The Florida Retail Federation, in conjunction with our partners at the National Retail Federation, passes along the good news that U.S. House Republican leaders plan to abandon an attempt to repeal debit card swipe fee reform that has saved retailers and their customers more than $40 billion and brought badly needed competition to the payments market.

Repeal of swipe fee reform would have come as part of the Financial Choice Act, a broad bill that would roll back banking regulations established in 2010 under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The House is expected to vote on the bill after it returns from its Memorial Day recess in June, and leadership conducted a whip count this week to determine support for the overall measure and provisions such as the repeal of swipe fee reform. A number of Republican House members expressed concerns about repealing swipe reform, and reports indicate tonight that agreement has been reached to drop the provision.

Debit reform was enacted as part of Dodd-Frank in response to the card industry’s practice of price-fixing the debit card “swipe” fees banks charge merchants to process transactions. The fees previously averaged 1-2 percent of the purchase amount, and virtually all banks that issue cards charged the same.

Under reform regulations that took effect in October 2011, large banks are limited to 22 cents per transaction, down from an average 45 cents in the past. The limit saved retailers about $8.5 billion in the first year alone, with close to $6 billion of the savings passed along to consumers, according to a study by economist Robert Shapiro. Banks that set the fees competitively and independently are exempt from the limit, but virtually none have done so. Banks with under $10 billion in assets are also exempt.

Reform also required that merchants be given at least two choices in the networks that route debit transactions to the banks for processing, typically one controlled by Visa or MasterCard and a competing, independent network that can offer advantages such as lower fees, better service or better security.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017 15:15

Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

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Preparing for the Sales Tax Holiday

We are very pleased that our work with the Florida Legislature ultimately included provisions for a Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday during the 2017 session. This sales tax holiday will encourage Floridians to stock up on the supplies they need to be prepared for the hurricane season and other potential disasters.

This holiday is coming up VERY SOON! The bill is currently waiting for Governor Scott’s signature to make it official, but we wanted all of our members to be well aware of the details of the holiday so that you can prepare and make the most of this event in your stores. We have reached out to the Department of Revenue to inquire when we can expect to receive the TIP sheet on this event. In the meantime, here are the details that you may need to get ready.

When is the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday?
12:01 a.m. on June 2, 2017, through 11:59 p.m. on June 4, 2017

What items fall under the sales tax holiday?
During the period of time listed above, sales tax should not be collected on the following items:

  • A portable self-powered light source selling for $20 or less.
  • A portable self-powered radio, two-way radio, or Weatherband radio selling for $50 or less.
  • A tarpaulin or other flexible waterproof sheeting selling for $50 or less.
  • A self-contained first-aid kit selling for $30 or less.
  • A ground anchor system or tie-down kit selling for $50 or less.
  • A gas or diesel fuel tank selling for $25 or less.
  • A package of AA-cell, C-cell, D-cell, 6-volt, or 9-volt batteries, excluding automobile and boat batteries, selling for $30 or less.
  • A nonelectric food storage cooler selling for $30 or less.
  • A portable generator used to provide light or communications or preserve food in the event of a power outage selling for $750 or less.
  • Reusable ice selling for $10 or less.

Does everyone who sells these items have to participate?
The tax exemptions do not apply to sales of the above items that take place in theme parks or entertainment complexes, lodging establishments, or airports. Every other retailer must provide the sales tax exemptions on the items above during the designated time period.

When we receive further details from the Department of Revenue, we will send it out immediately. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

For Immediate Release: May 8, 2017
CONTACT: James Miller, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

TALLAHASSEE, FL – As the 2017 Legislative Session comes to a close, three days later than expected, the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) and the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (FPMA) is celebrating several major accomplishments for retailers including the passage of a reduction in the business rent tax and 3-day sales tax holidays for back to school and disaster preparedness. FRF also successfully opposed several proposals which would have been harmful to the retail industry, such as allowing prejudgment interest on personal injury awards and weakening criminal penalties on the backs of retailers.

“I am extremely proud of the way our retailers, stakeholders, and association staff worked with the Legislature to accomplish so many of our goals this year,” said FRF’s President and CEO R. Scott Shalley. In all, FRF actively advocated for or against more than 40 pieces of legislation and numerous budget issues. “We continue to prove that our industry remains strong and continues to be a major economic contributor--leading in job growth and many other economic indicators,” added Shalley.

