Massachusetts state lawmaker calls for cash discounts on fuel

| 7/24/2008

Consumers in Massachusetts would get a break from high fuel prices, if a state lawmaker gets her way.

State Rep. Barbara L’Italien, D-Andover, filed legislation that would allow more fuel stations throughout the state to offer cash discounts. The discounts would override franchise agreements between oil companies and fuel stations, thus allowing retailers to offer discounts to customers who pay cash to fill up.

It is based on legislation approved a month ago in Connecticut.

L’Italien said that drivers in Massachusetts could save up to 7 cents per gallon, The Boston Globe reported. It also would allow affected stations to compete with independent fueling stations that already offer such discounts.

Opponents say the state shouldn’t make it there business to intercede for fuel stations in bad contracts. Consumers can take their business elsewhere to stations that offer cash discounts, they say.

Time is short for the matter to clear the statehouse. The Legislature’s formal session ends July 31. After that, a single “no” vote from a lawmaker can kill a bill.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Massachusetts in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor