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Entries in state legislatures (44)

Thursday
Jun292017

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.

Continue reading "June Policy Update: Legislation That May Impact Your Gym."

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Wednesday
Jun212017

4 Uncertain Fitness Industry Legislative Trends We’re Watching

Something Wicked This Way Comes


“Really knowing is good. Not knowing, or refusing to know, is bad, or amoral, at least. You can't act if you don't know.”

Whether you are familiar with this Ray Bradbury quote or not, this quote can be applied across a number of industriesincluding the health club industry.


 

One of my first tasks when I started working at IHRSA was to read all 39 state consumer protection laws governing health club contracts and create a summary of each state law.

Since then, I’ve been involvedwith the help of a lot of great IHRSA staffwith the monitoring of every bill introduced by any state legislature that would directly affect health clubs. So it was reasonable to think I had seen it all, but I hadn’t. I’m seeing some trends coming the industry’s way that I really don’t like, and I want to bring them to your attention.

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Tuesday
Feb212017

Don’t Let Legislative Threats Disrupt Your Gym’s Daily Business Routine

Think about everything that you’ve done since the moment you walked through the doors of your gym this morning. This includes everything that constitutes a successful business day, like the laundry list of operational tasks you must perform and the personalized interactions that you have with members to ensure they are satisfied with their fitness experiences.

Now, think about what would happen if your entire routine was suddenly disrupted.

Continue reading "Don’t Let Legislative Threats Disrupt Your Gym’s Daily Business Routine."

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Wednesday
Mar092016

Look Ahead with IHRSA’s Legislative Opportunity Report

While there are some potential legislative threats that health clubs should be aware of, there are also many potential legislative opportunities that stand to benefit the health and fitness industry.   

IHRSA’s Public Policy team created The 2016 Legislative Opportunity Report to give you an overview of proposed legislation that may strengthen your business. 

The report outlines the following opportunities expected in the coming year: 

  • Financial Incentives for Physical Activity
  • Child and Adolescent Health and Physical Activity
  • Insurance Reimbursements for Physical Activity
  • Encouraging Healthy Workplaces and Communities 

This report is based on the legislative tracking, analyses, and historical knowledge of IHRSA’s Public Policy staff, as well as intelligence from IHRSA’s lobbyists in California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

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Thursday
Feb182016

Keep Aware with IHRSA’s Legislative Threat Report

IHRSA’s Public Policy team is constantly on the lookout for legislation that may threaten U.S. health clubs.

To do this, the team reviews legislation that could hinder profitability or create burdensome regulations. Once identified, they work in your best interest to protect your club against proposals that would discourage healthy behaviors. 

"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 these challenges," says Executive Vice President of Public Policy Helen Durkin. 

In the coming year, we expect to see the following threats:  

  • Restrictions on membership contracts
  • Personal training regulations
  • Sales tax on memberships
  • Locker room privacy  

To brief you on these issues and more, we created The 2016 Legislative Threat Report. This new resource provides case studies of threats IHRSA has faced in the past and looks ahead to the issues that we anticipate to see during the 2016 legislative sessions.

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Wednesday
Feb032016

2016 Legislative Threats: AEDs, Privacy, and More

This post is the fourth in a series of four case studies that demonstrate how IHRSA works to protect your health club from legislation that could harm your business. View the first post here, the second post here, and the third post here.

Over the last few weeks, IHRSA has highlighted threats posed by state legislatures to impose restrictions on health club membership contracts, limit access to qualified personal trainers, and to tax healthy lifestyles. While these are some of the issues that are likely to appear in multiple state legislatures, there are a number of other topics that could arise in 2016 and negatively impact your health club.

IHRSA’s Public Policy team has become very adept at predicting where we will fight battles and proactively work to mitigate threats. However, politics is inherently unpredictable, with lawmakers subject to pressure from constituents, current events, and their own ambitions. What follows are a few of the issues that could arise in your state in 2016.

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

Currently, 11 states and the District of Columbia require health clubs to maintain an AED on premises. Given how states often borrow legislative language from one another, it is possible that each of the other 39 states could consider requiring clubs to house an AED at some point. For states that already have a mandate, there exists the threat of the law being changed to increase legal risks for clubs.

In every case, IHRSA works to ensure that bills mandating AEDs provide health club operators and staff with adequate liability protection for both the use and non-use of an AED, contain reasonable staffing requirements, and provide adequate compliance time. Heading into 2016, IHRSA anticipates extra attention will be given to the issue in Connecticut, Georgia, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Privacy

Over the last few years, one of the most commonly addressed issues by state legislatures across the country is that of extending civil rights protections to transgender individuals. IHRSA does not view this type of legislation, which grants necessary protections in regard to employment, housing, and education, as a threat.

However, IHRSA is working to educate lawmakers on how these laws uniquely impact health club locker rooms and may expose well-intentioned operators to increased legal risks. IHRSA expects the issue to continue to gain momentum, with a likelihood of every state giving some consideration to transgender rights, if they have not enacted a bill already (17 states have passed laws granting protections in places of public accommodation).

