FDA Will Not Enforce Tobacco 21 in Compliance Checks, SIGMA Requests Enforcement Delay
On January 15th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted a new statement on its website regarding the change in the federal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 (known as Tobacco 21). The agency says the 21 minimum age is effective immediately and retailers should take measures to ensure purchasers are 21 or older—including checking IDs. FDA, however, stated that during the period of transition, it will only use individuals under 18 for compliance checks.
Specifically, the agency’s website states, “Effective immediately, retailers must not sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. FDA recognizes that both the agency and some retailers will need to update current practices to implement this new law as FDA will need time to do outreach and education to retailers and update the Agency’s programmatic work to reflect this change in law. During this period of transition, the FDA expects retailers to follow the law and take measures to ensure an individual purchasing a tobacco product is 21 or older, including manually checking IDs when needed. However, during this ramp-up period, FDA will continue to only use minors under the age of 18 in its compliance check program.”
On January 10th, SIGMA joined a retail industry letter to Mitch Zeller, Director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, noting that as of that date FDA had provided only three sentences of guidance on Tobacco 21 and requested that the agency “clarify that there will not be enforcement of the new age until the agency finalizes the implementing regulations” as there are significant resources and efforts that must be undertaken to make the transition to the new purchasing age.
The letter further notes that without a public awareness campaign about the new law, retailers may be the first to inform 18-20-year-old tobacco products users that they can no longer legally purchase them, which could lead to angry confrontations.
Although SIGMA appreciates that FDA is taking steps to ease the transition to Tobacco 21 by only enforcing 18 in its compliance checks, many questions remain for the agency. FDA has failed to indicate how long the enforcement delay will last or when it will issue implementing regulations, noting only that it “will be updating our website and other materials, including our regulations, in the near future to reflect the change in law.”
In addition to SIGMA, the letter to FDA was signed by the following organizations: Food Marketing Institute, NACS, NATSO, National Grocers Association, PMAA, and the Premium Cigar Association.
IRS Issues Instructions to Claim Biodiesel Tax Credits
On January 15th, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued instructions for sellers and users of certain biodiesel and alternative fuels to take advantage of the retroactive tax credit extensions that were included in the December continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government for fiscal year (FY) 2020.
According to the IRS notice, taxpayers who claimed credits in anticipation of lawmakers extending the incentives need to refile their claims and can submit them using the Form 8849.
The 180-day period for claiming credits for the 2018 and 2019 tax years starts on February 14, 2020, meaning claims must be filed by August 11, 2020 (though credit seekers can submit their claims early). They must have enough documentation to prove their eligibility, the IRS said.
As SIGMA previously reported, the law reinstated the biodiesel tax credit, which expired at the end of 2017, through 2022 and extended alternative fuel and alternative fuel credit through 2020.
DOL Issues Final Joint Employer Rule
On January 13th, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced its final Joint Employer Rule. The rule, which was published in the Federal Register on January 16th, will be effective on March 16, 2020.
In the final rule, DOL provides a four-factor test to determine joint employer status for employees who perform work for one employer that “simultaneously benefits another person.” The test examines whether the potential joint employer engages in the following actions:
- Hires or fires the employee;
- Supervises and controls the employee’s work schedule or conditions of employment to a substantial degree;
- Determines the employee’s rate and method of payment; and
- Maintains the employee’s employment records.
The final rule also clarifies when additional factors may be relevant to determining joint employer status, as well as identifying certain business models, contractual agreements, and business practices that could affect joint employer status.
GAO to Investigate Small Refinery Waivers
On January 10th, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) responded to a bipartisan letter from Representative Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) and other farm state members of Congress indicating that it will grant their request “to examine the review and approval of small refinery exemption waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), including the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) viability scores for the 40 small refinery waivers reviewed by the DOE for the 2018 compliance year.”
In their letter, the Representatives asked GAO to investigate the following:
- EPA’s approval process for small refinery exemption waivers;
- The role of the DOE in reviewing and scoring waiver applications; and
- What factors are being considering in the assessment and approval of these applications and whether changes have been made to the review process under the current Administration.
In its letter accepting the investigation request, GAO does not provide a timeline for when its review and subsequent report will be completed but an average investigation takes approximately 3 months and the final report is then sent to the agencies involved for review and comment.
