June 29, 2012
Dear NJGCA Member:
Thank you for reading this week's NJGCA Road Warrior!
Here's what you'll find in this edition:
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE: GREETINGS & SAL-UTATIONS!
•Obamacare, Right to Repair, UST Insurance, Gift Card Law Revisions, and More!
CLASSIFIEDS: FOR SALE!
•PIF Equipment for Sale -- See Below!
NEWS AROUND THE STATE
•General Motor, Westport to co-develop natural gas engines
•Legislature passes $31.7 billion budget, awaits Christie’s signature
•Minimum wage hike stalls in Legislature
•Tenure reform bill passed
TRAINING CLASS SCHEDULE
•NJ Emission Inspector Training Class now available -- See Details Below!
MEET THE FOLKS AT LIBERTY GAS
•Looking for a new brand for your station? Take a look at the opportunity below!
MEMBER BENEFIT PARTNER MESSAGE
•TMP Energy Solutions: Another Way to Save On Your Energy Bills!
A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM BELLOMO FUELS
•Serving New Jersey since 1910 -- Over 100 years of supplying gasoline retailers like YOU!
POLITICAL PARTICIPATON: THE NJGCA PAC
•Participate in the NJGCA PAC today and help us keep our Agenda rolling in Trenton!
THE MEMBER TOOL BOX
•On the NJGCA Homepage
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE: GREETINGS & SAL-UTATIONS!
RIGHT TO REPAIR,
UST INSURANCE UPDATE,
AMENDMENTS ON GIFT CARD LAW,
SYNTHETIC DRUG PROHIBITION,
FUEL DEMAND SOFTENS,
TEACHER TENURE, AND MORE!
It’s been a very busy week with lots to report – so please read the entire message!
First off, we saw two significant events come out of the nation’s capitol this week: A ban on synthetic drugs and decision in the Obamacare case.
The Congressional ban on synthetic drugs is noteworthy since, at one time, many of our service station and convenience store members sold these substances. We commonly knew them as “bath salts”, but they had a similar affect as marijuana or cocaine. As you know, New Jersey took steps to ban these synthetic drugs – like “Spice” and “K2” – and I’ve urged you to comply with state law or face heavy fines. Recently, however, Congress was forced to take similar action after a rash of violent incidents, which the press has dubbed “zombie attacks”. The most famous of these was by a man who ingested bath salts and later “ate” the face off a victim in Florida. Congress has now taken action to prevent them from being sold nationwide, thereby preventing the distribution of bath salts from one state to another. I am glad to report that members call regularly to inquire about the products on their shelves to confirm that they are legal and will not cause them to be arrested.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare was only handed down yesterday morning. There’s still quite a lot to digest in the 193 page opinion, but the final result is that the “individual mandate” to purchase health insurance will stand. While I don’t want to dig into all the fine points of the decision right now, it is important to note that the majority opinion both rejected the Obama Administration’s premise that it could force individuals to purchase health insurance through the Commerce Clause, while simultaneously upholding the federal government’s taxing power to essentially do just that. What does that mean? Said differently, it means that the Court rejected the reasoning behind the President and Congress’ healthcare mandate, but found an indirect way of upholding it through Congress’ ability to tax people. That means that, what was once sold to the public as a “regulatory scheme” is in truth a tax on citizens.
The entire business community – as well as everyday citizens and civil libertarians – are still trying to figure out what this will mean as we move forward. However, many business leaders are already expressing their disappointment over the ruling, even though they are satisfied to at least have some certainty to make concrete business decisions for the next few years. After all, how can you make future business plans if you don’t know what you’re going to be obligated to do and what your expenses will be? From that perspective alone, this is a “good” result – even if it will be an incredible burden to shoulder.
As I’m writing this, I’m reluctant to get into my personal stance on this decision or how your Association will advise you on what steps to take moving forward. Nevertheless, it’s sufficient to say that we’re compelled to touch on this topic again in future installments of the Road Warrior.
