Government Affairs

FMI State Affairs Updates

  • Alabama Data Breach Notification Bill

    May 29, 2015
    Alabama’s S.B. 106, introduced by Sen. Arthur Orr (R), creates the “Alabama Information Protection Act of 2015.” It calls for the protection of personal information and notice to individuals when a breach has occurred. Ellie Taylor, president of the Alabama Grocers Association, said “S.B.106 is fair data breach legislation that will give protection to consumers while not overburdening businesses.”

    The bill requires governmental entities and third-party agents to notify the Attorney General and the individual owners of personal information upon a data security breach. S.B. 106 has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 7-0 on April 9 with a proposed substitute. The offered substitute removes the portions of the original language that prohibits a person from retaining data from a credit, debit or other financial card for a specified period of time and requires persons in violation to reimburse financial institutions for costs upon a breach of security. The substitute must be adopted by the full chamber in order for the measure to be amended. This measure was held over for further consideration.
  • NY Gov Creates Wage Board – Other States Can Too

    May 26, 2015
    Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has instructed State Labor Commissioner Mario J. Musolino to create a Wage Board to investigate and make recommendations on an increase in the state minimum wage in the fast food industry. Under New York Labor Law, Sections 653654 and 655, a Wage Board can suggest changes to the minimum wage in a specific industry or job classification if it finds that wages are insufficient to provide for the life and health of workers within that industry or classification.

    At the conclusion of a three month period, the Labor Commissioner will have the authority to accept, reject or alter the board's recommendations. Read Governor Cuomo’s press release here. Read Governor Cuomo’s full op-ed announcing his instructions to Acting Labor Commissioner Musolino, click here. According to the National Employment Law Project, Governors in several other states including California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wisconsin have similar authority to raise the minimum wage on their own without need for action by the legislature, and have done so in the past.
     
  • Local Plastic Bag Ordinances Challenged in Texas

    May 15, 2015
    Last September, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued his advisory opinion questioning the legality of local plastic bag restrictions under the Texas Health and Safety Code. As expected at the time, the non-binding opinion has provided fodder for several recent challenges to local bag ordinances in the state.

    Section 361.0961 of the “Solid Waste Disposal Act” prohibits local governments from adopting ordinances that:
    • "(1) prohibit or restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law ... or (3) assess a fee or deposit on the sale or use of a container or package."
    Abbot concluded that that a municipal ordinance banning or restricting plastic bags “for solid waste management purposes” likely would violate the above provisions. Furthermore, he found that “the plain language” of the subsection likely prohibits a political subdivision from “assessing a fee on the sale or use of a replacement bag” as well.

    Latching on to the Attorney General’s interpretation of the statute, four bag manufacturers are challenging the Dallas plastic bag ordinance that went into effect on January 1. In addition to mandating a five-cent charge for single-use carryout bags, the ordinance imposes a number of additional requirements on retailers, including that bags have a thickness of at least 0.70 mil and be printed with the name of the business establishment and the thickness of the bag in mil.

    In their petition, filed May 1, the challengers point to Abbot’s opinion for support, noting the “Texas Attorney General agrees with Plaintiffs.” The petitioners additionally maintain that the ordinance’s five-cent fee is an unlawful tax. Under Texas law, municipalities are authorized to impose taxes only in specified circumstances – to reduce bag usage is not one of them, according to the Plaintiffs. “Despite being labeled a fee,” the bag charge “is in fact an impermissible tax,” the challengers state.

    For their part, Dallas city attorneys claim the Health and Safety Code does not preclude the city’s ordinance because its purpose is environmental protection, rather than waste management. In his opinion, AG Abbot did concede that ordinances enacted for other purposes than waste management would not be prohibited by the statute. Ultimately, it will be up to the court to decide what the purpose of the ordinance is.

    In March, the Laredo Merchants Association challenged Laredo’s plastic bag ban on similar grounds as the Dallas lawsuit. There are at least 10 local plastic bag ordinances in the state of Texas. FMI’s Shopping Bag Issue Paper is available to assist retailers at both the state and local level. 
  • Bills Require Sound Science, Look to FDA, for GMO Labeling Guidance

    May 07, 2015
    The last several years have produced a plethora of bills in the states requiring the labeling of genetically modified food (GMO). This year, however, bills in nine states have taken a different approach to GMO labeling.

