The following list provides an overview of the national issues that are being followed this year by several national associations. We will attempt to provides updates on these as information becomes available.
2022 Priority Issues
- Labor: Workforce Supply and Regulatory Enforcement
- Supply Chain/Transportation
- Feeding Assistance Programs: SNAP, WIC, School Lunch
- Pharmacy: PBM Reform; DIR Fees; Vaccinations
- Food Safety: Traceability
- Cybersecurity: Privacy/Data Security/Ransomware
- Sustainability: Food Waste; EPR; Packaging; Recycling
- Payments: Swipe Fee Reform; Credit Competition
- Organized Retail Crime/Asset Protection
FDA authorizes COVID-19 vaccine updates to fight most common omicron strain
This photo provided by Pfizer shows vials of the company’s updated COVID-19 vaccine during production in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Credit: AP
By The Associated Press Updated August 31, 2022 12:05 pm
The U.S. on Wednesday authorized its first update to COVID-19 vaccines, booster doses that target today’s most common omicron strain. Shots could begin within days.
The move by the Food and Drug Administration tweaks the recipe of shots made by Pfizer and rival Moderna that already have saved millions of lives. The hope is that the modified boosters will blunt yet another winter surge.
“You’ll see me at the front of the line,” FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks told The Associated Press shortly before his agency cleared the new doses.
Until now, COVID-19 vaccines have targeted the original coronavirus strain, even as wildly different mutants emerged. The new U.S. boosters are combination, or “bivalent,” shots. They contain half that original vaccine recipe and half protection against the newest omicron versions, called BA.4 and BA.5, that are considered the most contagious yet.
The combination aims to increase cross-protection against multiple variants.
Biden announces student loan forgiveness:
The student loan repayment pause has now been extended to Dec. 31.
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that his administration is forgiving some student loan debt for U.S. borrowers and extending the federal student loan repayment pause until Dec. 31, both actions that have been highly anticipated and closely watched by millions of Americans.
The move comes a week before the pause on student loan repayments was set to expire on Aug. 31. The measure was put in place in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic and was designed to relieve borrowers from defaulting on student loans and allow them to begin repayments in good standing when the state of the economy improved.
The new changes could “provide relief to up to 43 million borrowers, including cancelling the full remaining balance for roughly 20 million borrowers,” according to a White House fact sheet.
The move could be of particular benefit to women, who hold nearly two-thirds of all student loan debt in the U.S., according to the American Association of University Women, and Black borrowers, who are disproportionately burdened by student loan debt, according to the National Consumer Law Center.
States tapping historic surpluses for tax cuts and rebates
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Stoked by the largest surplus in state history, Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature devised a $500 million plan to send one-time tax refunds to millions of households. In a shock to some, GOP Gov. Mike Parson vetoed it.
Parson’s objection: He wanted a bigger, longer-lasting tax cut.
“Now is the time for the largest income tax cut in our state’s history,” Parson declared as he called lawmakers back for a September special session to consider a $700 million permanent tax reduction.
Upon its likely approval, Missouri will join at least 31 states that already have enacted some type of tax cut or rebate this year — an astounding outpouring of billions of tax dollars back to the people. Idaho lawmakers are convening Thursday to consider more tax breaks, and Montana lawmakers also are weighing a special session for tax relief.
Flush with federal pandemic aid and their own surging tax revenue, states have cut income tax rates for individuals and businesses, expanded tax deductions for families and retirees, pared back property taxes, waived sales taxes on groceries and suspended motor fuel taxes to offset inflationary price spikes. Many also have provided immediate tax rebates.
Republicans and Democrats alike have joined the tax-cutting trend during a midterm election year.
Yet divisions have emerged about how far to go. While Democrats generally have favored targeted tax breaks and one-time rebates, some Republicans have pressed for permanent income tax rate reductions that could lower tax bills — and state revenue — for years to come. Parson describes it as “real, lasting relief.”
For some states, the current surpluses are unlike anything they’ve previously seen.
“I don’t think there’s been a time in history where states are better equipped to ride out a potential recession,” said Timothy Vermeer, senior state tax policy analyst at the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. “A majority, if not all, of the rainy day funds are in a really healthy position.”
Still, big surpluses coupled with inflation make rebates a tempting option for politicians, especially during an election year.
United States Unemployment Rate
The US unemployment rate decreased to 3.5% in July 2022, the lowest since February 2020, from 3.6% in the previous period, while analysts expected it to be unchanged. The number of unemployed persons edged down to 5.7 million. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate, at 62.1 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.0 percent, were little changed over the month.