Minnesota Gas Stations Fined For Low Gas Prices

According to Minnesota state law, a gas station must make at least eight cents per gallon when selling gasoline. Recently a number of stations were fined for breaking this law.

AP – On Friday, the Commerce Department announced a $70,000 fine against Arkansas-based Murphy Oil for breaking the law at its 10 Minnesota stations, based at Wal-Mart stores and elsewhere. They also fined Kwik Trip Inc. $5,000 for violations at one station in Apple Valley, about 20 miles south of the Twin Cities.
The two are the first fines levied under the law, and were a result of a months-long review of the stations’ prices, the department said.
“It doesn’t feel good,” said Jeremy Haack, store leader at the Apple Valley Kwik Trip. “We try to give a little break to the consumers, and we’re the ones getting fined for it?”

The law is intended to keep large gas station chains from selling gas at a loss to drive smaller, independent stations out of business. The thought is that once the competition from independent stations is gone the large chains would raise the prices In theory, mandating a profit margin would level the playing field. I say that’s ridiculous.
Wouldn’t the large chains still have to compete against each other? And if prices got too high, what would stop another independent station from opening up and cutting prices again?
Plus the law limits how a station can make money. What if a gas station were to keep its gas prices low in order to attract customers to its attached convenience store or restaurant? This law wouldn’t allow that kind of entrepreneurship.
This law isn’t helping anybody. Its hindering capitalistic competition and forcing citizens to pay gas prices that are higher than they need to be.

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