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Home   Membership   Expos   Publications   Knowledge Center   Education   Coffee Service   Gov. Affairs Aug. 24, 2012

Court of Appeals denies American Council of the Blind's motion regarding currency redesign
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Recently, the Court of Appeals denied the American Council of the Blind's motion to amend the court's 2008 Order and Judgment. The American Council for the Blind had requested the court direct the Secretary of the Treasury to furnish specific dates by which the currency will be redesigned. They also requested that the Secretary submit a detailed implementation plan describing specific steps to implement three accommodations selected by the Secretary to provide meaningful access to U.S. currency to the blind and visually impaired: 1) adding a raised tactile feature 2) continuing to add large, high-contrast numerals and different colors and 3) implementing a supplemental currency reader distribution program for blind and other visually impaired U.S. citizens and legal residents.

The court ordered the Secretary of the Treasury to continue to file semi-annual reports and to continue to work diligently and expeditiously to fulfill its obligations to provide meaningful access to U.S. currency for blind and other visually impaired persons. The court also ordered the Secretary to promptly inform the Court of any additional major delays in implementing the next major currency redesign and to be as precise as possible in its semi-annual reports about the timeline for fulfilling its obligations under the Order. The court did not order the Secretary to immediately set a date for the redesign of the currency and it will therefore be redesigned on the schedule the Bureau of Engraving and Printing currently has related to redesign to prevent counterfeiting. For more information, contact Sandra Larson at

Court paves way for enforcement of federal tax and regulatory requirements against RYO retailers
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The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned an injunction preventing the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau from treating retailers with RYO machines as tobacco manufacturers. By lifting the trial court's injunction, the court paved the way for the TTB to begin enforcing federal tax and regulatory requirements against RYO retailers and thereby creating a level playing field in the retail tobacco market. Language that was included in the Highway Bill, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama, has rendered this case moot, the court ruled. For more information, contact Pam Gilbert at

California: El Monte seeks sugary-drink tax to shore up budget
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El Monte is moving forward with a plan to seek a tax on sugary sodas to ease its financial problems. The proposal, one of the first of its kind in California, would add a one-cent tax per ounce to the price of "sugar sweetened" drinks sold within the city. El Monte's council members voted unanimously to place the measure on the November ballot, saying that it would provide much-needed revenue for the city government and combat the health problems caused by sodas and other sweet beverages. Business leaders are starting to challenge the sugary drinks tax, arguing that it would hurt El Monte's economy.

The San Gabriel Valley suburb, which has about 113,000 residents, has been hit hard by the recession. The city has reduced its workforce by more than 100 employees, deferred raises for some workers and cut the benefits received by council members. But city officials said they still need new revenue to cover a half-cent sales tax that is set to expire in 2014. The sugary drinks tax, they said, would make up for that funding gap, providing as much as $7 million in annual revenue. For more information, contact Sandra Larson at

Florida: Sugar reduced in Florida school milk
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Producers have voluntarily reduced sugar content by 38 percent in chocolate and strawberry flavored milk that's sold in most of the state's schools, according to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. He also told the State Board of Education that only low-fat and no-fat milk is offered in those schools. The board had discussed possible restrictions on sugary drinks, including flavored milk, before the Legislature approved Putnam's request to transfer its authority over school nutrition to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The federally supported program provides more than 277 million meals a year to 1.6 million Florida children. Of those, 78 percent qualify for free or reduce-priced lunches. Putnam also told the panel he has taken no action yet on soft drinks but that he expects the federal government to soon propose national rules. School districts set their own policies for soft drink vending machines in middle and high schools. Most allow students to use the machines only after regular school hours. For more information, contact Mary Lou Monaghan at

Georgia: Voters reject penny sales tax referendum
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On July 31, voters in 12 districts across the state rejected a penny sales tax referendum that would have funded transportation projects in nine of those districts, including metro Atlanta. The Transportation Investment Act was highly promoted through the media as the "way to untie the traffic" in the Atlanta area, but voters voiced their opinion by voting against it. For more information, contact Mary Lou Monaghan at

Kentucky: Louisville, Lexington mayors push for local sales tax authority
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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray are calling for a constitutional amendment to allow voters in their communities to approve a local option sales tax. Local sales taxes have long been promoted by the Kentucky League of Cities as an opportunity for local governments to finance capital improvement projects. However, the Federation has historically opposed them because not only have they been shown to impact spending, but the additional administrative burden is often costly. For more information contact Mary Lou Monaghan at

Massachusetts: Bottle bill did not make it to governor's desk
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The proposed bottle bill had been included as an amendment to the Senate jobs bill but was scrapped in conference committee. The amendment had faced strong opposition in the House, with Speaker Robert DeLeo describing it as a tax. The expansion to the 31-year-old law designed to promote recycling and reduce litter would have added plastic bottles used for water, juices, iced tea and sports drinks to the list of containers subject to the five-cent bottle deposit. Under the law, these types of containers carry a five-cent redeemable deposit that can be collected when they are returned to the store. Opponents said the bill would have increased costs for businesses and consumers. Supporters said it would have encouraged more recycling. The governor had said that the state could collect up to $58 million a year on unredeemed bottles, and that the program would cut the costs of recycling the bottles. For more information, contact Pam Gilbert at

Mississippi: Still has nation's highest obesity rate
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For the seventh year in a row, Mississippi has claimed the dubious distinction of being the state with the nation's highest obesity rate. According to data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34.9 percent of adult Mississippians were considered obese last year. Eleven other states also had obesity rates exceeding 30 percent, with Alabama, Louisiana, Michigan and West Virginia rounding out the top five. Colorado ranked as the nation's thinnest state, with an obesity rate of 20.7 percent. For more information, contact Mary Lou Monaghan at

Ohio: Final approval to micromarket rules
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On Aug. 16, the Ohio Public Health Council gave final approval to the micro market rules which were preliminarily approved on June 28. The rules will be filed with the Secretary of State and will become effective 10 days after being filed. The members and lobbyist of the Ohio Automatic Merchandising Association were instrumental in the process, and they hope the efforts in Ohio will help pave the way for success in other states. For more information, contact Pam Gilbert at

Tennessee: TAMA participates in Tennessee Obesity Task Force's annual legislative/policy agenda meeting
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On Aug. 18, leaders from the Tennessee Automatic Merchandising Association participated in the Tennessee Obesity Task Force annual policy setting meeting in Nashville. Funded by the Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, TOTF was established in 2007 as a statewide coalition of health, civic and government policymakers working to combat the problem of obesity in Tennessee. During the meeting, TAMA leadership provided information on its efforts to promote healthier consumers, and encouraged TOTF to support legislation/regulations/policies (in the upcoming Tennessee Legislative Session) that provide real solutions to obesity issues while protecting the state's vending economy. The meeting yielded a number of positive outcomes, including TOTF's agreement: a) to consider supporting a reduction (or elimination) of taxes on certain foods and produce, and "healthy" vending items; b) not to support or file draft "soda-tax" legislation, c) consideration of TAMA's input regarding the state's procurement process to extend the reach of healthy vending to more entities and employers. For more information, please contact Sheree Edwards at

The National Automatic Merchandising Association

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