And more…

IHRSA deals with many types of legislation that could impact every aspect of your health club business. Childcare, spas, tanning, liability waivers—you name it. This year, we anticipate childcare and/or kids’ camps legislation in Arizona, California, Illinois, and Minnesota, rules for spas and pools in Massachusetts, and rules for clubs that offer tanning in almost every state. We are also keeping an eye out for proposals that would restrict or prohibit the use of liability waivers in clubs, an issue that could arise in any state in which consumer protection becomes a hot topic.

The best way for you to prepare for any one of these issues, or any other that might arise, is to stay well informed by subscribing to IHRSA’s Legislative Alerts and routinely visiting your state page. Also, if you hear of any other legal or legislative updates going on in your state, please share them with IHRSA and other clubs in your area.

Friday
Jan292016

2016 Legislative Opportunities: Insurance Reimbursements for Physical Activity

This post is the third in a series of four that demonstrate how IHRSA works to promote legislative opportunities that would increase access to regular physical activity and healthy lifestylesView the first post here and the second post here. 

In the mid-90s, IHRSA began work on its first large piece of health promotion legislation. At this time, Congress enacted the Healthy Lifestyle Incentive Provision to give insurance companies the opportunity to offer incentives for healthy behaviors. 

Since then, more health clubs have been working with insurers to offer fitness reimbursement programs that reward participants for joining a club. And reimbursement programs have grown in popularity as employers and employees become more aware of the benefits associated with involvement in these types of programs, such as increased employee productivity, decreased rates of absenteeism, and improved mental health. 

The insurance industry offers consumers incentives to exercise at health clubs, in the form of discounted memberships and partial reimbursements of monthly dues. In Florida, for example, Ambetter allows individuals to earn $20 per month towards a prepaid Visa Card as long as the plan member has visited the Ambetter-approved gym at least eight times during that month.

UnitedHealthcare also offers a $20 per month fitness reimbursement plan in 24 states, including Florida, as long as the plan member has visited a participating fitness center at least 12 times within that month. Many states are starting to adopt models such as these and new reimbursement plans will continue to emerge in 2016. 

Currently, IHRSA’s Public Policy team is working with our state lobbyists and insurance companies across the nation to advance these initiatives that encourage healthy behaviors.   

IHRSA will also be hosting a panel on “Healthy Benefits: Fitness Reimbursements in the Insurance Marketplace” on Monday, March 21 at IHRSA 2016 in Orlando. Panelists Vince Pozinski of Optum and Heidi Holliday of Healthy Contributions will discuss the future of the fitness reimbursement landscape and answer your questions on which programs are best suited for your club. 

In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact IHRSA’s Public Policy team at gr@ihrsa.org

Thursday
Jan282016

2016 Legislative Threats: Sales Tax on Health Clubs

Over the last decade, the club industry has been the target of an effort to impose sales tax on membership dues in ten states. For nine of those years, IHRSA has worked with clubs across Pennsylvania and its lobbyist in Harrisburg to fight against proposals that would expand the state’s sales tax base to include a host of currently untaxed services, including those offered by health clubs. 

The threat of a tax on healthy lifestyles reached new levels in 2015; the new governor built his election campaign on a promise to increase education funding and the legislature was intent on reforming the state’s property tax laws and pension system, all of which added up to the government needing to come up with new revenue. The first revenue source the legislature turned to was an expansion of the sales tax, which they have considered and rejected in each of the last nine sessions. 

Once IHRSA’s lobbyist provided intelligence that a sales tax on clubs would be included in the version of the state budget moving forward, IHRSA got to work educating lawmakers on why a tax on health clubs is bad policy.

In addition to direct meetings with every member of the legislature, IHRSA members and health club consumers throughout the state made a powerful statement against the tax, generating over 13,000 emails to state representatives and senators, and the governor’s office. The impressive volume of messages was made possible by industry leaders in the state (such as the Newtown Athletic Club in Newtown, PA) stepping up and working with IHRSA to engage as many within the industry as possible, urging them to join the cause. 

The messages were heard loud and clear in Harrisburg—IHRSA’s lobbyist was told by many legislators that their offices were hearing about the health club tax more than any other issue in the 2015 session. As a result, an expansion of the tax to clubs was rejected. However, Pennsylvania has still yet to enact a budget for the current fiscal year, meaning that the fight will continue on in 2016.

There are also a number of other states that may consider taxing health club memberships this year. Similar to what has happened in Pennsylvania, legislatures often propose taxing health club dues and services when the state is in need of more revenue to resolve a budget deficit or pay for a new legislative priority. However, in the long run, the revenue generated from a 5-7% tax on health club memberships is unlikely to compensate for the rising cost of caring for an increasingly inactive population.

What a tax on health club memberships does do is raise costs for members and creates a disincentive to engage in healthy behaviors. IHRSA strongly believes that policy makers should be doing everything they can to make healthy lifestyles more accessible.

Based on recent legislative trends, conversations with state lawmakers and regulators, and intelligence gathered from our lobbying teams and member clubs across the country, IHRSA predicts that we will once again face a number of bills that would restrict how a health club signs and retains its members in the upcoming sessions.

