Analysis: The Future of Dietary Supplement Regulation in NJ

The New Jersey Senate is currently considering legislation that would change the way dietary supplements are regulated in NJ.

Background

While the Food and Drug Administration oversees the marketing and labeling of dietary supplements it does not perform pre-market testing or require approval of the supplements before they are marketed. Studies suggest that many supplements currently available on the market are mislabeled, lack clear dosage instructions, or are corrupted with contaminants and therefore can cause serious health risks for consumers. New Jersey is in the process of taking steps to ensure the safety to Dietary Supplements through the establishment of the New Jersey Dietary Supplement Task Force as proposed in S2502, recently introduced in the NJ Senate. This task force seeks to determine what actions may be taken at the State level to improve quality assurance and safety standards for the litany of dietary supplements sold in New Jersey.

Overview: S2502 and the creation of the NJ Dietary Supplement Task Force Scope

The task force, as it currently proposed, will fall under the state’s Department of Health and will be responsible for examining and making recommendations for legislative and/or executive action with regard to the sale and use of dietary supplements in the state.

Specific duties of the task force include, but are not limited to:

  • quality control requirements
  • facility and product inspections
  • manufacturers reporting requirements
  • batch testing requirements (including whether to mandate batch testing by the State)
  • establishing a collaborative system to share test results and adverse incident reports with other states
  • the treatment of patients following adverse incidents
  • reporting adverse incidents to appropriate State and federal agencies
  • restricting or banning the sale of specific products
  • establishing age restrictions to purchase dietary supplements
  • imposing new fees or taxes on dietary supplements
  • mandating additional labeling or signage requirements
  • public education and outreach programs

The task force will be comprised of representatives from State Government as well as limited representation from industry. Specific breakdown of members include the Commissioner of Health, the Attorney General, the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety, along with four other public members. Two public members will be appointed by the Governor, one by the President of the Senate, and one by the Speaker of the General Assembly. The proposed legislation requires that no later than one year after organization, the task force shall submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Governor, and the task force “shall expire upon submission of its report.”

Impact

This bill presents a large opportunity for the state to regulate dietary supplements, including nutraceuticals and signals a potential move to draw this industry closer to that of Pharmaceuticals. Being among the first of it’s kind in the US, this task force will surely cause a stir amongst vitamin shops and (perhaps most significantly) product formulators and manufacturers.

In particular, product formulators and manufacturers will face stricter QA/QC and testing requirements that may impact their operating costs. Indeed, the requirement for batch testing will cause headaches for manufacturers, but will benefit in the consumer in the long run. For the consumer, it will ensure that products will “do what they say they will do”, something that is woefully inadequate across this market. It is also important to mention that this type of QA/QC and batch testing rules that we’re seeing NJ ruminate on is similar to a trend being seen in the nascent Cannabis industry.

There does not appear to be a great deal of direct impact on the consumer–yet. Whether or not companies are able to meet regulatory requirements will evolve as the regulations get developed and put in place. Vitamin shops and other establishments selling dietary supplements will also feel an immediate effect–once the regulations get put into place. These regulations may include signage, consumer education, and reporting or banning the sale of certain products.

If NJ wants to ensure that the Dietary Supplement Task Force is indeed successful it will need to convene a diverse group of stakeholders outside of just government officials and political appointees. Bringing industry operators to the table will provide the venue to create realistic regulations while maintaining the dietary supplement industry’s competitive edge in NJ and above all, ensure that a safe, reliable product is being delivered to the consumer.

For more information, contact Brett Goldman, DMGS Manager of Special Projects

Brett Goldman is DMGS’s Manager of Special Projects. Among other things, he oversees DMGS’s blog and content production and has a keen eye for newly regulated–or soon-to-be regulated– industries.

Hope Brodkin, DMGS Summer Intern contributed to this report.

 

DMGS Washington DC Update

Congressional Appropriations

To date, no appropriation bill has successfully reached President Obama’s desk. Last minute efforts in the Senate to move the Mil-Con Zika bill failed before the Senate left for recess on July 14. With both chambers out of session until September, and the looming elections, the further movement of any appropriations in 2016 is unlikely, leaving little question that FY 2017 will begin with a continuing resolution. Each of the 12 discretionary spending bills currently stand as shown:
Opioid Abuse Legislation
In a 92-2 vote on July 14, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act which would authorize the Attorney General and Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to address the national epidemics of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use, and to provide for the establishment of an inter-agency task force to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication.

