March 15, 2022

 We the Gasoline Retailers are not going to take it anymore and

We need you the voter to help us stop these roller coaster Retail Gas Prices!

 I write today to enlist the support of Connecticut consumers facing higher and higher retail gas prices in our State. It’s time for the truth to be revealed, no matter how hard it is to hear.

Fact #1 the current gasoline gouging law on the books does not allow our Connecticut Attorney General or former AGs to go after wholesale suppliers or the Major Oil Companies here in Ct.  All Attorney General, Governors of both parties, and Legislators past and present have known about this problem since day one.

Now finally, Attorney General Tong has the courage to put in a bill HB-5463 AN ACT CONCERNING THE AUTHORITY OF THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO BRING AN ACTION AGAINST A SELLER WHO ENGAGES IN PRICE GOUGING DURING A DISASTER OR EMERGENCY.  Now there are many issues with this bill as written – comments so far –

Who wrote this?  To be honest, it might be unconstitutionally vague.  What does “gross disparity” mean?  Beats me.  If you cannot define it, how can you enforce it?  The prior act was at least clear.    This bill introduces unnecessary vagueness.

Beyond that, it is not terrible.  Unlike the prior version, it addresses more than just retail – which can’t hurt.  I submit they could address their concerns with the definition of Seller.

This is clearly a political boondoggle!

Now the reason it’s called political boondoggle is that it means the bill is not CLEAR, DOES NOT CLEARLY SAY WHAT THE PROBLEM IS, DOES NOT DEFINE THE WORD GOUGING.

So, if we are going to address what gasoline retailers and consumers clearly are tired of seeing and nothing gets done, then you must easily define gouging, not have to hire 5 lawyers and 3 experts to tell you what the law says because you will get 8 different opinions.  This issue is much too important to keep throwing around the word gouging and having hard-working business owners (Gasoline Retailers) who were told by law, they are essential services during the pandemic and are now told they are gougers!  The two just don’t fit together!!

Connecticut gasoline retailers are not the problem. Here is why- around 7 pm each retailer get a notice from his or her gasoline supplier telling them what the price is for gasoline for the next 24-hours.  The notice clearly says this price is subject to change without notice! These are facts!

Some retailers are called commission agents which means they do not control what the retail price posted at that station is.  They just control the convenience store or service bays they rent.  The suppler, yep that word again, suppler controls what commission agent retailers post for the retail price of gasoline.  This arrangement is similar, but not exactly like the State of CT. has for those stations along I95 and the Merritt Parkway but a gasoline supplier has a long-term deal to run/manage the stations for the State of CT. So, they set the price based on the arrangement with the State of CT. So, if the State is not included in the gouging law and wholesalers/suppliers are not included, the highest volume stations in all of Ct. can get away with gouging you, the Ct. consumer! Sorry for the bad news!

Does this make sense to you?? It does not make sense to me or the hard-working gasoline retailers the Association represents.  Why can only a gasoline retailer be guilty of gouging but those that manufacture the gasoline and distribute the gasoline cannot be guilty of gouging?? Could it be because they contribute huge sums of money to both sides of the political aisle and retailers who make the least amount of profit on a gallon of gasoline do not contribute as much? I’m asking for a friend and those friends are the Ct. consumers. Those consumers to whom we sell gasoline.  They are an army of many and vote both ways. More important after this gets out, they will be watching!

What we are simply saying is stop passing laws that do nothing – are feel good, get me reelected laws that do not solve or even begin to address the problem.  These laws make for good TV and Press Conferences but in reality, they do nothing!  On March 18, 2022, at 10 AM the Judiciary Committee will be holding a Public Hearing on the proposed changes to the gouging law.  Please flood the Committee with calls  (860) 240‑0530. Tell them to fix the law correctly. Define the law so anyone reading the law knows what it means and includes all sellers of gasoline.  Do not eliminate the manufacturers (Big Oil) or wholesalers (local suppliers) of gasoline if you are going to include the small mom & pop retailers that you demanded man the pumps during a pandemic.

We the Retailers of Connecticut support AG Tong in his efforts to fix the law.  The AG’s office knows Retailers are not to blame. Millions of dollars in past investigations prove this point.  But something is wrong when gasoline skyrockets for no apparent reason.  When Big Oil passes on skyrocketing prices to wholesalers and wholesalers pass them on to Retailers, but Retailers’ margins are locked in and most times do not have enough money to buy the next load because wholesale prices have been increasing at a rate of $.25 cents per gallon higher day after day! Something is rotten in Connecticut! Our Governor knows it, the AG knows it, Legislators of both parties know it and now you the consumer know the FACTS. MAKE THEM FIX THE PROBLEM AND GO AFTER THOSE ACTUALLY GOUGING!!!

By Michael J. Fox, Executive Director, GASDA, Inc.