Anti-fuel markup bill heads to Louisiana's governor

| 6/17/2005

The Louisiana Senate has approved a bill that would abolish a mandatory 6 percent markup on motor fuels in the state.

Sponsored by Rep. Taylor Townsend, D-Natchitoches, HB763 also would prevent retailers from selling gasoline and diesel at prices below what they paid for it. The bill, however, provides that discounts offered through credit, debit or shopping cards, as well as for promotional purposes, grand openings, anniversaries or promotional sales, shall not be considered in determining whether sale is below cost.

Senators voted 33-5 Thursday, June 14, to advance the House-passed bill. The measure now moves to Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s desk for her signature.

Supporters said the bill would promote competition by leveling the playing field for fuel retailers, making sure large companies cannot drive smaller businesses from the market by selling fuel at a loss, The Advocate in Baton Rouge, LA, reported.

Opponents contend installing a price floor would keep fuel prices artificially high and other aspects of the bill would produce unnecessary lawsuits.

Both sides agree on the measure’s main effort: the state should eliminate a portion of Louisiana law that forces businesses to mark up most retail items by 6 percent.

They also agree that the bill would have little or no effect on prices at the pump.