    In Hawaii, S.B. 986 reinforces the “Right to Farm” law in the state, dictating that counties cannot enact laws, ordinances or resolutions to limit the rights of farmers and ranchers to engage in agricultural practices. This measure was introduced after counties either banned or restricted the use of pesticides and GMO’s because residents feared they were being exposed to chemicals that compromised their health.

    Kauai County enacted a law requiring companies to disclose the use of pesticides and cultivation of genetically modified crops, but a federal court judge ruled the law invalid in August 2014, saying state laws pre-empt the county laws. Two separate appeals have been filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

    Bills in IdahoIllinois and North Dakota recognize FDA as the primary authority in uniform food labeling related to genetic engineering. Idaho’s H.J.M. 6 goes further to say that “existing FDA labeling rules and guidance, well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program, provide sufficient standards to address consumer interest in food production practices through the use of voluntary labeling.” North Dakota’s bill urges Congress to establish food labeling standards, direct the clarification of voluntary food labeling standards and provide for a review of foods derived through the use of biotechnology.

    Several states (IndianaMississippiMissouri and Texas) have introduced bills that “support the use of sound science to study and regulate such modern agricultural technologies as crop protection chemistries, genetically engineered or enhanced traits and oppose legislative or regulatory action at any level that may result in unnecessary restrictions on the use of modern agricultural technologies.” The Mississippi bill has just passed the House.

    In big sky country, Montana’s H.J. 33 requests the Legislative Council to designate an appropriate interim committee to examine the potential market effects of genetically engineered wheat within the state and the benefits or repercussions of GMO labeling.
  • Arizona Bans Local Bag Bans

    May 04, 2015
    With Governor Doug Doucey’s signature on S.B. 1241, Arizona has become the first state to prohibit localities from regulating plastic bags – without an accompanying statewide ban, as in California. Gov. Doucey signed the legislation on April 13, following its passage of the state Senate on April 2 (19-11). The measure had passed the House on March 31 (37-23).

    S.B. 1241 prohibits a city, town or county from “regulating the sale, use or disposition of auxiliary containers by a Business.” This prohibition includes the imposition of any “tax, fee, assessment, charge or return deposit” on auxiliary containers.

    Because of the breadth of what the law considers an “auxiliary container,” the law apparently goes much further than merely preventing localities from banning or charging a fee for plastic bags. The local preemption here seems to cover polystyrene bans, as well as any sort of local bottle ordinance. Specifically, “auxiliary container” includes: “reusable bags, disposable bags, boxes, beverage cans, bottles, cups and containers that are made out of cloth, plastic, extruded polystyrene, glass, aluminum, cardboard or other similar materials and that are used for transporting merchandise or food to or from a business or multifamily housing property. “ 

    The new law goes into effect on July 3, 2015. FMI previously reported on Arizona’s S.B. 1241 in the April 3 edition of the State Issues Report. For more information on the law, contact Tim McCabe, President of the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance. FMI’s Shopping Bag Issue Paper is also available. 
  • Governor Brown Issues Executives Order on Mandatory Water Reductions

    Apr 07, 2015
    Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) issued an executive order last Wednesday, putting in place tough new restrictions on water use, in the midst of an ongoing two year, and increasingly worsening, drought. In January 2014, Gov. Brown proclaimed a state of emergency due to severe drought conditions, and reaffirmed it in April 2014. In November 2014, Californians approved Proposition 1, the Water Bond (AB 1471), which enacted the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, that provides some  $272 million into safe drinking water efforts and maintenance of water recycling infrastructures.

