By: Elizabeth Tansing, Senior Director, State Government Affairs

50 State Map_largeThe supermarket industry is in a constant state of policy and regulatory fluctuation. Last year, a majority of grocers viewed state and local government regulations as having a negative impact on their sales performance, according to participants in FMI’s The Food Retailing Industry Speaks 2018 report. 

To assist industry stakeholders in preparing for policy and regulatory challenges during the 2019 state legislative sessions, FMI surveyed member companies and state grocery and retail associations on the key issues they expect to face. FMI also held four regional state legislative meetings to prepare for and discuss the findings. The result of this cumulative effort is FMI’s 2019 State Legislative Outlook. The report contains a snapshot of budget fitness and anticipated legislative and regulatory actions for each state, and where available, local information is also included.

FMI found that there are certain issues that dominated in each region. For example, in the Northeast, wage and labor issues are front and center; and in the South, alcohol reform is being discussed. But there are common themes across the country as well. 

There are some 10,814 sales tax jurisdictions in the United States, and taxes appear in every state report. These potential bills range from food and beverage taxes, to states needing to pass legislation to come into compliance with South Dakota v. Wayfair, the Supreme Court decision that imposes economic nexus standards on remote sellers.  

Environmental issues appear in almost every state’s report as well. Included among them are bottle bills, possible bills governing plastic bags and straws, and polystyrene and packaging bills. Then there are issues that are very state-specific. Examples are a potential balloon ban in Delaware and the right to choose self-service gas over full service gas, in New Jersey.

The 2019 State Legislative Outlook provides a recap on key 2018 races and ballots as well as a look ahead to the 2019 elections. Complimentary copies of the report are available to FMI members and state grocery and retail associations and a web versionmay be accessed here.