LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
Law and Order
New Jersey Taxes: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law legislation raising the state’s gas tax by $.23 per gallon. The gas tax hike took effect last November and is designed to boost investment in roads, bridges and transit systems. The new law also includes various tax cuts, including a reduction in the sales tax, the elimination of the estate tax and an increase in a tax credit for the working poor, among other provisions. The increase in the gas tax is New Jersey’s first since 1988.
Alibaba and Counterfeiting:SEMA submitted a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) requesting Alibaba be included on the 2016 Notorious Markets List, which is used to identify markets based outside the United States that are known to facilitate copyright piracy or trademark counterfeiting. Alibaba is consistently identified by SEMA members as a market used by counterfeiters to move large volumes of unauthorized knockoff products. As stated in SEMA’s letter, “it appears that Alibaba has failed to adopt a business model committed to the distribution and sale of licensed or legitimate products.” The USTR is expected to publish its most recent Notorious Markets List by the end of 2016.
New York “Coal Rolling”: New York joined the list of states that have introduced legislation to prohibit “coal rolling.” Under the bill, “no person shall retrofit any diesel-powered vehicle with any device, smoke stack, or other equipment which enhances the vehicle’s capacity to emit soot, smoke, or other particulate emissions, or shall purposely release significant quantities of soot, smoke, or other particulate emissions into the air and onto roadways and other vehicles while operating the vehicle.” Under the bill, violations would be punishable as a misdemeanor. Similar efforts in Colorado, Illinois and Maryland died when those legislatures adjourned for the year.
Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified five chemicals that the agency will target with new regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The federal law was recently amended by the U.S. Congress to provide the EPA with greater authority to evaluate chemicals based on the health risks they pose and put in place regulations to eliminate unreasonable risks that are identified. The five chemicals that have been identified are decabromodiphenyl ethers (flame retardant in plastics and polyurethane foam), hexachlorobutadiene (used in manufacturing of rubber compounds and lubricants and as a solvent), pentachlorothio-phenol (used in rubber), tris (4-isopropylphenyl) phosphate (flame retardant in consumer products), and 2,4,6-tris (tert-butyl) phenol (fuel, oil, gasoline or lubricant additive). The EPA expects to issue regulations limiting exposure to these chemicals by mid-2019.