NAVA Hosts Successful Washinton State Legislative Day
The Northwest Automatic Vending Association (NAVA) hosted a successful legislative day this week at the Washington state capitol in Olympia. NAVA President Brad Olney and NAVA Vice President Steve Vargas led the delegation of 10 operators, suppliers and brokers. The event, organized by legislative consultant Brad Boswell, continued the association's focus educating lawmakers about the vending, coffee and refreshment services industry.
NAMA's California State Council Helps Land Legislative Victory
NAMA's Government Affairs team and the California state council (CAVC) worked with coalition partners in the beverage industry to help deliver an important legislative victory late last week related to ongoing work with food labeling and taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages.
NAMA Submits Comments to Senate Committee Regarding Conference and Travel Spending Across the Federal Government
Carla Balakgie, NAMA's President and CEO, recently submitted comments on behalf of the association to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee regarding its hearing, "Examining Conference and Travel Spending Across the Federal Government." The purpose of the hearing was two-fold: to determine the current state of federal agency spending on conferences, training and travel and to determine if problems caused by previously documented excessive spending at government conferences have improved.
Farm Bill Passes After 3 Years of Talks
Congress gave final approval Tuesday to a sweeping overhaul of a broad range of federal farm and nutrition policies affecting what farmers grow, how food is packaged and sold and how the government helps poor people pay for their groceries. The Senate voted 68 to 32 Tuesday afternoon to approve a new, five-year farm bill that the House passed last week. The measure heads next to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it in the coming days.
Small Business Enrollment for Health Care Will be 'Modest'
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is expecting only modest enrollment figures in the ObamaCare small-business program for 2014. A CMS official told The Hill the figures would likely be depressed until the website is fully functional later this year. Companies with fewer than 50 employees were slated to begin buying coverage through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), an online ObamaCare exchange, in December.
Changing the Way We Eat
The Obama administration is moving ahead to make its mark on the American food system. While Congress idles on food policy — even the farm bill was a struggle — the Food and Drug Administration is looking to ban trans fat, mandate calorie labels at chain restaurants and vending machines and is poised to revamp Nutrition Facts labels for the first time in 20 years.
These changes will affect just about every consumer in the country — and they are just the beginning. The administration is also working on implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, a law widely hailed as the biggest update to food safety since FDR was in office, while rolling out the first nutrition standards for all food sold in public schools, crafting voluntary sodium limits and a whole slew of other food-related priorities, not to mention the first lady's high-profile Let's Move campaign to tackle childhood obesity and initiatives to improve meat and poultry safety.
NLRB Tries Again to Change Union Rules for Workers to Organize
Labor regulators are trying once again to streamline the process in which workers decide whether to join labor unions, a move sure to reignite the bitter debate between union advocates and employers that seek to discourage workers from unionizing.
The National Labor Relations Board proposed rules Wednesday that would allow unions to hold workplace elections more quickly by simplifying procedures, setting shorter deadlines and requiring businesses to hand over lists of employee phone numbers and emails to union leaders before an election. That could make it easier for unions to organize and reverse decades of steep membership declines.
California: United Front in San Francisco's War on Sodas, Other Sweet Drinks
Two proposals to raise taxes on soda and other sweetened drinks became one on Saturday as San Francisco supervisors supporting the war on "liquid sugar" unveiled a unified measure they plan to present at Tuesday's board meeting. The measure, which combines separate legislation introduced by Supervisors Scott Wiener and Eric Mar last year, would impose a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages including sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks, but excluding 100-percent fruit and vegetable drinks.
California: Bill Would Push Minimum Wage To $13 An Hour
Top ranking lawmakers in the state Senate have introduced legislation that would raise the minimum wage above the $10 per hour that was approved by California lawmakers in 2013. The bill co-authored by state Sen. Mark Leno and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg would set minimum wage at $11 per hour in 2015, and grow it by a dollar the next year, and another dollar after that. Beginning in 2018 the wage guarantee would be annually adjusted for inflation.
Colorado: Lawmakers Again Reject GMO Labels
Labels on genetically modified foods have been rejected again by Colorado lawmakers. But the food-labeling debate could just be getting started for Colorado voters. A House committee unanimously rejected a voluntary measure Thursday to give food producers the option of labeling food that doesn't include genetically modified ingredients.
Illinois: Governor Pushes for Minimum Wage Increase
A re-election seeking Gov. Pat Quinn used his State of the State speech Wednesday to declare that Illinois is "making a comeback" under his leadership and unveil a modest agenda of spending more on early childhood development and increasing the minimum wage.
Rhode Island: Plan To Require GMO Labels Reviewed By Rhode Island Lawmakers
State lawmakers in Rhode Island are taking a closer look at proposals to require labels on food containing genetically modified ingredients.The state is one of dozens across the country considering so-called GMO labels. The two bills up for a hearing Wednesday would require labels on foods that include ingredients made or derived from genetically altered crops.
Supporters say labels would inform the public. Many agricultural and food companies disagree, however, noting that there's no scientific evidence that genetically engineered food is harmful.