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Why State Government Affairs Professionals Never Sleep

July 30, 2015

By: Mandy N. Hagan, Esq., Vice President State Affairs and Grassroots

Threats to how a company does business in a state can pop up in some unexpected places. In state legislatures, a bill can be introduced and go all the way through the legislative process in as little as 30 days. If you aren’t staying on top of every bill, in every state, then you’re not at the table: you’re on the menu. This is especially true in times of revenue shortfalls for state budgets.

The 2015 legislative sessions, while not completely wrapped up, have mostly adjourned. This year GMA’s state affairs team tracked or lobbied on 912 bills, on issues from taxation to sweetened beverage “warning labels”. Just 10 percent of those bills were enacted into law and nearly 22 percent of them remain viable, in the 2016 session.

One of those oddly relevant bills that might have gone unnoticed, now on carryover to 2016, is a Maine bill – specifically LD 1099. This bill establishes a 20¢ fee on every container of “consumer packaged pesticides” for the purposes of creating an Animal and Plant Disease and Insect Control Fund.  The Fund would pays for pest management and pesticide safety awareness and education and would cover a portion of the operating costs at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s animal and plant disease and insect control laboratory.

At first glance, a tax on pesticides might seem unikely to impact very many food, beverage, and consumer packaged goods manufacturers. But a closer look at the list of registered pesticides in Maine tells a very different story. Everything from common household cleaners to flea repellants for pets gets swept into this new tax.

Luckily, through a strong coalition of trade groups and local advocates, the unintended consequences of this bill, that would make a $2.99 bottle of household cleaner suddenly cost the consumer $3.19, were communicated to policymakers in time. This opposition, combined with the peculiarities of a legislative session that was marked by disagreements about such basic procedures as when the legislature actually adjourned, meant this bill did not make it to the Governor (in spite of having technically passed both the House and Senate).

We live to fight another day, and look forward to January 2016 when state sessions are again in full swing.

 

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