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Washington Spotlight: How Gorsuch could impact retail

BY Joe Kefauver

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee considered the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court. Since vacancies on the bench are rare and the political stakes so high, few spectacles in Washington D.C. invite this level of drama. He was confirmed by the committee but when his nomination eventually goes to the floor of the Senate for a vote, the real fun will begin. (See “nuclear option.”) Lost in the hype is what his eventual seat on the court will mean to retail operators.

Gorsuch is currently a federal appeals court judge in Colorado, but that particular circuit doesn’t attract the kind of high-level business law cases where we can get a real read on his tendencies. However, there was a recent online sales tax case that is of interest to retail operators. Colorado passed a law in 2010 that forced out-of-state retailers to report to the state and the consumer, the consumer’s obligation to remit sales taxes regardless of whether the retailer had physical presence in the state.

During deliberations, Gorsuch referred to the overarching Quill decision (on which current law is based) as an “analytical oddity” which will “wash away with the sands of time.” Additionally, Gorsuch clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy who has overtly invited challenges to Quill. What’s most important is, there may be an additional set of friendly ears on the bench when it comes to online sales taxes.

For other areas important to the industry, particularly labor policy issues, the results are too mixed to demonstrate an employer bias one way or the other. But Gorsuch has made no secret of his admiration for Antonin Scalia and he is being looked at as a natural successor. One of the first opportunities he may get to show similarities are potential cases dealing with the constitutionality of compulsory union dues. Justices deadlocked 4-4 when the issue reached the Court previously. Look for Gorsuch to be the tiebreaker on similar votes going forward.


Joe Kefauver is managing partner of Align Public Strategies, a full-service public affairs and creative firm that helps corporate brands, governments and nonprofits navigate the outside world and inform their internal decision-making. Align specializes in service sector industries.

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Amazon adds Amazon Cash for debit- and credit-less payment

BY Marianne Wilson

SEATTLE — Amazon has launched a new way for customers to shop its site without using a bank card or credit card.

Called Amazon Cash, the service allows consumers to add cash to their Amazon.com balance by showing a barcode at a participating brick-and-mortar store, with the cash then applied immediately to the consumer’s  online Amazon account. Notably, Walmart already offers a similar type of service for customers without a credit or debit card, as does PayPal.

The initial retail partners for the service are CVS Pharmacy, Speedway, Sheetz, Kum & Go, D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare Supermarkets, and VG’s Grocery. Other stores will be added in the future, according to Amazon.

Prior to Amazon Cash, which has no fee, consumers who wanted to shop on Amazon without a bank or debit card  had to  buy gift cards or prepaid debit cards.

To use the service, customers show their barcode to the store cashier, and tell them how much cash they want to apply to their Amazon account. The cashier then scans the barcode and the customer pays with their cash. 

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CVS Health Charity Classic adds 2-day food festival to event series

BY David Salazar

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — The CVS Charity Classic on Monday announced the addition of the inaugural Crave RI to its Charity Classic event series. Crave RI will take place on the evenings of June 15 and 16 at downtown Providence’s Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

“The CVS Health Charity Classic has been a staple in the southeastern New England area for the last 18 years, bringing together non-profits, professional golfers and the local community,” CVS Health Charity Classic tournament chairwoman Eileen Howard Boone said. "By adding Crave RI to the event series, even more individuals and families can take part in this great event by enjoying the Rhode Island culinary culture and helping to give back to those in need locally."

Crave RI will support the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. The event will see more than 80 of Rhode Island’s top restaurants and 100 beer and wine profiles will sample their products every night.

“We're excited to be a part of the CVS Health Charity Classic event series,” Perry Raso, owner of Matunuck Oyster Bar, Matunuck Oyster Farm and Matunuck Vegetable Farm, said. "We feel as though Crave RI is a great opportunity for us to showcase Matunuck Oyster Bar's Pond to Plate concept while continuing to build on our connection with the local community and charities alike."

Daily tickets to Crave RI, which go on sale April 5, are $20 each plus applicable fees, and are available online, by phone at 800-745-3000 or at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center box office.

Since 1999, the CVS Health Charity Classic has donated more than $20 million to area nonprofits.

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