Legislative Corner: The Top Issues & Actions of April 2022

State-level concerns include electric vehicle standards, climate policy, a gas tax holiday and more.
gas pump

NATIONAL REPORT — Convenience Store News canvasses local trade associations and news sources to cover the latest issues affecting the channel locally.

This month, a number of local legislative activities and an award announcement occurred in Colorado, New York, Maryland, and Pennsylvania: 


Setting EV Charging Standards

The Colorado House Energy and Environment Committee reportedly will hold hearings this month on a measure that creates electrical vehicle (EV) charging standards in the construction of certain buildings. This should be of interest to fuel retailers.


30-Day Suspension of Gas Tax

Maryland became the first state to suspend its gas tax amid sharply rising prices.

"This [30-day] gas tax holiday returns $100 million to Marylanders' wallets and should provide economic relief for motorists who have seen prices soar in recent weeks," said state controller Peter Franchot in a press release. "While I continue to believe that a three-month gas tax holiday would have offered more substantial savings and been easily absorbed due to the state's historic surplus, any respite from the current pain at the pump is welcome."


Lottery Compensation Stalls

A campaign led by the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) to increase the lottery retailer compensation for the first time in 55 years fell short when Governor Kathy Hochul and the state Legislature declined to include the appropriation in the upcoming state budget.

The drive by NYACS and 13 other trade groups to gradually raise the sales commission rate from 6 percent to 7 percent included press conferences, TV and radio interviews, Zoom meetings with 40 key legislators, and a grassroots messaging campaign with participants representing 2,000 stores sending emails to Senate and Assembly members.

"This is not the end, but the beginning of a new phase of the campaign, building upon the momentum our members and allies helped to establish," said NYACS President Jim Calvin. "The retailer's costs of selling and redeeming lottery tickets are far outpacing their commission income. They deserve this long-overdue adjustment."

Climate Policy Hearings

New York's Climate Action Council will conduct hearings across the state in April and May to gather feedback on its draft "scoping plan" for achieving the state's clean energy goals.

Calvin stated the plan would "thrust New York into an irreversible spiral of skyrocketing energy costs, punitive policies toward gasoline marketers and radical restraints on economic progress."

NYACS urged its members to read the plan and either testify in person or in writing. Hearings will be held in the Bronx, Brookhaven, Binghamton, Albany, Syracuse, Buffalo, Brooklyn, and Tupper Lake, in addition to a virtual event.

Price Gouging Warning

As pump prices kept rising, state Attorney General Letitia James warned "oil companies and gas stations" that price gouging would not be tolerated.

"New York law prohibits sellers of fuel and other vital and necessary goods from charging unconscionably excessive prices during an abnormal market disruption, including disruptions caused by world conflicts," James said.

However, James didn't say whether an abnormal market disruption had occurred, prompting NYACS to request clarification.

"Absent a declared state of emergency, our retail members are left to divine whether the anti-price gouging law is now in effect, and if so, when it started," wrote Calvin.

Meanwhile, Attorney General James also launched a rulemaking process "to look into whether major corporations are using the pandemic and inflation as an excuse to unfairly raise the price of basic goods. Through this process, Attorney General James aims to implement new price gouging rules that will crack down on pandemic profiteering and corporate greed."


Dell'Alba to be Honored at Annual Conference

The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) will honor Lisa Dell'Alba, president and CEO of Square One Markets Inc., with the 2022 Food Industry Trailblazer Award during its Annual Conference in June.

Dell'Alba, who serves as vice chair of PFMA's board of directors, is an active association member and an innovative business owner. She became the second-generation to own and operate her family's c-store chain in 2004.

"We have all benefitted from Lisa's drive and vision," said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. "Square One has been a PFMA member and sponsor for several years, and Lisa is an engaged, dedicated and creative member. Her experience and leadership help to shape the association's agenda." 

In addition to the award, the two-day conference features educational sessions, networking opportunities and a mini trade show. This year's sessions focus on the changing world of food assistance programs; transportation and infrastructure updates from PennDOT; how PFMA members are maximizing workforce inclusion; and the challenges, opportunities and strategies surrounding supply chain in 2022. 

Registration is now open for the Annual Conference, which is scheduled June 14–15, 2022, at the Gettysburg Hotel. The dinner and award presentation will be held at the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center. After dinner, conference attendees can enjoy access to the museum's exhibits, video and cyclorama painting. 

For details and to register for the conference, visit the PFMA 2022 Annual Conference events page.