PFMA Vice Chairman Jeff Brown, Brown's Super Stores, talked with 1280 WIP's The Dom Giordano Show on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, about the impact of Philadelphia's Grocery Tax on his stores. The tax is assessed on nearly 4,000 items, not just soda.
Edward Conley, 67, retired editor and senior communications specialist for the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) passed away suddenly on January 29, 2017.
Conley retired from PFMA in 2005 after more than 25 years of service. He served as editor of the association’s former newspaper, The Food Industry Advisor, and was instrumental in growing the publication from a newsletter to a full monthly newspaper. Through the years, Conley covered many industry events, store openings and profiled companies and executives.
He organized PFMA’s Pennsylvania Best Bagger Championship and was actively involved with the DECA Marketing Clubs, where he judged state competitions for students considering business careers. He also served as the association's liaison to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
He served as president and a director for the Pittsburgh Association of Manufacturers Representatives (PAMR). Following his retirement, he remained active in PAMR by attending their meetings and producing the group’s event programs.
Prior to joining PFMA, Conley served as editor of Tri-State Food News, the Steel City Sports/Score weekly magazine and the University of Pittsburgh Athletic Department. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army and a graduate of the Defense Information School. During his service, he worked with an elite unit of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command where he directed creation of unique displays used by recruiters across the country.
Conley received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh.
An avid sports fan, he was very loyal to his hometown teams the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pirates and Penguins, and often attended games. He was a devoted father to his three children Lauren (David), Brennan and Kerry Conley. His children and his brother Joseph Conley (Carol) survive him.
A memorial luncheon for family and friends is scheduled at Club 3000 at PNC Park on Wednesday, February 1 from 12 noon to 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations go to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, 1 North Linden Street, Duquesne, PA 15110 or https://www.pittsburghfoodbank.org.
Alex Baloga, vice president of external relations, answered questions about the Philadelphia Grocery Tax on Hudson Valley Focus Live on WKIP Radio in New York. Host Tom Sipos asked Baloga about the impact the tax will have on Philadelphia retailers.
Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association President and CEO David McCorkle issued the following statement in response to Mayor Kenney’s outrageous attacks on Philadelphia grocery stores who have been forced to pass the mayor’s regressive tax onto consumers:
“The mayor’s regressive tax is gouging families and small businesses across Philadelphia. Working families and seniors living on fixed incomes aren’t just being “cranky” — they are rightfully angry because the mayor’s new 1.5 cents per ounce levy have dramatically increased prices on thousands of common beverages across Philadelphia. This tax is having a damaging impact on families as businesses are forced to pass the increased cost onto consumers — which is precisely what we predicted and what the city projected in its budget presentation to City Council. And the mayor’s flippant comment that families should switch their shopping to the suburbs has the potential to further devastate thousands of businesses across Philadelphia — from corner stores to supermarkets that provide family-sustaining jobs to thousands Philadelphians. Rather than encouraging the decimation of an entire Philadelphia industry, the mayor should take a close look at the negative impact of his tax.”
David McCorkle, PFMA president & CEO, spoke about the Philadelphia Beverage Tax with Rich Zeoli of WPHT radio on Wednesday, January 11. In the interview McCorkle said our members have worked hard and have spent thousands of dollars to comply with the new tax. Listen to the interview below.
Meagan Thorpe recently joined the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) as association services manager.
Thorpe will research legislative and regulatory issues, serve as a liaison to communicate emergency planning issues, manage the association’s committees and provide government relations coverage in the monthly newsletter and weekly e-newsletter communications. In addition, she will assist with the planning and educational programming for the PFMA Annual Conference, Fall Legislative Conference and webinars.
Thorpe joins PFMA following five years with the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Most recently, she worked as a district director for former Senator Rob Teplitz and as a constituent outreach specialist for former state Representative Glen Grell. Prior to that, she worked on event and fundraising planning for the Pennsylvania Senate Republican Campaign Committee and the Pennsylvania Republican Party.
“We are pleased to welcome Meagan to the PFMA team,” said Alex Baloga, vice president of external relations. “Her experience and contacts with the Pennsylvania General Assembly will be essential to assisting PFMA members with their legislative and regulatory questions, and her event planning experience will be valuable as we plan our upcoming committee meetings and conferences.”