The bill was first introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and passed the Senate in a 94-1 vote on 3/9/16. It then passed the House with a substitute amendment that incorporated 18 other opioid abuse bills in a 407 – 5 vote.  The bills subsequently passed through a conference committee to reconcile the two versions of the bill. Concerns remain that the bill, while authorizing funding for treatment and recovery programs, is not sufficiently funded after attempts to add $600 million in emergency funding to the bill failed in both the House and Senate. The bill currently awaits the President Obama’s signature

GMO Food Labeling Measure

The White House announced on July 13 that President Obama would likely sign the GMO food labeling bill as resolved in the House on July 14. The bill, S 764, would subject food producers to a mandatory labeling procedure for all non-meat genetically modified organisms (GMO). The provision would require the US Department of Agriculture to develop a standardized label for GMOs within two years of enactment that would include the creation of a threshold for GMO content necessitating labeling

The measure would bar any consideration of bioengineering during the safety evaluation of a product and would preempt existing state regulations on the issue of GMO labeling. The bill defines a GMO as any item that contains genetic material modified through genetic recombination, referred to as recombinant DNA, that couldn’t be achieved through conventional breeding or isn’t otherwise found in nature.

The bill passed over the concerns of consumer groups that oppose the exemption of meat products.

House Mental Health Bill

In a 422-2 vote on July 6, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act passed through the House. The bill authored by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) would make available psychiatric, psychological, and supportive services for individuals with mental illness and families in mental health crisis. It would create new federal organizations and positions designed to address mental health care and expands the resources available to individuals with mental health disease. It also includes provisions which would expand Medicare Incentive payments for meaningful EHR use to clinical psychiatrists. However, the Senate presently lacks a suitable companion bill.

DoT TIGER Grants

The Department of Transportation is in the process of awarding $500 million in funding for forty national transportation projects under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program established by the Obama Administration. Among the awards is a $19 million grant to connect downtown Pittsburgh to surrounding communities. Currently, President Obama is seeking $1.25 billion in funding for FY 2017, far more than the House proposal of $450 million & the Senate proposal of $525 million.

Healthcare Industry Anti-Trust Lawsuit

The US Department of Justice is suing to stop the merger of Anthem Inc. & Cigna Corp. as well asAetna Inc. & Humana Inc. Justice Department officials are concerned that the deals would decrease competition in the health insurance market as the five largest companies could become three.

Child Nutrition Programs

The Senate is close to passing a school nutrition reauthorization bill that would extend funding for the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, & the Summer Food Service Program, among other free & reduced-price meal programs for children. The various programs would receive $30 billion in funding over the five-year authorization. While the Senate reauthorization has bipartisan support, the House companion has only Republican support due to partisan provisions. However, there remains hope that a conference committee may be able to approve a reauthorization this fall.

FDA Fitness Tracker & App Regulation

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) declined to regulated fitness trackers and mobile health & wellness applications in a guidance published July 28. The FDA defined exempt technologies as those tools intended only for general wellness, such as weight management, physical fitness, sleep, or mental acuity trackers, applications, and games. The guidance clarified that the FDA would seek to regulate any product that claims the ability to treat or diagnose a specific disease or condition.

 

John Zang, DMGS Accounts Coordinator contributed to this post

NJ Legislative Spotlight: A4048/The “Airbnb Tax”

Online marketplaces such as Airbnb that offer short-term house and room rentals would be taxed like hotels under a proposal introduced in the state Assembly this week. The bill, A-4048 would impose a 7 percent sales and use tax and a 5 percent transient accommodation fee on accommodations booked through Airbnb and similar websites, such as Homeaway. The bill would also authorize certain municipalities to impose a 3 percent transient accommodation tax.

What might happen next in NJ?

