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Delegates OK full-service gas for seniors


ANNAPOLIS -- The House of Delegates passed a bill yesterday that would force gasoline stations to give self-service discounts to certain senior citizens who use full-service lanes -- despite warnings that it could lead to higher fuel prices for everyone.

The bill passed 78-42 over the objections of several delegates who said they were senior citizens but viewed the measure as unnecessary and bad for consumers. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Drivers aged 70 and older who aren't disabled but believe they aren't "reasonably capable" of pumping gas could buy gas at discounted prices now only available to the disabled.

Frail elderly drivers could ask a gas station attendant to pump gas for them at the cheaper self-service price, unless they had an able passenger in the car. The measure would not apply to stations that do not provide full service.

House Economic Matters Committee Chairman Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, said the bill would affect only a few people, and many stations already offer such services to the elderly.

If so, responded Del. Jean W. Roesser, R-Montgomery County, "this bill is really not necessary. It's over-legislating."

Del. Delores G. Kelley, D-Baltimore, agreed. She called the measure a "subsidized giveaway," the cost of which will be "passed on to the rest of us."

Stations who misjudge a driver's fitness could be charged with a misdemeanor carrying a $25 fine.

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