The New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store and Automotive Association (NJGCA) and its allies are celebrating a major victory tonight after their First Right of Refusal legislation, which would prevent Big Oil from selling a business location without giving the owner the opportunity to buy it first, passed in the general assembly.
The amended version was then sent back to the State Senate for final approval and was passed 36-0, in a major bipartisan move.
Now that the bill has been approved by both houses of the Legislature, it rests on Gov. Jon Corzine’s desk, awaiting his signature of approval.
The NJGCA is urging small business owners to call the governor this weekend and urge him to sign the bill to protect lessees from big oil. Small business owners have been fighting to see the bill passed by the end of May, before Exxon Mobil Corp. completes its large-scale pullout from parts of the Northeast that would leave many business owners in dire straights.
ExxonMobil is working to sell more than 2,000 stations to the highest bidders, and advocates for the First Right of Refusal legislation are warning this move would reduce local ownership and force operators to raise prices in order to afford the high acquisition costs. The dealers operating the facilities, while they wish to remain branded with Exxon, are seeking the right of first refusal on any sales of their location.
At present, only Washington, California and Connecticut have laws such as the one pending in New Jersey.
CSD covered the background behind the bill with an in-depth article titled Fuel Dealers Refuse To Quit, in April.