Overall it was a difficult and active year for PFMA and our members. Thank you for all your help and support, it is essential to our success.
SUCCESSFULLYBLOCKED (as of January 1, 2018):
Philadelphia Issues: Grocery Store Restrictive Covenant Legislation- PFMA and its Philadelphia members were successful in blocking passage of legislation sponsored by Councilwoman Cindy Bass which would restrict grocery stores with over 15,000 square feet of space located in a food desert from restricting another grocery store from buying during transition of sale. It would have also refused a commercial license for any grocery store that had a restrictive covenant in its lease.
Predictive scheduling and paid family leave — PFMA was successful in preventing the introduction and passage of predictive schedule and paid family leave legislation in Philadelphia. This is an issue that will likely come up again in the future.
Plastic Bag Fee, Ban and Taxes — PFMA was successful in preventing passage of plastic bag fees, bans, or taxes in the city of Philadelphia and other municipalities across the Commonwealth.
Pittsburgh Issues: Enactment of Pittsburgh Paid Leave Ordinance- PFMA opposed this legislation and worked with our allies to support a lawsuit, which prevented the implementation of the Pittsburgh City Council Paid Leave Ordinance. Commonwealth court also ruled the paid leave law is illegal.
State Issues: Property Tax Reform/Shifting — Several proposals were introduced this session to reduce or eliminate property taxes. Unfortunately, these proposals included shifting the tax burden to employers and working families in the form of increased and expanded sales taxes and higher personal income taxes. PFMA was successful in preventing the ultimate passage of these proposals.
Minimum Wage Increases — PFMA prevented the passage of various bills on the state and federal levels that would have increased the state minimum wage from the $7.25 per hour to anywhere from $9 to $15 per hour. Some of these bills would have included automatic increases to the minimum wage tied to inflation/Consumer Price Index.
State Sales Tax Rate Increase and Expansion — PFMA successfully blocked efforts in 2017 to raise the sales and use tax and expand the base of products to which it can be applied.
Personal income tax Increase — PFMA helped block efforts in 2017 to raise the personal income tax rate.
Commercial Warehouse Services Tax — PFMA helped defeat a plan that would remove the sales and use tax exemption for public warehousing and commercial storage businesses in Pennsylvania. This plan was to be included in the final budget agreement, but we successfully prevented its inclusion.
Tobacco and OTP taxes — The association and its members successfully prevented any new or increased tobacco or other tobacco product taxes from being enacted. Some discussion took place around adding a new tax to cigars to help plug the budget deficit for 2017-2018.
Gross receipts tax increase on Electric bills and Telecommunications and Transportation purchases — PFMA helped prevent final passage of an increased GRT on electricity bills and telecommunications and transportation purchases. This tax would have significantly impacted our members in many negative ways.
HB 475 (Deluca) Amends the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law further providing for private actions — PFMA helped blocked passage of HB 475, which raises the minimum from $100 to $500 in cases of minor violations to the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection law. This bill would have increased costs for members and been a boon for trial lawyers.
HB 1547 (Stop-and-go liquor establishment legislation) — PFMA helped prevent passage of HB 1547, which would seek to address the issue of stop-and-go, problem liquor license establishments in Philadelphia. This would have been done by lumping all licensees in a specific zip code together to create a nuisance zip code, and putting certain restrictions and conditions on those businesses which would be created by the PLCB. All restaurant license holders would have been at risk for this unfair (nuisance zip code) designation, and subjected to these additional restrictions and regulations with almost complete authority and oversight by the PLCB. A scaled back version of this bill was included with the budget agreement in 2017.
Statewide beverage Tax — PFMA helped prevent passage and enactment of a statewide beverage tax.
Paid or unpaid leave mandate — PFMA helped prevent passage and enactment of a statewide paid or unpaid leave mandate.
Plastic Bag Fees, Taxes and Bans — PFMA helped prevent passage of any plastic bag fees, taxes or bans on the state level.
Federal Issues: Defeat of Border Adjustment Tax Provision from consideration in comprehensive Tax Reform — PFMA, working with its national partners, was successful in having the Border Adjustment Tax provision removed from consideration in comprehensive tax reform.
FDA delay in rolling out new nutrition facts label — The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) delayed indefinitely the implementation of a new nutrition facts label that would enlarge calorie counts, itemize added sugar and bring serving sizes in-line with actual average portions. PFMA worked with our national partners to lobby Congress and the FDA for a delay.
Blocked inclusion of Durbin amendment (debit/swipe fee reforms) repeal in H.R. 10 (Financial Choice Act) — PFMA, working with its national partners, was successful in removing a provision in H.R. 10 (The Financial Choice Act) that would have eliminated the Durbin amendment originally included in the Dodd-Frank law. Specifically, this provision deals with debit card swipe fee reforms and protections for consumers and retailers. This is a major win for PFMA and the industry.
Petition to change Renewable Fuel Standard Program, Point of Obligation — PFMA, working with our national partners, successfully blocked a petition to the EPA to change the point of obligation for the renewable fuel standards program.
Pushed for roll back of NLRB 'joint employer' standard for business liability- PFMA assisted in successfully advocating with legislators, national partners and the Trump administration to rescind a previous NLRB rule regarding the standard for ‘joint employers’. We were supportive of the efforts to rescind the rule legislatively and through the regulatory process.
