Lawmakers propose bill bringing self-serve gas to New Jersey
TRENTON – Newly proposed legislation would bring self-serve gas to New Jersey, the last state that doesn’t allow it.
The bill, A3105, would let gas stations offer self-serve but require those with more than four dispensers to continue to have full-service gas pumps.
It is sponsored by Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, D-Burlington, and Assemblyman Ned Thomson, R-Monmouth, and cosponsored by Assemblyman Rob Clifton, R-Monmouth. Its backers said in a news release that Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro, D-Hudson, is also a sponsor, but that isn't reflected on the Legislature's website.
“Simply put, this bill will provide choice, convenience and cost savings to New Jersey drivers,” Murphy said. “By providing a hybrid model, we can give consumers the option to do what they prefer when it comes to filling their gas tanks, while also giving them the opportunity to save money.”
“Motorists in every other state are able to pump their own gas, and if a consumer wants to choose to not wait for an attendant, that choice should not be denied to them by state law,” Thomson said.
Chaparro said “it is shameful” that short-staffed gas stations are closing during daytime hours.
“It’s time to save our small business community and get rid of the stigma,” Chaparro said. “Jersey girls can do anything – including pump their own gas. Jersey girls like to save money just like everyone else.”
The idea of allowing self-serve gas bubbles up regularly, most recently after Oregon dropped its prohibition, leaving New Jersey as the final state without it. Then-Gov. Jon Corzine proposed a pilot program on the New Jersey Turnpike in 2006 but backed off within a week after a torrent of opposition.
Gas stations used to oppose self-serve gas but have long lobbied for the change and launched a campaign called Fuel Your Way NJ in support of the bill.
The campaign says retailers believe the price of gas in New Jersey will be reduced by at least 15 cents per gallon if the law is changed.
“It’s time to bring New Jersey up to speed with the rest of the country with this commonsense approach,” said Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store, Automotive Association. “Over 300 million people already have the freedom to pump their gas. Why shouldn’t the people of New Jersey be included?”
Risalvato said the price gap would emerge immediately because competition would drive the price down, not just that the full-serve cost will get jacked up.
“Right now, anybody that would want to pump their own gas and use self-serve, they’re subsidizing the price for those people that do not want to pump their own gas," he said. "That is blatantly unfair.”
According to advocates for it, the bill says motorists with disabilities would be able to have their gas pumped for them by a full-serve attendant at the lower self-serve price. The bill itself is not yet available on the Legislature's website.
Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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