By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Arlington, Va. — The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) released its 2014 Public Policy Agenda: Retailers Strengthening Communities, which outlines the industry’s top public policy priorities for 2014, and showcases the role that retailers play in communities across America and how public policy affects their ability to invest locally and grow.
“The fact is few industries have a greater impact on the U.S. economy and its consumers. Public policy that intrudes upon the employer-employee relationship, tilts the playing field against Main Street retailers and stifles the industry’s growth, undermines retailers’ ability to invest locally,” said RILA president Sandy Kennedy. “Conversely, when the environment is conducive to growth, entire communities can benefit from the retail industry’s success.”
Topping the list of issues on which the industry will focus this year is passing into law legislation to level the playing field between online and Main Street retailers as it relates to sales-tax collection. Outdated laws governing sales tax collection give online-only sellers an unfair advantage over Main Street retailers. This loophole creates a perceived price advantage, distorting the market and threatening Main Street jobs. Last year, the U.S. Senate passed legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support. RILA will be pushing for action in the House of Representatives early in the year.
Also among RILA’s top priorities is the industry’s commitment to protecting the security of customer payment information and its cybersecurity and data privacy initiative. Retailers must constantly adapt to meet evolving consumer expectations and to defend against constantly evolving threats, said RILA, noting that it remains committed to increased engagement with relevant federal agencies and state and federal policymakers to encourage advanced cyber security solutions that meet the needs of the retail industry and consumers. This includes the transition from outdated magnetic stripe technology to the more secure chip and PIN cards, and creating a trusted forum through which retailers can shared cyber threat information.
“RILA’s 2014 Public Policy Agenda focuses on priorities that policymakers can advance this year to empower retailers to continue to invest in their local communities and create jobs,” added Kennedy.
RILA’s 2014 Public Policy priorities:
E-Fairness: Level the playing field for Main Street retailers, empower states to enforce existing tax laws through federal legislation;
Tax Reform: Pass comprehensive tax reform that lowers rates, broadens the base and treats all industries and businesses equally;
Health Care: Protect retailers ability to provide quality, affordable coverage that is customized to meet the needs of retail employees;
Privacy & Cyber security: Strengthen cyber security and consumer privacy with voluntary efforts and federal legislation that recognizes the need for flexibility and continued innovation;
Labor: Stop job-killing regulations that threaten the unique aspects of the employer-employee relationship in the retail industry;
International Trade: Pursue a trade agenda that reduces tariffs and other trade barriers globally and in the U.S., secure Trade Promotion Authority to ensure America’s ability to compete in the global economy; and
Swipe Fee Reform: Pursue reforms to promote transparency, innovation and competition in the electronic payments market.
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