CONGRESSIONAL SCORECARD

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Congress' plate has been filled with issues of importance to the grocery industry this year, including product liability, food stamps, a regulatory reform moratorium, unfunded mandates and regulation overhaul.retailers from liability claims resulting from misuse or alteration of products.Manufacturers that provide warnings or instructions could reduce damages and show user failed

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Congress' plate has been filled with issues of importance to the grocery industry this year, including product liability, food stamps, a regulatory reform moratorium, unfunded mandates and regulation overhaul.

retailers from liability claims resulting from misuse or alteration of products.

Manufacturers that provide warnings or instructions could reduce damages and show user failed to heed.

Complaints limited if victim under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

15-year statute of limitations.

Retailers liable only for own negligence.

Senate: Commerce Committee marked up April 6; floor action expected in May or June.

Punitive damages capped at $250,000 or three times economic damages.

Protects manufacturers and retailers from liability claims resulting from misuse or alteration of products.

Complaints limited if victim under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Two-year statute of limitations.

Retailers liable only for own negligence, or if manufacturer cannot be brought into court or is unable to pay judgment.

Creates an alternate dispute resolution mechanism.

FOOD STAMPS

House: Passed March 24 as part of welfare overhaul.

Caps spending increase to 2% yearly.

Strict penalties for fraud and abuse, allowing government to seize property and proceeds from illegal food stamp trafficking. Property not seized if owner innocent of fraud.

Once a state has implemented a uniform electronic benefits transfer system, it will have the option of operating a food stamp program under a block grant.

Senate: No action yet. Agriculture Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Finance Committee Chairman Bob Packwood, R-Ore., have indicated they favor turning the $25 billion program over to states in food stamps.

REGULATORY REFORM MORATORIUM

House: Passed Feb. 24.

Would freeze rule-making retroactively from Nov. 20, 1994, through end of 1995.

Senate: Passed March 29.

Would suspend implementation of new regulations, with an economic impact of $100 million or more a year, for 45 days to give Congress time to review or revoke.

Measures expected to be reconciled in joint House-Senate conference by early summer. UNFUNDED MANDATES

House: Passed Feb. 1.

Senate: Passed Jan. 27. Signed into law March 22.

The law requires both chambers to take a separate, majority vote to pass any bill that would impose unfunded mandates of more than $50 million on state and local governments. Agencies are required to consult with state and local officials before imposing costly new regulations.

REGULATION OVERHAUL

House: Passed Feb. 22.

The bill outlines a procedure for highly detailed scientific and economic analyses to govern government rule-making.

Senate: No action yet.

A bill has been proposed by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that would require agencies to prepare cost-benefit analyses to determine whether the costs of the regulation will be outweighed by its benefits. It would apply to regulations costing more than $50 million.