In general business, FRF was successful in opposing burdensome regulations from being passed on to retailers, such as a minimum wage requirement, a measure to increase the number of parking spaces at certain retail establishments, and a measure that would interfere with the relationship between a franchisee and franchisor. FRF also worked to oppose a measure that would allow a utility company to pursue fracking for natural gas in other states and pass 100% of the costs along to consumers. Additionally, FRF was successful in advocating for the passage of a bill that provides greater legal protections to businesses who are subject to ADA lawsuits.

FRF also saw major legislative accomplishments in the areas of identity theft prevention with the approval of a measure to enhance penalties for committing “skimmer” fraud. FRF also played a key role in defeating a measure to weaken criminal penalties for theft. Additionally, a measure to prevent EBT card purchases for candy and soft drinks was defeated due to FRF’s strong opposition. “All of our retailers--from general business, pharmacy, small grocers, and the FPMA-- will benefit from our collective advocacy efforts this session. We look forward to continuing our work, and we are already beginning to gear up for next year,” concluded CEO Shalley.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
Founded in 1937, the Florida Retail Federation is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year as the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide three out of every four jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year. In fact, more than three out of four of Florida’s budget dollars come from retail-related activity.

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Thursday, 30 March 2017 15:39

Applications for FPMA Scholarship OPEN

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The Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association cares about the success of our members and their families. For 36 years, we have granted academic scholarships exclusively to FPMA member company owners, employees and their children to attend college and become successors of the family business or entrepreneurs of their own.

If you fall into this close-knit community and can show achievement in the classroom with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, you are at a great advantage! While most public and private scholarship dollars are open to thousands of eligible high school and college students, our support stays within the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store family. We are excited to announce we are accepting Scholarship applications now through May 5, 2017.

FPMA Scholarship Requirements:
To be eligible to receive an FPMA Scholarship, an applicant must be a Florida resident meeting one of following criteria below and enroll in a minimum course load of 12 hours.

  • owns or is employed by an FPMA member company
  • is a financial dependent of an owner of an FPMA member company
  • is a financial dependent of an employee of an FPMA member company

Two (2) FPMA Scholarships will be awarded on the morning of the 2017 Sunshine EXPO, Sunday July, 23rd at Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, FL. Winners will be contacted on May 17th by Scholarship Committee Chair, Marc Gomes. The recipients’ hotel accommodations are taken care of by FPMA for the night prior to the award presentation.

If you have any questions regarding this application or the FPMA Scholarship Award, please contact the FPMA office at 850.877.5178 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Best of luck and begin the application process by clicking here.

For Immediate Release: December 5, 2016
CONTACT: James Miller, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

Florida’s leading retail advocacy organization highlights those issues and topics important to retailers and which will be the focus in the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session

TALLAHASSEE, FL – With the Florida House of Representatives in committee weeks this week and the Senate set to follow suit next week, the Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 75 years, announced its 2017 Legislative Agenda in preparation for the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session in March. The agenda highlights those issues which are important to the success of retailers and Florida’s business community and which FRF will be focused on.

FRF & FPMA are excited to announce our 2017 Legislative Agenda! This diverse agenda - which was created based solely on feedback from you, our members, and voted on at our October Fall Retail Summit - highlights the issues that our influential Governmental Affairs Team will be focusing on this upcoming session in supporting the needs of retail businesses in Florida and ensuring you remain successful. (*This list does not include issues that may pop up as we get closer to session or during it*)

We are proud of our legislative impact and successes in recent years and we look forward to working with the Governor's Office and state legislators on passing legislation that will benefit our members and strengthen Florida's retail industry.

