Advocacy Update

By Larry Weindruch
NSGA Director of Public Affairs

At its recent meeting in Austin, TX, the NSGA Board of Directors identified issues on which the Association will focus in the next several months.

Online sales tax issues and the PHIT Act remain at the top of the list, and minimum wage and data breaches/security have joined them in NSGA’s advocacy efforts.

The newest development with regard to the online sales tax issue was the recent introduction of H.R. 2775, The Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2015 (RTPA), in June by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) as the House’s answer to the Senate’s Marketplace Fairness Act of 2015.

The bi-partisan RTPA provides states with the authority to require out-of-state online sellers to collect and remit state sales taxes where applicable. It answers some of the objections from House members who say the MFA puts too much of a burden on smaller sellers. The bill does so by meeting the House Judiciary Committee’s Seven Principles on Internet Sales Tax Collection, which was an early requirement of Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

It is based on destination sourcing, which means that the tax rate is based on the location of the consumer. Since the sales tax is a consumption tax and not a tax on the business, it makes sense that the tax rate should be based on the consumer’s state.

The bill drew wide support from most retail groups, including NSGA, the National Governors Association, International Council of Shopping Centers, the National League of Cities and national, state and local chambers of commerce.

The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act has more than two dozen co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, divided evenly among Republicans and Democrats. The Senate bill is expected to be introduced shortly.

The PHIT Act, H.R. 1218, would expand the allowable expenses for which pre-tax health savings account funds may be used, including health club fees, home exercise equipment, youth sports equipment, and “pay to play” fees for interscholastic sports. Goal is to encourage Americans to be more active.

In an effort to increase Congressional support for these most important issues, NSGA scheduled meetings with members of Congress in July to urge them to vote for RTPA and PHIT. NSGA-member retailers and dealers are participating in these meetings, which include Representatives from their home districts.

“It is important that members of Congress hear from their constituents on these important issues,” NSGA President & CEO Matt Carlson said. “Meetings with NSGA members who have businesses in their district are very effective in creating support for these bills.”

Data breaches are rising at an alarming rate, but employing a full-time IT security team to scrutinize every possible risk is costly. In addition to monitoring legislative and regulatory activity related to this issue, NSGA is helping to mitigate the cost of managing your information security through member-only discounted rates with Sword & Shield. Details on this program are available at nsga.org.

In addition, NSGA is working toward identifying a solution to meet upcoming compliance deadlines for credit and debit card transactions.

The conversation about minimum wage continues to grow in volume and importance. Many members are concerned not only about a possible national phase-in of a minimum wage but also local and state legislation that would increase the minimum wage over time.

NSGA has posted state-by-state minimum wage information on its website, nsga.org, and you can look for the latest updates by clicking on http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm.

If you have any questions about NSGA advocacy, please contact NSGA Director of Public Affairs Larry Weindruch, (800) 815-5422, Ext. 1290, or email: lweindruch@nsga.org.