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"The Big Ugly" Budget Bill

Saturday, April 1, 2017

NYSVA's New York Minute...

"The Big Ugly" Budget Bill



Introduced in February, Governor Cuomo's omnibus budget bill (in the three versions from the assembly, senate and the governor) included language that would have drastically damaged the vapor industry in NY. It included an expansion of the Clean Indoor Air Act (with no carve-out for vape shops); a fine for transporting  more than 100mls of e-liquid, and a 10cents per ml tax in both the senate and governors versions, and a 40cent per ml tax in the assembly's bill. Also hidden in the assembly's version was Tobacco21 language that would raise the age to purchase vapor products as well as cigarettes.

NYSVA performed research on the size and scope of the vapor market in New York, and presented market data to legislators and administrators that was truly impressive:  More than 600 shops with more than 2200 employees and sales and payroll tax contributions of more than $55 million are contributed just by vape shops in New York.

In the 2 weeks leading up to the vote, NYSVA board members had 55 meetings with key legislators in both houses and both sides of the aisle. The market research was impressive, and so too was the significant amount of breaking scientific research NYSVA shared with them related to the breaking news of declining youth use, latest air quality and physiological studies, etc.

Due to our lobbyist's excellent connections, we also were granted meetings with the governor's office chief legal counsel and the chief legal counsel of the senate majority leader. These proved to be very fruitful meetings.

NYSVA worked with CASAA for all-hands on deck calls to action for business owners and consumers, even providing a script that shop owners shared with their customers. Word was that our presence on the hill, combined with an onslaught of vapers' phone calls was making noise and getting attention.

After delay after delay for a vote on the budget bill, word came down in overtime that all of the vapor language was removed from the budget bill. Considered by many on capital hill to be a done deal, key leadership in the senate and the governor realized vaping was an issue that needed to be thought out thoroughly with help from the industry association, and NYSVA had been invited to the table.

While it was a huge win, we warned vapers in NY that stand-alone legislation was just around the corner, and as predicted, by the end of the session we were tracking 28 bills including the ones that would have the most impact on our businesses and vapers' lives: the Clean Indoor Air Act expansion to include vaping, Tobacco 21+, taxation, shop licensing and a flavor ban.