Proposed 2017 Legislative Agenda

GENERAL RETAIL BUSINESS
Support

  • Retain Preemptions | We support current Florida laws that require regulation of plastic, paper bags, and polystyrene at the state level and preempt local regulations.
  • Mainstreet Fairness | FRF continues to support the collection of sales tax on internet sales by remote sellers. This issue needs to be addressed at the Federal level and we encourage Congress to act immediately.
  • Commerce Clause | We support legislation that would preempt to the state legislature all issues that impact commerce within the state.
  • Accuracy in Damages | We believe that injured parties should recover based on their real expenses, not phantom numbers. We support corrective legislation to help restore truthful damage verdicts in personal injury lawsuits.
  • Workers’ Compensation Reform | The outcome of several recent Florida Supreme Court cases have had significant impacts on Florida’s Workers’ Compensation rates. We support reforms that will decrease rates for Florida’s retailers.
  • Renewable Energy Efforts | We support the continued efforts to provide options to retailers in Florida regarding renewable energy.

Oppose

  • Increase State Minimum Wage | We oppose any increase in the state minimum wage.
  • Increase in Minimum Threshold for Felonies | Retailers would oppose any legislation that would increase the minimum threshold for felonies.
  • Restricting the Sale of a Legal Product | We oppose any legislation or regulation that restricts the retail sale of a legal product.
  • Predictive Scheduling | We oppose any legislation that would dictate to a retailer the manner in which they should schedule their employees.
  • Pre-arrest Diversion Programs | These programs allow law enforcement officers to issue civil citations to adults who commit nonviolent misdemeanor offenses. FRF opposes this legislation when there is no system in place to track first offenses, therefore the person could become a perpetual first offender and continue in retail theft.
  • Pre-judgement Interest | We oppose legislation that would allow for the award of prejudgment interest in any action in which plaintiff recovers monetary damages.
  • Mandating the Sale of a Legal Product | We oppose any legislation or regulation mandating retailers to sell certain products.

TAXES
Support

  • Business Rent Tax Reform | Florida is the only state that assesses a sales tax on commercial real estate leases. The sales tax on commercial leases is assessed at six percent plus local option. The Florida Retail Federation supports efforts to repeal the tax, reduce the tax rate, modify the taxable base, or any combination thereof, in order to lessen this tax burden.
  • Sales Tax Holidays | Back to School; Disaster Preparedness; 1 Day Small Business; Energy-Star & WaterSense; -We encourage the Governor and Legislators to continue to fund Sales Tax Holidays. Studies have shown that they drive consumers to retailers during those specific times, and they are a direct benefit to the taxpayers.
  • State of Emergency Sales Tax Waiver | We would support legislation that would allow the Governor to waive the sales tax on certain items during a State of Emergency Declaration.
  • Corporate Tax Exemption for Small Business | We support any reduction in the corporate income tax rate for retailers.
  • Bad Debt Sales Tax Refund | We support efforts to increase the current 64% refund level of the sales taxes remitted related to bad debts to 100% of the remitted taxes on debt that has gone bad on a private label credit cards. This is a continuation of the legislation that passed in 2014, which allows for sales taxes remitted on private label credit card bad debts to be refunded in the same manner as the taxes refunded on bad debts resulting from revolving or installment sales credit transactions.

Oppose

  • Combined Reporting | In the event that Combined Reporting gets any traction during the 2016 Legislative Session, the FRF Lobby Team will oppose this Corporate Tax Filing requirement. If adopted, Combined Reporting will adversely affect most multi-state companies and would place Florida in an unfavorable position in its ability to recruit new businesses to relocate to Florida.
  • Pharmacy
  • SUPPORT
  • Grocery/Convenience Store | We support the Legislature requiring the doctors who write prescriptions for a controlled substance to check the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program before writing the prescription and to report their dose into the program.

GROCERY/CONVENIENCE STORE
Support

  • Elimination of Transfer Switch Requirements for Gas Stations | FPMA knows the importance of the transfer switch but we believe it should not be mandated. We will support language that removes the mandate and provides incentives to install ones on new construction.

Oppose

  • Online Sales and/or Restriction of Lottery Sales | FRF & FPMA oppose the sale of lottery tickets online as well as any restrictions on sales amount in the stores.

Tuesday, 08 November 2016 19:54

Subject: DEP Rule on Pollution Notification

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Back in September, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an emergency rule that would require businesses responsible for instances of pollution to notify the state and the public about those instances on an expedited timeline. Under the emergency rule, notification is required to the DEP and to local government officials and the media.

