CHICAGO -- Members of the National Automatic Merchandising Association on opposite sides of the country recently stepped up to lobby against state legislation that could have serious consequences for the vending industry.
In Oregon, Dan Lind of Cascade Vending (Corvallis) and a number of blind operators, along with Northeast Automatic Vending Association legislative consultant John Powell, testified before the House Health Care Committee on April 8 regarding HB 3403, a bill written to mandate "healthier" snacks in vending machines located in public buildings.
In Vermont, Brent Farrell, owner of Vitality Vending (Essex Junction), testified before the Senate Finance Committee on April 12 regarding H. 528, a bill that would effectively create a disparate and unfair "meals tax" on food products sold through vending machines.
"I wanted my voice to be heard, and for my legislators to understand the direct impact to my business and the vending industry if this harmful meals tax were to pass," Farrell explained. "My testimony shows that our industry is engaged in the process and we care about what happens to our businesses and industry."
"Testifying before key committees essentially raises the bar for all of NAMA's grassroots efforts," said Eric Dell, NAMA senior vice-president of government affairs. "Our members' testimony directly showcases the influence that they can have on the legislative process. It further underscores the fact that our industry should be considered when elected officials offer legislation that impacts our members' business operations."
Sandy Larson, NAMA senior director and counsel, agreed. "Testifying before important committees is a huge part of the process of educating legislators on key issues," she emphasized. "Our members are uniquely positioned to capture the attention of our legislators on almost any business matter because of the multifaceted nature of the vending and refreshment services industry.
"We need elected officials to know how proposed taxes and mandates can affect our members' ability to continue to support their local economies -- from job creation to revenue generation," Larson pointed out.
The association, which has been advocating successfully on behalf of the vending industry since 1936, has a wealth of experience to share, and its affiliated state councils bring tight focus on legislators and regulators in state capitals across the country. At NAMA's recent annual convention, the association hosted a state council officers' breakfast that served as a forum for the exchange of ideas and sharing of success stories; and Dell led a seminar on "Grassroots Advocacy" as part of the OneShow education program.