With Oregon allowing limited self-service at gas stations beginning this year, New Jersey remains the only state in the U.S. in which pumping your own is a crime. And if state Senate President Stephen Sweeney has his way, that won't change — even if it could help alleviate the transportation funding crisis.

NJ Senate Pres. Steve Sweeney
David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ

On Tuesday, Sweeney (D-West Deptford) told the Asbury Park Press editorial board that legislation to decriminalize self-serve, which surfaces every so often in Trenton and was most recently reintroduced by Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Plains) in January, will never advance as long as he has a say.

"I've never been a supporter of self-serve," Sweeney told the board, adding that New Jersey drivers would never see the implied savings from likely gas price cuts because retailers who are "controlling the numbers," in his words, could increase their profits with such a move.

Those price reductions, proponents believe, would dovetail nicely with the proposed 23-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase being debated between Sweeney, other lawmakers, and Gov. Chris Christie.

Also of concern, however, is the plight of the Garden State's approximately 10,000 gas station attendants, whose jobs would no doubt be at risk if self-serve was adopted, according to critics of the efforts to legalize it.

Patrick Lavery produces “New Jersey’s First News” and is New Jersey 101.5’s morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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