DEP is now in the process of passing a final rule to address pollution notification. Below is the revised proposed rule:

DEPRevisedPollutionRule.11.7.2016.pdf

Positive changes have been made to the rule. The rule is now more clear about what amounts of pollutants trigger the notification requirements. But the rule still raises concerns about the cost to business and the potential for ineffective and inaccurate information being shared with the public. We believe the DEP should be the central clearinghouse for the notification of pollution.

We are submitting our comments to the DEP to encourage further changes to the rule. Please share this rule within your companies and let us know what concerns you have. If you have real-life examples regarding how this could negatively impact your business, please share those with us so that we can educate the DEP about the impact of this rule.

Comments will only be received by the state agency up until 5:00 pm on Wednesday, November 9, so please get back with us as soon as you are able. We appreciate your input.

Please submit your comments, questions and concerns to FRF General Counsel, Samantha Padgett, at 850-222-4082 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thursday, 03 November 2016 12:30

30 Days of Gas Station Food

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Hear what happened to an endurance athlete when he ate nothing but gas station food for a month!

There’s a perception that “healthy eating” doesn’t take place outside of the home. Restaurants, gas stations, fast-food establishments—they’re all spoken of as if they’re part of the problem. But are they?

Frank Beard, an endurance athlete from Iowa, wanted to do something extreme and change the conversation. So he recently conducted an experiment. To prove that it is possible to stay healthy while eating out, he consumed only gas station food for 30 days.

FPMA’s national partners at the NACS Convenience Matters podcast, led by program co-hosts Jeff Lenard of NACS and John Eichberger of the Fuels Institute, talk to Beard about his experiment in “30 Days of Gas Station Food.” The program can be downloaded on iTunes by searching for Convenience Matters. It also is available at nacsonline.com/podcasts. Frank’s goal was to gain no more than five pounds after eating nothing but food from gas stations for 30 consecutive days. Find out not only his final results but what else he learned about the industry during his journeys!

Today, Governor Rick Scott activated Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by Hurricane Matthew. The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced physical or economic damage during the storm and recovery efforts. The application period is from today through November 11, 2016.

DEO is currently surveying businesses in the affected counties. To access the business survey, please go to flvbeoc.org/index.php?action=bda and select “Hurricane Matthew” from the drop-down menu.

DEO administers the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to provide an expedient cash flow to businesses damaged by a disaster. The short-term, interest-free loans help bridge the gap between the time damage is incurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims or longer-term loans. Up to $10 million has been allocated for the program.

Owners of small businesses with two to 100 employees located in 67 counties affected by Hurricane Matthew can apply for short-term loans for up to $25,000. Loans are granted in terms of 90 or 180 days and are interest-free for that time period. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to October 3, 2016, and demonstrate economic or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

To complete an application by the Nov. 11 deadline, or for more information on the program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org. For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network state office at 850-898-3489.

Were you scheduled to attend the Florida Remediation Conference PRP session that was canceled? Looking for another opportunity to learn more about PRP and tank compliance issues? Well then, make sure to join us for the Petroleum Restoration Program (PRP) & Tank Compliance Symposium during the FRF/FPMA Fall Meeting & Retail Summit taking place October 26 from 9am-4pm at the Daytona Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Shores, FL. Featuring leaders from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, this event is critical if you are an ATC contractor, own a tank, deal with tanks, own property where there is or was a tank, or are financing one. You do not want to miss this important session!

Presented by FDEP Staff: Bill Burns, Compliance Administrator; Diane Pickett, Program Administrator; John Wright, Chief Engineer
Who should attend: Marketers, dealers, property owners, bankers, realtors and ATCs
This comprehensive sessions will focus on critical issues for the PRP and Compliance Programs. Specific topics include:

  • Tank Compliance Monitoring, Testing & Record Keeping, Operator A/B and C Training, 62-761, 62-762 Rule Changes (how it impacts you!)
  • ATC/RP training will provide information to site owners, cleanup contractors, and sub-contractors on the nuts and bolts of the Petroleum Restoration Program including:
    • Program Update - Funding and Legislative Changes
    • Site Assessment Work Flow and Tasking
    • Remediation and Site Closure Issues
    • Invoicing Tips and Reminders

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