New Congress Presents New Challenges, New Opportunities
Although the 112th Congress was able to avoid the “fiscal cliff” with a last-minute deal on tax rates and by postponing the automatic spending cuts in the “sequester”, the deal also created significant and immediate problems for the 113th Congress which convened on January 3, 2013.
The legislation that passed on the last day of the session postponed any automatic spending cuts for two months. That deadline, coupled with Federal spending reaching the statutory debt limit at approximately the same time, creates a hurdle the new Congress will be forced to address very soon.
While thinking members of both political parties agree the national debt is the critical issue facing our nation, there is no agreement on how to address it. In addition to some spending cuts, the President and many Democrats will ask for additional revenues (i.e. tax increases) beyond the billions in new taxes that were added in the recent deal. Republicans generally believe the problem is spending, including reigning in entitlement spending, and that all spending must be curtailed. Irrespective of who wins that battle, a re-write of the tax code will likely be a part of any comprehensive solution and we will be working hard to make sure a repeal of the Tan Tax is in the package.
Despite some grumbling, Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) was reelected as Speaker of the House of Representatives and there were no major changes in the leadership of either party. However, there were changes in committee leadership that will affect our industry.
Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA), who was chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding the FDA in the last congress was term-limited out of that position and will now chair the subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Health and Human Services. The new Agriculture/FDA Appropriations Subcommittee chairman is Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL). This is a critically important committee for our industry because it is in this committee that multiple attempts have been made to force the FDA to reclassify sunbeds and sunlamps to a much more restrictive class of medical device. We will be making certain that the new chairman is familiar with our industry and well aware of the role these small businesses play in the local economy.
In addition, there is a new chairman of the powerful House Committee on Rules. Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX), who chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) for the past four years, stepped down from that position to lead the Rules Committee. Many in our industry have met Chairman Sessions through fundraising events in support of the NRCC.
State Issues – 2013 Outlook
Although most of the state legislatures were not yet in session at press time, early indications point to a very busy 2013 state legislative agenda. The chair of the Indiana Senate Health Committee introduced S. 269, a bill to ban tanning for those under age 18. In Illinois, two major cities, Chicago and Springfield, passed bans on teen tanning after the legislature adjourned in 2012 and we can only assume that this local action will spur the legislature to try to pass a statewide ban this year.
With Vermont banning teens in 2012 and Rhode Island placing additional restrictions on parental consent, we also expect neighboring New England states to try to follow suit in 2013. For example, we know the Connecticut Dermatological Society has listed legislation to ban minors from indoor tanning as its top priority, and this effort will be supported by the Connecticut State Medical Society. Massachusetts has been considering restrictions for a number of years.
We also expect fallout from the “New Jersey Tanning Mom” to spread to neighboring Delaware and Pennsylvania this year and in New Jersey, legislation on teen access carries over from the 2012 session. As previously reported, we also expect teen tanning restrictions to be proposed in North Carolina because the Child Fatality Task Force in that state is recommending that the legislature take action.
Please Support the Indoor Tanning Association
If you are a current member, again, we thank you for your support. If you are not, please step up and invest in your industry! For less than a dollar a day, you can be a part of a great organization, the industry’s association that works for you, 24/7. Please join today! Visit theita.com or call the ITA for more information.
was the President of the Indoor Tanning Association.
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