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Home   Membership   Expos   Publications   Knowledge Center   Education   Coffee Service   Gov. Affairs Nov. 16, 2012
 
 
 


2012 Elections: Impact on NAMA's legislative and regulatory priorities
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The recent election saw the Democrats not only retaining the White House, but also adding two seats to their majority in the Senate and picking up seats in the House. While the Republicans still have a strong majority in the House, Democrats across the board in Washington are feeling emboldened. Most folks in Washington seem to think that despite a continuation of divided government, leaders in the respective parties will attempt to cooperate and broker a deal on the economic issues that challenge the country. Most immediately, that means that some kind of agreement on the "fiscal cliff" will be forthcoming.

As for NAMA's priority issues, the Obama administration will move ahead with full implementation of the health reform law. That means the FDA calorie disclosure regulations will be unveiled in the coming weeks or months. The health reform law also requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide insurance or pay a penalty.

As noted, Democrats in the Senate gained two seats. This means that existing Senate leadership will stay in place. Harry Reid,D-Nev., will continue as Majority Leader and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., will serve again as Majority Whip. Committee chairs will also stay the same, including Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, as chairman of the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee — a very important panel for nutrition, employee benefits and labor issues that are high on NAMA's priority list.

NAMA will want to continue working with Senator Durbin on debit and credit card issues. NAMA will also want to watch tax reform discussions, including efforts to promote excise taxes on sugar sweetened drinks. Public health and anti-obesity groups will feel emboldened by the Democrats' favorable election results. Thanks to NAMA's efforts during the Public Policy Conference, the Ways and Means Committee, House leadership and the White House are all aware of our concerns with excise taxes. But, with tax reform on the agenda for President Barack Obama's second term, it cannot be assumed that this bad idea will go away by itself. This issue will require sustained attention and a long-range plan.

Overall, NAMA is in a good position to continue working with both Congress and the administration on its top issues. NAMA's efforts during the October Public Policy Conference to engage with both Democratic and Republican offices paved the way for ongoing conversations and effective advocacy. For more information, please contact Sandy Larson at slarson@vending.org.




California: Soda tax measures rejected by voters
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Voters in two California cities rejected measures that would have imposed the nation's first penny-per-ounce taxes on businesses that sell sodas and other sugary drinks in an effort to boost municipal revenue and fight obesity. In El Monte, 76.8 percent of voters said no, while in Richmond, 66.9 percent opposed the measure. Calls to tax sugary drinks have gathered steam as more cities and states struggle to close budget gaps and American waistlines continue to expand. For more information, please contact Sandy Larson at slarson@vending.org.


California: Proposition mandating the labeling of genetically modified food rejected
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Voters rejected a call to require enhanced labeling for genetically modified food 53.1 percent to 46.9 percent. Prop. 37, would have required the words "Genetically Engineered" or "Partially" or "May Be Produced with Genetic Engineering" to be printed on the front label and/or grocery display of any food products that contain even trace amounts of a genetically engineered ingredient. It is estimated that as much as 70 percent of the processed foods in a grocery store or retail store contains some GE ingredient. Retailers would have been responsible for ensuring tens of thousands of products and displays in their stores were accurately labeled. The California Automatic Vendors Council opposed this proposition. For additional information, contact Sandy Larson at slarson@vending.org.


District of Columbia: City Council discusses limits and taxes on sugared beverages
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The D.C. City Council is discussing a proposed bill to limit the size of sugared beverages sold in the city, similar to the recent bill passed by the NYC Department of Health. There is also mention of a potential D.C. tax on sugared beverages. A similar proposal has failed in the past. Another proposed bill, the Healthy Parks Act of 2012, would set nutritional standards for parks and recreation facilities on all foods, beverages and snack foods sold, offered or provided by the Department of Parks and Recreation or by third parties through vending machines, concession stands, stores or other food venues at facilities under the control of the Department of Parks and Recreation. NAMA and MD-DC Vending Association representatives will participate in an industry coalition meeting on Nov. 16 to discuss these issues. For more information, please contact Pam Gilbert at pgilbert@vending.org.


Illinois: Chicago mayor announces new healthy vending machine program
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Recently, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that new healthy vending machines will be located across all City departments and buildings starting in January 2013. The new vending machines must follow clear guidelines on fat, sugar and calorie content. The beverage guidelines include that all beverage selections, with the exception of water and seltzer, are limited to 12 ounces; all hot beverages options must be 25 calories or less; and that only 25 percent of the cold beverages can be "high calorie," with 75 percent being less than 25 calories per eight ounces. The food restrictions include a requirement that 75 percent of the food options in a machine must contain 250 calories or less, with at least five food items containing 250 milligrams or less of sodium per serving; and at least one food item in a machine must be both gluten- and nut-free. In order to assure affordability of these healthy options, the prices for healthier food and beverage items cannot exceed the prices charged for less-healthy food and beverage items. Additionally, the calories of food and beverage items will be displayed for customers to read, and healthier food and beverage items will be placed prominently within the vending machines. For more information, please contact Kim Radulski at kradulski@vending.org.


