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January 19, 2023
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 Inside this issue
A Message From Your Association
  A Message From Your Association  
  A Message From Your Association  

Two Towing Bills in Trenton

FTC Announces Non-Compete Agreement Ban

Construction Permitting Reform

What Happened to WaWa?

Towing Bills

Last Thursday, two towing-related bills were heard in Committee in Trenton; one that we support and one that we do not. Thankfully, the one that we do not support (A-4787) was only up for discussion, as it could leave towers without payment if a vehicle that was ordered to be towed by police had been stolen. The idea behind this legislation was that a motorist who had their car stolen should not be on the hook for the towing and storage fees if the vehicle is recovered by the police. If the car was stolen, the motorist would have 72 hours to claim the vehicle before the fees can be charged to them. Of course, storing the vehicle is an expense to the tower, which is why NJGCA, as well as several members of the Towing Association were opposed to this bill. Everyone has sympathy for a person who has their car stolen and shouldn’t be further penalized, but neither should the small businesses who are responsible for securely storing the car. Some people don’t think that there are expenses involved even if the car is just sitting on the lot, and the business owner should not be responsible for just eating that cost.

The good bill that passed the Senate Transportation Committee (S-3374) is written to address a problem that a few towers are running into that may become a bad trend. Again, it deals with police ordered non-consent tows. In some towing cases, the owner of the vehicle is just abandoning the car, and now some law firms are going to the lien holder and are suing the tower to get the vehicle released without paying any of the storage fees for the time the car has been on the lot. This could be months, and as mentioned above. It seems that what these law firms are hoping is that rather than hire an attorney to defend yourself and pay the legal fees, the tower will just let the car go and forgive the fees. This bill would essentially prevent those lawsuits by making explicit the towing company can collect these fees from the lessor or lienholder.

FTC Non-Compete Proposed Ban

The Federal Trade Commission announced that they intend to ban the use of noncompete agreements because they’ve grown too common in practice, especially for low-wage workers. In theory, repair shops can use these agreements for their technicians to prevent them from leaving and working for a nearby competitor, though from what we hear, few are using these agreements. It’s hard to find educated and professional technicians nowadays, so in some ways it can be good if a potential hire isn’t restricted from employment from your shop. Most importantly, the proposal from the FTC will allow noncompete agreements to exist for the sale of a business. This means that if someone is looking to buy your shop, or you want to buy someone else’s shop, you would still be able to use a non-compete so the old owner doesn’t open up down the street and take back all the old customers. 

There is currently a state bill being discussed in Trenton that we have talked about in past newsletters that would ban non-competes but did not allow for noncompete agreements connected to the transfer of a business. If the government takes away your ability to have the option of selling your business to someone and establishing a non-compete agreement protection, it could threaten the overall value of your business as a repair shop. Even if the shop owner's intention is to retire and never work again, the fact that they couldn't guarantee that they wouldn't open a competing shop down the road would hurt the sale price that they could get for their business. Thankfully, the committee decided they would not move the bill until further amendments are made. You can read our testimony to the Senate committee HERE. That legislation has not moved in several months. 

Construction Permitting Reform

Two weeks ago Governor Murphy signed into law A-573, sponsored by Asm Robert Karabinchak (D-Middlesex), which had passed the Legislature unanimously with the support of NJGCA and most of the business community. This new law is designed to address a serious and longstanding problem in this state: how long it takes businesses and homeowners to get approval from local officials so they can get moving on construction projects. If local officials can’t or won’t get to a site within three days of a requested inspection, the builder will be able to bring in a private contractor to perform the inspection, so the project can get moving. It also makes other reforms to help local governments conduct their inspections in a timely manner.

What Happened To Wawa?

Last week we came across this article that goes more in depth as to why some local governments are rejecting proposals to build Wawa’s. What was once a hot spot and highly desired pit stop for many New Jersey and Pennsylvania motorists is now suffering challenges with maintaining quality in products and service. The author notes the long wait times (at the pumps and in the stores) as well as the declining quality of food products and restroom and store cleanliness, and questions if Wawa has gotten too big to maintain the level of quality that once made the business highly desirable. We wanted to bring this story to your attention because at the end of the day, if your product is good, your business is clean with good customer service, your business success will speak for itself. The age-old lesson of quality always beats quantity continues to reign true. For twenty years, the prospect of a new Wawa opening up has been met with fear by established stations and joy by local government officials. Perhaps there is increasingly not so much to be feared.

Be Well-

Your Association Staff



  Training Class Schedule  

All classes held at NJGCA HQ -- 615 Hope Road, Building 2, 1st Floor, Eatontown, NJ 07724

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  


Why I Gave Up My EV During Highest Gas Prices Ever

My Uber driver wouldn’t stop talking about owning an electric vehicle as we merged onto Interstate 495 toward the Lincoln Tunnel. Like thousands of others, he’s on the Tesla waitlist. Doesn’t surprise me. The ads are so enticing, gas prices hit unforeseeable highs last summer and, if we don’t stop our reliance on crude oil, we might as well kiss goodbye polar bears and coral reefs. But, if you live in New Jersey and drive a lot — hit the brakes. I owned an EV for two years. I returned it during some of the highest gas prices in U.S. history because “range anxiety” nearly killed me. Simply put, our state’s infrastructure is unequipped for an electric explosion, despite Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement to infuse $45 million into our EV push.


