September 2016

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WASHINGTON, DC UPDATE

G-20 Summit
President Obama, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, & US Trade Representative Michael Froman, among others, traveled to Hangzhou, China to meet with other world leaders as part of the G-20 summit. The summit involved meetings over September 4th & 5th between the heads of states & central bank officials from the world’s largest economies. Protectionism, intellectual property, steel overcapacity, and the US-China Bilateral Investment Treaty were topics of discussion between President Obama & President Xi Jinping in meetings before the summit.
 
September Legislative Forecast
 
Continuing Resolution
Out of session since July, the Senate & House with resume work on September 6. Lawmakers’ chief priority will be the passage of a continuing resolution (CR) to provide federal agencies with the temporary funding so that the government does not suffer another shutdown when current appropriations end September 30. The continuing resolution will be needed to fund the government after Sept. 30, but there is a question of how long the resolution should last, with current proposals lasting between 3 & 6 months. A 3-month CR would allow enough time for appropriators to develop an omnibus measure that would likely be passed during the post-election lame duck session, before 2017.
 
Zika Funding
There will also be an effort to broker a compromise to provide $1.1 billion in Zika funding, which has suffered delays due to a number of partisan amendments added to its appropriations bill. There are currently proposal to include Zika funding in a potential CR, or to create a supplemental funding measure. The Zika funding was added to the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill, which stalled in the Senate over objections to a provision which would bar Planned Parenthood from receiving public health grants to treat pregnant women or offer other disease-prevention programs. The Obama administration has already transferred $670 million from a variety of other programs to the Center for Disease Control, the National Institute for Health, & the Biomedical Advance Research & Development Authority, to deal with the Zika outbreak due to Congressional inaction.
 
Congress may also attempt to pass a reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act, an Export-Import Bank restoration proposal, as well the National Defense Authorization Act. As the election draws near, Congress will also likely have to deal with political posturing. Republicans are expected to introduce legislation criticizing the Obama Administration for the return of $400 million to Iran as part of a Hague Tribunal claim settlement. Democrats are also expected to introduce legislation on gun control.
 

 
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STATEWIDE UPDATES

 

New Jersey

 

NJ Legislative Spotlight: S2502/"NJ Dietary Supplement Task Force"


Background
 

The New Jersey Senate is will consider legislation in the upcoming session that could change the way dietary supplements are regulated in NJ.


While the Food and Drug Administration oversees the marketing and labeling of dietary supplements it does not perform pre-market testing or require approval of the supplements before they are marketed. Studies suggest that many supplements currently available on the market are mislabeled, lack clear dosage instructions, or are corrupted with contaminants and therefore can cause serious health risks for consumers. New Jersey is in the process of taking steps to ensure the safety to Dietary Supplements through the establishment of the New Jersey Dietary Supplement Task Force as proposed in S2502, recently introduced in the NJ Senate. This task force seeks to determine what actions may be taken at the State level to improve quality assurance and safety standards for the litany of dietary supplements sold in New Jersey.


Overview: S2502 and the creation of the NJ Dietary Supplement Task Force Scope


The task force, as it currently proposed, will fall under the state's Department of Health and will be responsible for examining and making recommendations for legislative and/or executive action with regard to the sale and use of dietary supplements in the state.

 

Specific duties of the Task force include, but are not limited to:
 

·         quality control requirements

·         facility and product inspections

·         manufacturers reporting requirements

·         batch testing requirements (including whether to mandate batch testing by the State)

·         establishing a collaborative system to share test results and adverse incident reports with other states

·         the treatment of patients following adverse incidents

·         reporting adverse incidents to appropriate State and federal agencies

·         restricting or banning the sale of specific products

·         establishing age restrictions to purchase dietary supplements

·         imposing new fees or taxes on dietary supplements

·         mandating additional labeling or signage requirements

·         public education and outreach programs
 

The task force will be comprised of representatives from State Government as well as limited representation from industry. Specific breakdown of members include the Commissioner of Health, the Attorney General, the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety, along with four other public members. Two public members will be appointed by the Governor, one by the President of the Senate, and one by the Speaker of the General Assembly. The proposed legislation requires that no later than one year after organization, the task force shall submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Governor, and the task force “shall expire upon submission of its report.”

 

Impact

 

This bill presents a large opportunity for the state to regulate dietary supplements, including nutraceuticals and signals a potential move to draw this industry closer to that of Pharmaceuticals. Being among the first of it’s kind in the US, this task force will surely cause a stir amongst vitamin shops and (perhaps most significantly) product formulators and manufacturers.

 

In particular, product formulators and manufacturers will face stricter QA/QC and testing requirements that may impact their operating costs. Indeed, the requirement for batch testing will cause headaches for manufacturers, but will benefit in the consumer in the long run. For the consumer, it will ensure that products will “do what they say they will do”, something that is woefully inadequate across this market. It is also important to mention that this type of QA/QC and batch testing rules that we’re seeing NJ ruminate on is similar to a trend being seen in the nascent Cannabis industry.

 

There doesn’t appear to be a great deal of direct impact on the consumer--yet. Whether or not companies are able to meet regulatory requirements will evolve as the regulations get developed and put in place. Vitamin shops and other establishments selling dietary supplements will also feel an immediate effect--once the regulations get put into place. These regulations may include signage, consumer education, and reporting or banning the sale of certain products.

 

If NJ wants to ensure that the Dietary Supplement Task Force is indeed successful it will need to convene a diverse group of stakeholders outside of just government officials and political appointees. Bringing industry operators to the table will provide the venue to create realistic regulations while maintaining the dietary supplement industry’s competitive edge in NJ and above all, ensure that a safe, reliable product is being delivered to the consumer.


