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    Wisconsin Senator Pushes for Lower Gas Price Bill

    New law would repeal mandatory markup on wholesale price of gas and reduce retail markup.

    MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin’s gasoline prices would immediately drop 8 cents per gallon if a bill to reduce the state's minimum-markup law is passed, state Sen. Dave Zien told Wisconsin’s Green Bay Press Gazette .

    Zien, the bill's sponsor, said last week that he thinks the bill has a good chance of passing the Wisconsin legislature.

    "We are going to move this forward," Zien said in the report. "This could mean immediate relief at the pumps."

    Zien, who spent this past weekend pitching the bill to Senate colleagues and gauging support for the bill, stated that the new proposal could be taken up by the Senate as soon as early this week, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette .

    The Senate Judiciary, Corrections and Privacy Committee passed the bill last week. If approved by the Wisconsin legislature, the new bill would repeal a mandatory 3 percent markup on the wholesale price of gas and reduce the retail markup to 4 percent, plus three cents a gallon. State law currently requires a total 9.18 percent markup on the wholesale and retail price.

    Zien said in the report that these changes would add up to measurable savings for consumers.

    Although no Senate action is scheduled for the bill, Zien hopes the Senate will take it up soon, according to the report.

    The Senate convenes today and Zien hopes to get the bill on the agenda.

    "It's a compromise and it's a middle ground and it's relief at the pumps," Zien said.

    Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association President Bob Bartlett told the Green Bay Press Gazette that he appreciates legislative efforts to make changes to the bill, which originally would have repealed the minimum-markup law.

    "However, we believe the current law best protects consumers and preserves competition," he said in the report.

    Bartlett also said in the report that the projected savings of the bill might not materialize, in part because of a provision in the law that already allows gas stations to drop their prices to meet competition. He said the current law also preserves competition by preventing large suppliers from driving small suppliers out of business. That ultimately results in lower prices.

    "This whole notion that there is 15 cents to be wrung out of the system and still have independent retailers in business is not true," he told the Green Bay Press Gazette .

    Rep. Jeff Wood, the Assembly author of the markup bill, said fighting the oil lobby has been an uphill battle.

    "But at least we're making progress to save consumers money," he said in the newspaper report.

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