A number of indicators suggest legislators will consider the issue in multiple states in 2016*, most notably in California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, and Virginia.

IHRSA’s Public Policy team has worked to ensure that the industry is prepared to protect itself in each of these states. However, given how legislative issues spread quickly across state lines, it is very important to stay on top what is going on in your state, even if it is not listed among those above. Email us to make sure you are signed up to receive IHRSA’s Legislative Alerts and routinely visit IHRSA’s state pages to get the latest on issues that might impact your club.

*25 states (and the District of Columbia) already charge sales tax on health club dues and services.

Thursday
Jan212016

2016 Legislative Opportunities: Child and Adolescent Health and Physical Activity 

This post is the second in a series of four that demonstrate how IHRSA works to promote legislative opportunities that would increase access to regular physical activity and healthy lifestyles. View the first post here.

The child obesity and physical inactivity epidemics in the United States are well known; currently about 17% of children and adolescents are obese, and obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for heart disease, to have pre-diabetes, and to experience bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and psychological problems. 

According to the CDC, only 27% of high school students get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Making matters worse, only a handful of states mandate physical education, and those with P.E. mandates on the books don’t always enforce them. 

While children and adolescents make up only a small proportion of health club users, the industry has an interest in raising a healthy, active generation. Kids who are active in childhood are more likely to remain active into adulthood, and physically active adults are always looking for a place to exercise (preferably your club). 

IHRSA is working with our lobbyists and legislatures across the U.S. to advocate for policies that encourage physically active lifestyles and increase opportunities for kids to be physically active. This can include establishing physical education or recess in schools and funding for public health campaigns promoting an active, healthy lifestyle for children. 

In New York, IHRSA is working with our lobbyist to secure funding for the Physical Fitness and Activity Education Campaign, a program run through the public health department to encourage physical activity – and ultimately improve the fitness – of New York state residents, including children. The legislation – Assembly Bill 7022 and Senate Bill 2336 – passed the New York state legislature but was ultimately vetoed at the end of the 2015 session by Governor Cuomo due to lack of funding or a funding mechanism. 

IHRSA’s New York lobbyist is working with the bill’s original sponsors as well as other members of the State Senate and Assembly to include funding for the campaign in the State budget. The Legislature will begin hearings on the Governor's budget proposal before making their amendments to the proposal, and IHRSA aims to have funding included in the changes made by the legislature during this process. 

Jim McCulley, who represents IHRSA’s interests in Albany, stressed that “on behalf of IHRSA, we are working with their representatives in the State Senate and Assembly, to include state funding for this long overdue and important program, especially in light of the increasing child obesity levels. IHRSA strongly supported the Legislature's efforts last year in passing legislation creating the campaign, and we are hopeful that they will provide funding to encourage kids to be physically active.” 

In 2015, IHRSA tracked legislation that would promote physical activity for the next generation in 16 states, and we expect a similar number of states to address this issue in 2016. 

To find out how you can advance this issue in your state, contact IHRSA’s advocacy team at gr@ihrsa.org

Are you working in your community to increase physical activity opportunities for kids and adolescents? Share your story with us at gr@ihrsa.org.

Thursday
Jan142016

2016 Legislative Opportunities: Financial Incentives for Physical Activity

This post is the first in a series of four that demonstrate how IHRSA works to promote legislative opportunities that would increase access to regular physical activity and healthy lifestyles. 

Since 2012, FIT Minnesota—a coalition composed of Minnesota-based clubs Snap Fitness, Anytime Fitness, and Life Time Fitness, IHRSA, and a lobbyist funded by IHRSA and FIT Minnesota—has been working to pass legislation that would create employer tax incentives for fitness expenses.

For health clubs, these incentives can include tax credits and deductions for health club memberships, exercise equipment, and other physical activity-related expenditures. Opportunities like these will make health club memberships more affordable and accessible.

This is one reason why FIT Minnesota has not given up its three-year effort to pass its provision. Another is that they are getting very close to their ultimate goal. At the beginning of 2015, the coalition was successful in including its tax credit proposal as part of a much larger tax bill and, as part of this package, it appeared there was a chance that House File 229 (HF 229) and Senate File 350 (SF 350) would pass.

However, Minnesota’s governor could not reach an agreement with the legislature on a comprehensive tax policy before the end of the session. Therefore, the FIT Minnesota provision stalled—but its supporters remain hopeful. The advocacy conducted over the past few years has garnered a number of key industry-champions within the legislature, so FIT Minnesota enters the 2016 session with a solid foundation of support in place. 

Fortunately, because of Minnesota’s legislative rules, the provision will automatically be considered again during the 2016 session, and IHRSA’s Public Policy team has been working with FIT Minnesota to position the legislation for success this year.

Additionally, our team has been looking for ways to promote opportunities for regular physical activity in every state. In 2016, IHRSA will seek to pursue a number of opportunities to enact financial incentives in several states, including Colorado, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wisconsin.

To stay informed regarding what is happening in your state, make sure you are signed up to receive IHRSA’s Legislative Alerts, and visit ihrsa.org/state for more information on local initiatives that support financial incentives for health club memberships and services.