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Larkin: Taxes, Healthcare, Regulations Top Concern List For 2016

The Independent's Perspective

Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 09:46 am

by Peter Larkin/Special to The Shelby Report

Despite Republican majorities in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, Congress continues to grapple with gridlock. And, heading into an important 2016 presidential election, where Republicans need to defend 24 U.S. Senate seats vs. the 10 seats on the Democrat side, the 2016 elections will certainly dominate the legislative agenda in Congress.

While there is never a shortage of issues impacting the supermarket industry, the following issues, which are closely monitored by NGA, remain of critical importance to independent grocers heading into 2016:

Taxes: The election of Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to Speaker of the House opened up the critically important role of chairman of the influential House Ways and Means Committee. Congressman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) was tapped by the steering committee to succeed Speaker Ryan as the chairman of the committee in November 2015.

While comprehensive tax reform is unlikely to happen until after the 2016 elections, Chairman Brady will have much influence on the direction the committee will pursue regarding tax policy in the upcoming year. NGA will continue to weigh in with chairmen in both the House and Senate with the message that tax reform must include relief for both C-Corps and pass-through businesses.

Healthcare: According to the 2015 Independent Grocers Financial Survey conducted by NGA and FMS Solutions, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) dominated the political concern index for independent supermarket operators. Although it is unlikely that President Obama will allow his signature law to be dismantled, 2016 brings the possibility for commonsense tweaks and fixes to the law.

Regulations: From implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act to USDA’s proposed rule for meat grinding logs to the Department of Labor’s proposed rule on overtime pay, federal agencies are working full steam to issue regulations before the end of the Obama Administration’s last term. NGA is working to push back on regulations that would add new costs and unnecessary burdens on the backs of independent supermarkets and the wholesalers that serve them. One thing is certain—the next year will be filled with increased regulatory activity from a number of federal agencies.

With so much at stake, how can our industry address the specific issues confronting the independent supermarket operators?

The answer can be found by understanding the nature of the independent grocery channel. By and large, independent supermarket operators are family-owned, private enterprises with deep local roots. They are important—very important—constituents for U.S. representatives and senators, not only as major employers and economic drivers, but also as bellwethers of economic, political and demographic trends affecting households, families and, of course, voters.

This past September, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota received the Women Grocers of America’s inaugural Women Legislator of the Year Award. At the awards ceremony, generously sponsored by Shelby Publishing Co., Sen. Heitkamp, who grew up in a small town, shared a story about her local grocery store closing down. She described her grocery store as the cornerstone of her community, often supporting local charities and events—and recalled that when it went out of business, she knew her small community would be forever altered.

Over many years in government relations work on behalf of the food retail sector, I learned that members of Congress are typically eager to hear from the job creators in their districts or states. They know that success comes to grocers who stay on top of the needs of their customers and the community as a whole. Thus, their grasp of local affairs is particularly valuable.

There are a number of ways to get involved in the political process: reach out to your member of Congress and invite them to tour your store to help them better understand the important role grocers play in their communities, or contact your representative’s office to let them know where you stand on critical issues. NGA will assist you with setting up these tours; just give our government relations team a call.

I am confident that on these critical issues, a collective, unified voice from independent grocers will make a significant difference in legislation that helps the local grocer remain successful and independent.

About the author

Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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