Turning from the Belt Way to the Bay State, I wanted to give you an update on what’s going on with Right to Repair in Massachusetts. NJGCA has been pushing for Right to Repair legislation in New Jersey for years, and we came very close to getting it done in 2009. Now, Massachusetts is very close to becoming the first state to make it law. For months they have been gathering tens of thousands of signatures to bypass the Legislature and put the proposal on the ballot, where polls say the voters in November will overwhelmingly approve it. In light of the fact that it is now clear they can’t win, opponents are hoping to compromise and move the bill through the Legislature. The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association has agreed to compromise with the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition. In return for their support in the Legislature, the bill will add several provisions to increase protections for auto dealers. The implementation date would be moved from 2014 to 2017 in order to give manufacturers more time to get ready, it would prevent manufacturers from requiring dealers to buy diagnostic tools that independent repairers must purchase, and it would not allow manufacturers to set up repair networks outside the dealer network. The Dealers made it clear that they are still not supportive of the principal behind Right to Repair, but they are willing to give in because this proposal is better for them than what would be passed by the voters. Out of state manufacturers are now the main force left in opposition to Right to Repair in Massachusetts. The state Senate has already passed Right to Repair, it is up to the state House to pass the bill before July 3rd or else the issue will be decided by the voters, and I have no doubt they will pass it overwhelmingly! I have said many times, once one state passes Right to Repair the dominoes will start to fall and it won’t be long before we have it here in New Jersey.
In the latest edition of Oil Express, I read a “news” story that outlined the details behind Zurich Insurance Group’s decision to stop underwriting policies for underground storage tanks (USTs). The article – which is really old “news” to NJGCA and our members – discussed how Zurich is finally exiting this market after originally announcing their decision a year ago.
However, some of you have wondered why Zurich – a huge name in the business – has stopped underwriting policies?
To discern what’s really going on, we turned to Eric Dana, a Member Benefit Partner (MBP) and owner of Dana Insurance. According to Eric, some of the fault can be attributed to sloppy homework by Zurich underwriters, who never checked into the accuracy of the tank information they were getting when structuring policies. This went on for years and created opportunities for fraud, abuse, and inaccuracy. Unfortunately, the claims eventually piled up even as their receivables fell, pressuring Zurich to raise rates a number of times. The rate increase obviously didn’t only harm the “affected” policy holders in their UST program, but also “conforming” policy holders who were not at risk. The result was that the “good” folks who were able to get alternate coverage left Zurich for companies offering more affordable policies. That left all the bad apples behind; which eventually led to the program’s demise.
Thankfully, NJGCA members who need UST insurance have alternatives through Dana Insurance. Eric tells us that there are nine companies out there with competitive rates for station owners who have been notified that Zurich will not renew their policies. This is especially true for “good risk” retailers who are proactive in their compliance requirements, such as doing leak detections; getting regulation tests completed; making sure registrations are accurate, et al.
If you are an affected policy holder – or if you just want to see what other (affordable) alternatives are out there – please contact NJGCA so we can put you in touch with Eric Dana!
This week in Trenton we saw some action on the gift card legislation. As you know, two years ago the Legislature and the Governor changed the rules governing unused gift cards in New Jersey. They made it so that any money left on a gift card that hadn’t been used in 2 years would be confiscated by the state as unclaimed property. The consumers who own this gift card would still be able to wake up and use it, but the retailer who sold it would have to jump through a few hoops to get the money back from the state. That law also said that retailers would have to record the zip code of every customer who bought a gift card going forward. These new regulations were deemed so onerous that several retail business trade groups filed suit to stop the law from taking effect, and several of the biggest gift card companies said that they would stop selling gift cards in New Jersey rather than adhere to these new rules.
In light of those threats, members of the Legislature moved to effectively repeal this law by passing A-1871 on party lines back in March. Now, in the final rush to get legislation passed before the summer recess, a new compromise bill on the issue has been passed by the Legislature. S-1928 is in many ways a watered down version of A-1871, but it is certainly better than the current situation. This bill is sponsored by Senator Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), Sen. Fred Madden (D-Gloucester), Assemblyman Pat Diegnan (D-Middlesex), and Asm Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) and has already passed both houses of the Legislature with the support of 119 out of 120 legislators.
