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January 26, 2023
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 Inside this issue
A Message From Your Association
  A Message From Your Association  
  A Message From Your Association  

Murphy Pivot to the Center?

Reminder On General Air Permits

What’s Going on in the Marketplace?

Reminder – There’s Still Time to Change Your Healthcare!

Murphy Pivot to Center

This week we saw, in both New Jersey state and national news, debates play out over the future of gas stoves, or more importantly, the use of natural gas altogether. In New Jersey, Senate Minority Leader Steven Oroho (R-Sussex) and Senator Joe Pennachio (R-Morris) will introduce a bill to prevent any plans to prohibit the sale, installation, or operation of gas stoves from being implemented in New Jersey, despite plans by some Democrats to eventually eliminate all natural gas. This bill also comes shortly after the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission said publicly that the agency was considering banning gas stoves in America. 

While Governor Murphy has not commented on this specific piece of legislation yet, he has noted his intentions to move the state away from natural gas in the state Energy Master plan that was released in 2019. That plan states that it is the official goal of the state to eliminate the use of all natural gas, including for cooking in homes and restaurants and for heating homes and businesses. It also says the goal is to eliminate the use of gasoline powered vehicles. Those are just goals, however, not requirements (in the way your New Years’ resolution is a goal). For years many, especially in the business community, have been afraid that the governor would follow up with regulations that mandate action to attain the goals he invented. Instead, we may be seeing signs of the exact opposite. This week, the governor put a pause on public hearings scheduled for late January about updating and implementing this plan, adding to the uncertainty about his ambitious clean-energy agenda as it moves forward. The administration has been repeatedly criticized for its lack of transparency over the cost and scale-up of the transition to a 100% zero-carbon economy, as well as its push to phase out use of fossil fuels entirely. The administration says the longer timeline for rolling out the Energy Master Plan will allow the state to do more modeling and testing of what climate strategies to pursue, and speculation is growing that he will walk back the most aggressive and expensive aspects of the plan. 

In fact, the Governor has been criticized extensively in the last few weeks by many of the most far-left advocacy groups, groups that in his first term he was the closest ally of. The governor as of late has taken a pause on his usually more progressive and left-leaning agenda and is making moves towards the middle, concerning many of his biggest supporters. In the last month, Murphy has pledged no new taxes for the next fiscal year, vowed to make "significant" tax cuts, agreed to kill a corporate tax surcharge on large corporations, and touted generous rebate checks heading to voter mailboxes later this year.

This attitude has generally been echoed by the Democratic leadership in the Legislature in 2022, after both they and the Governor narrowly survived the 2021 elections by a far closer margin than they had anticipated, and as they look toward this coming November when all 120 legislators will be on the ballot and Republicans are in the best position they have been in since 2013 to potentially take control of one or both houses of the Legislature. We would certainly welcome this shift to the center by the Governor, although there is little chance he would roll back his previous moves (he publicly celebrated the January 1st minimum wage increase, for example). Years ago he said he wanted to make New Jersey the “California of the East Coast”, perhaps the California model no longer looks so appealing to him. 


A few years ago, NJGCA was sending regular updates to members reminding them of the December 23, 2020 deadline to decommission any remaining Stage II Vacuum Assist Vapor Recovery systems operating statewide. As part of the decommissioning process, station owners were required to file for a Stage I air permit. That is to say, those stations that decommissioned were to forgo their then-required Stage II air permit (GP-004A), and file for the proper Stage I associated air permit (GP-004B) after the upgrades were completed. 

We’ve written on the above extensively in the Road Warrior and in our On The Road publications during the transition period before/after the December 2020 deadline. Recently, we were contacted by DEP officials who stated that department field personnel were still coming across stations maintaining the old (and now improper) Stage II-associated air permit (GP-004A). 

Technically these stations are out of compliance, and the failure to obtain the proper permit may invite complications (fines, or other scrutiny) from DEP staff. Knowing this, and if you haven’t done so already, please confirm your air permit to avoid any potential complications. To be clear, there is no benefit to purposefully purchasing the wrong permit. There is no “gaming” the process, as both permits are the same price. However, if you do purchase the appropriate permit, there is the additional “benefit” that it is “easier” to comply with. 

