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    Sales and Fuel Tax, Fees, Ethanol Blending on Texas Docket

    Texas petroleum marketers and c-stores already discussing state's budget deficit.

    By Hank Behar

    NEW YORK -- Although the Texas legislature doesn't meet again until January 2011, the Texas Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (TPCA) is already in discussions with lawmakers regarding issues such as how to address the state's projected $11 billion budget deficit, and the looming shortfall in transportation funding.

    Although no decisions will be made until the session itself, other matters under consideration are concepts such as broadening the state's sales tax, doing away with tax exemptions and increasing fees. Legislators are also examining fuels tax issues including rates, exemptions and non-transportation related uses of fuels taxes.

    National issues are also on the table since they have statewide impact, such as the renewable fuels standards and the increased distribution of ethanol-blended fuels. The push for higher levels of ethanol is also a concern with regard to fuel dispensing equipment warranties and unknown impacts to motor vehicles.

    Related to ethanol-blended fuel are fuel quality issues. In 2009, the Texas Legislature passed a bill authorizing the Texas Department of Agriculture to inspect fuel to ensure it meets ASTM specifications. As a result, Agriculture staff has launched the program and begun inspections at terminal racks, bulk plants and retail facilities.

    In the meantime, TPCA is preparing for the 2010 Texas Food & Fuel Expo to be held at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, July 26-27, 2010. One of the largest single state trade shows of its kind, the Expo is a co-production of TPCA and the Texas Grocery and Convenience Association. More details can be found at www.txfoodandfuelexpo.com.

    By Hank Behar
    • About Hank Behar

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