In today’s highly competitive business environment, changes in state and federal rules, regulations and laws can have a dramatic impact on your business operations. Members are provided with up-to-date information on new laws and regulations. More importantly, MIRA maintains a comprehensive government affairs program which constantly seeks to influence legislative and regulatory policies on the federal, state and local level affecting retailers. MIRA works diligently on a daily basis to protect your interests and profitability by monitoring legislative action and seeking changes, such as implementation of laws allowing for liquor price reduction, the Michigan MUSTFA Fund Amendment, fighting and opposing the expansion of the Bottle Bill, elimination of the Ohio CAT tax and Michigan SBT, and obtaining larger commissions for retailers on jackpot winning tickets. These and many other efforts have been the result of MIRA representatives fighting to ensure you remain competitive in the market. Our team effort approach also gives members an opportunity to take an active and direct role in communicating with their state and federal legislatures on issues of concern.
State and National Advocacy
Government Relations Accomplishments & Priorities
Current as of April 2021
|MIRA worked to temporarily to stop bottle returns during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic so that retailers could focus on running their stores without worrying about empty returns.
|A MIRA staff member was appointed to the Governor’s Food Security Committee that is working to make policy recommendations on our food system during pandemics.
|In 2020, Governor Whitmer vetoed four liquor bills that would have removed most of the mixed spirits categories. MIRA and our members were instrumental in winning this veto.
|MIRA worked with our petroleum allies to secure a veto of a unattended gas station bill that would have undermined the compliance efforts of gas stations.
|MIRA advocated and helped pilot the first Double Up Food Bucks Program in retail stores. This has helped participating retailers retain more EBT dollars in their stores.
|MIRA secured Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for Detroit retailers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic with the help of our community allies.
|For years, off-premise retailers were prohibited from filling and selling growlers in their stores, because they sold packaged liquor. This is no longer the case. With the passage of SB 973 in 2016, off-premise retailers holding an SDD license will be able to fill and sell growlers.
|In 2016, legislation was passed that will allow retailers to ship wine from their stores to customers through common carriers like UPS and FedEx. The bill also cracks down on out of state retailers from shipping wine illegally to Michigan customers. Additionally, the bill allows retailers to deliver beer, wine, and spirits to customers themselves or through an online ordering application accessible through a cell phone or computer.
|Local governments looking to regulate or tax the use of retail plastic shopping bags will not be allowed to due to preemptory legislation passed in 2016. SB 853 prohibits local units of government from adopting ordinances that regulate or tax the use of plastic bags.
|A package of bills was passed in 2016 that no longer requires fuel retailers to pay the annual $100 per tank registration and/or renewal fee. Additionally, fuel retailers will no longer have to pay the annual $100 Fuel Retailer license fee to operate fuel pumps. In exchange for these breaks on licensing costs the refined petroleum fee was increased 1/8 of a cent.
|Legislation dramatically decreasing deductibles for underground storage tank insurance purchased through the state’s Underground Storage Tank Authority program passed in 2016. The former deductible of $50,000 for operators with more than 8 tanks and $15,000 for operators with fewer than 8 tanks will be reduced to $10,000 for operators with more than 8 tanks and $2,000 for operators with fewer than 8 tanks.
|A 2016 supplemental budget bill was passed that will provide food assistance for 338,000 families in Michigan. The year-end budget bill included an investment of $6.8 million in state funds that will be leveraged to receive tens of millions of additional federal dollars that will fix an issue with the federal Heat and Eat program. This funding restores approximately $76 per month in food assistance for 338,000 low-income families.
|Legislation was passed in 2016 that exempts from sales tax a core charge attributable to a recycling fee, deposit, or disposal fee for a motor vehicle or recreational vehicle part or battery. This bill will ease sales of these auto parts in vehicle repair facilities across the state.
|In 2016 a bill codifying what is known as price, post, and hold provisions. A manufacturer or wholesaler will have to file with the commission a list of cash net prices to the retail licensee for all brands of case and keg beer as well as any beer package price reduction prior to the effective date of the price change and must keep the price in place for 90 days after the price change date.
