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Home   Membership   Expos   Publications   Knowledge Center   Education   Coffee Service   Gov. Affairs May. 18, 2012
 
 
 


NAMA Government Affairs hosts Legislative Educational Session at 2012 OneShow
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During the past several months, the vending and coffee service industries have been impacted by an upswing in legislative and regulatory activity, especially at the federal level. Accordingly, the NAMA Government Affairs team hosted its annual Legislative Educational Session at the 2012 OneShow to provide our membership with more in-depth information on the government's activity and how best to keep their businesses operating (and compliant) in the often complex legislative and regulatory landscape.

This year's Legislative Educational Session featured presentations by two leading experts on key federal legislative and regulatory issues. Carolyn Doppelt-Gray, co-chair of the Accessibility and Accommodations Practice Group at Proskauer Rose LLP, gave a highly anticipated presentation on the newest changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations issued by the Department of Justice.

At the outset, Gray noted the ADA is a civil rights law designed to eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities in major aspects of day-to-day life, including equal access to public accommodations. Her presentation, entitled "Accessible Vending Machines and the Impact of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design," walked the attendees through the latest compliance requirements for machine accessibility (i.e., height, forward reach, side reach, operable parts, etc.), as well as alterations, scoping, clear floor space and issues of whether certain vending machines are to be considered "fixed equipment."

Gray also denoted that the ADA, as a civil rights law, provides the potential for lawsuits against vending machine owners/operators by both private plaintiffs and/or the Department of Justice and could carry significant penalties for non-compliance.

Steve Lodge, director of Outreach & Special Projects at the American Beverage Association, gave a presentation entitled "How is the Beverage Industry Responding to Tax Threats & Potential New Energy Requirements." Lodge addressed several aspects of the proposed Department of Energy regulations (such as the EPA's newly proposed changes to the Energy Star designation for Type A and B beverage machines), potential "sugar taxes" and publicly funded campaigns to associate sugar sweetened beverages with obesity. Lodge also discussed the advocacy strategies the ABA and its allied partners have utilized at the various levels of government to protect the beverage industry, as well as to clarify these issues for consumers.

To view a copy of Carolyn Doppelt-Gray's PowerPoint presentation on the new ADA Standards for Accessible Design, please log in the "Members Only" section at www.vending.org and click on the "Legislative News" link. For more information, please contact Sandy Larson at slarson@vending.org.



Institute of Medicine report wants voluntary food marketing caps
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An Institute of Medicine committee report wants the industry to comply with voluntary food marketing and ad caps to children or have lawmakers redo federal agriculture initiatives to bring more healthy foods to the nation. The group also said Congress might want to think about imposing a tax on sugary drinks. Under the leadership of former Department of Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, the report suggests that a multilayer approach is the best way to alter U.S. eating practices, particularly advocating both voluntary rules and mandatory guidelines. The committee would like state and federal governments to look into excise taxes on sugary drinks, such as energy drinks or non-diet soft drinks, noting that beverages sweetened with sugar are the biggest source of calories in the U.S. diet.


Tobacco Tax Equity Act introduced
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U.S. Sens. Dick Durbinm, D-Ill., Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., have introduced the Tobacco Tax Equity Act, which seeks to close loopholes in the tax code that allow tobacco companies to avoid the federal cigarette and roll-your-own tobacco tax. The senators say the Tobacco Tax Equity Act would create "tax parity" by establishing the tax rate on all tobacco products at the same per-unit level as cigarettes. Under current law, small cigars and RYO tobacco products are taxed at the same level as cigarettes; however, cigars, smokeless tobacco and pipe tobacco are taxed at a lower rate.



California: Vending industry holds legislative day in Sacramento
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On May 9, members of the California Automatic Vending Council (CAVC) spent the day in Sacramento to help educate legislators about the vending and coffee service industries in California. During meetings with legislators from across the state, CAVC members voiced their opposition to AB 1746, legislation that would ban the sale of electrolyte replacement beverages to middle and high school students in the state. They used their meetings to educate representatives about the challenges facing vending and coffee service operators in the state including high gas prices, increased workers compensation rates and loss of customers resulting from businesses leaving the state. They also discussed the inequity in the tax code in California which taxes items sold through vending machines and does not tax those same items in any other retail location. Snack bags were distributed to the legislators' offices with information about CAVC and the tax treatment of foods sold through vending machines in California. Over the next few months, CAVC members will be continuing their grassroots efforts with scheduled meetings in several legislators' field offices throughout the state. For more information, please contact Sandy Larson at slarson@vending.org.