Background and Current Law

Under the current NJ law, the state imposes a 7% sales and use tax and a 5% hotel and motel occupancy fee on hotel room rentals. Additionally, the current law allows for certain municipalities to impose a local hotel occupancy tax of up to 6%. These rates and taxes do not apply to short-term rentals or occupancies that are booked via online marketplaces such as Airbnb. As a greater number of both business and leisure travelers turn to these platforms due to their affordability, flexibility, and stylish accommodations, lawmakers (not just in NJ) see a need to keep up.
Proposed Changes

Under A4048—introduced by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen)– the State of NJ would change current transient accommodation fees and taxes that would allow the state to:

  • Impose a 7% sales and use tax;
  • Impose 5% transient accommodation fee on charges for short-term rentals rented through a transient marketplace;
  • Allow for certain towns to impose a 3% transient accommodation tax on certain charges for providing space for the accommodation of transient guests;
  • Limit the imposition of the taxes and fees to the taxable space for accommodation of a transient guest that is provided by a person engaged in the business of providing this space.

It’s important to understand that to be considered “engaged in business” as a transient accommodation, a person must be engaged in the activity of providing space for accommodation to the public as a business activity. This includes the placement of an advertisement or the listing of the space for accommodation on marketplace such as Airbnb or Homeaway). The only caveat is that the person (or landlord) must have cumulative gross receipts from charges (for providing space for accommodation to transient guests in this state) in excess of $1,000 during the preceding four calendar quarters. A quick search of Airbnb indicates that it’s not that hard to cumulate $1,000 in gross receipts from a short-term rental.

Interestingly, the bill allows the Director of the Division of Taxation to enter into an agreement with the owner or operator of a transient space marketplace for the purpose of collection and payment of the tax. Upon entering into such an agreement, the State may waive the responsibility of a person engaged in the business of providing space for accommodation to collect and pay the tax, placing the onus on the marketplace instead. The owner or operator of the transient space marketplace shall then agree to be liable for the collection and payment of the fee, which may seem more digestible to some landlords engaging in short-term rentals.

An increasing number of states will follow in the footsteps of states such as New Jersey and New York to best understand how to tax and regulate transient space marketplaces and many will look to the leadership and experience of NJ as it happens. DMGS will continue to monitor the progress of A4048 and other similar legislation as they moves through the NJ Assembly and other legislative bodies.
Brett Goldman, DMGS Manager for Special Projects and Christian Lizana, DMGS Summer Intern contributed to this report.

A Few Events that We’re Excited About at the DNC in Philly

 

As we hope all of our readers know at this point, Philadelphia is about to be the center of the Democratic universe next week. People from around the country (and probably the world) will be descending on Philly for what many insiders are calling “the big show”–and with good reason: The Sports Complex (where they’ll be holding the actual convention) has been a fortress for the last 3 weeks; roads are being shut down; hotel rooms and apartments are scarce; and there’s going to be a lot of really cool stuff to do.

Here are a few of our favorites, as curated by DMGS’s Manager of Special Projects, Brett Goldman:

Food

What: Philly Feast, United We Eat

Where:  Arch Street & N 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
When: Monday July 25th 2016, 11:00am to 3:00pm

Food is key in Philly. We’re known for it. Philly Feast will be no exception: a Night Market-style food truck festival that will take place during the day and will kick off Convention Week. The festival will include a diverse lineup of locally-based food trucks, live music, and retail vendors. The event will bring together Convention guests, volunteers and Philadelphia residents on the first day of the Convention. You might find me here eating lunch.

Tech

What: How Tech and Data are Changing Politics

Where: McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks – 1 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107

When: Sunday, July 24th at 5pm

Sponsored by Organizer, this event is bringing together a panel of experts at the intersection of Tech and Politics. The discussion is slated to cover how technology has changed and is driving political campaigns both from a tactical standpoint and a strategic standpoint as well as how to mobilize voters using the means we have today. As someone that remembers campaigns before smart phones, this makes life so much easier. Also, I know Chris Kelly, he was the first Chief Privacy Officer at Facebook so you know the discussion is going to get interesting..