In that, we’d point out that the correct Stage I GP-004B air permit requires three equipment tests (with a pass for each), while the old Stage II GP-004A air permit mandates four. We forwarded the link to the 2023 Compliance Calendar out recently. If you missed that update, CLICK HERE to download a copy of the calendar. If you look on page nine of the calendar, you’ll note that Stage I facilities (with the proper permit) must perform a Static Pressure Performance Test, Pressure Vacuum Valve Test, and Torque Test. These are done at least once every 12 months, depending on your specific equipment specifications and hardware upgrades/improvements. 

If you’re now a Stage I facility (but you’re currently maintaining the old permit), on paper you are still mandated to have your Dynamic Backpressure Performance Test done – even if your Stage II vapor recovery system has been physically decommissioned. This is obviously a “records requirement vs. real world reality” distinction, but why give state officials an invitation to trouble you or put yourself in a position to explain why you didn’t get the appropriate air permit at the time of decommissioning? That alone is a reason to make sure you have the proper permit. Go check and put it out of your mind. 

If you have any questions, please reach out to Nick (nick@njgca.org) with any questions. 

Marketplace Update

Gas prices have been increasing throughout the month of January, driven in part by an increase in the price of oil. Rack prices have gone up around 35¢ over the course of this month, but the average retail price is only up around 10¢; so margins have been cut significantly. In December gross margins were about 60¢ a gallon, though lately they are around 20¢. We always advise our members to hold their margins in conditions like this. Pay attention to your profit margins. At the end of the day, it’s not about how many gallons you sell, but how much money you made. Between credit card fees, the annual increase in the minimum wage, the overall decline in volume, and the tax and regulatory burden that business owners in this state are subjected to, we lose enough profit as it is. It’s not like anyone in the public is running around thanking you for cutting your margins for them this month! Also, historically, prices tend to significantly increase between March and April; so now is the time to hold on and prepare for what’s to come. 


An important reminder to our members that just because we’ve rolled into a new calendar year, it doesn’t mean that it’s too late to look into or switch your health insurance. With healthcare expenses increasing, it certainly doesn’t hurt to make sure you are getting the most coverage you need for the least amount of money, and you can change your plan anytime throughout the year. If you act now, your new plan can take effect as soon as March 1, 2023.

We already know of several businesses that are saving big with this new plan:

Auto repair – single employee – saved over $11,500 a year

Gas station – single employee & employee with spouse – saved over $6,000 a year

Auto repair – employee with family – saved over $10,000 a year

Gas & Repair – employee with family – saved almost $4,000 a year

Gas & Repair – 2 single employees & employee with spouse – saved over $18,000 a year

Gas station – single employee & employee with family – saved almost $7,000 a year

Auto Repair – single employee – saved over $17,000 a year

That is a lot of money saved! Learn more about the program and see how much you can be saving HERE.

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  


Hertz Brings Thousands of EVs and Chargers to U.S. Cities

Hertz has launched  Hertz Electrifies, an electrification initiative that partners with U.S. cities to bring in EV fleets, build charging infrastructure, create educational and training opportunities for jobs and bring EVs and charging to underserved communities. "Electric vehicles are poised to transform the future of mobility," said Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr. "That's why Hertz is investing in the largest electric vehicle rental fleet in North America and bringing a new driving experience to leisure and business customers, as well as rideshare drivers. I can think of no better partner in Hertz's shift towards electrification than America's cities, where innovation is happening." The initiative will launch in Denver, Colorado. Hertz is planning to have 5,200 rental EVs available to customers in Denver, including rideshare drivers, and increase charging capacity at Denver International Airport and at Hertz locations.


Is the Labor Market Finally Stabilizing?

The Great Rebalancing is coming to the American workplace, as employees are beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels of job security and leverage, reports the Wall Street Journal. First, workers were laid off in droves during the beginning of the pandemic, and the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 14.7%. Workers were then back in high demand, and the Great Resignation led to employees quitting their jobs in record numbers. Adding to the volatility, Americans had more dollars in their savings accounts, but those were eventually drained when the stock market shriveled and record-high inflation hit the economy. And don’t forget about the “quiet quitters.” Although the labor market is still tight, there are signs of rebalancing. Hourly wages in December were up 4.6% year over year, but that was the smallest increase since mid-2021. The U.S. added 223,000 jobs, which was the fewest per month in two years.


