NAMA Provides Update On Advocacy Efforts

Posted On: 4/11/2018

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CHICAGO -- The National Automatic Merchandising Association's flurry of advocacy peaked in March as most state legislatures have gone into session; impressively the convenience services industry has already amassed several wins across the country. Multiple state councils held Convenience Services Days to meet with legislators, discussing issues ranging from micromarkets to taxation, and strengthening the industry’s advocacy position. NAMA’s government affairs division has been managing issues impacting various parts of the industry at all levels of government - federal, state and local. Below is a wrap-up of the hot-button issues facing the industry.

NAMA TAKES THE HILL: 2018 FLY-IN

Registration for the 4th annual NAMA Fly-In has surpassed 115 attendees. Be a part of the movement and make your voice count! Attend the NAMA Fly-In, July 24 - 25 in Washington DC, and advocate on issues important to the industry. Participants will be directly educating their Members of Congress on the industry and its economic impact as well as seeking their support for legislation that not only protects the industry, but helps it succeed. This event is going to provide a unique opportunity to formally announce the latest economic impact data on the industry by Congressional District and State.

To register click here.


STATE ISSUES

Arizona

The Arizona State Council (AAMC) held their Convenience Services Day at the State Capitol on Wednesday, March 28. The group prepared bags to be delivered to all of the legislators and included data on the industries impact in the state of Arizona. The group was addressed by Representative Heather Carter, Chair of the House Health Committee. She discussed the bill recently signed by the Governor of Arizona which requires any local food taxes to be imposed on ALL foods and at the same rate instead of singling out one product for excessive taxation. AAMC set up vending machines in both houses and provided snacks to representatives and their staff. Members of the group meet individually with their representatives and AAMC was recognized on the floor of both the House and the Senate.

California

The California State Council (CAVC) and NAMA have been working with CARB (California Air Resources Board) for several months on their on proposed restrictions on refrigerants used in vending machines in the state. NAMA and CAVC filed comments in March encouraging a delay for vending machines highlighting the steps that are being taken to reach a solution to the challenges with a refrigerant transition. The bill that would require tethered caps on all beverage containers was reintroduced and CAVC will continue to lobby against this measure.

Connecticut

The Connecticut state council submitted comments to the state legislature to request the continuation of the ban on rest-stop commercialization per the Randolph-Sheppard Act. The comments were in response to a recently introduced resolution that would allow for rest stops to be commercialized with expanded businesses which could negatively impact the vending operations at rest stop locations.

District of Columbia

On March 5, 2018, the DC Council held a hearing on the “Healthy Parks Amendment Act of 2018.” This legislation will update the nutritional standards for food and beverages provided, offered, or sold at parks and recreational facilities under the District’s jurisdiction. The MD/DC state council is working with coalition partners in the beverage industry to monitor the potential impacts of the bill.

Indiana

On March 15, Indiana’s Governor signed SB 124 - a law that will eliminate some of the sales taxes on food sold in vending machines. The legislation was prompted by the Indiana Refreshment Providers Association (IRPA) and it’s passage is a great win for operators in Indiana. To read the new law please click here.

Kansas

The Mid America council (MAMA) held their Kansas Convenience Services Day on Wednesday, March 7. The group met with the governor for a picture and then had meetings with the leadership of the House and Senate and the Minority leader. The group was updated on issues at the state level and discussed issues related to the convenience services industry including the work they were doing with the Department of Agriculture on the creation of micro market guidelines for the State of Kansas.

Louisiana

NAMA has worked with an operator, who manages convenience services locations in the capitol buildings in Baton Rouge. The partnership pro-actively increased the number of FitPick offerings in several vending machines. To build awareness of the FitPick program and to allow customers to preview products a “Taste of FitPick” event will be held on April 6th. The event, and the addition of exciting new FitPick products, was aimed at providing elected officials and government employees in Louisiana a better understanding of the variety of healthy offerings in the vending channel. The Governor of Louisiana has proposed requiring that all vending machines on state-owned property transition to only foods that meet American Heart Association guidelines. NAMA hopes this event, as well as the dialogue between industry and the government of Louisiana, will lead to a reasonable and flexible solution to the Governor’s proposal.