Illinois: Statement from NAMA regarding Mayor Emanuel's healthy vending initiative
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"As the national association representing the vending and refreshment services industry, we applaud Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City of Chicago in promoting informed choices in the area of health and wellness," said Carla Balakgie, president and CEO of NAMA.

"Since 2005, through our national initiatives Balanced for Life and Fit Pick, we have been at the forefront of the nutrition solution in the vending channel. Specifically, we provide consumers from all walks of life, including families and children, with the important nutrition information they need to make the right food choices," said Balakgie.

"NAMA's Balanced for Life and Fit Pick designates products that meet recognized nutrition standards," she continued. "In fact, Fit Pick has been adopted by businesses throughout the country, and even by all four branches of the U.S. armed forces.

"The vending industry welcomes the opportunity to work together with the Mayor's Office, the Chicago Department of Public Health and Chicago Public Schools to advance our mutual agendas," she concluded. "As the association representing the vending industry, we are uniquely positioned to make an impact since our members serve millions of consumers throughout the country, every day." For more information, please contact Roni Moore at rmoore@vending.org.



Illinois: Cook County approves a $1 per pack cigarette tax increase
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Cook County Commissioners approved a $1 per pack cigarette tax increase. The cigarette tax increase takes effect March 1, 2013, with the overall tax on a pack of cigarettes in Chicago to reach $6.67, 19 cents less than New York City's, the nation's highest. Some commissioners questioned the tax revenue strategy of raising the cigarette tax increase, citing a 2006 increase that led to a decrease of county revenue three years after enactment. Despite the concern, there was only one "no" vote on the 17-member board. For more information, please contact Kim Radulski at kradulski@vending.org.


Louisiana: Lafayette School System installs vending machines for healthy student meals
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The Lafayette Parish School System plans to install two vending machines equipped to dispense healthy school meals to students, possibly as soon as January. Vending machines are being used as an alternative way to provide meals to the students who want to eat but are unable to because of location or time constraints. Some students don't even go to the cafeteria because they know they can't get in, so the school has been looking into alternative ways to serve its school body. Due to large student populations, many schools in the district schedule several lunch shifts, some beginning at 10:30 a.m. and continuing after 1 p.m. An additional two vending machines could be purchased in 2013. The machines will stock about 100 meals and can only by accessed with a student's ID code, which is linked to their meal account. This vending method is approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch program and the machines will only provide healthy meal options, including milk, fruit, sandwiches, salads and whole meals. The child nutrition services department goal is to add the vending machines to each of the high school campuses. For more information, please contact Mary Lou Monaghan at mmonaghan@vending.org.


Missouri: Tobacco tax proposition did not pass
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Voters refused to raise the state's tobacco tax, defeating Proposition B by a margin of less than 1 percent. The proposal would have increased the cigarette tax from 17 cents to 90 cents per pack. In 2002 and 2006, citizens also voted against similar proposals by very narrow margins. The state auditor's office put annual income from the tax hike to be between $283 million and $423 million, which would have funded education and smoking cessation programs. Supporters of the proposition report now scrambling to find funding for schools. For more information, please contact Kim Radulski at kradulski@vending.org.


Missouri: Kansas City hospital bans sugared soft drinks
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Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City is banning the sale of sugary soft drinks in its vending machines, gift shops and cafeteria. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2013, drink choices will be limited to water, diet soda, juice, milk, coffee and tea. The exception will be the availability of Sprite for dehydrated children. Visitors, patients and employees will be allowed to bring their own soda into the hospital. For more information, please contact Kim Radulski at kradulski@vending.org.


New Jersey: Bill would fine employers $1,000 for requesting social network access
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Senate endorses AB 2878, which would fine Garden State employers $1,000 if they request or demand access to workers' or potential employees' accounts on social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter. The bill, which also would allow employers or job applicants to sue employers who force them to hand over social media passwords, moves to Gov. Chris Christie for review. For more information, please contact Pam Gilbert at pgilbert@vending.org.


Pennsylvania: Businesses may retain 95 percent of new employee's withholding for jobs creation
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Gov. Tom Corbett signed HB 2626, which creates a program that allows businesses to retain 95 percent of their withholding taxes for individuals employed in new jobs created by the company. To qualify, companies must create at least 250 new jobs within a five-year period and 100 within the first two years. For more information, please contact Pam Gilbert at pgilbert@vending.org.

The National Automatic Merchandising Association www.vending.org

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