|A bill allowing alcohol retailers to advertise their products for free on social media passed in 2016. Unknown to many, advertising alcohol on social media was illegal. When the Liquor Control Commission started enforcing this law the need to change the law became apparent. Retailers can now post on social media special offerings and sales on products like craft beer, for example.
|Legislation was enacted in 2016 to allow for the use of certain online brand locator devices. Hard to find products can be advertised on these now legal brand locators to try and drive sales.
|MIRA worked with the Michigan Department of Agriculture in 2016 to shut down the ability of certain fast food type restaurants from accepting food assistance. Certain stores were popping up around the state that allowed customers to purchase raw meat or fish with their EBT bridge cards and then immediately have that food cooked for them right after the purchase. This action exploits a loop hole in food assistance processing and was not fair to legitimate retailers looking to have those EBT dollars spent in their stores.
|In 2016, Governor Snyder recognized the importance of food retailers by proclaiming the last week of October Food Retailers Week
|The Michigan Appropriations committee in its 2015-16 budget proposed to double the fees for liquor licenses and food licenses, but MIRA opposed the increases, and the proposal was dropped.
|The Michigan lottery wanted to mandate acceptance of credit cards to purchase lottery tickets; instead MIRA was successful getting the Director of the Lottery to offer a 1% incentive to those lottery agents who accepted credit cards for lottery tickets.
|In 2013, MIRA advocated for further fraud reduction and for healthier food options by seeking elimination of the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) restaurant program. While recognizing the concerns about fraud and the lack of nutritional food available by some restaurants in extending EBT use by homeless, elderly or disabled persons, the Department of Human Services announced that it will no longer participate in the EBT/restaurant program as of August 1, 2013. The independent retailers of MIRA will provide plenty of other healthy options for recipients who are homeless, elderly or disabled to use their EBT cards.
|In 2014, Governor Rick Snyder recognized the importance of Independent Retailer with our very own Independent Retailer week.
|In 2013, MIRA led the charge of Michigan Retailer’s in actively supporting the passage of HB 4360 and 4361. These bills protect the consumer by imposing penalties on retailers involved in fraudulent transactions for food assistance programs related to the sale of alcohol products and lottery tickets. Both bills were signed into law and assigned Public Acts 55 of 2013 and 56 of 2013, respectively.
|Senate Bill 791 was signed into law in 2014 becoming PA#416 of 2014. At least $20 Million annually from the funds collected by the 7/8th of a cent fee on all refined petroleum products will be used to create and administer an Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund Authority. The advantage to the petroleum retailer is gained because it can be used to comply with your Federal Financial Responsibility requirements and replace your UST insurance policy. MIRA joined other affected associations in fighting for this legislation for several years. It will become operational later in 2015.
|In 2012, when the State Treasury in Michigan sought to require “foil pouches” in which liquor is distributed to be redeemed and returned to our members’ stores, MIRA was the lead retail voice in passing HB 5660, which amended the bottle law to EXEMPT “foil pouches” from the redemption process. This amendment will save stores selling the “foil pouch” liquor product from the necessity of spending literally thousands of dollars in “new” equipment.
|MIRA fought for and opposed legislation that would require roadside gas price sign “wording” to be the same size as the numerals. MIRA was successful in modifying the regulation and helped pass HB 5852 which now requires “condition of sale wording” to be one-half the height of price numerals. These regulations went into effect in July 2017.
|2012 saw significant success as Governor Snyder, with strong advocacy from the MIRA, signed a new law that amended the Prepaid Sales Tax laws on gasoline to: create monthly changes in the Sales Tax Withhold Rate; eliminate the 10% threshold to trigger any changes in the rate; and-add the Prepaid Sales Tax element to diesel fuel. This success reduces the obligation of the retailer at each month’s end.
|In 2012, as it became apparent that K-2 and Spice (synthetic marijuana products) were harming and in some cases even killing children who were smoking these substances, MIRA partnered with the Michigan State Police in obtaining the passage of HB 5338, a law which now bands these substances from ever being sold in retail stores in Michigan.