    The executive order came on the heels of the least snow pack ever, in the Sierra Nevadas. It outlines four areas where the state’s residents will work together to improve water conditions: 
    • save water; for example, directing the creation of a temporary, statewide consumer rebate program to replace old appliances with more water and energy efficient models, as statewide usage must decrease by 25%; 
    • increase enforcement; agricultural water users will be required to report more water use information to state regulators, increasing the state's ability to enforce against illegal diversions and waste and unreasonable use of water; 
    • streamline government response; that is, prioritizes state review and decision-making of water infrastructure projects and requires state agencies to report to the Governor's Office on any application pending for more than 90 days; and,  
    • invest in new technologies, by providing incentives to make the state more efficient through a new program administered by the California Energy Commission.
    Read more about these four focus areas here. The state has put together a toolkit to help businesses conserve water. See it here.  In August 2014, California Agricultural Secretary Karen Ross keynoted the FMI State Issues Retreat in La Jolla, California, and spoke at length about the state’s ongoing drought and what the state was doing. She said that 11 trillion gallons of water are needed for California to recover from the drought emergency.
  • FMI Weekly Local Monitoring Report

    Apr 03, 2015
    This week's FMI Local Monitoring Report has results in the following states: Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada and New York; in these issue areas: ecigarettes, plastic bags, polystyrene and wage and labor. Of particular note is the sunsetting of the City of Phoenix’s emergency food tax that was implemented in 2010. Here is the April 1, 2015 statement of Daniel Valenzuela, Vice Mayor of the City of Phoenix: 

    "The city’s emergency food tax has completed its five-year-mission for the residents of Phoenix. This food tax was implemented in 2010 as a temporary measure to help overcome a $277 million budget shortfall during the worst recession in our nation’s history. While I was not a member of the city council at the time, as a resident I was concerned with the prospect of hundreds of layoffs of police officers, firefighters and other public safety employees, the shuttering of city facilities and programs, such as libraries and senior centers, and cuts to critical services, including after-school programs. After taking office in 2012, it became even more clear why it was implemented – to save important city services and keep whole our police and fire departments – and, as important, the reason it is time to end it. The food tax was a strategic solution that generated $133 million for our general fund, $40 million for public safety, $40 million for transit and $13 million for our parks.  We are again one of the only Valley cities without a tax on food.  This marks the end of the food tax and the keeping of a promise to the residents of Phoenix.  We owe this to those we are honored to serve."

    Local Monitoring Report Archive

     
  • States Attempt to Preempt Local Plastic Bag Legislation

    Apr 02, 2015

    The plastic bag wars continue to rage in 2015. As of March 31, there are over 50 plastic bag bills pending in 15 states. Click here to see a map of pending state-level shopping bag restrictions.

    As we know by now, though, state-level activity barely scratches the surface when it comes to plastic bags. Nearly 200 localities have enacted shopping bag regulations of some type – whether a ban, tax, or some combination thereof. FMI’s weekly Local Monitoring Report tracks local plastic bag legislation; click here to see a chart of proposed local measures.

     

    However, four states are trying a somewhat novel tactic to get a handle on this proliferation of local ordinances. Legislation in Arizona, Georgia, Missouri and Texas would preempt local regulation of plastic bags, but without an accompanying statewide ban or fee – as in California.

    Missouri’s H.B. 722, “The Paper and Plastic Bags Choice Act,” requires that merchants doing business in the state have the option to “provide customers either a paper or a plastic bag for the packaging of any item or good purchased.” The bill then specifies that “no political subdivision shall impose any ban, fee, or tax upon the use of either paper or plastic bags.” Sponsored by the Missouri Grocers Association’s own Dan Shaul, H.B. 722 passed the Missouri House on March 19 (114-38) and now awaits action in the State Senate where it has received its first reading.

     

    "I feel that when this becomes law in Missouri, it will ensure that consumers and retailers maintain their choice of ‘paper or plastic’ for years to come," said Representative Shaul.

    Meanwhile, Arizona’s S.B. 1241 just passed the State House on March 31 (37-23). The bill prohibits a city, town or county from “regulating the sale, use or disposition of auxiliary containers by a business.” Although S.B. 1241 had sailed through the State Senate in February (25-4), the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance (AFMA) reports that it must now go back to the Senate for procedural reasons. Still, AFMA is optimistic that the bill will keep moving forward.