Panel includes:

  • Chris Kelly – Silicon Valley Investor,
  • Lucy Flores – Former Nevada Assemblywoman,
  • Brent Blackaby – Co-Founder of Trilogy Interactive

Millennials

What: NLC @ DNC: A Millennial Issues Forum
Where: The Franklin Institute, Franklin Theater, 222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
When: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 , 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Millennials are front and center in the 2016 elections. As the largest voting bloc in the country, millennials are fundamentally changing the course of elections and public policy impacting communities across the country.

Please join NLC/NLC4 and our partners Comcast NBCUniversal and CAL Innovates for NLC @ DNC, a forum on millennial issues focusing on innovation and national issues in the election. This conversation will feature leaders from the NLC/NLC4 community over the last 10 years.

Full disclosure: Brett is a Senior Leadership Trainer with NLC and serves on their Ambassador Committee, but that’s all the more reason to go!

Arts

What: Rock the Vote’s Truth to Power

Where: 990 Spring Garden Street

When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday, July 25th through Wednesday, July 27
Tired of the stuffy politico party? This is where to go then. The launch event for Rock the Vote’s Truth to Power campaign. Truth to Power seeks to engage and mobilize young people in the 2016 election, beginning with artists and activists from across the nation coming together against the backdrop of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.


In partnership with #Cut50 and other national and community partners, Rock the Vote will host a large-scale pop-up art exhibition, discussion forum and live performances designed to elevate and illuminate the most pressing issues facing young people in the United States today.

I’m really excited about this one. I saw a preview of the art installation and it’s going to be really powerful (and there are going to be some very cool people there…)

Music

What: The Last Jimmy – A Hip Hop Musical

Where: The Proscenium Theatre at The Drake – 302 South Hicks Street Closest Cross Streets – 15th and Spruce, Philadelphia, PA 19102

When: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at 7:00 PM – Sunday, July 31, 2016 at 2:00 PM (EDT)

Arts and Music are going to be key at the DNC this year. This event is not one to miss. Karl Dice Raw Jenkins of the Legendary Roots Crew is returning home to Philadelphia, with the powerful hip hop musical The Last Jimmy, co-created and written by Phil Brown and inspired by Dr. Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow”.

The Last Jimmy, sponsored by the Knight Foundation, will have a special six day run at the new Proscenium Theatre at The Drake, during the Democratic National Convention, July 26th through July 29th at 7PM, and July 30th and 31st at 2PM. VIP Reception to follow after the July 26th Talk Back, sponsored by Conshohocken Brewery.

Military and Transportation (Federal) Update

Military

DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS – The bill includes $517.1 billion in base funding and $58.6 billion in Overseas Contingency (OCO) funding, an increase of $2.98 since the 2016 fiscal year, though $586.4 million less than President Obama’s request. The funding provides for a number of expenditures, including $8.32 billion for the F-35 & $43 billion for operations in Afghanistan while it also prohibits the retiring of the KC-10 aerial refueling tanker. H.R. 4909 authorizes the funding for the construction of facilities in conjunction of the Air Force squadron of C-17’s at the 911th Airlift Wing. It provides $22.8 million for the C-17 ADAL Fuel Hydrant System, $8.2 million for the C-17 Construction/Overlay Taxiway & Apron, & $54 million for the construction of two bay corrosion/fuel hangars. Having passed through the House in a 282-138 vote on June 16, the bill is now being considered in the Senate. On June 29, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on the motion to take up the bill. However, on July 7, the motion to invoke cloture failed in a 50-44 vote.

MILCON-VA-  This legislation provides for funding for housing, training, and equipment for military personnel and their families. It also contains funds for the maintenance of base infrastructure. Finally, this bill funds veterans’ programs and benefits. Most importantly, the bill provides the $85 million necessary for the C-17 squadron at the 911th. This legislation provides $81.6 billion in discretionary funding, $1.8 billion above FY 2016 levels. Funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs is increased by 3% from FY 2016 level. Additional funds are intended to increase the speed, efficiency, and effectiveness of health services provided to veterans. Military construction funding was $250 million above the President’s request. This additional funding will provide for the contraction and maintenance of family housing, health facilities, and overseas facilities and infrastructures.

