Gas Pains

By: Victoria Langley
By: Victoria Langley

State lawmakers say they have a way to save you money at the gas pump. They’re considering repealing a law that sets a mandatory mark-up on gas prices.

But small retailers say letting the big corporations undercut them on price will drive them out of business, and cost you more in the long run.

Ask motorists like Michael Moore if they like the idea of letting gas distributors sell below cost, and you’ll get a lot of positive responses.

“Gas is just so high and I think if the distributors can bring the price down, I’m all in favor of that.”

State lawmakers are looking at repealing a Florida law that sets a minimum markup on gas prices, but small service station owners hate the idea. They say they could never compete with a big oil distributor

Large companies can sell below cost all day and not hurt their own bottom line, while the little guy can’t do that, says Jim Smith with the Petroleum and Convenience Store Association.

Smith says, “If the little guys go out of business, there’s nothing to stop the big companies from charging whatever they want. If you eliminate competition while you still have huge demand, then you’re going to have problems with price. The consumer will benefit short-term; long-term they will not benefit.”

The repeal of the law is supported by corporate giants like Wal-Mart and Murphy’s Oil, who’d love to pull in some extra business.

Bill sponsor Nancy Argenziano says if it saves you money, why not?

“I couldn’t care if it was Wal-Mart, Sears or JC Penneys. If someone came up with a way of providing gas at a cheaper cost, then that’s my obligation to look at that.”

Supporters say repealing the law would save the average driver about 50 bucks a year.

Supporters of the plan to repeal the Fuel Marketing Prices Act say Jeb Bush is on board with the idea, but convenience stores and independent operators are planning a tough fight.


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