     

    “This is a big step toward preemption of both benchmarking energy usage and regulation of containers like plastic bags,” said AFMA President Tim McCabe. “These need to be done at a state level to insure consistency and less confusion for consumers and tourists.”

    Moving on to Texas, the companion bills S.B. 1550 and H.B. 1939 currently sit in the House Urban Affairs and Senate Business & Commerce Committees respectively. These bill declare that any “ordinance or regulation adopted by a municipality purporting to restrict or prohibit a business from, require a business to charge a customer for, or tax or impose penalties on a business for providing to a customer at the point of sale a bag or other container made from any material is invalid and has no effect.” Sources tell FMI that these bills are unlikely to pass during this session.

    Finally, Georgia’s S.B. 139 provides that “any regulation regarding the use, disposition, or sale or any imposition of any prohibition, restriction, fee imposition, or taxation of auxiliary containers shall be done only by general law.” However, after passing the Georgia Senate in late February, S.B. 139 failed to pass the House 67-85. According to Georgia Food Industry Association President Kathy Kuzava, “This was a disappointing loss for our retailers. Unfortunately, we could not overcome the grassroots efforts of the conservation groups and the Republicans who opposed the bill due to their support of local control.”

    As evidenced by the mixed prospects of this type of legislation in just the four states mentioned above, local preemption on plastic bags can be a tough legislative fight. The issue can force lawmakers to balance their pro-business instincts with their desire for local self-determination. And in this balancing act, what makes sense for business may not always come out on top.

     

    FMI’s issue paper on Shopping Bag restrictions may be viewed here

  • Microbead Legislation

    Mar 19, 2015

    Microbeads are small bits of plastic made of polyethylene microspherescan and can be found in some toothpaste and are used as exfoliants in personal care and skin products. There is environmental and health concern at both the state and federal level on microbeads, which are not biodegradable, as they can make their way through water treatment systems, after they are washed down drains, and possibly appear in local waterways.

     

    Many manufacturers are currently working to remove microbeads from their products. For example, Unilever, The Body Shop, and Johnson & Johnson have committed to phasing out microbeads by the end of 2015, and Proctor & Gamble and L'Oréal said they will discontinue them by 2017.

     

    In 2014, Rep. Pallone (D-NJ) introduced federal legislation to ban microbeads but it failed to gain traction. Rep. Pallone, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and others sent a letter to the FDA asking them to assess the safety of microbeads, opting for a regulatory fix instead. Read the letter here.

     

    Last week, Rep. Pallone reintroduced the legislation, “The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015,” which would prohibit the sale or distribution of personal-care products that contain synthetic plastic microbeads.

     

    On the state front, legislation passed last year in Illinois. The bill bans the manufacture of personal care products containing plastic synthetic microbeads by the end of 2017, the sale of such personal care products and the manufacture of over-the-counter drugs containing the beads by the end of 2018, and the sale of over-the-counter drugs with microbeads by the end of 2019. Read it here. The Illinois bill was voted into the Council of State Government’s 2014 Suggested State Legislation.

     

    A number of other states, for example, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming, are considering similar bans. New Jersey is likely the next state to enact legislation. Read the bill here.  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has called for state legislation in New York.

     

    As legislation is introduced at the state and federal level, attention should be given to any required phase-out date, to ensure that a reasonable time of compliance is given for the sale and manufacture of personal-care products and over-the-counter products.

  • Wisconsin Enacts 'Right to Work' Legislation

    Mar 16, 2015

    Wisconsin officially joined the ranks of the “right to work” states last Monday, March 9, when Governor Scott Walker signed S.B. 44 into law. The Act prohibits any requirement that employees join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. S.B. 44 passed the state Senate in a narrow 17-15 vote in late February, and won approval from the Wisconsin Assembly along a straight party line (62-35) vote on March 6.  With Governor Walker’s signature, the law will be effective starting March 11.

     

    “This legislation puts power back in the hands of Wisconsin workers, by allowing the freedom to choose whether they want to join a union and pay union dues,” Governor Walker said in a press release.

     

    The National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) originally permitted collective bargaining agreements to provide for the termination of any employee who failed to join or at least pay dues to a union. But later amendments to the Act gave states the ability to enact laws eliminating these so-called “union security clauses.”

