NAMA GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS — BI-WEEKLY UPDATE
Eric Dell, Sr. VP, Government Affairs, NAMA; Dan Sippl, President, Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America at the RSVA 2014 Sagebrush Conference
HAPPENINGS AFFECTING OUR INDUSTRY
Waiver Program For School Food and Beverage Rules To Be Implemented By USDA
NAMA is pleased that relief is on the way for school agencies that are unable to comply with the nutrition standards contained in the interim final rule of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act titled "National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program." As part of the recent Omnibus funding bill passed in Congress, language was included to develop a waiver for the 2014-2015 school year for school agencies that would face financial hardship through compliance.
KAMC Participates in Successful Legislative Event at State Capitol in Frankfort
The Kentucky Automatic Merchandising Council (KAMC) co-hosted a legislative luncheon with the Kentucky Retail Federation last week. The event, featuring more than 100 legislators and staff members, took place at the state capitol in Frankfort. KAMC board members discussed H.B. 312, a bill introduced by Rep. Steve Riggs, providing relief for vending operators by exempting items sold in vending machines from the state’s 6 percent retail sales tax. This change would place vending on par with other retail sales channels, including convenience stores.
GOVERNMENT AFFAIR NEWS — FEDERAL & STATE
The Plot To Make Big Food Pay
Lawyers are pitching state attorneys general in 16 states with a radical idea: make the food industry pay for soaring obesity-related health care costs. It's a move straight from the playbook of the Big Tobacco takedown of the 1990s, which ended in a $246 billion settlement with 46 states, a ban on cigarette marketing to young people and the Food and Drug Administration stepping in to regulate.
Coalition Wants GMO Labeling Overseen By FDA
A coalition has been formed to push for a federal solution to labeling products containing genetically modified ingredients. The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food wants a common labeling solution from coast to coast to avoid a patchwork of separate state labeling rules. Pam Bailey, the CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a member of the coalition, says such a standard should be overseen by the Food and Drug Administration.
With the Stroke of Obama's Pen, New Fuel Standards on the Way
With Congress too divided on environmental issues to put forward legislation, President Barack Obama is moving forward with his go-at-it-alone strategy and using his executive authority to set new fuel standards for trucks.
In a speech at a Safeway distribution center in the Maryland suburbs, the president directed the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation to write new standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by March 31, 2016.
Panel Votes to Block IRS Regulations
Congressional Republicans on Tuesday revved up their response to last year's IRS targeting controversy. A crucial House committee cleared a measure to delay regulations meant to curb so-called "dark money" groups. The House Ways and Means Committee advanced the measure to delay new rules for tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups for a year by a party-line 23-13 vote.
Alabama: Bill Proposing Elimination of Sales Tax on Groceries Goes Before Senate Panel
Virtually everyone at a Senate hearing Wednesday agreed the state sales tax on groceries should be eliminated. The question in 2014, as it has been for many years, is how to accomplish it. For Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, the most practical approach is eliminating the state’s 4 percent sales tax on food and groceries over three years, while increasing the general state sales tax from 4 percent to 5 percent over that time to make up lost revenue.
Arizona: GMO Labeling May Be Heading To the Ballot
Arizona voters may get to decide if they want to know whether their cold cereal is made with genetically modified corn. An initiative drive launched this week would require a label on any foods sold in the state that contain "genetically modified food or ingredients consisting of or made form genetically modified foods." The same measure, if approved by voters, would force labeling of meat and meat products which have been fed with genetically modified food. Backers have until July 3 to get 172,809 valid signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. The move is getting the attention of the state’s agriculture community.
California: Ballot Measure Raising Minimum Wage to $12 an Hour Is Proposed
California's minimum wage is pegged to go up $1 an hour to $9 on July 1 and by another buck in 2016. but that isn't high enough or fast enough for Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley software entrepreneur who has dabbled in state politics over the years. The 52-year-old multimillionaire hopes to put a measure on the November ballot raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour March 1, 2015, and to $12 a year later.
California: Berkeley Moves Toward Tax for Sugary Beverages
Berkeley City Council is setting the stage to reduce citywide sugar consumption, moving forward with the possible implementation of a city tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. At its meeting, the council voted unanimously to add a measure taxing sugary beverages to a community survey that would help determine whether the measure would make it onto the ballot for the November election. The survey will ask the community to consider a one-cent-per-ounce excise tax assessed against distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages, framed as a means of combating the growing diabetes and obesity epidemic in America.