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LANSING, Mich. -- Mark Griffin, president of the Michigan Petroleum Association/Michigan Association of Convenience Stores (MPA/MACS), will join gas station owners and MPA/MACS members, along with other officials, to encourage members of the Michigan House of Representatives to vote against legislation that unfairly penalizes gas station owners for gas pumps that are out of calibration and raises fines at a news conference beginning today.
The legislation -- House Bills 6018 and 6019, crafted by State Rep. Fran Amos (R-Waterford Twp.) -- recently passed the Michigan House of Representatives' Agriculture and Resource Management Committee. The proposed legislation would more than double MPA/MACS members' fines for selling fuel that violates the Motor Fuels Quality Act, or for operating gas pumps that are out of calibration and in violation of the Weights and Measures Act.
Calibration of gas pumps -- the practice of matching the price that consumers pay for gas with the amount of fuel dispensed -- is completed by state certified technicians using state certified equipment. Griffin says that while gas station owners take ultimate responsibility for this task, it is these independent contractors who calibrate the pumps and are supposed to ensure they are properly calibrated.
In addition, Griffin says projections of how much money will flow into the state if these bills are passed are faulty because they are based on 2002 data, which doesn't reflect the level and scope of enforcement activities that exists today.
"These are bad bills that target the wrong people at the wrong time for the wrong reason," said Griffin. "The sheer size of these fines would cripple small, independent gas stations, and if fines are levied, I highly doubt the presidents of Wal-Mart, Murphy Oil or other big-box retailers would be fined or jailed."
Griffin says MPA/MACS fully supports leveling fines where lack of pump calibration is intentional, and could support HB 6018 and 6019 if mandatory warnings were given to first-time offenders, if the fines were returned to current levels, and if the bills targeted those gas station owners who intentionally violate the law.
In other gasoline news, station owners throughout Ohio are affixing stickers with the message, "Drive away without paying for gasoline and you could lose your driver's license" on their pumps in a new effort to deter would-be gasoline thieves, reported the Associated Press.
Under a law that went into effect March 30, people caught stealing gasoline can have their driver's license suspended for up to six months and face a fine of up to $100 on the first offense. Previously, the punishment was just a fine.
Gas station owners say they hope the stickers will be effective, but note that it's too early to tell if they are making an impact.