Hope Brodkin, DMGS Summer Intern and Brett Goldman, DMGS Manager of Special Projects contributed to this report

 

Medical Marijuana Access in NJ

Nearly 18,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to sign legislation that would include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for the state's medical marijuana (MMJ) program.

The petition, which seeks 25,000 signatures, comes more than a month after the New Jersey legislature overwhelmingly voted to approve bill A457 on August 1. Supporters are urging Christie to take swift action. Given Governor Christie's reticence to support MMJ expansion, this is an issue to watch in the fall Legislative session. 

 

 

Pennsylvania


Looking Ahead: Proposed State University Tuition Freeze
 

Two lawmakers in Pennsylvania's House of Representatives hope to address what's become major issues for many millennials when the general assembly reconvenes later this month: college affordability and student debt. Reps. Kevin Boyle and Nick Miccarelli are co-sponsoring a bill to freeze tuition for five years at the universities that make up Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education, which include West Chester and Millersville.

Full-time undergraduates pay an in-state tuition of $7,238 at the state-owned schools that continue to operate at 1999 funding levels. The system serves16 percent more students than it did 17 years ago. They've cut $300 million in the last decade and have 1,000 fewer employees. Pennsylvania used to supply 65 percent of the cost of attendance at state system universities, but now only covers 25 percent. Tuition makes up the difference, and that has gone up 18 percent in five years.

 

Delaware


Dow Chemicals/DuPont Merger Delayed

The merger between Dow Chemicals and DuPont (one of the largest employers in Delaware) seems to be further delayed until next year. Both Dow and DuPont confirmed that European regulators are extending the time they will consider the merger, media reports indicated.The Dow/DuPont deal has drawn fire from Iowa U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, who is planning to hold hearings on the merger. Iowa lost out on a decision on the headquarters of an agriculture business that will be spun off after the merger of the two companies. While the headquarters of that business will be in Delaware, Iowa will still have headquarters jobs from the combined seeds operation. Read More...

 

Ohio

State Unemployment Rate Drops
Ohio's unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent in July from 5 percent in June, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said. Ohio added 11,400 jobs over the month, going from a revised 5,494,900 in June to 5,506,300 in July 2016.
Read More...
 
General Election Forecast
Current polls of Ohio voters show Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with a lead over Republican nominee Donald Trump in the presidential race and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) over Democratic challenger Ted Strickland in the Senate race.  Candidates continue to lobby the Buckeye State for critical votes with less than 100 days to the election. 
 
Medical Marijuana Program Moving Forward
The Ohio Controlling Board approved three funding requests from Governor Kasich, which has cleared the way to set up the new medical marijuana program in Ohio.  Lawmakers approved legalizing medical marijuana with strict guidelines and regulations in the last days before they recessed in May. The two agencies that will regulate the forthcoming medical marijuana program--the Department of Commerce and the State Pharmacy Board--the Department of Commerce and the State Pharmacy Board--are getting a combined $1.8 million from the state to start that work. This is one of the largest amounts of funding for an MMJ program in the US. The law that legalizes certain types of Ohio medical marijuana takes effect Sept. 8, though the program isn’t expected to be fully operational for some time.
 
Ohio Legislature
The General Assembly is still on summer recess.  The Ohio House of Representatives did meet in August to swear in two new members.  Derik Merrin (R-Monclova Township) replaces Representative Barbara Sears  and Theresa Charters Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) replaces Representative Tim Brown.  Sears is the new assistant director in Governor Kasich’s Office of Health Transformation and Brown is now the president of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments.  Both the Ohio House and Senate will likely not pick up full speed until after November, when a busy Lame Duck session will begin.

 

 

General Election Previews: Indiana and Connecticut


Indiana: Gubernatorial Jockeying 

Current Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb received the nomination to replace Gov. Pence on the ballot in November after Pence was tapped as Donald Trump's running mate. Current Indiana Auditor Suzanne Crouch will fill the vacancy for Lt. Governor.  Holcomb is a former State Party Chair and former COS to former Gov. Mitch Daniels.  Crouch is a former IN legislator from Evansville.  They will face Democrats John Gregg and Christina Hale.

Both Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R- District 5) and Congressman Todd Rokita (R- District 4) had withdrawn their candidacies from their respective districts to run for the open seat being vacated by Pence.  Both Brooks and Rokita were successful at reclaiming access to the ballot for their respective congressional seats on the November ballot after withdrawing their candidacy. It’s highly likely both will be re-elected in November.

Connecticut: Major Changes and High Turnout

Significant changes are being projected for the Connecticut General Assembly. The Democrats currently hold majorities in both the Senate (21-15) and House (87-64) and a high turnout is expected given heated Presidential race. Twenty-two House of Representative members have announced their retirements, including the House Speaker, along with two State Senators. The remaining legislative members will be seeking reelection. There are twenty-five competitive State House races and six State Senate seats that are also expected to be closely contested and have the potential to flip the control of both houses from Democrats to Republicans.

In addition, a competitive US Senate race between incumbent Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and State Rep. Dan Carter (R) as well as five contested congressional races are further projected to increase turnout in the state. After the 2016 election all attention will immediately focus on the 2018 gubernatorial primaries and general election.

 

 

DMGS Updates

Make sure to follow DMGS on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for real-time updates. Also, check out www.capitol-commentary.com for further in-depth analysis on PA, NJ, OH, NY, DC, and beyond. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, please contact Brett Goldman, DMGS Manager of Special Projects.

 

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