|MIRA helped identify and “bust” gas stations that were cheating the citizens of Michigan out of their fair share of tax dollars. Through this effort we created a fair and level playing field for our law-abiding members. MIRA is working on this issue in Ohio as well. We are committed to eliminating “below cost selling” at every opportunity.
|Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Legislation: MIRA, in concert with other stakeholders, was successful in obtaining the passage of HB 0528, P.A.0109 of 2012. Governor Snyder signed into law-this important legislation that created a more consistent, efficient and less expensive process for remediating underground storage tank sites. Buyers and sellers of real estate will now find it easier to move forward with modern development of these sites. MIRA members can be proud of the part they played in contacting legislators to gain support for the long-overdue legislation.
|In late 2010 and 2011, through a joint private-public initiative, MIRA members funded, and were solely responsible for, the change in disbursements of food stamps through the 23rd day of each month, rather than the first 10 days. This initiative helps the bottom line of MIRA retailers, while allowing beneficiaries to receive fresh food and produce throughout the month. This was accomplished through an $180,000 investment by MIRA and its generous members.
|MIRA negotiated and helped write and pass into law Public Act-166 (SB 331), a tax reduction for all Michigan liquor Retailers, totaling $14 million dollars. For the first time in 38 years, retail stores will pay the same amount as bars and restaurants for each bottle of liquor they purchase from the State. Each bottle of liquor will cost 1.85 percent less for every liquor retailer beginning October 1, 2012.
|When the 30 year old item pricing law was repealed, MIRA was a leader in advocating that “new” technologies made the old law archaic and unnecessary. Today, our MIRA retailers are free from the onerous task of stamping a price on each and every item; they are free to use their money to hire new employees or expand their inventory.
|When Governor Snyder committed to allowing bars and restaurant to “cater” in terms of selling and delivering spirits, beer and wine at catered events, MIRA leadership negotiated to allow our member retailers to also cater events with spirits, beer and wine.
|MIRA leadership advocated for, and supported the elimination of the “job killing” Michigan Business Tax (MBT). With the support of MIRA, Governor Snyder repealed the MBT, replacing it with a much more business-friendly tax that most MIRA members are not required to pay. MIRA attended the bill signing.
|MIRA was asked to review changes to State law that required pharmacy’s located inside a retail establishment, to follow federal guidelines in the sale of all non-prescription products containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. We advocated for protection of our retailers in this law that prevented them from most civil lawsuits in the event their employee failed to follow the new law. Protecting our hard working retail store owners from liability is just one example of what our members have come to expect from the MIRA.
|MIRA played a role for retailers seeking changes to the taxation of tobacco products in Michigan. When the State Senate introduced legislation to require the “Roll Your Own” cigarette stores to pay the same or equal state taxes as our retailers selling cigarettes, they sought the help of MIRA and now this is the law.
|When the Michigan Department of Agriculture needed the feedback of the retail community in evaluating and supporting changes to Michigan’s “food safety” laws and regulations, they turned to MIRA for guidance, advice and leadership in protecting consumers and retailers alike.
|MIRA worked with Department of Treasury to address proper and complete tax collection efforts before increasing tax rates. Our efforts have helped produce a revised system that more accurately accounts for road and sales tax on fuels.
Michigan Legislative Priorities
|MIRA will expand on the Double Up Food Bucks venture and look for new innovative programs that help retain more dollars in our independent retail stores. A new program MIRA will expand on is prescriptions for food vouchers. A new approach by the USDA to increase healthy eating for low income people not on EBT.
|MIRA will advocate for the expansion of the State of Michigan food safety program so that retailers can also train their employees at a reduced cost.
|MIRA opposes radical road tax increases on gasoline; but, rather supports increases on registration fees especially for all-electric and hybrid vehicles that use little gasoline. These vehicles also use the roads without paying their fair share toward road maintenance/repair.
