CGA President Applauds Membership For Grass-Roots Effort


Contact: Dave Heylen, V.P. Communications California Grocers Association
Tel: 916.448.3545
Fax: 916.448.2793
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California Grocers Association
1415 L Street, Suite 450
Sacramento, CA 95814

Efforts help industry defeat amendment aimed at derailing Durbin Amendment

SACRAMENTO, CA – (June 9, 2011) – California Grocers Association President Ronald Fong applauded CGA member companies for their involvement in derailing an effort in the U.S. Senate to delay implementation of critical debit card swipe fee reform.

In May, the U.S Senate passed the Durbin amendment that directed the Federal Reserve to determine “reasonable and proportional” transaction fees for debit cards. It was hailed as a major victory for retailers and consumers.

On June 8, Senate opponents to the Durbin amendment sought passage of a provision (Tester amendment) that would require the Federal Reserve to stop and rewrite those proposed rules. It failed to get the required 60 votes for passage.

The failed attempt was again lauded as a major victory for both retailers and consumers and allows the Federal Reserve to issue a final rule on a previously passed amendment to create needed debit card interchange fee reform.

“Our members’ grass-roots lobbying efforts prior to the June 8 vote played a key role in securing support from both California senators,” said CGA President Ron Fong. “With the proponents of the delay provision falling just six votes short of the required 60 needed for passage, it was critical we secure as many no votes as possible.”

In the weeks leading up to the June 8 vote, CGA worked closely with its national counterparts (Food Marketing Institute, National Grocers Association) to aggressively lobby U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. The campaign included personal visits, both in Washington DC and in California, letter writing and telephone calls.

“This was a very emotional issue with both sides flooding the senators’ offices with emails, faxes and telephone calls,” Fong said. “It was critical both our senators know how important this issue was to our industry and our customers.”

Fong said CGA member involvement in the FMI/NGA/FIAE Day in Washington event last March helped to secure important no votes on the delay provision. Association members also accompanied CGA’s government relations team in visiting Sen. Feinstein’s San Francisco office just prior to the vote.

Fong called CGA’s advocacy plan a perfect case study in effective grass-root member advocacy.

“How we approached opposing the Tester amendment is how we should approach every piece of important legislation regardless of our position,” said Fong. “Strong member involvement, coupled with well-informed and prepared CGA staff, is the key to legislative success. I am extremely proud of both our membership and staff for making this happen.”

While this latest grass-roots effort focused on federal legislation, Fong stressed that the same principal applies on the state and local level. “Our members need to understand that their involvement is key to our lobbying success,” said Fong, adding that with a new Democratic governor, member support is more important than ever.

The California Grocers Association is a non-profit trade association representing the food industry since 1898 and represents approximately 500 retail members operating over 6,000 food stores in California and Nevada.