N.J. Drivers Face the Worst Commutes in The U.S., And One of The Worst in The World, 2 Studies Show

Traffic delays in the New Jersey-New York region are legendarily bad. A crash or emergency construction can turn a routine ride into a steering-wheel pounding nightmare. But two recent traffic report cards show Jersey drivers wasted the equivalent of three work weeks annually sitting in traffic in 2021 and 2022. Both ranked the metro area among the five worst in the world and worst in the nation for traffic delays. The 2022 Inrix global traffic scorecard ranked the New Jersey-New York region fifth worst of 25 regions around the globe that saw commuters spending the most hours in traffic. The CoPilot research 2021 study ranked the New York-New Jersey region as worst metro area in the nation.


Right to Repair: Looking for Common Ground

Today, the debate over telematics access has the aftermarket and automakers in a seventh judicial delay in November. The automakers say they cannot follow the rules for providing independent repair shops equal access to this vehicle data, citing security concerns regarding independent repair shops. It’s an issue Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association (ACA) and Bob Redding, the Automotive Service Association’s Washington, D.C. representative have spent the past decade trying to resolve. For starters, the automotive aftermarket is a $400 billion-plus industry that employs upwards of 4.5 million people, says Hanvey. He and Redding hope to work with automakers to find that middle ground where the automotive aftermarket and OEMs serve customers together with dealerships and independent repair shops being granted similar data access. Hanvey says on an industry level, that begins with everyone getting involved. 


Maine Looks to Mass. in Right to Repair Battle

Mainers are looking to how Massachusetts has handled Right to Repair as a road map for how its state will engage. For starters, 75% of Massachusetts voters in 2020 approved legislation, winning a majority in nearly every single city and town. Maine hopes to get that same power behind its push for Right to Repair. As reported by the Piscataquis Observer, Maine’s "proposed law is a straightforward one: Any manufacturer that sells a vehicle in Maine would have to make that information available to vehicle owners and independent repair shops.” As of right now, access is limited or impossible for the automotive aftermarket making diagnosis and, in some cases, repair difficult.  


You’ve Probably Driven Right Passed This Jersey Shore Hidden Bakery

Is this New jersey gas station home to one of the best bakeries in the entire state? Sounds weird, right? But trust me, this place is extremely highly rated and so unassuming. According to onlyinyourstate.com, a Brazilian bakery is hidden inside a gas station that is home to some of the best desserts in the entire state. This food looks insane. The inside of this gas station has so much more than just bottles of Sprite and packs of Airheads. You can go and pick out a ton of different Brazilian treats that are made fresh every day. This truly is a hidden gem. “No matter what you get, it doesn’t get any better than starting the day with coffee and pastries at this hidden gem near the shore”, says onlyinyourstate.com.


N.J. Transportation Trust Fund to Save $95M By Refinancing Debt

The state Transportation Trust Fund got a green light Monday to refinance old debt that could pump $95 million in savings back into the fund that bankrolls big highway and transit projects. The state legislature’s Joint Oversight Committee on Monday approved by a 6-0 vote the refinancing of debt from 2015 and 2019. State treasury department officials told the committee that refinancing the total $1.72 billion in debt and retiring another $1.65 billion in older bonds could save $95.4 million. The savings would go back to the transportation trust fund instead of the state general treasury, treasury officials said.


U.S. Regulators to Scrutinize Payment Methods

Legislators and regulators are likely to focus on certain payment methods this year, including swipe fees; buy now, pay later; and peer-to-peer payment fraud, due to fast changes within these payment realms, reports Payments Dive. “There’s just much more activity and concern about these payments issues than has been true maybe at any other time,” Doug Kantor, NACS general counsel, told Payments Dive. In October, the Federal Reserve approved new rules regarding online debit card transactions, making it clear that merchants’ right to choose which payment networks process debit card transactions applies the same online as it does in stores and must be honored by banks and card companies. Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission ordered that Mastercard cease practices the agency said illegally blocked merchants’ ability to route e-commerce debit card transactions over competing networks. Kantor told Payments Dive it’s rare that such industry events involving different federal entities would occur within months of each other.



  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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