|MIRA continues to work with Michigan Environmental, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to address the unreasonable under dispenser sump testing rules that are being proposed. MIRA thinks there’s a better, more economical solution.
|Monitor regulations dealing with mobile fueling. This new type of service, spurred by technology, could create disruption to the conventional fuel retail industry. Efforts must be made to ensure fairness in the fuel retailing market.
|MIRA will fight against unreasonable proposals to mandate security devices on fuel retailers to prevent the use of “skimmers”. Reforms must be adopted to go after the real criminals not just punish honest fuel retailers
|Reign in overly aggressive tobacco tax enforcement measures.
|MIRA keeps working on protecting the alcohol 3-tier system of distribution which assures retailers of a level playing field.
|MIRA continues to work with the State of Michigan’s Youth Access to Tobacco Workgroup (YATTW) to develop training, educational, and testing material that retailers can utilize to inform and train employees regarding the legal sale of tobacco products to customers.
|MIRA is the lead Association in seeking to evolve the “bottle bill” into a Statewide Comprehensive Recycling Plan. MIRA published a white paper on this subject. We continue to defend retailers from the threat of expanding the bottle bill to include water bottles and other non-carbonated drinks.
|MIRA continues to work on bringing back the ½ mile rule, creating uniformity when dealing with alcohol laws with the creation of SDM license caps similar to SDD licenses.
|MIRA continues to support and advocate for minimum markup on alcohol/beer/wine, tobacco and gasoline. The minimum mark ups will protect both consumers and our retailers from predatory pricing schemes while helping to stabilizing retail prices throughout Michigan.
|MIRA opposes allowing local municipalities the option of imposing their own sales, road, or excise tax in addition to state and federal taxes. This scheme skews the retail market-place dynamics, creating “No Business Zones” on the far boundaries of the municipalities imposing the additional local taxes.
|MIRA opposes Automatic Temperature Compensation legislation applicable to retail fuel dispensers that would impose an unreasonable expense upon the retailer, with little, if any, benefit to the motorist. This is a solution looking for a problem.
|MIRA has been a leader in supporting all efforts of the State of Michigan to increase the enforcement of regulations that lead to the detection, arrest, and prosecution of “smugglers” of illegal tobacco products and liquor into Michigan.
|MIRA worked with other retail allies to secure the passage of a law that will prohibit local municipalities from enacting their own bag taxes on consumers.
|In 2016, legislation was enacted prohibiting local units of government across Ohio from enacting minimum wage ordinances. The bill grants only the state to enact a minimum wage that is to be applied all across Ohio uniformly.
|Ohio’s unemployment insurance reform was passed that could potentially save employers significantly in unemployment taxes and avoid burdensome fees levied on employers by the federal governments. While the reform was only a partial win for businesses the proposal was better than any alternative.
|For MIRA members who may also be in the Tow Truck business HB 341, passed in 2016 that would make it much easier to obtain titles for salvage vehicles.
|Fuel retailers in the Cincinnati are will no longer have to sell two types of gasoline depending on the time of year it is. Through efforts of the MIRA the US EPA has brought Cincinnati’s air quality into attainment thereby no longer requiring fuel retailers sell varying RVP gasoline.
|MIRA was successful in opposing a proposed $1.00 per pack increase in the tax on cigarettes. Eventually a reduced proposal increasing the tax by $0.35 per pack was approved and signed by the Governor.
|In 2014, Ohio Governor Kasich signed House Concurrent Resolution 32 recognizing and celebrating independent businesses. The resolution designates the first week in July as “Independent Retailers Week”, acknowledging that independent businesses are the backbone of our economy, providing goods and services to consumers and jobs to employees.
|An end to the CAT: On June 30, 2013, after many months of MIRA advocacy and leadership, Governor Kasich signed into law the legislation that will end the seven year reign of the controversial and unfair tax on motor fuel in Ohio-known as the CAT tax. In its place a NEW petroleum activity tax was enacted (beginning on July 1, 2014) one with a “single point of taxation” –the “rack”, and at the same rate of taxation for all who sell motor fuel in the State of Ohio. Now-independent gasoline retailers will be on a level playing field with all other gasoline retailers-resulting in fundamental fairness. Numerical results comparing tax savings from the second half of 2013 to the second half of 2014 indicated a 63% to 94% savings on tax fees!
