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Issue Date: Vol. 49, No.3, March 2009, Posted On: 3/6/2009


VENDING NEWS: New Lobbyists Take On NY Obesity Tax, Bottle Bill; MI Vendors Face Tax; Peanut Publicity; Betson Trade Show; Arkansas Council Meet.

Vending, Vending Machine, Coin-Op, Coin-Operated, Food Tax, Obesity, Betson, Arkansas
NY Vending Association Hires New Lobbyists To Tackle Proposed Obesity Tax, Bottle Bill

ALBANY, NY -- The New York State Automatic Vending Association has appointed a new lobbying firm as the state budget vote draws near with two taxes on the table that threaten the livelihood of vending operators. Aiming to close a $12.5 billion deficit, Gov. David Paterson's 2009 budget proposal includes an "obesity tax" on sugary drinks and an extension of the state's 5¢-per-container bottle bill tax to include noncarbonated beverages.

The state vending association estimates that the obesity tax -- which would impose an additional 18% charge on nondiet sodas and fruit drinks containing less than 70% natural fruit juice -- coupled with passage of the Bigger Better Bottle Bill would cost operators approximately $37,551 for every $1 million in sales. The association's goal is to put before the governor a bill seeking to raise the vending tax exemption to $1.50.

The Wladis Law Firm PC, with offices in Albany and Syracuse, has replaced lobbyist Peter O'Connell, who served the association for 20 years. Representing NYSAVA are Ryan Moses, who served in Gov. George Pataki's administration for 10 years as special assistant and as governor's director of legislative affairs; and Joe Rossi, who joined the law firm from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's staff as assistant director of intergovernmental affairs.

"Our committee felt the enthusiasm shown by these gentlemen is exactly what our association needs moving forward to represent us," said NYSAVA president Mike Esposito of Prestige Services (Clifton Park, NY) in a letter to association members. "The feeling is that we might have a chance at negotiating with the state in favor of a tax exemption if we explain the impact the proposed obesity tax and BBBB measures would have on all of us. The feeling is that the obesity tax will be defeated, but the BBBB will pass, although there are no guarantees. Time is running out and if we want to get this bill on the agenda, we need to act immediately, before they pass the budget."

Esposito is urging New York vending operators to lend their support. He can be reached by calling (518) 877- 7426, ext. 31, or emailing mesposito@prestigeservicesinc.com.


Michigan Senate Considers Tax On Vended Food, Drinks

LANSING, MI -- The National Automatic Merchandising Association is advising all industry members in Michigan to contact their elected officials to oppose a measure introduced in the state legislature that would impose sales tax on all food and drinks sold through vending machines -- while allowing such sales to be exempt from tax when made by convenience stores and other retail locations.

Introduced by Sen. Michael Switalski (D-10th District), S.228 is now pending before the Michigan Senate Finance Committee. NAMA urges opposition for several good reasons: First, a tax imposed on the sale of products through vending machines but not through other retail outlets gives those other outlets an unfair competitive advantage.

Second, vending machines predominantly are located in factories, offices, hospitals and schools. Imposing a tax on food products sold by these machines hurts the workers, students, staff and patients in these locations. These patrons often don't have the opportunity to purchase food and beverages elsewhere.

Third, the vending industry operates on a very thin average profit margin; a typical NAMA member makes less than 2% profit before taxes, according to the association's 2008 Operating Ratio Report. Operators also cannot separately collect sales tax from their customers because vending machines do not accept pennies, nor dispense them as change. A selective tax of the kind proposed by Sen. Switalski puts additional pressure on the industry's bottom line that, during a recession, can drive companies out of business. That, in turn, would create a "ripple effect" as jobs were lost and, as a result, tax revenues would decline in other areas.

The legislation is being opposed vigorously by the Michigan Distributors & Vendors Association, and NAMA recommends everyone to get behind this opposition. Information on MDVA may be had from its president, Polly Reber, by calling her at (517) 372- 2323 or faxing to (517) 372-4404. The state association maintains a website at mdva.org. Operators can identify their elected officials, and email them, by visiting the state's website, legislature.mi.gov.