Maryland

Micro market legislation supported by MD/DC Association and funded in part by NAMA cleared all required legislative hurdles and is on its way to becoming law. The law, creates a statewide definition and licensing system for micro markets, is a necessary first step in streamlining micro market legislation and fees across the state. Members of MD/DC have already met with Montgomery County officials and plan to meet with several other county officials utilizing the State legislation as a change-agent at the local level. The passage of this legislation in only one session of the General Assembly is an impressive fete in a state with the political makeup of Maryland that traditionally more heavily regulates the business community.

Michigan

Micro market legislation has become law in the state of Michigan. On Tuesday, March 27, 2018, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed the bill passed by the state’s legislature containing micro market clarification language that was proposed by the Michigan Distributors and Vendors Association (MDVA), a NAMA State Council.

Minnesota

The Minnesota council (MAMC) held their Convenience Services Day on Wednesday, March 14. The group meet with the Chair of the Senate Tax Committee to thank him for his assistance in getting the tax parity bill passed last year. The group also meet with the bill sponsor of SF 3253 which will limit local governments from imposing new sales taxes on food items. Members of MAMC will continue to support the passage of this legislation that would prevent local governments from passing sugar sweetened beverage taxes or other food related taxes.  Missouri The Mid America state council (MAMA) held their Missouri Convenience Services Day on Tuesday, March 6. Meetings were held with the sponsors of the Senate and House tax bills which adopt the Streamlined Sales Tax. MAMA members stressed the importance of language that had been included in the bills to protect the favorable tax treatment that operators have under existing law. The group also meet with the Lt. Governor, the President Pro Tem of the Senate and the Speaker Pro Tem of the House.

Missouri

The Mid America state council (MAMA) held their MIssouri Convenience Services Day on Tuesday, Mar. 6. Meetings were held with the sponsors of the Senate and House tax bills which adopt the Streamlined Sales Tax. MAMA members stressed the importance of language that had been included in the bills to protect the favorable tax treatment that operators have under existing law. The group also meet with the Lt. Governor, the President Pro Tem of the Senate and the Speaker Pro Tem of the House.

New York

The New York State council (NYSAVA) is supporting efforts to increase the sales tax exemption on vending products sold to $2.00. The exemption was last increased four years ago (from 75 cents to $1.50). The $2 sales tax exemption was removed from the Governor’s budget; NYSAVA is looking at other avenues to move it forward. NYSAVA was successful in preventing the Governor from commercializing vending on highways in the state of NY.

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania state council is continuing its efforts to address the need for micromarkets to be defined at the state level via either legislative or regulatory measures; it is expected that the Council will begin highlighting the topic of micromarkets during discussions with legislators during their upcoming Convenience Services Day at the Capitol in Harrisburg on May 1, 2018.

Tennessee

The Tennessee state council will begin monitoring a measure passed by the House Finance Subcommittee that formalized a study to determine the benefits and costs for establishing a reserve fund created by a sugar tax to address food deserts in rural and urban areas across the state.

Virginia

Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association (VAMA) working with NAMA, introduced legislation to define micromarkets. The State believed it would incur significant costs to implement the regulation, prompting inaction by the legislature on the measure. VAMA is currently working with the State on an “advisory opinion” that would align taxation of micromarkets with similar businesses.


INDUSTRY ECONOMIC IMPACT DATA

In line with its mission to provide industry research that support’s NAMA’s advocacy efforts, the Foundation partnered with John Dunham and Associates to conduct a comprehensive economic impact and proprietary modeling study of the Convenience Services industry. When complete, the study will present geographically mapped data, analytical tools, and custom designed materials that document and illustrate the scope and economic impact of the Convenience Services industry on the U.S. economy. Specifically, the data will provide reliable numbers on jobs, direct and secondary economic impact, and locations of NAMA member and industry companies. This landmark research has several benefits including:

• It provides the Association with compelling data in proactively managing important legislative and regulatory issues, particularly at the Federal level.

• Further, it assists NAMA staff, state councils and individual members in educating public officials on the industry’s impact in every area of the country—albeit national, state, county or by congressional district.

