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Alexandria, Va -- NACS held a Webinar this week to discuss "How The Elections Will Affect the Convenience Store Industry." Opening the session was John Eichberger, VP government relations, who noted that now that the Republicans command a sizeable majority it will bring a lot of expected changes, and the Democratic majority will have a difficult time passing any controversial legislation. "We want to make sure that [convenience store retailers] recognize that there are a lot of hurdles to overcome in order to accomplish any type of legislative effort this coming year," explained Eichberger, also noting that there will be marked differences between what we've seen the last two years and moving forward.
During the Webinar, NACS discussed some key topics regarding law and legislation that are of importance to the convenience industry. Julie Fields, director government relations, gave a brief rundown on where things stand on the issues of health care and tobacco.
"We can expect to see a lot of changes or at least a lot of talk when it comes to the healthcare debate and what to do next," said Fields. One of the big topics that the industry has been looking at is the 1099 issue, Fields notes that it might be one of the first provisions that congress might try and tackle. "The 1099 raises revenue by requiring every business to issue an IRS form 1099 to every individual or business to which it pays more than $600 in a calendar year. This has caused lots of controversy on both sides, and actually a repeal of this revision does seem to have quite a bit of support from Republicans and also moderate Democrats," Fields stated.
Regarding the menu labeling law that passed, requiring any foodservice establishment with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts on menu items and to provide additional nutritional information for the consumer, Fields told listeners that NACS is "currently working with the FDA to find the best path forward possible for convenience stores to comply with these regulations, we'll look to see a final rule from the FDA sometimes around the beginning or middle of March, next year."
On the topic of tobacco, NACS pointed out two important laws were passed by congress last year: the PACT Act and the Family Smoking and Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
Regarding the PACT Act, Fields gave an update that there are currently three lawsuits from Internet remote sellers that are challenging the validity of the PACT Act. NACS will also be watching closely how the new congress will affect the Family Smoking and Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that went into effect this past June which requires regulations on advertising, age verification, enforcement, penalties, gifts and promotions, labeling and menthol and flavored cigarettes.
Corey Fitze, director government relations, spoke on the biodiesel tax credit pointing out that we "might see a one-year extension of this tax credit however it is NACS' opinion that a one-year extension is not enough time to bring many producers back into production … and I would also like to add that we don't know if it is going to be retroactive if they do put a one-year extension on it." He added that the ethanol tax credit is also expected to see a one-year extension at 36 cents per gallon.
Fitze did mention that low carbon fuels standard could become a concern as he pointed out that "a study was released in June of 2010 showing that a low carbon fuel standard could increase motor fuels by as much as 80 percent within the first five years of its enactment," he said. Twelve New England states are currently looking at implementing a low carbon fuel standard with their governors voting on this issue by Dec. 31 of this year.
NACS briefly touched on the RESPECT Act, and noted that they will be watching the National Labor Relations board to see what rulings come through in regards to labor unions.
Regarding the 2010 ADA regulations -- "1,000 new rules and regulations, 500 of them affecting c-stores and 100 of them wide open to interpretation" -- NACS is working on compliance documents that will be out by Christmas of next year.
The Webinar closed with Eichberger discussing Interchange Reform. "Last year we accomplished quite a bit in terms of giving the Federal Reserve the authority to ensure that debit interchange fees are reasonable and proportional to costs incurred," he explained. He pointed out that this was accomplished through collecting 5.4 million signatures from c-store customers and retailers putting thousands of calls into, and sending letters to, their senators. Next year is focused on defense as Eichberger stressed that, "we're going to have to be diligent as an association and membership to make sure that our legislators doesn't roll back the progress that we already made."
For retailers looking to get involved in regards to laws and legislation that affect the c-store industry, NACS is working on a grassroots program. To find out more information on the program visit www.nacsonline.com/grassroots.