STORES Magazine - April 2011 - (Page 32)

SUPPLY CHAIN & LOGISTICS / LEGISLATION Sponsored by W The Congressional Agenda: Driving Change A host of legislative issues could impact the retail supply chain hile the budget, taxes, labor and health care are all top of mind, issues related to the movement of goods are just as critical to a retailer’s bottom line and the health of overall economy. “We continue to see growing inefficiencies and bottlenecks within the supply chain which impact not just retailers, but overall U.S. competitiveness,” says Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president of supply chain and customs policy. “NRF’s objectives include advocating for improving and expanding infrastructure to handle increasing freight needs, opposing burdensome supply chain regulations and supporting efforts to expand trade and improve trade facilitation.” Here are four critical issues Congress is likely to address this session: Reauthorization of the Highway Bill Last month Congress passed a seven-month extension of the federal highway program — marking the seventh short-term extension of the program since it officially expired in September 2009. While NRF is optimistic that the House will work to ensure that freight-related issues are a major component of future legislation, the sticking point for both parties continues to be how to fund the reauthorization. An increase in the gas tax would be the easiest and most viable solution, but the President and key members of Congress have said that it is not an option given rising gas prices and the high unemployment rate. A key priority for NRF is the development of a National Freight Policy that will result in a rational approach toward federal investment in the national freight transportation system, prioritization of funding and the identification of new sources of revenue for freight-related projects. NRF will oppose any user fees not applied to all users of the system. Customs Reauthorization Since its creation in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has faced the dual mission of security and trade facilitation. While the focus has been heavily weighted toward security, Congress is seeking to balance the mission by increasing emphasis on trade facilitation/enforcement. As such, legislation will most likely be introduced that would 32 STORES / APRIL 2011 focus on improving enforcement, import safety, development of account management procedures, improving intellectual property protection and enhancing current supply chain security programs. NRF supports enhancements to CBP’s trade facilitations efforts. Hours of Service The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed a change to the hours-ofservice (HOS) requirements. The proposal would potentially reduce the current 11-hour on-duty limit for drivers (which has been in effect since 2004) to 10 hours. In addition, the 34 hours of time off currently required between each week of driving would now have to include at least two midnight-to6 a.m. rest periods. Supporters say it would result in fewer fatigued drivers on the road, thus reducing accidents. FMCSA must issue a final rule by late July. NRF has communicated to federal transportation officials that a proposal to limit the HOS would increase costs for businesses and consumers while undermining intended safety benefits by putting more trucks on the road during the most congested hours. The reduction in transportation productivity and driver capacity owing to the rule change could substantially undermine supply chain performance in the retail sector. NRF maintains that the proposed changes would increase transportation costs from 3 percent to as much as 20 percent. Trade After two years of avoiding any action on trade, the Obama administration will attempt to push a more proactive policy emphasizing expansion of U.S. exports. Current priorities include passage of the pending free trade agreement with Korea, but a dispute over the Colombia pact — and a less controversial one being negotiated with Panama — could stall passage. While the outlook on the reauthorization of trade preference programs like the Generalized System of Preferences is uncertain, there will likely be continued action on corporate social responsibility legislation and regulations imposing mandates on importers. It remains unclear how responsive a divided Congress with razor-thin majorities will be, especially since trade remains unpopular with the American public, most Congressional Democrats and organized labor. StORES WWW.STORES.ORG http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - April 2011

Stores Magazine - April 2011
Editor’s Page
President’s Page
Retail People
Chain of Uncertainty
Digital Couponing
Energy Management
Social Media
Cross-Channel Metrics
Broadband Bonding
Workforce Management
Alternative Payments
Divisional Update
NRF News
Point of View
Retail Industry Calendar
End Cap

STORES Magazine - April 2011