Arm yourself with the issues

August 2017—

…and meet with your legislators

Congress is on recess in August—and believe it or not this doesn’t mean the government is on summer break. In the early days of government, Congress left Washington in the summer because of the heat; that, and the fact that governing wasn’t a full-time job. Jump forward to the 1950s, the job was year-round with few breaks in the legislative calendar. By 1970 Congress mandated a summer break as part of the Legislative Reorganization Act with the purpose of legislators going home to their districts to hear from their constituents. This year Congress will be in session for 37 weeks compared to the 26 weeks in 2016 (which was an election year).

This is the perfect time to visit your legislators in their state offices or better yet, invite them for a store tour. You don’t have to be politically minded or well-versed in every issue; you just have to care about your business, your employees and your community. You know what your challenges are—share those with the people you voted for.

If you need some talking points the Home Furnishings Association is here to help. Following are issues our retail members have named as being important to their business operations.

Marketplace Fairness Act Yes, we’re still fighting for a federal remote/online sales tax, whether it be the Marketplace Fairness Act or Remote Transactions Parity Act. While Marketplace Fairness is on the backburner in the House Judiciary Committee, thanks to Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., many states are forcing the issue, either by passing legislation directly challenging Quill v. North Dakota (a Supreme Court ruling which requires a physical nexus before a business can charge a sales tax in that state) or considering laws that go after third-party marketplaces (like Amazon and eBay).

As more states fight to collect sales taxes from out-of-state businesses without simplifying their sales tax laws (a provision required by both proposed federal acts), retailers will face increased admin costs and burdens and legal risks.

Proposed federal legislation would expand sales tax collection authority, but with the requirement that states simplify their sales taxes to ensure that they do not overly burden the national economy. Finding such a solution is a good first step to protect businesses from costly compliance requirements and still allow states the ability to collect on online consumer purchases.

Swipe fees Though we scored a big win by preventing the Durbin amendment (the swipe fee agreement that put a cap on outrageous debit swipe fees, and introduced transparency and competition into the debit market for the first time) from being repealed as part of the Financial CHOICE Act, its repeal could still be attached to anything that’s moving through Congress as the banks have deep pockets and want this amendment off the table.

Tax reform/Border Adjustability Tax One of the top proposals from House leadership is eliminating the Border Adjustability Tax (BAT), a deduction that allows importers to deduct the cost of imports (20 percent) from its tax bill. This has caused a major uproar among many industries and a coalition has formed to highlight the impacts this proposal would have on retail and the economy as a whole.

Formaldehyde emission standards The Environmental Protection Agency’s direct final action on these standards not only affects manufacturers, but importers and retailers as well. Under the rule, retailers must maintain bills of lading, invoices, or comparable documents for three years with a statement of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section VI compliance. This chain-of-custody is critical for compliance purposes. There are additional requirements for importers (or fabricators); aside from the chain-of-custody documentation, importers must be able to make records identifying the panel producer, the date the products were produced, the supplier (if different) and the date the products were purchased available to EPA within 30 calendar days of request. This direct final action extends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Title VI final rule compliance dates including: extending the December 12, 2017 date for emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling provisions until March 22, 2018; extending the December 12, 2018 date for import certification provisions until March 22, 2019; and extending the December 12, 2023 date for provisions applicable to producers of laminated products until March 22, 2024.

Flammability standards The HFA supports a national flammability standard based on California’s TB-117-2013 standard and it supports the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Acting Chairman, Ann Marie Buerkle’s view of ending the CPSC’s 40-year rule-making process on this issue.

The HFA also supports determining if the CPSC’s 2014 data proves the 2014 voluntary tip-over standard is working before proposing any changes.

About the Author

Lisa Casinger

Lisa Casinger is the government relations liaison for HFA and the editorial director for RetailerNOW. Contact her at lcasinger@myhfa.org.