USDA Request for Information on New Biofuels Program
On January 16th, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register for the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP), a program to incentivize the sale of renewable fuels to expand biodiesel and ethanol availability. USDA is exploring options for the program and requests input from stakeholders for the HBIIP. The goal of the program is to provide consumers more options for refueling, decrease emissions, improve air quality, and increase demand of ethanol for farmers.
The USDA hopes the HBIIP will continue its efforts on biofuels infrastructure investments to increase the sales of higher biofuel blends, specifically E15/B20 or higher, as part of their Biofuels Infrastructure Program (BIP). The BIP was implemented by the USDA from 2016-2019 to expand E15 and E85 infrastructure through state and private partners to encourage the use of higher ethanol blends by gas station retailers.
USDA has provided a list of questions for input by stakeholders and requests comments by January 30, 2020.
House Bill Would Define CBD as a Dietary Supplement
On January 13th, Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation that would classify cannabidiol (CBD) as a dietary supplement under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act—thereby potentially clearing the path for CBD to be marketed in food and beverages.
In announcing the legislation, Chairman Peterson said the bill would provide the Food and Drug Administration with “the flexibility to allow hemp-derived CBD to be marketed in dietary supplements.” The bill would also require a study and report from the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the production of hemp, on the regulatory and market barriers for farmers engaged in hemp production.
There has been bipartisan support in Congress for creating a pathway to use CBD in food products. For example, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced an amendment to the 2020 Senate appropriations bill earlier in December that would have would have instructed FDA to “issue a policy of enforcement discretion with regard to certain products containing CBD” within 120 days of the spending bill’s passing. That amendment was ultimately dropped from the final bill.
While the Peterson bill is an important step forward in the marketing of CBD products in food and beverages, it is unlikely—given the limited congressional calendar—that the bill will become law this year, even if it is passed by the House.
Regional Emergency Declaration Extended for Southern States
On January 16th, the Federal Motor Carrier Service Administration (FMCSA) issued an extension to its December 18th Regional Emergency Declaration for Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The extension lasts until February 17, 2019.
The declaration was issued in response to damaging weather conditions in the affected states. FMCSA determined that the conditions still exist and due to the need for immediate transportation of supplies, equipment, and fuel, the Southern Service Center extended its waiver of Hours of Service requirements for motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the emergency. That assistance ends, however, when a driver or vehicle is used for interstate commerce not directly supporting emergency relief. Should a driver inform the motor carrier that he or she needs rest, the carrier must permit the driver to take at least 10 consecutive hours off before returning to duty.
Federated Insurance Offers FREE Webinar on OSHA Top 10 List
On January 21st, Federated Insurance is offering a webinar on “A Top Ten List You Can’t Ignore (OSHA Top Ten).” Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases a summary of their list of Top Ten workplace safety violations. This webinar will take a look at OSHA’s Top Ten violations in 2019. More importantly, however, it will focus on risk management policies, procedures, and training resources to implement and help reduce employee accidents and injuries.
What you will learn:
Quick overview of the OSHA Top Ten violations for 2019
Training resources, programs and policies to implement in your business
How to positively impact workplace productivity and culture through accident prevention
The webinar is complimentary to SIGMA members, but registration is required.
Click HERE for more information and to register
SIGMA Executive Leadership Conference Hotel Block EXTENDED!
The SIGMA hotel block at the Grand Hyatt Vail for the 2020 Executive Leadership Conference has been EXTENDED until January 17th! If you forgot to register and then thought you couldn’t get a room, it’s not too late!
SIGMA is excited to bring the Fuels Institute to the 2020 Executive Leadership Conference for two mornings of fuel market education and discussion. Over the course of two mornings, John Eichberger, Executive Director of the Fuels Institute, will present four major trends affecting the fuel marketing industry through 2030, evaluate their likely direction and market implications and harvest ideas for the industry to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities these trends present. Come prepared to think about the future and what some of these trends might mean for your own company.
Register for the 2020 ELC
Make Plans Now to Join SIGMA at the Hotel del Coronado for the 2020 Spring Conference!
It is not too early to make your plans to join SIGMA April 28-30 at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, California for the 2020 Spring Conference! Early Bird Rates expire on January 15th, so don’t delay!
SIGMA’s Spring Conference is a casual networking opportunity that offers an environment to sharpen your business edge. Share insights and best practices with other fuel industry leaders and walk away with information that will help your business grow.
Click HERE for conference information and to register.