The bill extends the amount of time a gift card must go unused from 2 years to 5 years, and once those five years of inactivity have passed the state may only collect 60% of the money that was last left on the card instead of all of it. Additionally, beginning in September of this year anytime there is less than $5 left on a gift card the customer can ask the business that is redeeming the gift card to give them the rest of the money in cash. It will remain illegal for anyone to charge inactivity fees on gift cards, the only fees that can be placed on them are activation fees or replacement fees. One of the dumbest aspects of the law, the part requiring the collection of zip codes, has not been removed but has instead been delayed for about 4 years. This compromise bill has divided members of the business community, with the Retail Merchants Association opposing it as too weak while the New Jersey Food Council says it is a balanced solution. We are still waiting to see whether the Governor will officially sign the bill into law, but with so many legislators having voted for it he likely will soon, or face an override of his veto. Unfortunately, lawmaking is often full of compromising and while this new legislation is not ideal it is still much better than the current situation, and NJGCA thinks the Governor should sign it.
You may have noticed in the news this week that gasoline demand is continuing to fall. Though fuel prices have remained stable and have begun to dip, the number vehicle miles actually travelled continues to decline. Obviously the less people travel, the less demand there will be for gasoline.
The report offers statistics to underline how gasoline prices are softening: Gasoline demand was lower in April compared to a year ago. Though prices in April and a weak economy are partially to blame, experts from market research companies also state that a “generational” shift is also having an impact. While baby boomers and their children have had an ongoing love affair with the automobile, the youngest generation of Americans is simply not as enamored with cars and travelling. These “millennial” consumers don’t see automobiles as an important product in their daily lives. In fact, there are less potential car-consumers today than just five years ago. Experts are calling this group of consumers “Generation N” – as in “neutral about driving”.
When we also consider the fact that aging baby boomers are travelling less, and it’s easy to see why demand is falling.
Of course, as demand softens and consumption declines, it’s going to get harder for you to eek out a profit. That’s because you’re competing with the same number of stations for a slice of an ever-shrinking-pie. It won’t be long before you’re profits are so slim as to threaten your establishment. When this happens in other business segments, those companies diversify, tap into new consumer trends, and grab onto whatever they can to survive.
I strongly believe that we should take a page out of their book, and if you’ve been paying attention, that’s exactly what I’ve advocated for in promoting natural gas. Over the last few weeks I’ve sent out a series of articles explaining the benefits of compressed natural gas (CNG) and how asking you to attend our Natural Gas Vehicle Workshop on July 12th.
Take a look at yesterday’s Events & Announcements message with the latest article and the workshop details by CLICKING HERE.
I’m not going to stop beating the horse until you’ve signed up for the Workshop! CLICK HERE to sign up for the event and learn how to diversify your business, reach new customers, and INCREASE YOUR PROFITS! SIGN UP NOW!
Education reform is an issue of tremendous importance. Your children and grandchildren will one day be someone’s employee. What’s more, the neighbor’s kids – and any of the children down the block – may one day become YOUR employees. If they weren’t properly educated or lack sufficient skills, how will that impact businesses around the state? How will it enable you (or someone else) from effectively operating your business when you don’t have quality people working for you?
Yet we’ve all been around long enough to know that sometimes reforming education it’s not about the kids, but solely about the adults who control the system. Everyone seems to forget that part when holding up test scores or sitting in committee meetings asking for more and more money.
Last week, the Legislature passed a bill which hopes to address some of these issues by reforming the state’s tenure system. The proposal, which is sponsored by Senator Ruiz, seeks to increase the period in which tenure is awarded from three-years to four-years and establish a new yearly evaluation program for teachers and principals. All sounds good, right?
Unfortunately, one important revision in the original bill – which called for the elimination of seniority rights – was later scrapped in order to get the blessing of the state’s largest teacher’s union. Under the current law, when districts have to cut their headcount, the newest teachers are laid off first and teachers with more seniority are the last to go. This “last in, first out” system has unfairly insulated teachers with more time in the system at the expense of newer teachers, without considering their abilities or skills. The result is that many younger, eager teachers are let go – which does nothing to serve school children and does everything to protect rank in file union members.
