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Industry Seeks Reform on ‘Day in Washington’

WASHINGTON — Members of the National Grocers Association, Food Marketing Institute and Food Industry Association Executives met with legislators here Wednesday on a range of issues, from health care reform to credit card fees.

The food retail industry’s annual "Day in Washington" congressional fly-in drew retailers, wholesalers and state association leaders from more than 30 states, according to a statement from the associations.

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“Supermarkets are job-creators, employing 3.4 million workers, and they’re also inherent to the financial health of their communities,” said Leslie G. Sarasin FMI president and chief executive officer. “It’s great for members of Congress to hear directly from the grocers in their districts about how even the slightest nuances to legislation or regulation can impact their 1-percent-profit-margin-businesses.”

Among the issues addressed:

• The supermarket industry said it supports changes to the Affordable Care Act, including amending the ACA’s definition of "full time" — 30 hours per week — to be in line with current workforce and fair labor standards; supporting H.R. 1254 to repeal an auto-enrollment provision; and restoring the ability for customers to use their Flexible Spending Account card for purchases of over-the-counter medicines without a prescription.

• Supermarket operators are also urging members of Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 1249, the Common Sense Nutritional Disclosure Act, bi-partisan legislation that would, in part, ensure that the Food and Drug Administration does not include mainstream grocery stores in chain restaurant menu-labeling regulations.

• The industry believes Congress should also focus on reforming the tax code and not try to raise revenue from other areas. The last in, first out (LIFO) accounting method “is not a tax provision and repeal would create a new, phantom tax that does not meet the basic standards of fairness and equity,” FMI said in a statement.

• The supermarket industry is also urging members of Congress to support the Marketplace Fairness Act (H.R. 684/S. 336), which would allow for collection of sales taxes from online businesses.

• With regard to payment card fees, the supermarket industry supports “swipe fee” reforms through maintaining and improving debit card fee reform and “moving toward more fair and equitable credit card swipe fees.”

“The presence of the supermarket industry in Washington, D.C. this week is significant given the many important public policy issues facing our industry,” said Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO, NGA. “The momentum gained by having industry executives educate their elected officials on these issues will help keep up the pressure on Congress to take action.”

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