Thorpe earned her bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Shippensburg University. She serves on the board of directors and communications committee for the Tri-County Community Action.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published revised guidelines this month for civil penalties for tobacco retailers. The updates reflect the final deeming rule from the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvement of 2015 (Public Law 114-74).
As of August 8, 2016, the following rules apply to all covered tobacco products:
• Check photo ID of everyone under age 27 who attempts to purchase any tobacco product. • Only sell tobacco products to customers age 18 or older. • Do NOT sell tobacco products in a vending machine or self-service display unless in an adult-only facility. • Do NOT give away free samples of newly-regulated tobacco products, including any of their components or parts.
A retailer, with an approved training program who violates the regulations issued for the first time, is issued a warning letter. The maximum civil money penalty amounts for such retailers range from $250 (for a second violation in a 12-month period) to $10,000 (for a sixth or each subsequent violation at the same retail location within a 48-month period).
Penalties for violating other Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) requirements relating to tobacco products may not exceed $15,000 for each violation or $1 million for all violations adjudicated in a single proceeding. Violations of certain provisions may be subject to enhanced penalties.
The Tobacco Control Act allows the FDA to impose a no tobacco sale order against a person found to have committed repeated violations, which is defined as at least five violations over a 36-month period. The duration of the no tobacco sale order will undergo the same considerations as the civil money penalties, and also determine whether employers have taken certain steps to promote compliance with the FD&C Act.
PFMA recommends all retailers have their associates ask if the purchaser is 18. Have a policy in place to card all tobacco sales and use age verification equipment. Also, be sure to document your training program.
Starting January 1, motorists will pay more for gasoline as the third phase of the gradual gas tax increases goes into effect. The tax is part of a 2013 law that’s earmarked to raise money to improve bridges, highways and other transportation infrastructure.
The tax will increase by 8 cents per gallon, bringing the total tax to nearly 76 cents per gallon in state and federal taxes. Pennsylvania has the nation’s highest gas tax. Governor Tom Corbett implemented the tax in 2013 along with other fees to motorists.
The Philadelphia Department of Health (DOH) approved limits on tobacco sales within the city on December 9. Thanks to feedback from PFMA and its members, the DOH did modify its restrictions limiting the number of retail tobacco permits in an area based on population. U.S. census figures for “commuter and adjusted daytime” population will be used rather than residential population. Starting February 15, the city will limit tobacco permits to one seller per 1,000 people. The change will allow more retailers in center city to sell tobacco products as workers commute into the area, while fewer retailers will be able sell in the residential areas where more people live.
The city also prohibited new permits within 500 feet of a school starting January 1. Businesses currently selling tobacco in those areas will be grandfathered to continue their sales, but will not be able to transfer their permits to a new retailer. Tobacco specialty retailers, such as cigar shops, received an exception where they can apply within the first 180 days of 2017 for a one-time transfer of their permit to sell their business. That exception applies to no more than six businesses.
Permit fees will increase from $50 to $300, starting January 1, to fund tobacco sales enforcement. Retailers receiving more than three violations in two years for underage tobacco sales will lose their permits for a year. According to city officials, compliance checks conducted last year found 23 percent of tobacco retailers sold to underage buyers. They believe these new restrictions will help prevent children from being the “next generation of smokers.”
Under a new ordinance passed by Philadelphia City Council this month, job applicants will not have to reveal their salary history.
The amendment to Title IX of the Philadelphia code prohibits prospective employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history throughout the hiring process. Councilman Bill Greenlee sponsored the ordinance to narrow the wage gap for women and minorities.
U.S. Census data in 2015 found that women make an average of 79 cents to every dollar earned by men. Minority women fare worse with African-American women making 68 cents, Latina women make 56 cents and Asian women are paid 81 cents for every dollar earned by white men. Councilman Greenlee said the new ordinance does not remove negotiation from the hiring process. He notes that employers can compare the job to similar positions to determine salary and review the applicant’s skills and experience.
Philadelphia’s Human Relations Commission would impose a penalty on employers, who violate the ordinance, within 300 calendar days of the alleged infraction. Penalties could include the commission ordering the company to cease and desist the practice; provide injunctive or equitable relief; order payment of compensatory damages and reasonable attorney fees, and order punitive damages payment of up to $2,000 per violation. Mayor Jim Kenney has publicly announced his support of the ordinance and has said that he plans to sign it. Once signed, the ordinance will take effect after 120 days.