|Small Business Tax Cut: MIRA joined the fight and advocated for additional tax relief for the small businesses in Ohio-and WON! With the Governor signing the 2013 “budget bill” into law-owners and investors of a small business structured as a “pass through entity” (LLC’S, S-Corps., etc.) will now be able to deduct 50% from the first $250,000 of income from pass through entity sources.
|Income Tax Cut: Additionally, MIRA advocacy in 2013 helped secure a budget item that will provide the citizens of Ohio with a 10% Income Tax cut-phased in over the next three years.
|When the Ohio Director of Transportation arbitrarily sought to increase the State fees for the cost of roadway and freeway business advertisement signs (the blue signs) without review by either the public or the legislature, MIRA joined the advocacy team that reminded ODOT that the Ohio Constitution required the advice and consent of the legislature BEFORE increasing taxes. We helped sponsor legislation that made this issue clear and the Governor recently signed the “blue-sign” bill into law. NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.
Ohio Legislative Accomplishments
|Advocate for the expansion of the State of Ohio food safety program so that retailers can also train their employees at a reduced cost.
|MIRA has met with legislative leadership and the Attorney General’s office to address the unfair competition issue of retailing Unbranded fuel under branded signage and labeling.
|MIRA is working with Ohio’s Department of Taxation to verify that all applicable taxes are paid and remitted when fuel is imported to the state for retail sale.
|Before increasing gasoline taxes, we are asking the state to verify that all taxes designated for road and bridge repair/construction is appropriately used for the intended purpose. And since gasoline is a decreasing taxable base; we are asking the legislature to address registration fees, especially for all-electric and hybrid vehicles that use the roads but pay little, if any road tax.
|Reform Ohio’s alcohol policies to promote economic growth and increase opportunities for retailers to receive the ability to sell spirits. In addition to these reforms, MIRA seeks to reform the alcohol distribution system to give retailers more control over the products they sell and ease the regulatory burdens that comes along with selling beer, wine, or spirits in Ohio.
|MIRA will continue to push the Ohio Legislature to make reforms to Ohio’s Unemployment Insurance system by bringing down costs
|Support efforts to combat cross border tax evasion on tobacco, alcohol, and gasoline.
|MIRA supports the continuation of county level weights and measures inspections and will seek a uniform solution to eliminate duplicative and costly inspections.
|MIRA continues to oppose increased “sin taxes” on tobacco and alcohol, especially when imposed by cities or counties. These proposals skew the marketplace, driving customers to lower taxed jurisdictions from higher taxed jurisdictions.
|MIRA testified in opposition to a Cuyahoga County proposal impose Fuel Quality Testing for fuel retailers in Cuyahoga County, Ohio and charge a fee for the testing. The City of Cleveland already does some testing, and MIRA feels that State of Ohio regulations already allow the state to perform the Fuel Quality Testing if they perceive that need. MIRA also opposes charging the dealer for this service.
|MIRA opposed a proposal by Cuyahoga County, Ohio to require registration of all non-bank owned ATM machines in Cuyahoga County. The county proposed charging an annual fee for each non-bank owned ATM. Since no service would be provided, other than charging a fee, MIRA opposed this proposal.
|MIRA opposed commercialization of Rest Areas on state roads. MIRA testified that the plan would drastically affect businesses of many categories: gas stations, restaurants, repair facilities, etc. Any profits enjoyed by states by commercialization of Rest Areas would be dampened by a corresponding decrease of business at interchanges. It’s a bad idea that MIRA continues to oppose.
|MIRA continues to support and press for an increase in commissions paid to lottery agents to bring them in line with neighboring states. Expenses have risen while commission rates have remained stagnant.
