A proposal to protect gasoline customers from exorbitant credit prices at the pump was tabled Tuesday night when the sponsor acknowledged he did not have enough votes for passage.
However, Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) vowed to rework his measure to broaden support among lawmakers who felt his proposal was anti-business and too far-reaching.
"I know the voters aren't there but I will continue my dialogue with the gasoline retailers because something needs to be done," Schneiderman said before the motion was tabled on a 13-5 vote.
Despite the tabling, Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) said there is public concern about the practice and "there is no justification at all" for stations that impose credit card prices that are as much as $1.23 per gallon more than the large street signs used to lure customers.
Backers say it can add $15 to $20 to the cost of filling a gas tank.
Schneiderman's bill would have required gas stations which charge more than 5 percent over cash prices for credit purchases to install machinery at the pumps that would notify customers of the higher credit price and get their written permission before allowing gas to be pumped.
Gasoline retailers opposed the proposal, saying only about 20 of the county's 600 stations impose such charges and that the 9-inch-high signs above the pumps already detail the differences between cash and credit prices. They also said the industry has no software to meet the proposal's requirements.
"This is just anti-business," said Legis. Al Krupski (D-Southold), explaining new rules would just add to the price at the pump. Legis. Kate Browning (WFP-Shirley) said, "It's time that government stop telling people what they can and cannot do. It's getting out of hand."
Legis. William Lindsay (D-Oakdale) called Schneiderman's proposal "well-intentioned" but that it did not accomplish what it set out to do. He suggested that lawmakers consider rules that would require gas stations to include both cash and credit prices on large street signs.
"We thought we could put this issue to bed tonight," said Michael Watt, executive director of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association. He said the cost of adding large signs with credit prices might be too expensive. "We're sure we can find a happy medium," he said. "We don't want consumers to be hurt."
Lawmakers Tuesday night also grudgingly approved an emergency resolution to give Dr. Michael Caplain, County Executive Steve Bellone's choice for chief medical examiner, a full six-year term in the $250,000-a-year post, rather than filling the 4 1/2 years remaining in the term of his predecessor, Dr. Yvonne Milewski.
Despite the approval, Gregory said legislators expect the administration to bring back a revised resolution that would give the county legislature the option of giving a full or partial term for future appointees. The legislature still has to ratify the appointment of Caplain, who is expected to appear before lawmakers in several weeks.
The legislature also approved a three-year contract extension for the Vocational Education and Extension Board to run the county's Yaphank fire academy.