Friday Facts

Friday Facts

Friday Facts - April 22, 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016

In the April 22 edition of Friday Facts, key updates for retailers:

  • Legislature heading for showdown with Governor over budget.
  • ALERT - CRMA lobbyist fighting against bills that would be harmful.
  • Other news and notes from the state capitol.

CRMA is YOUR Voice at the State Capitol, working full-time for your interests - we care ONLY about how legislative issues impact the retail industry.  Here’s what’s happening…

Legislature heading for showdown with Governor over budget.

  • Word is starting to get out that the Democratic Majority in both the House and the Senate are planning to present their version of a budget adjustment as they attempt to close a state budget gap that is close to $900 million.
  • As we go to press today, no details have emerged on what that budget will look like, but we know that the Democrats have done this without any input from the Governor or from the Republican minority.
  • This week the Democrats blew off a meeting with the Governor and the Republicans who wanted to meet to exchange ideas on how to close the gap.
  • In fact, things got a little testy this week between House Speaker Brendan Sharkey and the Governor over comments that the Speaker made regarding the Governor’s proposed budget fix.
  • You can go here to read that. 
  • For CRMA members, we are always on the lookout for the possibility of increases in REVENUE – whether that is a direct sales tax increase or other hidden fees or taxes that will impact our members and our customers.
  • IF, all the Legislative Leaders stick to their words, then we shouldn’t see any new taxes or fees, but we remain skeptical that will happen and continue to stay as close as we can to the process to protect our members.
  • By this time next week, we should know a whole lot more about the state of the state budget -and we will keep you posted.

CRMA fighting against a number of bills that will be harmful to Retailers.

  • Meanwhile, the General Assembly continues to churn as we move closer to the scheduled adjournment date of May 4th.
  • CRMA lobbyist continue to fight against bills that will have a negative impact on our industry.
  • Right now, we are fighting hard against HB 5564, An Act Concerning Card Balances. This bill would allow customers to be given cash back on gift cards. The bill allows for cash to be given to customers that have $10 or below balance.
  • While we might be able to argue giving cash back on a card balance – about 12 other states allow that – CRMA will never agree that ESCHEATING the unredeemed balance of a gift card back to the STATE is a good idea.
  • That is what Rep. Matt Lesser (D- Middletown) is proposing we do, in an amendment that he has filed on the bill…
  • We urge members, especially those in the Middletown area, to contact Rep Lesser TODAY and tell him how wrong he is on this issue of escheating. Without getting into all the legalese, the simple point on escheating of gift card balance is that it will impact ONLY CT BASED RETAILERS.
  • You can reach Rep. Lessor’s office by calling 860 – 240 – 0410. Let him know that you don’t want the escheating portion to be included in any bill and that CT’s gift card law works for all parties involved.
  • Only retailers that have a corporate location in Connecticut would be impacted by escheating. That is unacceptable to us and we will continue to vigorously fight that issue.
  • CRMA continues to argue that CT has the best gift card law in the country. We have NO expiration date on gift cards and in return we have NO ESCHEATING. It is a fair and balanced law and we see NO reason to change it.
  • We also concerned with SB 40 An Act Concerning Employer Inquiries, about an Employee’s or Prospective Employee’s Credit History. This bill would eliminate an employer’s ability to check the credit history for certain jobs.
  • Specifically, this bill eliminates a dollar threshold for any prospective employees who handles merchandise over $2500.  We were successful in having the Senate hold that bill this week as we continue to work on educating members of the Senate about its impact on the our membership.

Other news and notes from the state capitol.

  • This week the Senate passed SB 226 An Act Concerning Single-Use Carryout Bags. The bill requires the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and both the CRMA and the CT Food Association to enter into an agreement to find ways to reduce the use of single use plastic bags.
  • The Senate also approved a bill on consumer packaging.  CRMA was successful in working with other business groups and Sen. Ted Kennedy in forging a compromise on this bill. The final version of the bill, which still awaits House action, would create a task force to look at ways for industry to reduce consumer packaging.
  • SB 211 AAC Payroll Cards passed the Senate this week. We are hopeful that the House will take final action on it next week.

Campaign update…

  • Last week it was Donald Trump, this week it was Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea who visited Connecticut, and John Kasich is due in Glastonbury tonight.
  • With the Connecticut primary just days away (it is on Tuesday, April 26) presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is expected in the state (in New Haven on Sunday and possibly Hartford on Monday) and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be back.  Trump will be in Waterbury on Saturday, Clinton in New Haven.  And Clinton may also be campaigning in Bridgeport on Monday.  Details here.  
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