Overall, 2020 was a challenging but successful and active year for PFMA and our members. Thank you for all your help and support. It is essential to our success.
The mission of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association is to improve the public image, effectiveness and profitability of companies providing products and services in agriculture production, consumer education, consumer packaged goods, food retail and wholesale food distribution.
Legislation Successfully Passed:
Liability Protection for Masking Enforcement: Governor Wolf vetoed broad liability protection legislation (see HB 1737 under Progress Made) but implemented a liability shield via executive order for businesses relative to enforcement of the state’s masking requirements. PFMA pushed for this in the context of broader protection language.
Healthy Food Financing Initiative Recapitalization: PFMA helped to secure additional funding for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative/Food Access Initiative in the 2020-2021 state budget legislation. Ten million in funding was included in the legislation.
HB 1083 (Sankey—Fiscal Code Legislation): PFMA supported this legislation, which passed, and included a continuation of state plastic bag and container preemptions to at least July 1, 2021.
DHS/FNS Online SNAP Sales: PFMA worked with PA DHS and FNS to help secure the approval and implementation of online SNAP sales. The program is open to those retailers that qualify based on regulations from DHS and FNS.
HB 1617 (Staats) Fermented Fruit Beverages and H to R License Conversion Bill: PFMA worked with our coalition partners to secure passage of HB 1617. The bill would allow Hotel liquor license holders to convert those licenses to an R license for a fee. Also, the bill would change the definition of fermented fruit beverage to classify it as a malt and brewed beverage. PFMA is working to advance and secure passage of spirits-based RTD beverages, which are similar in nature to fermented fruit beverages. We will work on that issue in the spring.
SB 976 (Regan): PFMA supported this legislation that would allow for the creation of commerce courts through the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas and Pennsylvania Superior Court.
HB 941 (Heffley): Amends the Human Services Code to give the Department of Human Services the authority to request payment information from pharmacy benefit managers, to require certain disclosures upon request, and to outline pharmacy reimbursement requirements. The bill was comprehensively amended in the Senate. PFMA supported this legislation.
HB 770 (DeLuca): Provides for the registration of pharmacy technicians with the State Board of Pharmacy and sets out minimum requirements for registration. PFMA supported this legislation.
FDA/CBD Regulations/Enforcement: PFMA helped to push for the inclusion of funding for the Federal Drug Administration to develop CBD regulations and enforcement policies for the industry. This was included in a year-end government funding bill.
Retail Tax Glitch Correction (100% bonus depreciation): PFMA supported legislation with its national partners in the form of The Restoring Investment in Improvements Act, H.R. 1869 / S. 803. This would help fix the drafting error contained in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This was passed as part of the CARES act in 2020.
Legislation Successfully Blocked
PFMA and its Philadelphia members successfully blocked passage of legislation that would have been detrimental to the interests of our members:
Grocery Store Restrictive Covenant Legislation: Sponsored by Councilwoman Cindy Bass, this measure would restrict grocery stores with more than 15,000 square feet of space located in a food desert from restricting another grocery store from buying during transition of sale, and refuse a commercial license for any grocery store that had a restrictive covenant in its lease.
Shopping Cart Restrictions/Regulation: PFMA was successful in preventing passage of legislation that would restrict shopping cart placement and operation in retail merchants.
Allegheny County Restaurant Grading Plan: PFMA was successful in helping to block attempts to further expand and implement an arbitrary restaurant grading proposal. This was considered in past years, and we continue to push back against the concept.
Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax: PFMA continued to monitor and push back against attempts to develop or consider a potential sugar-sweetened beverage tax in Pittsburgh or Allegheny County.
PFMA successfully prevented the ultimate passage of several proposals that would have been detrimental to the interests of our members:
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. This included an attempt to add the sales tax to warehouse/wholesaler services and operations.
Significant Increases to the Minimum Wage: PFMA was successful in preventing a significant increase to the minimum wage to $15 an hour. PFMA and its members have signaled a willingness to discuss a more reasonable, lower-wage increase.
Tobacco and OTP Taxes: No new or increased taxes on tobacco or other tobacco products were enacted. Some discussion took place around adding a new tax to cigars to help plug the budget deficit for 2018-2019.
HB 1224 (Lawrence): The bill was left on second consideration in the Senate. It contains language that would allow the Milk Marketing Board and Department of Revenue to coordinate on milk premiums. PFMA opposed this legislation.