Illinois Legislative Accomplishments
|Advocated and secured the City of Chicago’s suspension of the enforcement of the Fair Work Week ordinance during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
|Secured a three year grant to pilot the expansion of LINK Match into MIRA member stores. This has helped participating retailers retain more EBT dollars in their stores.
|MIRA successfully repealed the Cook County Sugary Beverage Tax. MIRA members met with multiple commissioners, conducted an effective grass roots campaign at its member stores, testified before the County Board, and provided the relevant data proving the negative financial impact of the tax. After many weeks of intense advocacy by MIRA (among others), the Cook County Board approved the ordinance to repeal the county sugary beverage tax on October 11, 2017.
|MIRA defeated a statewide sugary beverage tax. After Cook County initially passed its sugary beverage tax, state legislators began discussing imposing a state sugary beverage tax as a means to increase state revenues to pay for its spending obligations. Democratic leaders attempted to include a statewide sugary beverage tax within the FY18 state budget negotiations. MIRA met with several state legislators to inform them of the negative impact experienced by Cook County would be applied statewide – resulting in less revenue and not move. Due to the efforts of MIRA, the statewide sugary beverage tax was removed from consideration.
|MIRA defeated a statewide plastic bag tax. In 2017, SB 1597 was filed for consideration before the Illinois General Assembly to impose a statewide plastic bag tax. MIRA, along with opposition from other business groups, met with multiple state legislators and was able to stop the bill from advancing.
Illinois Legislative Priorities
|MIRA continues to oppose the expansion of the Fair Work Week ordinance in other municipalities and Springfield.
|In partnership with our community allies, MIRA is spearheading the pilot program for LINK Match. A similar effort to the Michigan Double Up Food Bucks program. Participating retailers will be able to retain more EBT dollars in their stores.
|MIRA will expand on prescription for food vouchers. A new approach by the USDA to increase healthy eating for low income people not on EBT.
|MIRA continues to work for property tax incentives for independent retailers willing to operate stores in food deserts.
Federal Legislative Accomplishments
|MIRA supported bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Stabenow and Senator Roberts that will bring common sense clarifications to the Country’s menu labeling laws. These reforms will bring more guidance to those effected and make compliance much easier.
|MIRA advocated for an extension of federal funding for tax credits for use by our Retailers in expanding their stores and in securing equipment purchases for their establishments. After much debate and advocacy-the United States Congress voted to authorize thru 2013-“New Market Tax Credits” allowing qualifying retail businesses to receive tax credits equal to 39% of the initial equity investment spread out over a 7 year period.
|MIRA continues to support HFFI funding nationally and was instrumental in helping create the Michigan Good Food Fund alongside The Fair Food Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation.
Federal Legislative Priorities
|Several lawmakers want to repeal the swipe fee reforms we fought so hard to achieve. Swipe fees are already the second highest operating cost for convenience stores. The passage of swipe fee reforms – also known as the Durbin Amendment – provided some relief for merchants by limiting the debit fees the biggest banks can charge and by protecting competition in network routing. MIRA will advocate against the repeal of previously enacted swipe fee reforms.
|MIRA is working with multiple associations to limit the Federal EPA’s proposal to increase restrictions on already installed and operational underground storage tanks. We can support reasonable, upgraded regulations on replacement or new installations, but expensive changes to already operational and properly monitored UST’s should be phased-in over an extended period of time.
|MIRA has fought on behalf of retailers to assure that the SNAP program (bridge cards and WIC), remain fully funded by Congress. This is a “win-win” for our Michigan, Illinois and Ohio citizens as well as our member retailers. These difficult economic times are the wrong time to cut people off from the benefits that feed their families. We will continue to fight this battle, despite the efforts by some to cut the funding by as much as 50%.
|MIRA continues to work opposing the expansion of Ethanol in gasoline to 15%, as allowed by the EPA. Our concerns are both for the motorist (since many Owners Manuals specifically void the warranty if gasoline with more that 10% Ethanol is used), and for our members, since the effect of E-15 on underground storage tanks, piping, meters, and dispensers have yet to be determined with “real-world” testing.