Peanut Farmers Stage NYC Publicity Event To Restore Consumer Confidence

NEW YORK CITY -- Members of the National Peanut Board set up shop in New York City's Grand Central Terminal yesterday and today to kick off a national effort to rebuild consumer confidence in products made with the crops they grow.

More than 2,000 products made with ingredients manufactured by Peanut Corp. of America have been recalled since early January. Despite confirmation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of the vast array of peanut butter and peanut products that were not affected, many consumers, scared by the salmonella outbreak, have stopped purchasing peanut products all together.

Manufacturers of some of the many products unaffected by the recall -- including Mars Snackfood US, the new peanut MoonPie, Planters and Snyder's of Hanover -- are joining the farmers in Grand Central Terminal, where they will hand out samples of their products and answer consumers' questions to allay their concerns about peanut products. An interactive educational exhibit in Grand Central's Vanderbilt Hall during the two-day event features a field of peanut plants, nutrition and culinary information, cooking demonstrations and appearances by noted chefs and athletes.

"Farmers take extraordinary measures to grow a safe and sustainable crop," explained Raffaela Marie Fenn, president and managing director of NPB, "We want people to feel confident they can enjoy peanut products." The National Peanut Board encourages consumers to visit nationalpeanutboard.org for more information.


Betson Sets Upstate NY Expo For April 17-18, Adds Educational Events

SYRACUSE, NY-- Betson Enterprises plans to host its 10th annual equipment and product showing for operators in upstate New York and adjacent regions. It's set for April 17 and 18 at the Turning Stone Casino and Resort in Verona, NY.

Betson's Syracuse, NY, office reports that more than 50 manufacturers and suppliers will showcase their wares at the event. It's expected to attract more than 400 industry members, and is being publicized to operators in New England, Pennsylvania and New Jersey as well as New York.

Friday, April 17, will be devoted to industry education. The New York State Automatic Vending Association will hold a member luncheon at 11 a.m., and an expanded series of seminars will be offered from noon to 5 p.m. Among the topics are installing and operating automated teller machines, "percentaging" instant- prize equipment, ticket-to-prize games and financial strategies to keep a business growing during challenging times.

A highlight will be a presentation on Lavazza's office coffee service equipment and products, which now are available through Betson. A reception, scheduled for 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., will climax the first day.

The exhibit will open at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 18, and will close at 4 p.m. It will offer operators the opportunity to examine new equipment and products introduced at the Amusement Showcase International (March 11-13), among many other attractions.

Information on the show may be had by calling the Betson Syracuse office at (800) 541-1142, or contacting any local Betson office. Details and online registration are available at zgreenwald.org/expo2009. Betson, headquartered in Carlstadt, NJ, is a nationwide distributor with more than 70 years' experience.


Arkansas Council Finalizes Plans For Annual Meeting In Early April

HOT SPRINGS, AR -- The Arkansas Vending Council will hold its annual membership meeting and convention on April 2 and 3 at the Clarion Resort on the Lake in Hot Springs, AR. AVC's annual supplier showcase will offer area operators a first look at new products rolling out to the industry this spring.

Topping the educational agenda is an AVC legislative report, presented by lobbyists Bruce Hawkins and Camie Boggess who will give an overview of the state's 2009 legislative session and political climate. Danielle Del Carlo, southern director and counsel of the National Automatic Merchandising Association, will provide an update on national legislative trends, coin and currency issues, and NAMA programs and services. An open forum will follow, allowing members to exchange views and suggest strategies for dealing with the challenges facing the Arkansas vending industry.

Association members can partake in an afternoon of thoroughbred racing and gaming with industry peers at Oaklawn Racing and Gaming and have ample opportunity to take in the unique beauty and legendary luxury of Hot Springs and its many attractions. The reservation deadline is March 20 for a room rate of $92 plus tax, by calling the Clarion at (800) 432-5145.

The convention registration fee is $75 a person, including spouses and guests. There is a separate $20 fee for the Oaklawn Racing and Gaming outing. Contact the NAMA Southern Office at (678) 560-8705 for additional details.


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