The Governor has been a strong supporter of the original bill, but isn’t happy with how seniority rights were cut from the final proposal. Though he isn’t definitively saying he’d veto the bill, he has publicly stated that it is a possibility since the watered down legislation doesn’t go far enough to fix the current problem. We will bring you more on this as it develops, but you should take an interest in the outcome.
Thanks for listening – See you next week.
CLASSIFIEDS: FOR SALE!
Equipment currently for sale, NJGCA member recently closed his shop. NJ2009 PIF BASE Stationary Unit (OBD Only) asking $2900. Call (908) 403-3088.
NEWS AROUND THE STATE
General Motor, Westport to co-develop natural gas engines
In the latest demonstration that the natural gas movement is here for the long-term, the news coming out of Detroit is that General Motors has teamed with a natural gas engine specialist to develop powertrains for light-duty vehicles. Engine maker Westport Innovations, a recognized leader in this area of expertise, already has similar agreements with equipment-maker Caterpillar and locomotive-builder Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD). The news is actually the second natural gas engine deal between the two companies (the first being signed in June), and will focus on smaller vehicle applications in the passenger car market.
Legislature passes $31.7 billion budget, awaits Christie’s signature
This week the State Legislature passed a budget and sent it to Governor Christie for his signature. While the total budget is very close to what the Governor had proposed in his budget address, it does include a millionaire’s tax – something Christie has vetoed twice before. Analysts expect the Governor to either use his line-item veto to carve out budget items or conditionally veto the bill, sending it back to the Legislature. Click above to read the full story.
Minimum wage hike stalls in Legislature
A plan to increase the state’s minimum wage has fallen off the Legislature’s radar during closing days of this year’s budget cycle. The plan would have hiked the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour, giving New Jersey the 3rd highest minimum wage in the nation. While some civic groups supported the effort, business leaders and a number of economists opposed the proposal for stifling growth during a recession. Legislative leaders hope to revisit the measure later this year.
Tenure reform bill passed
The State Senate and General Assembly have passed a teacher tenure reform measure that is now waiting for the Governor’s approval. If signed into law, the bill would change a tenure system that has been in place since 1909. The bill would move tenure from three-years to four-years, create a new tenure evaluation system, and move any disputes from an administrative law judge to arbitration to control costs. However, in order to gain passage, the bill was stripped of language which would repeal the controversial “last in, first out” seniority rights system, which protect the longest-serving teachers from layoffs when headcount must be cut. Governor Christie has hinted he may conditionally veto the legislation in order to have the seniority rights language reintroduced into the bill. Click above to read full details.
-ALL CLASSES WILL BE HELD AT NJGCA HEADQUARTERS-
66 Morris Avenue - Springfield, NJ 07081 (Union County)
NEW JERSEY EMISSION INSPECTOR TRAINING
In order to be licensed as a Motor Vehicle Emission Inspector, you must complete this course and pass a “Written Exam” given by the State of New Jersey. NJGCA offers this training in a one day State approved training program that will provide a understanding of inspection related issues including EPA, Regulations, Safety, Diesel, Customer Service and the New Jersey State Specific Curriculum. This specially tailored NJGCA Inspector course fulfills all State requirements.
Class Date: Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Lunch Served: 12:00pm (Pizza and Soda)
NJMVC test: 1:30pm
NJGCA Members - $250.00
Non-members - $300.00
“Manuals Included” - Payment is due upon registration. We accept credit cards.
PLUS: License Fee of $50.00 - Bring a check made payable to NJMVC
To register, contact Debbie Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-376-0066
PLEASE NOTE: FUTURE DATES WILL BE ADDED UPON REQUEST AND ACCORDING TO DEMAND. CONTACT DEBBIE at 973-376-0066 or DEBBIE@NJGCA.ORG TO LET HER KNOW YOU ARE INTERESTED IN TAKING A SPECIFIC CLASS. THIS WILL ALLOW US TO GAUGE YOUR NEEDS AND KEEP TRACK OF THOSE WISHING TO PARTICIPATE!!