Stores In N.J. Would Have To Offer Paper Coupons Under Proposed Bill

New Jersey could be the first state in the nation to require retailers to offer paper coupons after consumer groups expressed outrage over digital coupons that they say leave some shoppers out of the best supermarket sales. A bill that will be introduced on Thursday in the state Assembly would require retailers to provide paper coupons of the same value as digital coupons, NJ Advance Media has learned. “If companies are offering consumer discounts, they shouldn’t discriminate against people who may not have access to a smartphone or computer or internet,” said Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Gloucester, head of the Assembly Consumer Affairs committee and primary sponsor of the bill. “Those are the people who likely need the discounts the most. It’s discriminatory if they may not have access to (the coupons).” The bill would be the first of its kind in the nation, consumer advocates said.


Murphy (The Banker) Gives Surprisingly Candid Outlook on Challenging Economy, Potential Recession

At the end of what appeared to be a basic business chamber address — one in which he repeated many of his thoughts from his State of the State address the day before while praising the work of those in attendance — Gov. Phil Murphy offered a surprisingly blunt assessment of what lies ahead for New Jersey during a time of rising interest rates and the likelihood of some level of a recession. To be clear, Murphy indicated he felt the state was in a position to handle the upcoming challenges — it would have been surprising if he didn’t. But the level of detail that he gave — including a reference to the more than $1 billion of unspent COVID-relief funds — surprised a crowd that was used to hearing stump speeches.


The Governor Takes On The Liquor Cartel | Mulshine

The dictionary tells us that a cartel is “an association of independent firms or individuals for the purpose of exerting some form of restrictive or monopolistic influence on the production or sale of a commodity.” Our ABC has performed that function here in New Jersey ever since the liquor license “reform” of 1949. That legislation created a cartel by greatly restricting the number of liquor licenses that could be issued. We’ve now reached the point where it can cost more than a million dollars to buy a license and thereby gain entry into the cartel. No New Jersey governor has taken on the cartel. So I was pleasantly surprised on Tuesday when Phil Murphy proposed a real reform. “There’s no other way to put it – our liquor licensing regime is antiquated and confusing,” Murphy said in his State of the State address. “We rely on a foundation of rules written in the days immediately after Prohibition to govern a 21st century economy. That makes no sense.”


Biden Backs Nevada Lithium Mine With $700 Million Loan Offer

A Nevada lithium mine that would be only the second in the US is getting backing from the Biden administration as it seeks to boost the domestic supply of the critical mineral needed to make electric vehicle batteries. The Energy Department issued a conditional commitment for up to $700 million for Ioneer Ltd.’s Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project, a prospective supplier to Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. that could produce enough lithium for 370,000 electric vehicles a year.  Project partners include mining and metals processing group Sibanye Stillwater Ltd.


Overflowing With Reusables? NJ Tables Plan To Bring Back Paper Bags
More than eight months into New Jersey's ban, hopefully you've gotten used to the absence of single-use bags at the supermarket registers. But now you may be dealing with another issue: what do I do with all of these reusable bags? Advocates suggest there's a gap in the process now — online shoppers are flooded with reusable bags they probably don't need, while other individuals and groups could use them. Legislation to address this gap appears to be on the back burner for now, but groups are working to take on the challenge themselves.


Facing The Challenges Of Being A Small Operator

In this month’s NACS Magazine column “The Big Question,” we spoke with Lisa Dell’Alba, president and CEO of Square One Markets Inc., on what it’s like being a small operator. Her stores are based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and she is a member of the NACS executive committee.


Alcohol Industry Donations Surged For Murphy, Who Now Wants Liquor License Reform

In New Jersey, home to one of Budweiser’s oldest breweries, a thriving craft beer scene and a burgeoning distillery trade, alcohol has long been a player in politics. And Gov. Phil Murphy, who wants to lift the Prohibition-era cap on liquor licenses, has collected the most campaign cash from the alcohol industry compared with his recent predecessors. During his 2017 and 2021 runs for office, he received nearly $149,000 from alcohol companies, executives and employees, according to the nonprofit OpenSecrets. That’s close to double the $80,000 Republican Gov. Chris Christie raised, and more than four times as much as the $35,000 the industry gave Murphy's 2021 Republican challenger, Jack Ciattarelli, the organization’s figures show. Among former governors, Jon Corzine received $31,750, Jim McGreevey received $20,825, and Donald DiFrancesco received $9,100 from the alcohol industry, according to OpenSecrets. Murphy's office declined to comment on the contributions. There’s no indication that the independently wealthy Murphy has been influenced by campaign contributions, and the figures alone do not mean there’s a correlation between donations and the governor’s proposal to gradually lift liquor license caps on municipalities. And relative to Murphy's overall fundraising — $22 million in 2017 and $16 million in 2021 — the money from alcohol companies is negligible. But data does show how the alcohol industry operates behind the scenes, far away from the wineries and taprooms that are most familiar to people.


Price Increases Are Last Year’s Problem

Companies are beginning to ease up on price increases, and it could be another sign that inflation in the U.S. is waning, reports the Wall Street Journal. Many companies made substantial price increases to their products throughout 2022 in response to record-high fuel costs, as well as increased cost for ingredients, parts and labor. But as fuel prices ease and supply-chain issues begin to sort out, these costs are beginning to fall. For product manufacturers, 2023 is the year of cost cutting, Mark Malo, a consultant and former executive at Clorox, told the Journal. On average, expenses should be flat as shipping rates fall, he said, but labor and other costs remain high for some products.



  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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