Members also hoping for supply stability, predictability
by Eric Pereira / content creator
Dan Shaul, executive director of the Missouri Grocers Association, highlighted the state’s recent passage of a “long overdue” measure concerning Wayfair legislation, also known as Senate Bills 153 and 97.
“We’re the last state to pass [it],” said Shaul, who also is a seated state representative. “I think it was a decent bill. It was not an outstanding bill, but it got us on a level playing field. And I think we’ll be able to make some adjustments so that in the future we can make it even more palatable and more fair for our brick-and-mortar stores.”
The legislation means that Missouri and local jurisdictions will be allowed to collect an online use tax that will “help protect Missouri’s brick-and-mortar businesses,” according to a press release from Gov. Michael Parson’s office. Collection and remittance obligations will begin on Jan. 1, 2023.
“This law will help even the playing field between Missouri small businesses and large out-of-state retailers,” Parson said in the June 30 release. “With more than 570,000 small businesses in the state…it is time that we establish a 21st century tax code that benefits our Main Street businesses rather than companies that don’t invest in our communities or employ our citizens.”
The state also passed SB 51 addressing COVID liability, which Shaul views as a positive. According to an online bill summary, “No individual or entity engaged in businesses, services, activities or accommodations shall be liable in any COVID-19 exposure action, as defined in the act, unless the plaintiff can prove by clear and convincing evidence that:
(1) The individual or entity engaged in recklessness or willful misconduct that caused an actual exposure to COVID-19; and
(2) The actual exposure caused personal injury to the plaintiff.”
In preparation for the next legislative session, Shaul said the association will review the matter and make any changes necessary. Property tax “issues” are another potential target.
Shaul has served since 2006 as executive director of MGA, which represents about 700 storefronts statewide.
Asked for the No.1 concern of the association’s members, Shaul said supply chain stability for wholesalers and retailers, which prefer certainty in the market.
“We like predictability. We like to know what consumers are going to buy for Easter in the fall,” he explained. “We like to know what people are going to buy for Halloween and Thanksgiving in the spring.
“And right now, that certainly is missing from the market because of COVID, because of mask mandates, because of lockdowns, travel restrictions…people aren’t as predictable now, because there’s so many other impacts that we’re not familiar with.”
As for the more immediate future, Shaul said he is looking forward to the association’s in-person convention, which is set for Oct. 20-22.