The Relationship Between Bianco Professional Association and the Independent Oil Marketers Association of New England (IOMA)
The relationship between the Independent Oil Marketers Association of New England (IOMA) and Bianco Professional Association began in the early 1980s. In seeking to establish a fund to provide excess insurance for the industry in environmental matters, IOMA hired Attorney James Bianco to represent its interests in the New Hampshire legislature. New Hampshire’s House of Representatives has 400 members and its State Senate has 24 members. Its legislative process is different than other New England states in that every piece of legislation has one or more public hearings and each bill goes to the full body for a vote. During the 1980s, the New Hampshire legislature met once every other year and agencies had limited ability to create regulations. IOMA knew it needed an attorney who knew the process and the people to pass what was seen as groundbreaking legislation. Attorney Bianco worked collaboratively with IOMA members to successfully enact the law that created the highly successful “ODD Fund,” which provides excess coverage to the industry to remediate environmental issues encountered as part of retail operations.
Over time, a lot has changed in New Hampshire. New Hampshire’s legislature now meets every year and agencies are continually promulgating new rules. The relationship between IOMA and Bianco P.A. has remained strong as issues continue to arise that affect the industry. Over the years, members of the Bianco P.A. legislative practice have worked with IOMA members to successfully ensure the industry’s viability.
For example, IOMA and Bianco P.A. have prioritized the reduction of regulatory burdens and the curtailing unnecessary operational costs in its legislative agenda. IOMA has defeated numerous attempts to expand liability for hazardous material spills, defeated mandates for generators at all retail locations, defeated fees for storing gasoline, passed extensions for the ODD Fund, reduced bonding requirements associated with collecting the road toll, addressed issues relating to the use of fleet credit cards, and ensured the use of private calibration companies for retail gasoline meters. In each of these industries, members provided expert information regarding the impacts of the proposals on the industry and Bianco P.A. used its knowledge of the process and relationships with decision makers to develop an overall strategy to achieve the goal.
In addition to its legislative agenda, IOMA and Bianco P.A. continually work to address regulatory issues that arise in the different state agencies (Department of Safety, Department of Environmental Services, Department of Agriculture, Department of Revenue Administration, and Department of Transportation). Using the same recipe for success, IOMA provides expert information and Bianco P.A. develops the strategy and messaging when working with state regulators. IOMA and Bianco P.A. are particularly proud of their efforts in developing open communication and strong relationships with state regulators that often serve to find an appropriate policy for both the agency and the industry.
New Hampshire is a small state and it’s different than larger states in New England. Relationships matter. The relationship between IOMA and Bianco P.A. has served the industry well in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
This article was previously published in the Independent Oil Marketers Association of New England’s 2014-2015 Resource Guide