By: Elizabeth Tansing, Senior Director, State Government Relations, FMI

FMI 50 State OutlookAs of this week, 39 state legislatures are actively meeting and will address many issues as laid out in the FMI 50 State Outlook. An annual publication, FMI interviews state grocer and retail associations as well as FMI members on what issues they expect to face in the upcoming state legislative sessions. FMI also hosts four regional meetings held in the fall to hold a more in-depth discussion on the most important issues facing grocery retailers in the 2020 state legislative sessions. 

The usual bills are expected - at least twelve states will introduce legislation to increase their minimum wage. Ever present the last few years are sustainability bills and the 50 State Outlook tells us that will still be the case in 2020. For example, grocers in Minnesota expect statewide organics and recycling mandates, and bills on bag bans, fees or both. Colorado, Connecticut and Minnesota expect product stewardship legislation, and in New Jersey, legislators will take another go at a plastic bag ban that also includes food containers. Local packaging ban proposals will be introduced in Massachusetts.

There will also be a push to update some alcohol laws. Mississippi is the last state in the South without the ability to sell wine in grocery stores. A coalition has been formed to work toward this change in 2020, which could bring in an estimated $18 to $20 million in additional state revenue – without raising taxes. South Carolina retailers are looking to pass legislation to allow curbside pickup for alcohol purchases, mirroring what other states have successfully done in the past. Utah will consider legislation to allow direct shipment of wine. 

In 2020, many states will face new legislative issues; for example, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania will likely see bill introductions to ban flavored e-cigarettes; Michigan expects a bill allowing drug importation from Canada, and due to a new legislative makeup, Virginia will face the passage possibility of labor and other bills.

In the 2019 election, Virginia Democrats gained control of both chambers, putting the state into a Democratic trifecta for the first time in 25 years. This already has implications for expected 2020 legislation, as documented in the 50 State Outlook. Virginians should now expect bills on labor issues such as minimum wage, paid family medical leave and predictive scheduling as well as bills on plastic straws and plastic bag bans and fees.

Because 2020 is a year that will see almost every state’s legislature up for election, we expect to see a big push for legislation that is important to incumbents, as well as the usual grand standing and possible shorter sessions with a lighter workload, so legislators can get back to their campaigns. Going into November 2020, the GOP holds 52.2% of all state legislative seats, with 21 Republican trifectas and 15 Democratic trifectas. Eleven states will hold gubernatorial elections. 

2020 State Legislative Outlook

  • Government Relations