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June Policy Update: Legislation That May Impact Your Gym

The IHRSA Public Policy team monitors legislation on both a state and federal level for our members. If you are wondering how as a gym or club owner that is relevant to you, we can answer that. It’s very relevant and important that the latest and most up-to-date information on anything and everything that could impact your business is available to you. That’s where we come in.  

We monitor things like potential sales tax hikes on gym memberships, regulations on auto renew contracts, rules for free gifts or trials, and more. Our team works with grassroot efforts and lobbyists to ensure the best outcome for the fitness industry.

Every month, you can join our team for a live chat on the IHRSA Advocate Facebook page. They will answer any questions you may have concerning legislation that could affect your business or club, and they will bring you the latest information on bills and legislation they’re keeping their eyes on.

In case you missed the June 14th IHRSA Advocate Policy Live Chat, here is a brief recap.

In this edition, Government Relations Coordinator Suzanne Trainor, Health Promotion Manager Alex Black, and Assistant Vice President of Government Relations Jeff Perkins pulled state names out of a hat and discussed what is happening in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Indiana, California, Maine, and Massachusetts. You can watch the full video below, or find the time we start talking about each state in our summary below. 

West Virginia (0:54)  

West Virginia is in legislative overtime, trying to hammer out a budget, enact tax reform, and running very close to a July 1 state government shutdown., current tax proposals include eliminating the sales tax exemption for club memberships. If you or your club is in West Virginia, be sure to get your members involved and talk with IHRSA about how we can defeat the tax.  

Pennsylvania (4:30)

A legislative proposal to eliminate real property tax in Pennsylvania proposes to fill in the lost revenue ($12.5 billion +) by increasing the sales tax from 6 to 7% and to expand its application to health club membership and other services. The bill is currently before the Senate Finance Committee.  If you or your club is in Pennsylvania, be sure to get your members involved and talk with IHRSA about how we can defeat the tax.  

Arkansas (9:41)

In 2017, Arkansas lawmakers took steps to recognize health promotion efforts in the state and to make physical activity more accessible to elementary school children. The legislature also passed a pilot program to test expanded recess, implementing 340 minutes of weekly physical education and unstructured physical activity time for K-4th grade and 265 weekly minutes for 5th and 6th grade. Of those minutes, at least 60 per day for K-4 and at least 45 per day for 5th and 6th grade must be unstructured and undirected play.

Indiana (14:02)   

A state senator in Indiana introduced a bill titled “Right to Workout.” The bill actually stated that in order for a person to use or become a member of a fitness facility, one did not have to pay for it.  We immediately contacted the legislator’s office and found out that he meant it as a response to the “Right to Work” legislation. 

California discussion (16:02)

The California Senate recently passed a bill restricting automatic renewal contracts that come with a free gift or trial.  IHRSA, with along with our Sacramento-based lobbying team, have been working to oppose this bill. With the bill now having moved to the Assembly, IHRSA is working with the Cal Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of companies and industries to advocate for changes to the bill  

Maine/Massachusetts (21:13)

Sales Tax-For the third time in recent history, Maine is considering expanding the sales tax to membership at a health club. Maine’s new budget starts next month, on July 1. We are closely watching the budget and working with the fitness industry on the ground to tell lawmakers that taxing fitness will be detrimental to the state’s health and economy.  If you or your club is in Maine, be sure to get your members involved and talk with IHRSA about how we can defeat the tax.

Tax credit - In Maine - and Massachusetts - we are working to keep health promotion gains made in past years.  In Massachusetts we are leading an effort to extend the Wellness Program Tax Credit, which is an incentive for small businesses to offer wellness programs to their employees. The credit is set to expire at the end of 2017.

In Maine, legislators considered a bill designed to simplify the state tax form by removing several tax credits, one of which was a credit for small businesses with 20 or fewer employees for developing, instituting and maintaining a wellness program for its employees. IHRSA submitted testimony, and the tax committee reported out that the bill “ought not to pass.” On June 5th the bill was placed in legislative files and is effectively marked as dead. In Massachusetts, our work to protect the Wellness Tax Credit continues.

Follow the IHRSA Advocate on Facebook to catch the July 19 legislative update at 10:00am EST, which will look at more states.  To catch up on Legislative Alerts you may have missed this year, visit the State Advocacy page.