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FEDERAL ISSUES


Energy Savings Act introduced
Senators Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, recently introduced the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act The bill, as drafted, is similar to the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, S. 1000, as it was marked out of committee last Congress. Previous legislation related to energy consumption in federal buildings has indirectly impacted beverage vending machines.
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Bill to require labeling of genetically modified organism
A genetically modified organism, or GMO, labeling bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis D-Colo. has been introduced. More than 50 nations currently require labeling of genetically modified foods. Supporters say that a federal GMO labeling law would be good for business and that American crops would be ready for export to other countries that require GMO labeling. Opposition to GMO labeling has been fierce in other parts of the nation. A labeling bill in California was defeated in November.
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Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., recently announced they will be introducing the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. The bill would increase the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $10.10 by 2016. After that, it would be indexed to inflation, which would provide for automatic adjustments every year.
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STATE ISSUES


California: Sugar sweetened beverage tax introduced
State Sen. Bill Monning has introduced legislation that would levy a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar sweetened beverages, including sodas, as part of an effort to fight obesity among young people. The money paid by beverage distributors under SB 622 would go to a Children's Health Promotion Fund to pay for a statewide childhood obesity prevention program.
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Illinois: Committee discusses proposed Chicago energy drink ban
Chicago Alderman Ed Burke has proposed a ban on the sale of energy drinks in the city of Chicago. Medical professionals in attendance at the meeting were in favor, while beverage industry representatives were opposed. The Chairman of the Committee indicated that he would rather see stricter labeling rules warning of the possible dangers of energy drink consumption rather than banning sale of the drinks altogether.
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Massachusetts: An act relative to expanding access to healthy food choices in vending machines on state property
HB 2011, which relates to expanding access to healthy food choices in vending machines on state property, has been referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health.
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Massachusetts: An act to further recycling across the Commonwealth
HB 2973, which relates to reverse vending machine bottle and can deposit redemption, has been referred to the joint committee on telecommunications utilities and energy.
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Maryland: Governor proposes new tax on gasoline
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has proposed a transportation plan that contains a new tax on gasoline. The measure would add a sales tax, tied to inflation, on gasoline at the wholesale level. The proposal would remove five cents from the current 23.5 cents per gallon gasoline tax, but add a 4 percent sales tax at the wholesale level (taking two years to get up to the full percentage).
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Michigan: State police distribute information on new commercial vehicle law
Michigan State Police have distributed information regarding Michigans new commercial vehicle law to local law enforcement agencies statewide. The document describes the changes made by P.A. 231.
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Minnesota and Ohio: Governors consider taxing advertisements
The governors of Minnesota and Ohio are considering taxing advertisements to raise revenue. Under Ohio Gov. John Kasich's budget, billboard, print, radio and television ad sales would be taxed at 5 percent. In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton's budget would extend the state's 5.5 percent sales tax to numerous business-to-business services, which would include advertising. The Association of National Advertisers counters that states should not be taking any action to stop efforts to sell.
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New York: Push for increase in state's minimum wage
New York's minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes a 20 percent increase to $8.75 per hour. Retailers are speaking out against a minimum wage hike at this time, especially as businesses are struggling.
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Ohio: Cleveland proposes ban on sales of energy drinks to minors
A Cleveland city council member has introduced an ordinance to ban the sale of energy drinks to anyone under the age of 18. Councilman Kenneth Johnson introduced the measure, which would also prevent the sales of energy drinks in vending machines that minors could access. Under the proposed legislation, distribution of the drinks to minors would constitute a fourth-degree misdemeanor. The proposal requires a two-thirds majority approval from council members and approval from the mayor to take effect.
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Oregon: Sugar sweetened beverage tax introduced
Oregon House Bill 2331 will impose an excise tax on the sale of sugar sweetened beverages and concentrates. The bill will impose a $.005 per ounce tax on sugar sweetened beverages and a $.005 per ounce tax on each gallon of sugar sweetened beverage produced from concentrate.
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Vermont: House Committee kills tax on sugar-sweetened beverages
The House Health Care Committee has killed a bill to raise a new tax on sugar-sweetened beverages by a 5-5 tie vote. The bill would have added a one cent per ounce tax, and was projected to raise $27 million to fund public health education. Supporters of the tax have said it's an important measure in helping to curb obesity, and plan to continue fighting for it in other legislative committees. Opponents of the bill included Gov. Peter Shumlin, who said it would prompt Vermont residents to shop in neighboring states, and doesn't believe that a tax would change consumers' dietary choices.
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Virginia: Transportation bill includes wholesale taxes on gas and diesel
The Virginia General Assembly passed Bill HB 2313, an expansive transportation bill, replacing the 17.5 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax with a new 3.5 percent wholesale tax on gas and 6 percent on diesel. Other elements of the bill include increasing the sales tax on nonfood merchandise from 5 percent to 5.3 percent and increasing the sales tax to 6 percent in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, requiring those funds to be spent only on transportation projects in those regions. Other funding will come from a $100 annual registration fee for alternative fuel vehicles and an increase in the vehicle sales tax from 3 percent to 4.3 percent.
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Washington: Seattle City Council to require healthier choices in vending machines
The Seattle City Council recently voted to require healthier vending machines on city property. Under the new rules, at least half of the food in city vending machines will have to be healthy. Public Health-Seattle and King County gets to define what's healthy enough to qualify. Their guidelines list carrot sticks, low-fat yogurt, string cheese and packets of tuna as examples of what people will find in a half-healthy vending machine. Healthy choices have been offered in the city's park vending machines since 2010.
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The National Automatic Merchandising Association www.vending.org

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