Capping off the gas war#039; legislation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2004

It is no secret that our gas prices are going to stay up and they are likely to go any higher, and we have to agree with other state media in asking, where are the "gas wars" of the past?

You remember these little wars where different stores would set lower prices to lure in customers.

Of course, their competition would lower theirs in an effort to keep their customers.

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By no means are these little wars the long term solution we need to stop the rising prices, but it is a good temporary fix and relief to some customers.

Well the reason you don't see those anymore is because the "bright as the sun" legislature of 1984 made such little wars illegal.

The Alabama Motor Fuel Marketing Act states it is illegal for retailers to sell gasoline at prices below cost or to sell it to different customers on the same day at different prices with the intent of hurting competitors.

Any gasoline station that breaks the law could face a $10,000 fine.

For years, the retail gasoline companies claimed the law protected the consumers, but we think it might protect the service station operators a bit more.

The Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. agency responsible for ensuring that predatory pricing does not reduce competition, is on record as saying the Alabama law is unnecessary, anti-competitive and not in the best interests of consumers.

We, like others, believe this is just one more example of our great state legislature listening to yet another lobbyist group instead of the people.

Today, our current legislature has a bill before it that would repeal the 1984 law.

Those who say they work for the people of Alabama should vote to pass this legislation.

So we encourage our readers to call the statehouse and give them an earful.

Again, it is a temporary fix, but it is something that could help.

Oh, and if the legislators don't want to follow the people's voice on this, then take away all the state credit cards and make them pay for their gas to and from Montgomery.

That might be the most significant thing they do this session, other than work overtime in making the governor look bad, and adding yet another chapter on Alabama's image problem.