FoodScan - April 22, 2013
AS SPRING RECESS ENDS FOR NYS LEGISLATURE, PACE PICKS-UP WITH 27 SESSION DAYS LEFT. With the NYS budget for FY 2013-14 finalized, the Legislature returned on April 15th from its three-week spring recess and began its flurry of activity to reach closure by its June 20th end-of-session deadline. According to its calendar, the Legislature has just 27 session days remaining before it completes its scheduled business. While the Legislature will face a busy agenda, so will FIA as it deals with a growing list of bills that includes: S.4565 allows supermarkets to serve wine and beer in restaurant facilities; S.4302 allows chains to combine 20-C licenses into one renewal date; S.3835 requires GMO labeling; S.2258 revokes 20-C license if store fails three consecutive inspections; S.966 prohibits purchase of alcohol and lottery tickets with public assistance grants; A.947 imposes fee on plastic carry-out bags; A.4138 prohibits the use of Styrofoam; A.301 requires sell-by or use-by dates on perishable foods with storage instructions; A.1835 regulates issuance of rain checks; A.312 increases penalties from $50 to $500 for deceptive business practices without proof of damages and mandatory attorney’s fees for prevailing plaintiff; A.752 requires new cash registers to display price to consumer; A.605 requires NY privacy task force, which focuses on RFID technology; A.217 prohibits sale of expires goods; A.1654 prohibits use of bisphenol A paper; A.900 prohibits debit card surcharges; A.2256 prohibits placing or obstructing labels on OTC drugs or cosmetics via a price sticker or otherwise; A.2810 requires labeling of milk from BST-treated cows; A.2919 allows liquor stores to sell gift baskets containing food; and A.2974 prohibits restaurants and food service establishments from selling food with artificial trans fats. Among major pending political issues, Governor Cuomo continues his offensive on campaign finance reform.
FIA Members Meet with New York’s Congressional Delegation to Discuss Menu Labeling, Swipe Fees, Tax Policy, and ACA. This past Thursday, April 18th, FIA members participating in the FMI-NGA “A Day In Washington” annual conference carried the banner of the New York grocery industry to Capitol Hill and conducted 13 meetings with the Empire State’s Congressional delegation. Personal meetings were scheduled with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) and Reps. Tim Bishop (D-Suffolk County), Steve Israel (D-Nassau County), Chris Gibson (R-Mid-Hudson Valley), Paul Tonko (D-Capital District Region), Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan/Brooklyn), Bill Owens (D-North Country), and Richard Hanna (R-Utica/Binghamton). FIA members also met with key staff from the offices of Sen. Gillibrand and Reps. Peter King (R-Nassau County), Nita Lowey (D-White Plains), Carolyn McCarthy (D-Nassau County), and Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan/Queens). Major topics discussed with the Congressional offices were credit/debit card swipe fees, FDA menu labeling, tax issues, and employer implementation of the Affordable Care Act. FIA extends special appreciation to those member companies and their associates who expended their time and resources to become the “industry voice” of New York in the halls of Congress. It is critical and irreplaceable.
Sponsors Needed on “Common Sense Nutrition Act” to Ensure Grocers Excluded from Menu Labeling Law. As FIA members have read in past issues of FoodScan, FDA has proposed regulations that would capture grocery stores under the federal “Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items at Chain Restaurants” law that was intended to provide a uniform, federal standard for chain restaurants. By expanding these regulations to grocery stores – where the vast majority of foods are already labeled with complete Nutrition Facts information – FDA would impose a $1 billion initial cost on an industry. FDA also proposed an alternative “Option 2” that would limit restaurant menu labeling to establishments with 50% or more of their floor space devoted to restaurant or restaurant-type food. NGA and FMI are urging Congress to adopt H.R. 1249–Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act–to implement FDA’s proposed “Option 2.” Click here for the bill’s summary and text. To assist the efforts of FMI and NGA, they need grocers to contact their U.S. Representatives and urge them to co-sponsor H.R. 1249. For more background information and to take action, click here.
Additional Off-Premise Retail Closing Hours Are Determined by Counties. While the ABC law specifies that no off-premise retailer may make available for sale alcoholic beverages on Sunday between 3:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., counties can impose additional closing hour restrictions in observance of various holidays (e.g., Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Good Friday, etc.). To access the list of counties and closing hours, please go here, scroll to the bottom of the page and click-on the counties of interest.
NYS Comptroller Applauds Timely State Budget, but Cautions Against “Revenue Assumptions.” NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released a report and media statement that the State’s on-time budget sent a positive signal to the bond markets and taxpayers but expressed unease over revenue assumptions. According to Di Napoli, “The Governor and the Legislature deserve credit for once again adopting budget bills ahead of the April 1st deadline. Nevertheless, New York continues to struggle to meet serious fiscal challenges. The recently passed state budget restrains spending growth, but it also contains temporary resources and revenue assumptions that may fall short. Instead of reining in the state’s reliance on backdoor borrowing, it expanded the use of public authority debt.”