On May 19, the Senate passed its version of the FY 2017 appropriations bill on a vote of 89 – 8. The bill, H.R. 2577, was a minibus that included funding for transportation, veterans, and $1.1 billion for combatting the Zika virus. The bill allows Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana to patients in states in which it has been legalized. The bill passed by the Senate includes $190.1 billion in discretionary and mandatory funds for military construction and veterans, and $114.2 billion for transportation and housing programs. After passage of bills in both chambers, a conference report of the two bills was created.

On June 23, the House adopted the conference report on the fiscal 2017 Transportation-HUD and Military Construction-VA appropriations omnibus in a 239-171 vote. In the Senate, attempts to limit debate through cloture on the conference report failed in a 52-48 vote on June 28. The Senate Republicans again failed to enact cloture on the bill before beginning their summer recess July 14.

ARMY CORP OF ENGINEERS VETERANS JOBS PROGRAM –  On July 6, President Obama signed HR 3114, which codifies the program under which the Army Corps of Engineers hires veterans and members of the Armed Forces to assist the Corps with curation and historic preservation activities. The Corps often unearths objects of archaeological significance in the course of its operation and spends between $3.5 & 4.5 million annually to support the hiring of veterans to assist in the preservation and cataloguing of artifacts.

Transportation

TRANSPORTATION-HUD (THUD) –  On May 19, the Senate passed a transportation funding measure as part of the minibus for transportation, veterans, and Zika funding. In addition to the details outlined in the previous section, the bill allows for $74.7 billion in transportation funding, $1.7 billion more than in fiscal 2016, and $2.5 billion less than requested. The House Appropriations Committee also passed its version of the bill (H.R. 5394) on May 24. The minibus is currently making its way through the Senate.

FAA REAUTHORIZATION – The extension bill (H. Res. 818) for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was approved in the House on July 11 by a voice vote. By unanimous consent, the Senate agreed to a vote on Wednesday, July 13. This bill extends the authority for FAA programs and relaxed taxes through September 30, 2017. Although this is not a long-term bill, it reflects a bipartisan compromise that provides for more than a year of certainty and includes a number of time sensitive safety and security provisions. Without this short-term extension, the FAA’s authority will expire on July 15.

FAST LANE – The Department of Transportation is getting final approval from congressional transportation committees before giving away $759 million for national highway and freight projects under its FASTLANE program. Under this funding, the National Park Service is slated to receive $90 million to reconstruct the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C. and Virginia is slated to receive $165 million for repairs intended to improve the I-95 corridor in Virginia. Projects to be completed under the FASTLANE grants require the Department of Transportation to notify the authorizing committees about projects within their jurisdiction selected to receive FASTLANE grants. The lawmakers then have 60 days to complete their review of the projects.

TSA SCREENING –  The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will install new screening technology at select airports this fall pursuant to their efforts to reduce wait times and improve security at checkpoints. Automated screening equipment will be deployed at hubs in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and Miami. This equipment is already being tested in Atlanta and is estimated to reduce wait times by 30 percent. This 3D CT technology is expected to speed up the passenger screening process by allowing liquids, gels, aerosols, and laptops to remain in carry-on bags. If this pilot program is successful, the TSA says that the technology may be added to more checkpoints nationwide.

Washington, DC Update

Guns Control Reform Difficulty Among Anti-Terror Legislation

After an unprecedented 26 hour demonstration on the House floor, Democrats in the House continue to push for increased gun control. The provision within the counterterrorism package that is up for a vote in the House would allow the Justice Department to prevent a gun sale to a suspected terrorist if a court order is obtained within three days. Democrats in Congress hope to vote on two amendments to the package that would expand background checks to internet sales and gun shows along with a means at preventing people on terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns.

The Homeland Safety and Security Act, H.R. 5611 would also attempt to address “radical Islamic terror.” The bill calls for the potential withholding of passports to suspected terrorists and requires the FBI to do annual reviews on their screening database and lists. The Department of Homeland Security would also open a new office specifically geared to prevent terrorism and money would be allocated to local communities in order to counter radical Islamic campaigns.