California: California Supreme Court rules that employers not on the hook if employees work during breaks
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For countless years now, California employers have struggled with interpreting and complying with vague and ambiguous meal and rest period laws in California. The California Supreme Court has provided some long-awaited clarification on these matters in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court of San Diego (No. S166350, 4/12/12). All things considered, Brinker is a win for employers and will undoubtedly shape the growing number of class action lawsuits that employees are waging against employers accused of meal and rest break violations. In the ruling the court stated that while employers are legally required to provide employees with meal and rest breaks by relieving employees of all work duties and allowing them to leave the work premises, employers are under no obligation to ensure that employees are actually taking those mandated breaks. In short, employers cannot be liable if employees choose to perform work during their breaks. In addition the ruling addressed the issue of meal period timing as well as break and meal period order. The ruling included a clarification of required rest periods and discussed the suitability of claims for class action treatment. For more information, please contact Sandy Larson at slarson@vending.org.


Colorado: Legislature passes bill to ban trans fats in public school foods
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On May 9, the Colorado Legislature passed a final version of S 68, a bill that specifically prohibits Colorado public schools or institute charter schools from making available to student any food or beverage items that contain any amount of industrially produced trans fat. This prohibition on trans fat applies to all food and beverages made available on the school grounds during the school day and extended school day, including food in cafeterias, school stores, vending machines or other food service entity existing on school grounds. However, exemptions from the prohibition include food or beverages provided to students that are part of: 1) meal programs per USDA, 2) fundraising efforts conducted by one or more students, teachers or parents, and 3) donations to the school to be given to students for consumption off school premises not during school hours. The bill was sent to the governor's desk for signature on May 14. For more information, please contact Sheree Edwards at sedwards@vending.org or Sandy Larson at slarson@vending.org.


Kentucky: State agency establishes operational requirements for implementation of the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Program for business enterprises
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On May 1, the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet/Office for the Blind officially amended its rules to establish additional operational requirements for the implementation of the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Program. The Kentucky Business Enterprises is one of the leading U.S. vending and food service programs operated by people who are blind. Administered by the Kentucky Office for the Blind, the program trains and certifies Kentuckians who are legally blind in food service and licenses them to operate vending and other food facilities. The amendments, incorporated by KY 19842 2011, include but are not limited to: changes in standards for termination of vendor licenses, slight changes in criteria for vacancy appointments of vendors to manage vending facilities, and changes in "set-aside" percentages on net profits. For more information, please contact Sheree Edwards at sedwards@vending.org.


Maryland: Employers not allowed to ask employees for access to social networking accounts
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Gov. Martin O'Malley has signed legislation that bars employers from requiring employees or job seekers to provide user names or passwords to their various social networking accounts. For more information, please contact Pam Gilbert at pgilbert@vending.org.


Pennsylvania: Property tax battle underway
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A bill that would allow Pennsylvania counties to halt their property tax reassessments unanimously passed the House in April. It is only the first of several bills in the state's legislative pipeline aimed at reducing or eliminating the property tax altogether. The various proposals currently under consideration all look to other revenue sources, such as sales and income taxes, to replace the lost property tax revenues. Other bills would increase the personal income tax to 4 percent from its current rate of 3.07 percent and raise the sales tax on candy, newspapers and some currently exempt services by 1 percentage point. Another bill would allow county voters to decide whether to enact local sales or income taxes to reduce the need for property taxes. NAMA and the Tri-State (PA, NJ, DE) Automatic Merchandising Council are closely monitoring all legislative issues, especially those relating to taxes. For more information, please contact Pam Gilbert at pgilbert@vending.org.

The National Automatic Merchandising Association www.vending.org

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Keeping In Touch With NAMA - Legislative Edition
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