     

    Such laws, like Wisconsin’s, give workers the “right to work” without becoming a union member or paying dues. Notably, Wisconsin’s new law only applies to the “renewal, modification, or extension” of a collective bargaining agreement occurring after the law’s effective date. Thus, it does not nullify union security clauses currently in effect or otherwise make them illegal. 

     

    Once largely confined to the South, “right to work” laws have now passed in 25 states across the country. New Mexico may be the next to follow suite, with Rep. Dennis Roch’s (R) “Employee Preference Act” (H.B. 75) gaining steam. The bill has already passed the New Mexico House, 37-30, and now awaits action in the Senate Public Affairs Committee. 

     

  • FMI Monitors SNAP Legislation in the states

    Feb 03, 2015
    FMI is tracking a number of bills relating to the SNAP program. FMI has created a chart of all Government Assistance Bills we are following.

    SNAP Food Choice

    Contained in the FMI chart are a number of bills that would restrict what SNAP recipients can purchase. While legislation in Indiana has recently died, there are several bills still pending. Missouri’s HB 442 and Texas’ HB 493, exclude “energy drinks.” Mississippi legislation requests a waiver from USDA for a “healthy diet” for SNAP recipients. A pre-filed bill in Montana “revises SNAP food choices.” No text is yet available. Similar legislation could be filed in Maine and in Wisconsin.

    View FMI’s talking points on SNAP food choice.

    Meanwhile, legislation pending in Oregon requests USDA approval for a pilot project for selected SNAP recipients to participate in a shopping and nutrition education program designed to educate recipients about managing their program benefits in order to save money and improve their health.

    Farmers’ Markets and SNAP

    There are currently several bills pending that address the use of SNAP at farmers markets. Arizona’s HB 2469 allows a recipient to receive a 50% discount on any eligible item purchased at a farmers' market using SNAP benefits. A pre-filed bill in Massachusetts, HD 2884, “encourages the use of SNAP benefits at farmers markets.” This measure is a House Docket. Text will not be made available until after the measure has been referred to a committee. New Mexico’s HB 93 appropriates $400,000 to enhance the buying power of SNAP recipients through the “Double Up Food Bucks” program to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at New Mexico farmers' markets.
  • NY AG Unveils Data Security Proposals

    Feb 02, 2015

    New York’s Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, announced this month that he will propose stringent new data security requirements for businesses in the state. The AG said he will seek to expand the scope of information companies are required to protect, as well as strengthen the technical and physical security measures companies are required to employ.

    Under current NY law, passed in 2005, companies must notify any NY resident whose “private information” has been acquired without authorization following a security breach. Such private information includes a social security number; a driver license number or non-driver identification card number; or an account number or a credit or debit card number in combination with any required security code, access code, or password that would permit access to an individual’s financial account.

    The latest proposals would broaden this definition of “private information” to encompass not only the combination of an email address and password, or an email address in combination with a security question and answer, but also medical information, including biometric information, and health insurance information.  

     On top of that, the AG is calling for companies to be additionally required to implement reasonable security measures to protect private information. According to the AG’s office, such measures should include administrative, technical, and physical safeguards, as well as third party certification. The proposals do include a safe harbor for companies that adopt a “heightened form of security.”

    These new requirements are all just hypothetical at the moment, with legislative language yet to be introduced. The AG’s office tells the New York Times that they expect both Democratic and Republican sponsors for the bill, and they hope it becomes “a model for expanding the safeguarding of personal information in other states.”

     

  • FMI SNAP Distribution Expansion Toolkit Now Avalilable

    Jan 26, 2015

    As the point of redemption for SNAP beneficiaries, food retailers play a critical front-line role in ensuring the program functions efficiently. A major impediment to this efficiency is non-staggered state distribution of SNAP benefits.

    Currently, eight states issue SNAP benefits on only one day, and others, on just three days. This limited distribution creates a bottleneck for SNAP recipients and customers, as grocery lines become frustratingly long on that one day. Retailers can have stocking issues and labor concerns as well. For these reasons, FMI supports expanded distribution of SNAP benefits throughout the month – not just on a handful of days. 

