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Grassroots Advocacy

An update and why it’s important…

As you watch the news coming out of Washington, DC and your state capitol you may wonder if anything is getting done, especially anything positive for business people. However, legislation and regulation important to our industry is being considered every week and our industry is involved in the process through grassroots advocacy.

Local Initiatives

Our industry is increasingly being targeted at the local level. Almost everyone is familiar with the actions of Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York to limit beverage sizes. NAMA is an active participant in the grassroots movement, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices and is following the actions to make city vending “healthy” by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In Washington, DC the Maryland-DC Council is participating in a grassroots coalition preparing to oppose local initiatives to limit consumer choice in vending.

Recently, the California Automatic Vending Council (CAVC) participated in grassroots campaigns again several ballot initiatives on their ballot last November. Their grassroots advocacy was successful. They helped defeat new taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages in the cities of Richmond and El Monte by large margins as well as a proposition that would have mandated enhanced labeling of genetically modified food. These grassroots victories have led to an expanded grassroots program with organized district office visits to local and state elected officials in more relaxed settings.

State Councils

Many state council members are doing their part for grassroots advocacy. I recently participated in legislative days in Kentucky and Tennessee. The Kentucky Automatic Merchandising Council (KAMC) legislative day educated lawmakers on House Bill 62, a measure to exempt the current 6% retail sales tax for vended products. They had almost 40 attendees by implementing a friendly turnout competition between operators. Tennessee Automatic Merchandising Association (TAMA) convened in Nashville with a goal of advocating with legislators to preserve consumer choice by providing customers with a variety of traditional snacks and beverages as well as healthy items to suit their lifestyles.

The Mississippi Automatic Merchandising Association (MAMA) has had great success in advocating for legislation to prohibit counties and cities from creating food regulations. In California, CAVC’s grassroots efforts aided in defeating a genetically modified food initiative and educated elected officials on issues ranging from ADA reforms to electrolyte replacement beverage restrictions. Other states, including Texas, Oregon and Washington, have had successful legislative days to educate their elected officials on issues important to our industry. All of these efforts are important to education and industry success.

Federal Advocacy

NAMA hosted its inaugural Public Policy Conference in Washington, DC last October. This produced a strong display of grassroots networking with leaders in Congress, the White House and Federal Agencies important to our industry. We are expanding our federal grassroots advocacy on a daily basis through our enhanced Washington, DC presence.

In Washington, our grassroots advocacy has been rekindled with industry partners including, but not limited to, the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), American Beverage Association (ABA), the National Confectioner’s Association (NCA), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Building and strengthening partnerships with industry association leaders in DC will allow us to leverage the influence of our members through partnering on grassroots advocacy initiatives at the state, local and federal levels.

Why it’s important

Grassroots advocacy is important to protect our industry from over-reaching regulation; local, state, and federal laws that can be harmful to the business community and job creation; expanded tax measures and initiatives to eliminate consumer choice in vending. This advocacy is vital to our accomplishments.

Industry involvement through organized, personal contact with elected officials is priceless to our success. No one is more important to an elected official than a constituent. If you are active in industry advocacy, thank you because our success is reliant on your efforts. Your continued engagement is important because advocacy is most successful when done on an ongoing basis. If you are not yet involved, please make plans to begin by attending the grassroots training session at the OneShow in April. This training session will equip you with everything needed for successful grassroots advocacy. We look forward to seeing you there.