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The Trump Effect

Learn how the new administration plays a role in the c-store industry.
October 17, 2017

​CHICAGO – President Trump’s first year in office has been a whirlwind of activity and headlines. Yet, for the convenience industry, many early indications point to an era of hope for retailers. While it’s still too early to predict the full impact of the current administration on c-stores, Wednesday’s session, “What Does a Trump administration Mean to the Industry?” assesses legislative and regulatory issues affecting retailers, how c-stores can mitigate the uncertainty and the administration’s influence for change.

“This is a fast-changing administration. We have not really seen much of a structural change—mostly some elevated political awareness,” said NACS Director of Government Relations Jon Taets. “But generally, this administration seems to be more willing to work with us than the previous one and agencies are being more helpful.”

Among the most watched issues are labor laws, tax reform, menu labeling and environmental regulations, Taets said. Some issues have played out favorably. For example, Taets points to a lawsuit involving New York City and menu-labeling rules. When the city began enforcing the rules immediately instead of waiting until May 2018, as required by law, the convenience industry sued the city in July of this year. Similarly, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is reviewing labor laws, and in September the DOJ dropped its appeal of a 2016 decision to delay former President Barack Obama’s overtime rule. Officials are seeking feedback and meetings with convenience leaders to help define new standards, Taets said, instead of plowing forward with new regulations.

Doug Kantor, a partner with Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington, D.C., and legislative counsel for NACS, tells retailers that the current administration has been a “mixed bag.” He, too, is looking for collaboration between government and private industry over tax reform and labor laws. However, the jury is still out on environmental changes.

“Some areas can be risky for our industry,” Kantor said. “For example, if tariffs are put in place for oil and motor fuel imports based on trade policies, it will directly impact our business. On the other hand, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is doing a broad review of environmental regulations.

If the EPA rolls back Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations for the auto industry, it could increase demand for motor fuel.” Both Taets and Kantor agree that c-stores should take proactive steps to engage with elected officials before various legislative issues become law. Federal policy directly impacts c-store success. Pursue every means possible, Kantor says, including letters, email, phone calls, scheduled meetings and town halls.

“Tell your legislators the industry’s story,” Kantor said. “Be knowledgeable and politically active when there’s no emergency, so that when the fire drill comes you can be more effective. You’re not effective when you run in and say the sky is falling and this is the first they’ve heard of it.”

Attend “What Does a Trump administration Mean to the Industry?” tomorrow at the NACS Show.