MEMBER BENEFIT PARTNER MESSAGE
TMP Energy Solutions
Another Way to Save on Your Energy Bills
We have had a number of NJGCA members successfully reduce their rate per kWh signing up through our energy saving program. We know it’s difficult to collect 12 months worth of previous electric bills to get an “accurate” analysis when comparing a variable rate to a fixed rate, but we now have another option available.
This new solution is a power purchase option; the other program is still in full force and has saved members thousands of dollars. If you sign up for the power purchase option, you will be grouped with other NJGCA members until the minimum KW demand is acquired. By pooling the member’s usage together, you will be able to take advantage, as large energy users do, and receive a lower kWh rate.
Each member will receive their own contract. Each member is responsible to sign and return the agreement the day it is received in order to secure the price for their group.
Please do your due diligence, so when you receive the proposal and the agreement you will be able to make an intelligent decision.
If by chance, you still want us to assess you bills, to give you a price to compare, we will require12 months of your most recent utility bills.
There are no bills required, but we would still like to have one bill per meter on file to check account #’s, meter #’s service addresses and other pertinent information incase there is a problem.
The term of the agreement is for 12 months. During this term period, you will have price protection against any energy price increases along with a low fixed kWh rate.
If you are interested in becoming part of this power purchase option, please contact Phil Apruzzi at the NJGCA.
Remember when you sign up your energy through the NJGCA Energy Program, TMP makes a considerable donation to the NJGCA Scholarship Fund through their proceeds. This has no affect on your rate, and costs you nothing out of pocket.
We hope to help hundreds of NJGCA members reduce their utility costs by participating in this and our other cost reduction programs. Our purpose, in the endeavor, is to help NJGCA members lower their energy costs while supporting the NJGCA Scholarship Fund.
Contact Phil Apruzzi at 973-376-0066 or email Phil at email@example.com. Mention that you are interested in saving money on your energy bills. NJGCA & TMP Energy Solutions will handle all the rest.
POLITICAL PARTICIPATON: THE NJGCA PAC
DEFENDING OUR MEMBERS.
PROTECTING YOUR INTERESTS.
ANSWER THE CALL & CONTRIBUTE TODAY!!
Promoting our agenda in Trenton is of utmost importance to NJGCA and our members.
To truly understand the importance of supporting our allies, consider our successes in Trenton:
However, in order to truly affect the debate, we must ensure our friends in the Legislature are re-elected. It is for this reason that your Association has established the NJGCA PAC.
For too long, the weight of funding our Political Action Committee, the arm of the Association responsible for political donations, has rested upon a few. This is not only unfair to those few members who have shouldered this burden, but means we are not utilizing our full strength to affect the debate in Trenton.
We defeated BELOW COST SELLING
We made history in getting FIRST RIGHT OF REFUSAL signed into law!
We have built large support for RIGHT TO REPAIR and got it passed out of the Assembly
We defended your small business against the false accusations of Attorney General Anne Milgram
We gained wide support to move New Jersey to an all PIF Inspection System and close the CIF lanes
...and MUCH MORE!!
In each instance, we achieved these goals with the help of our friends in the Legislature!
If every member contributes just $100.00 we will be able to provide the help necessary to ensure victory for our allies.
PLEASE SEND YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO:
66 Morris Avenue
Springfield, NJ 07081
Please make your donation payable to NJGCA PAC
I understand that times are tough for all NJGCA members, but this is just as important as any battle we have fought in the past.
We have made great progress in Trenton. I hope that you will answer the call. ?
THE MEMBER TOOL BOX
MEMBER SAVINGS PAGE
Check out all of our MBPs and Programs designed to SAVE YOU MONEY!
Looking for something? Take a look at our list of useful links!
Find all our communications and search for old e-newsletters. Take a look!
NEWS AROUND THE STATE ARCHIVE
Need to catch up on events? Want to see what's going on? Find out here!