Health Spending Bills
The health spending bills in the House and Senate are moving through the legislative process, despite several differences between the two. The House bill has been met with strong opposition from Democrats over the lack of funding for opioid abuse programs and Zika virus suppression. The House bill also includes provisions to defund a part of the ACA implementation. In contrast, the Senate’s version of the bill largely has bipartisan support.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt
On June 27, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled (5-3) that parts of a Texas law regarding abortion are unconstitutional. The 2013 law required abortion clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery and also required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The Court found that these requirements offered little to no health benefits for women.

The Court found that the Texas law placed an “undue burden” on women seeking legal abortions and was therefore unconstitutional.  The decision was a direct ruling to the law in Texas only, however it will have a nationwide impact as other states’ laws with similar provisions are more susceptible to being challenged as also being unconstitutional.

Crowdsourcing Investment
The House of Representatives voted 394-4 in favor of the Fix Crowdfunding Act on Tuesday, July 5, 2016. This legislation encourages investments in startups by raising the cap for crowdsourcing investment from $1 million to $5 million. This GOP-backed bill is expected to pass in the Senate and no veto threat has been issued by President Obama.

Congressional Appropriations

  • Senate Democrats blocked a McConnell cloture motion on the conference report on H.R. 2577, which has $1.1 billion in Zika funding and a Military Construction-VA compromise, over “poison-pill” insertions into the Zika funding which prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving Zika funding and provisions which defund a part of the Affordable Care Act.
  • The State-Foreign Operations bill, S. 3117, was approved by full committee on June 29.
  • Congress’ priority remains the marking up and passage of the Federal Budget Resolution H.Con.Res.125, and appropriations measures. The House Budget Committee approved the resolution. Below is where each of the 12 discretionary spending bills currently stand in the process:

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Congress in Session
Senate
Week of July 4:                     6, 7, 8
Week of July 11:                  11, 12, 13, 14, 15

House
Week of July 4:                  6, 7, 8
Week of July 11:                11, 12, 13, 14, 15

After the July 15 summer recess, both Houses will be back in session on September 6.

Pennsylvania Budget Update

On 7/10/16, Governor Wolf held a press conference regarding his plans for Senate Bill 1073 (General Appropriations). He opened with stating that over the course of the last several days, he has been asked what he will do with the General Appropriations Bill.  He stated his intent to avoid unnecessary distractions and he called this press conference to tell the public and the Members that he will let Senate Bill 1073 become law without his signature, unless he receives a sustainable, recurring and sufficient revenue package by midnight in which case he will sign.  He commented that the General Appropriations bill is something that Pennsylvania should be proud of and now we must pass legislation to pay for what is in it. He still expects and hopes the General Assembly will send him such a revenue package by tomorrow evening.

Some highlights of Senate Bill 1073 are as follows:

  • Increases spending in the Department of Human Services by $537.3 million;
  • Increases spending on pension obligations by about $450 million;
  • Increases aid for public school operations and instruction by $200 million;
  • Increases spending in the Department of Corrections by $153 million;
  • Increases aid to higher education, including state system universities, state-related universities, student grants and community colleges, by $39 million;
  • And, increases to help address the Heroin Epidemic – Department of Drug and alcohol – $5M increase and $15M increase under the Department of Human Services for a total of $20M.

Disagreements over what revenue enhancements have support and how much revenue is needed, have jammed the process from moving forward just before the July 4 weekend.  Reports are that the recent posturing has a lot to do with the upcoming elections, with all 203 House seats are up and half the 50 Senate seats.  Also, both the Republicans and Democrats have their national conventions on their minds as well.

Revenue enhancements up for discussion include, but not limited to, the following:

  • Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) on natural gas utility service;
  • Increase in the Cigarette Tax (question still remains whether it will be $.50 or $1.00 per pack);
  • Taxing e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, among others;
  • Increase in the Bank Shares Tax to .99,
  • Removing the 1% vendor discount for retailers who collect the 6% sales tax for the Commonwealth;
  • Sales tax on digital downloads;
  • Internet Gaming;
  • And, borrowing funds from the State Workers Insurance Fund;

While the House and Senate Leadership and the Governor continue to meet to try resolve their differences on what revenue is needed to fund the budget, the rank and file House and Senate members have been put on notice that they will not likely return to session until Sunday, July 10th.

DMGS continue to monitor this process closely to ensure that clients and colleagues are updated frequently with real time information.