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ILC: Legislative Threats

I’m writing to bring to your attention the legislative threats that IHRSAs sees on the horizon for clubs in 2016. The work to arrive at this list began last fall. The process of looking forward began by looking back, starting with a review of what was introduced, in which states, over the past few years.

We do this to look for patterns, trends and unresolved issues. Then we poll and interview each of our state lobbyists to see what they anticipate in the next year. But we aren’t done yet. Starting in November, we read the pre-filed bills for the next year. We do a little digging, which includes calling bill sponsors or Committees to see what is behind the bill. Often, it includes additional calls with our lobbyist.

Once the bill reading starts, it doesn’t end until each state legislature adjourns. Every day, we review what has happened since the day before. What new legislation has been filed. Which Committees plan to consider which bills.

Legislative surprises can happen, but through our process of reviewing, anticipating and monitoring we do our best to make sure the surprises are rare and even then, we are prepared to address the challenge. All this behind the scenes work is what brings you the four paragraphs below (and the entire 2016 Legislative Threat Report.)  This work and your support are a good part of the reason why IHRSA’s 2015 track record is 13 wins and 0 losses.

Anticipated Threats

Restrictions on Membership Contracts

During the 2016 session, IHRSA anticipates that we will see numerous bills that would limit how a health club and retains its members. In particular, we will be keeping a close watch on Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Vermont.

Personal Training

IHRSA remains concerned about legislation that would limit a clubs’ access to qualified personal trainers, or make fitness services more expensive for consumers without safeguarding the consumer – as it generally claims to do. Our Public Policy team anticipates that we will see this issue in multiple states in 2016, most notably in Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

Sales Tax

I am honestly looking forward to the day when sales tax on memberships is not even a category because lawmakers have recognized the importance of healthy lifestyles and the fact that taxes change behavior.  But in 2016, we also must continue to fight the cost barrier that a sales tax can impose. Legislators will consider the issue in multiple states in 2016, most notably in California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, and Virginia. (And of course the battle to stop the sales tax is continuing in Pennsylvania.)

Locker Rooms

Currently, 17 states have passed laws granting protections for transgender individuals in places of public accommodation, and IHRSA’s Public Policy team predicts that this issue will be seen in a number of other states in the 2016 session.  This issue is gaining steam throughout the country. Clubs who have been operating in states that were early adopters of the transgender laws are having an increasing number of people inquiring about this issue. And while club operators and members in the locker room understand the privacy issue, it is very hard to get government officials and transgender advocacy groups to understand the locker room side of this problem.

If you would like to get a more background on these issues we’ve compiled the IHRSA blog series on Industry Threats into an e-book. It is available here for download. And of course as always, if you have any question please don’t hesitate to contact us. 



Helen A. Durkin
EVP Public Policy

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