SUCCESSFULLYPASSED (as of January 1, 2018):
State Issues: HB 290 (Metzgar) and SB 143 (Yaw) Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board Legislation (USTIB) — PFMA helped secure House passage of HB 290 and Senate passage of SB 143, which amends the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act by requiring USTIB to remove the Middle Atlantic Truck Stop Operators, which has disbanded.HB 290 was passed finally on December 6, 2017 and headed to the governor for his signature. We expect he will the sign the bill into law. This was a PFMA priority issue for 2017.
*HB 1071 (Farry) Municipal Plastic Bag Fee/Tax/Ban Preemption Legislation — PFMA, along with a large group of major business organizations, worked to get HB 1071 passed and signed by the governor. This bill would prohibit municipalities from passing plastic bag bans, taxes and fees on its retailers and citizens. It does allow for retailers to charge their own fees. This bill sends a major message to other municipalities who would think of enacting harmful policies on businesses and their customers. *Governor Wolf vetoed this legislation which had bipartisan support in the House and Senate*
Pa. State Board of Pharmacy: Medications held for redispensing regulatory revision approved — The Pennsylvania State Board of Pharmacy voted on and approved the final proposed general revisions to Chapter 27, State Board of Pharmacy Standards. The revisions change the 6-month expiration date for medications held for redispensing to 12 months. This change was requested and championed by PFMA and its members. This was a priority for our pharmacy committee members. The final review and issuance of the regulations will still take some time. We will continue to update members as this moves through the process towards completion.
Retail Enhancements from Ilottery and IGaming — PFMA was successful in adding an ilottery retail card, .5% bonus commission program and lottery retail advisory commission to the HB271 (ilottery/igaming legislation). The bonus program could represent up to $20 million in new revenue for participating retailers, and the advisory commission should help PFMA members increase lottery sales and bonuses. HB 271 also included Video Gaming Terminals for truck stops and some fuel retailers that qualify. This could be another opportunity for additional revenue for PFMA members. PFMA will continue to press legislators and the administration for a clean increase in the lottery commission and the creation of a cashing bonus for lottery retailers.
Federal Issues: Congress Passes Legislation to Fix SNAP Final Rule — Lawmakers direct FNS to redefine “variety” to work for small retailers. PFMA worked with its federal partners to provide comment, media coverage and pushback against the proposed SNAP regulations. We are pleased to report that the omnibus spending bill, passed by Congress in May 2017, contained a provision that would require the Food & Nutrition Service (FNS) to rewrite one piece of its updated Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retailer eligibility regulations. Specifically, FNS will have to adjust the problematic definition of “variety” so that retailers participating in SNAP will have more options for which foods can count toward staple food stocking requirements. The provision also states that until FNS rewrites its definition, retailers will have to comply with the old SNAP requirements, which require retailers to stock three varieties of food in the four staple food categories.
Tax reform legislation — PFMA, working with our congressional delegation and out national partners, successfully helped pass comprehensive tax reform for large and small businesses. This reform would lower the rates for c-corps and passthrough entities.
PROGRESS MADE ON PRIORITY ISSUES (as of January 1, 2018): HB 1918 Anti-skimming device/fraud legislation (Phillips-Hill) — PFMA helped secure house passage of legislation which seeks to eliminate and punish the use of fraudulent credit card devices by criminalizing the use of a scanning or skimming device, the use of a re-encoder, and the possession or sale of a skimming device. The bill awaits further action in the Senate.
Convenience Store Permits (HB 1733) — PFMA supports and was successful in helping to secure the introduction of HB 1733, which would create a convenience store permit for off-premises sales of malt and brewed beverages. This legislation will enhance the choice, convenience and selection Pennsylvania residents are demanding from companies and elected officials. Changes to the SNAP Disbursement Schedule (SB 568, Argall and HB 877, Toohil) — PFMA worked to adjust the SNAP disbursement schedule to allow for a staggered approached in providing benefits to recipients across the Commonwealth. Currently recipients receive their benefits in the first ten days of the month. PFMA was successful in helping to convene and participate in a Senate Majority Policy Committee Hearing on the issue. Also, PFMA had legislation introduced, SB 568 and HB 877, to address this issue. The legislation is awaiting action in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee and House Health Committee. These actions helped bring attention to the issue and spurred interest from the Wolf Administration to help find a solution. Paid Leave Preemption — PFMA and its allies helped advance paid leave preemption in the form of SB 128. The bill would prohibit local municipalities from passing paid and unpaid leave ordinances. The legislation passed in committee in the Senate. Patent Reform Legislation — PFMA, working with its allies, was successful in having legislation introduced on the state level to help address the issue of patent trolls. The legislation, HB 1775, will likely move from the Judiciary committee which is currently is awaiting action early in 2018. SB 508 (Batolotta) and HB 1477 (Wheeland) Vape/E-cig tax reform — PFMA supported legislation, SB 508 passed out of the Senate finance committee 9-3. This legislation amends the vape tax formula from the current 40% tax on the wholesale price to a .05 cent per milliliter tax. HB 1477 also passed from the House Finance Committee. We will continue to push for further action on the senate and house version in the coming year. HB 401 (Grove) Commerce Courts — HB 401 sponsored by Rep. Seth grove passed the Pa. House and awaits further action in the Senate. The bill would allow the superior court to establish a commerce court to hear cases regarding internal business issues.