the pandemic depleted the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. Now business leaders are taking aim at getting the bill passed in the state Senate. Businesses are confronting about $250 million in added taxes this fiscal year and an additional $600 million or more over the next two years, according to the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.


Why A NJ Gas Tax Holiday Is Unlikely As Biden Plans Federal Break To Ease Pain At The Pump

New Jersey's Democratic leaders are reluctant to suspend the state gas tax despite the call from President Joe Biden for states to consider following the federal government's lead as inflation and the war in Ukraine cause prices at the pump to skyrocket. Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders said that since the state's gas tax is legally dedicated to the Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for road and bridge projects, suspending it would ultimately cost more than it saves. 


FTC Revs Up 'Right To Repair' Fight With Harley-Davidson Agreement

Harley-Davidson and a Westinghouse generator maker have agreed to drop some restrictions on who repairs their products, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday. The agency voted last year to make it a priority to push manufacturers to stop requiring consumers to use licensed dealers to repair items ranging from smartphones to farm equipment. Critics say the practice raises prices for consumers and shuts out independent repair shops. The FTC said in its complaint against Harley-Davidson, which was released at the same time as the consent agreement, that it had objected to language used by the motorcycle maker such as "the use of parts and service procedures other than Harley-Davidson approved parts and service procedures may void the limited warranty." Under the agreement, Harley-Davidson agreed that it would not void warranties because the buyer used third-party parts or unauthorized service centers.


Repair Shops Laud Passage Of 'Right To Repair' Bill In New York

But that's about to change as New York has become the first state in the nation to pass a right to repair law. The law will allow individuals and small businesses like Alfredo's to repair their electronic devices locally instead of having to ship them out to the companies that make them. It will also allow public access to manuals and replacement parts instead of having to buy from third parties. Caceres says demand for third party repair shops is high because they save consumers money. According to USPIRG, right to repair will save New Yorkers $2.4 billion per year.


Oil Refiners an Easy, but Odd, Target for Pump-Price Surge

Gasoline prices are at records, and refiners' spectacular profits are putting them in the hot seat. They are an obvious, but odd, target. The White House confirmed in a briefing on Tuesday that oil majors and refinery executives will meet with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Thursday to discuss ways to reduce costs for energy consumers. Last week President Biden sent a letter to oil-refinery executives, accusing them of reaping profits at the expense of consumers and urging them to expand capacity.


New Jersey's Small Town Gas Stations: The Front Lines of the Global Price War

In most of them, there's a few longtime gas stations that hired high school kids in summer to work the pumps, fixed kids' bikes, sponsored community sports teams and tuned up your cars. I visited with the owner of one such station in North Jersey to get a bottom-up view of this $5 a gallon world. We read, see, talk and tweet a gazillion reasons among each other as to why this is happening: Sleazy oil companies. Global warming. Russians. Inflation. Politicians. On and on. It seems only the Kardashians have escaped blame for this. The last domino in this tantrum trail is the guy or gal for whom you roll down your car window maybe twice a week, gulp out "fill it up please," and then groan as you shell out $80 to $100 each time for that, uh, privilege.


N.J. Lawmakers Pull Back From Costly Auto Insurance Plan, But 1 Million May Still Pay More

New Jersey lawmakers appear to have struck a deal on a pared-down auto insurance reform bill after a more costly proposal for New Jersey drivers stalled. However, more than 1 million people in the state would still pay more each year if the latest bill is signed into law. A state Assembly committee on Thursday approved legislation that would hike the minimum amount of liability insurance in the Garden State from its current $15,000 coverage to $25,000 beginning in 2023, and a minimum of $35,000 starting in 2026.


Lawmakers Advance $50.6 Billion Budget, Setting Up Final Vote

Committees in both chambers of the Legislature approved a $50.6 billion spending bill Monday evening, preparing the record spending plan for votes before both chambers of the legislature on Wednesday. Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to sign the 277-page budget on Thursday, the deadline to avoid a state shutdown that would be embarrassing and politically damaging for him and Democrats that hold control of both legislative chambers.


Costco's Plan To Sell Gas To Members Only Doesn't Violate State Law

Costco's announcement that it will limit gasoline sales at its gas stations to members only starting July 5 doesn't violate state consumer protection laws, state officials said Tuesday. "The practice of offering members-only gasoline sales does not violate any of New Jersey's consumer protection laws," said Steve Barnes, a state Consumer Affairs spokesman. Non-member motorists learned the news on June 7 when signs went up at Costco gas stations across the state, warning them an active membership card would be required to buy gas.


Members-Only Gas At Costco Stations Is Legal In NJ And It Starts July 5

The state Divison of Consumer Affairs has given its blessing to Costco changing its policy to require a membership to buy gas. When Costco first opened gas stations in New Jersey in 2004, the warehouse chain was told by the state Division of Consumer Affairs it could not require a membership for the purchase of gasoline because it violated state law regarding fuel sales, according to news coverage at the time. State officials, however, have been unable to point to the law or regulation that supposedly was on the books at the time. What matters now is that no prohibition currently exists. . . Sal Risavado, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store, and Automotive Association said when questions first came out about Costco's new policy, the DCA contacted him for help to identify the law. "They can't find something from 2004 because the way it doesn't exist today is that it didn't exist in 2004, either," he said. "My experience with the Division of Consumer Affairs officials back in that era is that they would look to do anything to make themselves look like a bunch of heroes. That is not my experience today."



  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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