• And it equips and empowers the industry as a whole in pursuing all forms of advocacy that promote and protect the growth of conveniences services.

The finalized study will be debuted at the 2018 NAMA Fly-In, July 24-25, in Washington, DC. Subsequently, it will be available on NAMA’s website and allow members to create downloadable infographics, customized for their individual advocacy needs, or for Convenience Services Lobby Days at state capitols across the country.


FEDERAL ISSUES

Vending Machine Refrigerant Transition

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules ban the use of R134a as a refrigerant in newly manufactured vending machines by January 1, 2019. In 2017, NAMA proactively requested the Trump Administration delay this mandate until 2022. The approach to resolve this impending dilemma is three-pronged: continue pursuing an extension from the EPA; petition Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and standards organizations to provide solutions to restrictions on placement of machines; and oppose the State of California’s proposed standards. Equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) and their customers met during the NAMA Show and have agreed to fund research to aid in changes to various building codes. Due to the importance of this issue, NAMA also secured a professional consultant who specializes in working with standards organizations who is directing our work with these standards organizations. A delay of the transition date will provide flexibility for OEM’s while ensure that operators can place machines without restriction on placement.

Calorie Disclosure

NAMA continues to advocate to create flexibilities and certainty for operators and supplier companies (CPG) to disclose calories at the point of purchase for food and beverages sold from vending machines. In December, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had drafted a regulation to provide certainty on the font size and other unresolved issues related to front-of-pack labeling for gum, mints and rolled candies, as well as the final compliance date. Recently, NAMA met with the Trump Administration to urge quick resolution and support for final action on Calorie Disclosure, including an extension that aligns with the Nutrition Facts Panel update. It is expected that the final regulation will be finalized by the end of March 2018, culminating in more than six years of leading the advocacy work on this impactful regulation.

During the recent NAMA Show in Las Vegas, NAMA’s government affairs team showcased a banner for industry leaders to sign to “send a message” to the FDA and the Trump Administration on this issue. The banner was signed by hundreds of show attendees and is being delivered to the Administration to push for a quick resolution on this issue with the flexibilities that the industry requested.

Rest Stop Privatization

President Trump’s draft Infrastructure Plan and his State of the Union address both included language for commercialization of rest areas on interstate highways. Legislation has also been introduced in Congress to make this change. NAMA has been working with blind vending operators and a coalition of industries to rebuff these efforts; a meeting was held with leadership at the Department of Transportation as well as a letter being sent to the Secretary of Transportation outlining how privatization would be detrimental to vending operators across the country who rely on Interstate traffic at these locations. NAMA recently met with top leadership at DOT and will continue to engage with the Administration and Members of Congress on this issue.


PROACTIVE ADVOCACY – Micromarkets

Due to the rapid growth of micromarkets, NAMA’s strategic partner program is providing the resources for increased proactive efforts at states across the country to define and protect them. The government affairs division continues to hear examples of confusion around permit fee structures, ill-informed health department inspectors and market closures do to alleged violations of local codes. To address this, NAMA has developed a “model bill” that defines a micro market, based on the positive work that NAMA completed with the Conference for Food Protection in the creation of its unattended retail guidance document. Once a definition has been created, permitting, fees, and inspections can be clarified. Several NAMA State Council’s have already succeeded in passing the model bill this year. Contact NAMA’s government affairs division if your state council is interested in pursuing defining micromarkets in your state.


CONVENIENCE SERVICES DAYS AT STATE CAPITOLS

Grassroots efforts continue to expand at state capitols across the country with additional state councils visiting legislators and state-wide officials at their capitols. Due to the increased efforts by advocacy organizations at the state level, NAMA encourages members and state councils to not only remain involved in state advocacy efforts, but increase them. Below is a list of upcoming convenience services days.


2018 CONVENIENCE SERVICES DAYS


April 2nd  — TAMA (Tennessee) — Nashville, TN
April 24th — IAMC (Illinois) — Springfield, IL
May 1st — Tri-State (PA) — Harrisburg, PA
May 8th -9th — CAVC (CA) — Sacramento, CA
May 16th — MDVA (Michigan) — Lansing, MI