AUSTIN, TX -- The Texas Merchandise Vending Association reports that its January board of directors meeting and Day at the Capitol here were very effective in strengthening legislators' perception of vending and its unique challenges. TMVA legislative counsel Patricia Shipton declared the events "a total success."
TMVA president Patrick Moran, Moran Munchies (Whitehouse, TX), explained that, with Texas endeavoring to draft a budget to deal with deficits predicted for the next two years, the association decided to hold its first meeting of the new year in the state capital, on January 24. The following day was devoted to government relations, with TMVA directors and others (28 in all) conducting a variety of outreach activities. These included hosting a breakfast for more than 100 representatives and staff members, as well as scheduling office appointments to visit senators and representatives.
With the active support of TMVA's broker, distributor and manufacturer members, the association assembled boxes of snacks (including the National Automatic Merchandising Association's "Fit Pick" stickers) for each senator and representative. Each box was accompanied by a letter expressing the industry's concerns regarding tax and nutrition-labeling legislation. The boxes were personally delivered to the offices of all 31 senators and 150 representatives on this day, Moran reported; "it was a tremendous effort by all who were there."
March 11, the 60th day of the legislative session, was the effective deadline for filing bills in both houses of the legislature; measures filed after that can only be introduced with the approval of 4/5 of the members. As of that date, the House of Representatives had filed some 3,800 bills and joint resolutions and the Senate, more than 1,800.
Moran explained that the association's legislative counsels have read every one of these measures and flagged those with the potential for affecting the vending industry. Shipton has conducted a conference call to discuss these with TMVA's officers and Sandy Larson, NAMA's senior director and counsel for government affairs.
Of especial concern are House Bills 2209, 2213 and 2214, which relate to a tax on sweetened beverages; HB 2214 also would impose a deposit on bottles. TMVA and other trade associations are following, and opposing, these proposals. Moran said that tax and fee legislation is likely to be considered during a special session. The association's board will be vigilant, and will ask members to contact their elected officials if a harmful measure appears to be making its way towards a vote.
The TMVA president emphasized that, in these difficult times, the price of effective defense is high. He urged all members to pay their dues promptly, and encouraged nonmembers to join up and contribute toward their own future success. "Be assured the TMVA board members are willingly working hard on your behalf, giving of their time at their own expense," he said.
"If you are on Facebook, go to the Texas Merchandise Vending Association page and 'like' us," Moran invited. "This is a new line of communication for our membership led by Mike Casey. This will be a great tool for us as we move forward."
The Texas Merchandise Vending Association is headquartered at 7406 Troulon Dr., Houston, TX 77074; Patricia L. Hord serves as executive secretary. The association is online at tmva.org.