    FMI maintains a schedule of the SNAP distribution dates in all 50-states, as well as a “SNAP Distribution Expansion Toolkit,” which retailers can use to advocate for expanded SNAP distribution in their states. Use the following links to view our State-by-State Monthly SNAP Benefit Issuance Schedule,” in addition to the entire toolkit.   

     

  • State GMO Legislation Update

    Jan 16, 2015
    The 2015 legislative session has barely begun, but state GE/GMO labeling bills are cropping up all over the country. Though still mostly confined to the East Coast at this time, the action is inexorably spreading westward, with bills already introduced in Indiana (S.B. 264/S.B. 60), Missouri (H.B. 168), and Montana (L.C. 595).

     

    As expected, New York is shaping up to be the major battleground state for GMO labeling legislation, thanks to its large population and the resulting implications for trigger provisions in the already-enacted Connecticut and Maine laws. Last year, a labeling bill cleared two committees in the state Assembly before dying in the Ways and Means Committee as the legislative session ended.

     

    This year, the NY legislature has been formally in session for barely over a week and five bills related to GMO labeling have been introduced.  According to the Food Industry Alliance of New York, the bills to watch are S. 485 in the Senate, and its companion, A. 617 in the Assembly.  Both have been referred to the Consumer Protection Committees in their respective chambers. Click here to see a full chart of all the New York GMO bills, plus the other state GMO labeling bills currently pending from this year.  

  • Food Tax Included in Maine Governor’s Budget Proposal

    Jan 16, 2015

    On January 9, Republican Governor Paul LePage released his $6.3 billion biennial budget for FY 2016/2017. The cornerstone of the Governor’s budget is his tax proposal, which, he says, modernizes Maine’s tax code, lowers top individual and corporate income tax rates and eliminates the estate tax, among other items. He will look to make up some of the cuts with a broader and higher sales tax.

    For example, the governor included a food tax. His proposal adds the underlined language below to the definition of “prepared foods” and increases the sales tax on “prepared foods” from 5.5% to 6.5%. 

    Should this part of his budget proposal pass, it will put Maine out of compliance with the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement and could therefore inhibit the state from collecting Internet sales taxes.  Maine enacted legislation, effective October 9, 2013, to join the Streamlined Sales Tax Project. Also of note, Maine formerly had a "snack tax", but it was repealed in 2000. To see what other states have introduced regarding a food tax, view an FMI chart here.

    Read more in this week's State Issues Report

  • Indiana Committee to Hear SNAP Food Choice Bill

    Jan 16, 2015

    Indiana Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-55) has introduced legislation that requires the division of family resources to establish a pilot program that allows SNAP benefits to be used only for food and beverages that have “sufficient nutritional value,” as determined by the division of family resources. H.B. 1193 will be heard on January 21 before the House Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee, of which Rep. Ziemke is the co-chair. The Indiana Retail Council notes that this bill passed the House last year but that they were able to kill it in the Senate. The Indiana Retail Council told FMI that they oppose any legislation that attempts to define nutritional foods in the SNAP program and will vigorously defend the ability of food retailers to serve the needs of all of their customers. Here is a copy of FMI’s talking points on SNAP food choice. 

  • 50 State Legislative Outlook

    Jan 16, 2015
    It may only be January, but the 2015 state legislative sessions are in full swing. Forty-four state legislatures will convene by the end of this month, five more by March, and Louisiana ambles in by April. To help our members prepare, FMI releases the 50 State Legislative Outlook every January. This annual report examines the issues our industry expects to confront during the upcoming legislative session on a state-by-state basis. Additionally, it analyzes the previous November’s election results – and the potential consequences of those results – for each state, and provides a look forward to the next elections.

    To compile the document, FMI staff surveys state association executives, FMI member companies and holds four regional meetings across the country. Read the full 2015 50 State Legislative Outlook here.
     
