Government Relations

Category Archives:Government Relations

US Supreme Court Overturns Quill

BREAKING NEWS: US Supreme Court Overturns Quill

Today the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in the South Dakota v. Wayfair case–South Dakota (and brick-and-mortar retailers everywhere) won. This means states can require retailers to collect sales tax regardless of physical nexus–all retailers are equal.

Here’s the Court’s decision. It was a 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

The HFA has been working on leveling the playing field for furniture retailers for several years now–decades if you consider the work started in the 1980s against trans-shippers. Marketplace Fairness has been the hot topic of every advocacy fly-in and many calls to action. Your voices were heard! Thank you to all of the members and the members of the Government Relations Action Team for your tenacity and diligence on this issue.

We’ll be looking at the decision in more detail and discussing next steps and how this unfolds so stay tuned!

HFA CEO, Sharron Bradley

What you need to know about complying with the EPA’s formaldehyde rule

EPA Formaldehyde Rule:

The Environmental Protection Agency published its rule covering formaldehyde emissions in composite wood products in 2016. Most of the main requirements were scheduled to be implemented by December 2017.
These requirements were delayed until December 2018 by the Trump Administration. Consequently, The Sierra Club and Earth Justice filed a lawsuit in California seeking to vacate that extension ruling following that delay.

The court ruled in Sierra Club’s favor in mid-February. This established a new implementation timeline. Current California regulations only apply to products distributed in California. The new EPA rule applies to retailers nationwide.
Most importantly, retailers must maintain bills of lading, invoices, or comparable documents for three years. In addition, they will need a statement of TSCA Section VI compliance under the EPA rule.
This chain-of-custody is critical for compliance purposes.

CARB Phase II Compliance:

All domestic & imported composite wood products containing formaldehyde need to be labeled as CARB Phase II Compliant, beginning in June 1, 2018. From June 1, 2018 through March 22, 2019 CARB Phase II compliance (labeled) will equal EPA TSCA Title VI as long as the Third-Party Certifier (TPC) is recognized by both CARB and EPA. After March 22, 2019, imported and domestic composite wood products will need to have the EPA TSCA Title VI label. CARB is still relevant in California, but the EPA will cover everyone else.

Be Sure Your Products are Compliant:

While the vast majority of composite wood products are currently CARB Phase II compliant, CARB Phase II compliant labels on product being sold should be checked by retailers. Finally, for retailers outside of California with no possibility of selling in to California, make sure you understand and retain your chain of custody documents (invoices, bills of lading, or comparable documents with a statement of TSCA Section VI compliance).

Will brick and mortar retailers see more marketplace fairness in the near future?

Just a quick HFA Government Relations update- a big one.

South Dakota is expected to file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking for the case (Quill v. North Dakota) to be heard, and in turn, overturn the physical presence rule. Given the gridlock in Congress with respect to Marketplace Fairness legislation, establishing a national framework for online sales tax collection, this presents the most immediate opportunity for fairness for brick and mortar retailers. The HFA has joined with peer industry groups in drafting an amicus brief in support of the Supreme Court hearing the case. Many industry/retail groups are expected to file briefs in support as well.

Are there any government affairs or issues impacting your business that you’d like to see more coverage on? Please send your inquiries to Lisa Casinger, HFA Government Relations Liasion, at

Action Alert: Stop Repeal of Debit Swipe Fee Reform

Swipe Fee Reform is on the Chopping Block. Act NOW! Call your Representative and make a difference!

The House Financial Services Committee passed the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10) out of Committee. The next step is for members of the House to vote on it. Contact your Representatives ASAP (they’re home in their districts the week of May 8). Tell them how debit swipe fee reform has helped
your business and your customers. Urge your Representatives to tell House leadership you oppose the repeal of the Durbin amendment/swipe fee reform in H.R. 10. Make sure they understand this reform benefits you, your customers, THEIR constituents, not just the big box retailers.

Take a minute to calculate the savings you’ve realized since the debit swipe fees were capped 5 years ago. Aside from capping the fees banks could charge, the reform also provides transparency and competition in the marketplace. Think about the positive effects this savings has had on your business. Maybe you’ve expanded your business, hired new people, offered more value to customers–these are the tangible results your Representatives need to hear. They need to hear about the savings you pass on to consumers while banks and debit card processors are trying to gobble up more profits from retailers who accept their payment process (because that’s what the customer wants) instead of checks or cash. Make the call to prevent the repeal of debit swipe fee reform.

New Guidance for California’s Prop 65

January 26, 2017

California’s Prop 65 requires businesses with 10 or more employees to provide a clear and reasonable warning before knowingly and intentionally exposing individuals to chemicals that the state says cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. While the primary burden to warn consumers falls on manufacturers, Prop 65 applies to everyone in the supply chain; no one is exempt from liability.

This proposition has been around for 31 years, so what’s new? The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) recently came out with Article 6, which gives more specific guidance on the new product warning label. And, while this doesn’t go into effect until August 30, 2018, manufacturers and retailers can choose to comply now.

Here are the details on the new guidance:

  • There’s an unlimited sell-through period. Products manufactured before August 30, 2018 may comply with the longstanding warning regulations, even if the product is sold after the effective date. Products manufactured on or after August 30, 2018 must comply with the new regulations.
  • There’s a furniture-specific safe harbor, which clarifies that a separate Prop 65 label is not required for furniture. Manufacturers can put the Prop 65 warning on the product “in the same manner as other consumer information or warning materials that are provided on the product.” This means manufacturers can use the existing manufacturing label as a ‘billboard’ to display all product information.
  • The amended regulation changes the language in the required warning. The warning now needs to list at least one specific chemical believed to cause both cancer and reproductive harm, or two (one believed to cause cancer and one believed to cause reproductive harm.) The manufacturer can select which chemical to list.
  • The warning also is now required to contain a yellow hazard triangle symbol, although the symbol need not be printed in color if there is no other color on the label. The new warning reads:

The above is meant for example purposes only and while OEHHA doesn’t specify fonts, the regulation requires warnings to be prominently displayed with such conspicuousness as compared with other words, statements, designs or devices on the label, labeling or sign, as to render the warning likely to be read and understood by an ordinary individual under customary conditions of purchase or use.

  • For internet sales, an online retailer must provide an online warning that must be viewed prior to purchase, even if the product itself contains a warning.
  • Retailers are responsible for the placement and maintenance of warning materials received from suppliers; for warnings on any private label products and for warnings on any products for which they are they importer of record.
  • Retailers MUST be able to provide the name and contact info for upstream companies upon request to OEHHA, the public enforcers or any private enforcer who serves a 60-day notice letter IF the requestor provides a description of the product with specificity in accordance with the regulation (this means they must ask for info on a specific sofa not just all sofas in your store).
  • Aside from the warning on the law label or manufacturer’s label, retailers must either post the Prop 65 warning at each public entrance on an 8 ½ x 11” sign in 28-point font or stamped on each receipt in 12-point font (see warning label language above).

Many manufacturers label all their product, and while California consumers are used to these ubiquitous labels, consumers in the other 49 states are not and may have questions and concerns. HFA has a letter available for members to use to explain Prop 65 to their consumer. HFA members can log into the member portal to download the sample letter.