A seating squeeze forced legislators into space normally reserved for the audience, as three House committees took testimony on the odd trends seen in Vermont gas prices.
Rep. Pat Brennan, R-Colchester, said they were there for information, not to investigate.
An investigation by the Federal Trade Commission last year determined that gas prices throughout the state, especially Chittenden County, are higher than markets should dictate. Of 400 markets nationwide, Burlington is one of 15 where retailers suck in an average 30 cents profit on every gallon.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, said competition is at best very limited.
Sanders led a push for the investigation. Testifying by phone Tuesday, he stopped just short of accusing fuel-sellers of collusion.
Bill Sorrell, D-Vt. Attorney General, said he has no proof of an antitrust breach either. He says Maine has successfully implemented reforms preventing owners from controlling multiple links in a supply chain and requiring annual reports from distributors and retailers.
Distributor and retailer Skip Vallee says minimum wage, gas standards, high property taxes, and even state police's reluctance to pursue drive-offs all contribute to higher prices. He says working on those items and continuing to push for competition will help. That is, so long as the competition isn't Costco, which wants to start selling gas next to one of Vallee's Maplefield's stores in Colchester.
Vallee says they would theoretically have lower prices.
Sellers say Burlington rail access is the real monopoly.
It's not clear if the Legislature will act, but outside of a supply side shock, prices aren't likely going anywhere soon.
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:21 AM EST2014-03-08 15:21:27 GMT
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries. They were injured while fighting a at the Bennett Farm on Route 15 on the Johnson-Cambridge town line. The fire started in a shed around 7:30 FridayMore >>
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:42 GMT
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury. They immediately took to Facebook after hearing about this fire and started planning to collectMore >>
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:05 GMT
Reporter: "What are some of the most common burn injuries that we see with kids coming into the hospital?" Jim Esdon, Dartmouth Hitchcock Injury Prevention Center: "This time of year, the glass frontedMore >>
We've had another cold week that's left homeowners cranking the heat. But what does that mean for kids' safety?More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:19 AM EST2014-03-08 15:19:21 GMT
Armed with just two L rods, 87-year-old John Wayne Blassingame starts looking for water by asking yes or no questions. "Does it go past 20 feet, does it go past 30 feet, yah," he says. The rods crossingMore >>
A national organization based in Danville says it is providing resources to people in desperate need to find water.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:31 AM EST2014-03-08 13:31:36 GMT
The Governor is traveling to Rhode Island Saturday. His office says Governor Peter Shumlin will be at Brown University in Providence taking part in a forum with the Rhode Island Governor. While theMore >>
The Governor is traveling to Rhode Island Saturday. More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:17 AM EST2014-03-08 13:17:30 GMT
We have some ideas for your Saturday. IRISH FESTIVAL The 19th annual Burlington Irish Heritage Festival kicks off today. There is a lecture about the role of Irish immigrants in the Civil War at theMore >>
Friday, March 7 2014 7:28 PM EST2014-03-08 00:28:44 GMT
Williston Police say, the powder was from a generic prescription medication. They say, the man was from Burlington and had the paperwork in his pocket with his medicine and that's how it got on there. More >>
Williston Police say, the powder was from a generic prescription medication. They say, the man was from Burlington and had the paperwork in his pocket with his medicine and that's how it got on there.More >>