The Maryland House of Delegates voted today to continue for two more years the moratorium preventing gas stations from converting to the "gas-and-go" system. But it stopped short of placing a ceiling on gasoline prices.
Del. Hugh Burgess (D-Howard) said,however, that he may move Wednesday to amend the "gas-and-go" Legislation to include a price ceiling. He said he intends to ask the attorney general for an opinion on the constitutionality of such a measure.
Burgess said he is concerned that full-service stations-which are supposed to provide mechanical, tire and other services as well as gas-were not in fact offering these services, but still were charging higher prices than gas-and-go stations.
He said he also wants to ensure that gas-and-go stations, which operate with a lower overhead than full-service stations, are passing on their savings to consumers.
The General Assembly adopted the moratorium last year in an effort to prevent oil companies, which control retail gas stations, from forcing widespread conversations to gas-and-go,which offered lower overhead and higher profits, according to Del.Frank Komenda (D-Prince George's), a member of the committee that studied the gas legislation.
There also was concern about the decline over the past few years in the number of gas stations that offer emergency car repair service.
The legislation passed today without a controversial amendment that would have made the official definition of subsidiary in Maryland state law "a corporation a majority of whose stock is owned by another corporation."
The amendment related to another bill that would prohibit oil companies and refineries from being in the retail gas business. Legislatiors had sought a definition by which the state could determine whether a service station was indeed a subsidiary of an oil company.
The state comptroller, Louis Goldstein,wants a regulation that would require oil companies that own at least 15 percent of the stock of a retail service station to sell off the stations.
Retail station owners supported the Goldstein definition. They passed out literature and bombarded legislators with calls protesting the subsidiary amendment.
Opponents of the subsidiary amendment argued it offered a loophole for the oil companies since they could continue to operate retail stations even when they owned as much as 49 percent of the stock in the station. They would have to show the state only that they did not own a majority of the stock.
In other action, the legislature voted to continue state funding for driver education in public schools until 1983.
The Senate already has approved the two-year moratorium. But since the bill was amended on minor points in the House, it must go before the Senate again.