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Fla. Lawmakers Try to Block Oil Cos. From Operating Retail Outlets

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Two state legislators are hoping to take oil companies out of the convenience store business.

State Reps. Bryan Avila (R-111th District) and Carlos Trujillo (R-105th District) introduced a bill in the Florida House of Representatives that would prohibit a "producer, refiner or subsidiary from operating certain retail outlets selling its petroleum products."

HB805 was filed Nov. 30. and the prohibition would go into effect Oct. 1, 2016. 

The measure would amend an existing state law prohibiting "predatory practices" in the motor fuel market, according to Law360It would ban the energy companies from operating gas stations and other retail outlets that sell their petroleum products, either under the name of the producer or refiner, or under a secondary brand name. Subsidiaries to producers and refineries would be subject to the same restrictions.

Under the bill, people damaged by violations of the measure would be allowed to bring civil lawsuits seeking declaratory judgments and actual damages, among other forms of relief. 

In addition, violators would be subject to daily fines of up to $250,000, and the bill authorizes courts to grant injunctive relief in the case of an alleged violation. Violators could also be held liable for attorneys’ fees during a dispute, the news outlet reported.

Florida State Sens. Jack Latvala (R-20th District), Anitere Flores (R-37th District), Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (R-40th District) and Oscar Braynon II (D-36th District) introduced a similar bill in the state Senate on Nov. 18. 

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