  • Wisconsin Could See SNAP Photo ID, Food Choice Bill

    Dec 18, 2014

    With their Republican trifecta held in check in November, Wisconsin leadership has put together an agenda that holds many conservative reforms, including SNAP. In their agenda, Assembly Republicans have said they will pursue placing a photo ID on all EBT cards and they will work to ensure that if someone receives assistance to purchase food, “a significant portion of that food is nutritious.” In addition, they will work to put a “reasonable limit” on the number of replacement cards someone can receive; screen for substance abuse; send all public assistance recipients an annual statement of benefits; which, they say, is a tangible and streamlined way of knowing how much help they received and from which programs. Here is a copy of the agenda.

     

     

     

     

  • USDA has “Significant Concerns” over New SNAP Photo ID Law in MA, ME

    Dec 18, 2014

    Earlier this week, the Boston Globe reported that USDA dispatched agents to Massachusetts in August to investigate concerns on the implementation of a new state law regarding photos on SNAP EBT cards. On December 2, USDA sent a follow up letter to Massachusetts state agency staff on the findings of these concerns.

    Specifically, USDA has “significant concerns” dealing with program access, staff communications and training, and also retailer communications and training from the state. In the letter, USDA specifies corrective actions that must be taken.

    Regarding retailers, FNS is concerned that state agency at all levels believe that retailers must check the card at the POS to ensure the purchaser is the person pictured on the card. This puts Massachusetts in violation of the Food and Nutrition Act. In the letter, USDA directs the state to communicate to retailers that anyone authorized to use the card may use the card without having to submit to additional verification of identity, as use of the unique PIN associated with each card is sufficient verification of identity. Therefore, all household members and authorized representatives not pictured on the card can continue to access benefits. View USDA’s letter here.

    The Massachusetts Food Association has informed their members from the inception of this law that nothing has changed with regard to accepting EBT photo ID cards; stores cannot and should not be asking to see the card if the customer knows the PIN and enters it correctly. 


    In November, USDA sent a similar letter to Maine, which has also implemented a photo requirement on the SNAP card.
    Here is the Maine letter. In addition, the Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association reports that the Governor of Maine is expected to continue his efforts to reform Mainers’ generational dependency on “welfare” programs.  A bill will likely include a sales prohibition on taxable foods items such as candy and soda under SNAP. There is keen interest amongst lawmakers as well to reduce a SNAP recipient’s ability to “spend” tax payer’s money on these types of foods.

     

  • Track Local Legislative Activity with the FMI Local Monitoring Report

    Nov 10, 2014

    Every week FMI's Local Monitoring Report  tracks six issues of particular importance to the supermarket industry at the local level: 

  • Food product dating;
  • Food taxes;
  • Licensing; 
  • Minimum/living wage; 
  • Plastic bags / polystyrene bans; 
  • E-cigarettes. 

  • Last week's report saw activity in CA, CO, DE, FL, MN, NC and VA. Visit FMI's Local Monitoring Page to find out more! 




State Affairs Archives

January 10, 2014
2014 State Legislative Outlook

March 22, 2013
State Issues Report - March 22, 2013

March 15, 2013
FutureConnect Association Council Group Advantage Program
Here you will find your Association Council Group Advantage Program commitment  for FMI’s FutureConnect.  There are no minimums to meet in order to register as a group.  The digital brochure for FutureConnect can be found here and additional information can be found atwww.fmifutureconnect.com.  More information is below, and we hope to see you in Orlando!

March 5, 2013
State Issues Report - March 5, 2013

February 21, 2013
State Issues Report - February 21, 2013

February 7, 2013
Statement by New Jersey Food Council on Senate Vote and Assembly Committee Consideration of Surcharge Bill
We wanted to share with you a statement that Linda Doherty, President of the New Jersey Food Council, released to the press and members of the New Jersey senate and assembly last night. The statement clearly and concisely addresses a bill in New Jersey that prevents merchants from surcharging credit cards.

January 30, 2013
State Issues Report - January 30, 2013

January 22, 2013
State Issues Report - January 22, 2013

January 18, 2013
2013 State Legislative Outlook 
FMI and its members annually compile information on priority state issues for the current legislative session to provide insight on the likelihood of passage for proposed legislation.