Local Legislative Activity
On The Rise
State Legislative Issues:
More Numerous Than Ever!
by Belinda Judson
Executive Director, Mid-States NATO
The New Year generally brings on new legislative
sessions in many states. Since these new sessions convened,
daily reports regarding proposed state legislation has
contained more materials than I have ever seen since I
began monitoring these reports two years ago. The sheer
volume is somewhat overwhelming.
So what industry-related issues have kept our state lawmakers
As you will see from the following breakdown,
many of these are similar to those we have seen on legislative
in the past – but there are some new topics cropping
up as well. A few, happily, are beneficial to cinema owners.
Minimum Wage: Arizona, California, Connecticut,
Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska,
North Dakota and Oregon all have minimum wage initiatives.
(Oregon’s actually proposes a minimum wage reduction
for employees under 18 during their first 60 calendar days
Movie Start Times: Connecticut, Illinois
and New York City (see this story)
are proposing legislation to require theatre owners to
make public and adhere to very
Admissions Taxes: California’s legislation would
impose a surcharge of 1 percent of the price of admission.
This is similar to a previous bill that failed to pass.
Virginia’s bill regarding admissions taxes was tabled
and Mississippi has legislation proposing a reduction in
tax on admissions to all publicly owned facilities.
Sales Tax: Connecticut and South Carolina
are looking to increase the state sales tax rate. Michigan’s
governor is proposing to close the movie theatre exemption
sales and use tax.
Video Games: The
following states have legislation pending which would make
it unlawful to sell or rent certain
games to minors: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia,
Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New
York, North Carolina and Texas. While the video game legislation
does not directly impact theatre owners, we always like
to monitor First Amendment issues.
Child Labor Laws: The following states are
proposing amendments to their child labor laws, which could
have an effect on
the employment of those under the age of 18: Illinois,
Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. Other labor
issues cropping up include overtime, unemployment and workers’ compensation
Gift Certificates: Maryland,
Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Rhode Island, Texas,
and Virginia all have legislation regarding gift certificate
expiration dates (a couple of the states designate a time
frame but most require that the certificate never expires).
These states prohibit charging service fees because it
reduces the value of the certificate or card.
Now for the favorable legislation:
two years now we have been working with our partners at
the MPAA to enact state camcorder
Twenty states and the District of Columbia currently have
camcorder laws. New legislation is in the works for at
least 19 more states: Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri,
Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon,
Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont and West Virginia.
were several state obesity laws enacted last year granting
immunity from civil liability
of food and beverage when claims associated with obesity
arise. Others that have proposed this kind of legislation
are California, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi,
New Mexico, New York and Pennsylvania.
Keep in mind that legislation moves very
quickly. By the time you read this, more states may have
bills. The status of many of the measures mentioned may
have already changed.
My objective with this particular column
is to familiarize readers with most of the relevant issues
in the nation’s statehouses. It is not all-inclusive.
The summary report sent to your state leadership covers
It will also hopefully enlighten you with
regard to some of the many issues that are facing your
association leaders. They do a wonderful job of representing
your interests but, as always, need your support and participation
to be successful in doing so – now more than ever!