Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bipartisan Proposal to Monitor Gasoline Quality

Presser from House Dems:

    Legislation that would protect consumers by allowing county auditors to test gasoline quality at Ohio’s service stations will be among the first introduced under a new House procedure allowing for bills with more than one primary sponsor.

    The consumer protection plan – first introduced by state Rep. William J. Healy II, D-Canton last September as House Bill 652 – was re-introduced Wednesday by Healy and state Rep. Jon Peterson, R-Delaware.

    Peterson and Healy will both be listed as primary sponsors – among the first examples of such bipartisan legislation since Speaker Jon Husted announced on Feb. 12 that joint primary sponsorships would be permitted in the Ohio House. State senators Gary Cates, R-West Chester and John Boccieri, D-New Middletown will serve as the top sponsors of similar legislation in the Senate.

I'm intrigued by the "new procedure" that allows mulitple lead sponsors. Presumably that allows for bipartisan cooperation with equal credit. Given the GOP caucus's penchant for poaching Dem bills last term, this certainly improves things.

The bill itself sounds like an overdue idea:

    Ohio is now one of just four states where gasoline is not routinely inspected for quality. Nearly six billion gallons of gasoline are sold each year in Ohio – virtually all of it untested at the local level. It has been estimated that as much as 15 percent of it could be substandard, either because of honest mistakes in the refilling of underground storage tanks, or because of unscrupulous dealers.

    County auditors– acting in their role as the sealer of weights and measures – now routinely test pumps to make sure they accurately dispense the correct amount of gasoline. But auditors generally do not have the authority to test fuel quality. The exception is Summit County, a home rule county where officials have launched their own program.

    The Healy-Peterson proposal would allow other county auditors offices to go the extra mile by testing for octane, water content and sediment content. Water and sediment would be measured according to nationally-recognizd guidelines; Ohio would set its own standards for testing octane in concert with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

And it has important backers: "The County Auditors Association of Ohio and the Ohio AAA have both endorsed the Healy-Peterson plan." Triple-A can throw some serious weight behind a bill if they want to.

So it's a bill with a good chance of passing, voters -- at least those who don't own crooked gas stations -- will like it and it will have a Democrat's name at the top. This is how you build on the gains of November.