ITEM PRICING LAW IMPLEMENTATION MOVES TO REGULATORY PROCESS
Now that the Governor has signed the item pricing waiver legislation into law (Chapter 138 of the Acts of 2012), the system of implementation now moves on to the regulatory process. The MA Division of Standards will be drafting regulations that must go through the public hearing process, and is aiming to have the regulations finalized before the January 1, 2013 effective date, after which food stores and stores with food departments can apply for the item pricing waiver. We will keep you informed. Please contact the office if you have any questions.
PAID SICK LEAVE BILL PLACED INTO STUDY
Legislation that would have required employers to allow employees to accrue paid sick time has been placed into a study. H3995 would have required employers to allow their employees to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 56 hours per calendar year depending on the size of the business. There are other proposals in House Ways and Means and the Health Care Financing Committee that would also grant leave time in one form or another that we will be closely watching as the Legislature prepares to end formal sessions at the end of this month.
MA SALES TAX HOLIDAY MOST LIKELY TO BE ESTABLISHED
When the Governor signed the FY ’13 budget into law on Sunday, July 8, he mentioned his support for legislation that would create the annual Massachusetts sales tax holiday. If signed, the sales tax holiday will take place on August 11 and 12 this year, and exempts certain sales below $2,500 from the state’s 6.25% sales tax, excluding tobacco products and meals which will continue to be taxed.
HOUSE AND SENATE OVERRIDE GOVERNOR’S EBT VETOES
On Wednesday, July 11 the MA House of Representatives overrode the Governor’s vetoes of sections in the FY ’13 state budget that would have restricted certain purchases by SNAP benefit recipients, with the Senate following suit on Thursday, July 12. Both branches nearly unanimously struck down the Governor’s vetoes of sections in the budget that would have financially penalized individuals who made SNAP purchases of tobacco, lottery tickets and alcohol and prevent purchases of such items as jewelry, tattoos, firearms and ammunition, vacations on cruise ships, at casinos and adult entertainment venues. As written, a first offense would result in a $600 fine, a second offense would result in a $1,200 fine and a third offense would result in a loss of benefits. The overrides now go back to the Governor who can either sign them or veto them again.
MA DEPT. OF PUBLIC HEALTH LOOKS TO UPDATE FOOD CODE
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Food Establishment Advisory Council (FEAC), under its Division of Food & Drug is seeking to update the state’s sanitary regulations that regulate all food stores in the Commonwealth. Presently, the Massachusetts state sanitary regulations (105 CMR 590.000) rely on the 1999 Federal Food Code by reference. FEAC is presently reviewing all sections of the regulations, and is looking for input from interested members. DPH hopes to adopt the 2009 Federal Food Code for reference to be used in conjunction with 105 CMR 590.000, instead of the present 1999 Federal Food Code. Brian Houghton of MFA presently serves as the Chair of FEAC. The Massachusetts State Sanitary Regulations can be viewed by clicking here, the 1999 Federal Food Code can be viewed by clicking here, and the 2009 Federal Food Code can be viewed by clicking here.