Many Twisted Fibers Make the Strongest Rope

Many Twisted Fibers Make the Strongest Rope

July 2023   minute read

As we like to say in the NACS government relations department, “The convenience store industry has more issues than National Geographic.” Unlike other industries that can focus on specific committees (banking, for example), activity in every committee in Congress can affect us. 

One of the key tactics we use to effectively represent the industry is to identify and work with other industries and organizations with aligned positions on a given issue. There are currently over 20 issue-specific coalitions with which we are working to achieve positive results … and more are formed on a regular basis as new issues arise. On issues of top priority to our industry, NACS usually forms and leads the coalition. With other issues, we may just participate. Either way, the coordination with like-minded organizations is essential to success on Capitol Hill. Following are some examples of how we use coalition armies to fight some of our biggest battles.

Swipe Fees

In the early 2000s, NACS co-founded the Merchants Payments Coalition (MPC), a group of merchant trade associations seeking legislation to curtail an ever-increasing cost for Main Street businesses—swipe fees. Over time the MPC’s membership has grown to include associations representing everything from general retail to grocers, restaurants, college bookstores, theater operators, sporting goods stores, beverage stores, lumber companies and more. MPC’s policy objective—tackling unfair swipe fees—is one that unites almost any business accepting payment cards today because the business is completely beholden to the Visa and Mastercard duopoly. The global networks not only determine the rails transactions run over but the operating rules, who is liable for fraud and the swipe fee rates levied by their issuing banks. The current system leaves Main Street businesses bearing enormous operating costs and American households paying more than $1,000 a year in these hidden fees.

In 2010, NACS and its coalition partners were successful in passing legislation known as the Durbin Amendment that regulated debit card swipe fees. The legislation also required there be two network routing options on debit cards. Since its implementation, debit card swipe fee reform has saved U.S. merchants billions of dollars. 

The current system leaves Main Street businesses bearing enormous operating costs.

Most recently, the MPC has advocated for the passage of the Credit Card Competition Act, bipartisan legislation that would require there be two network routing options for retailers on credit cards, similar to what we have on debit cards today. The legislation has gained traction, with more than 220 associations at the federal, state and local level endorsing the bill. NACS estimates that credit card routing competition would save the convenience store industry more than $1 billion a year in swipe fees, an average of about $7,000 per location.

While the coalition focuses primarily on legislation, NACS regularly coordinates with other retail associations to raise these issues with regulatory agencies that have jurisdiction over the networks and their issuing banks, including the Department of Justice, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 


Convenience stores play a unique yet essential role in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as small format retailers. NACS works with several nonprofits and associations in order to ensure our retailers have the ability to participate in the program and provide food to the 42 million Americans who rely on SNAP. 

Congress is currently drafting the 2023 Farm Bill, which authorizes SNAP. One of the top issues NACS is focused on this Farm Bill is removing the hot food restriction. Bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House and Senate to allow SNAP customers to purchase hot foods at SNAP-authorized retail stores. NACS strongly supports the legislation and is working with industry leaders, such as the Food Research and Action Center, to advocate for its inclusion in the Farm Bill.

NACS is also working with an informal coalition of associations representing SNAP retailers to advocate for a permanent ban on state-contracted EBT processing fees. The Department of Agriculture, which oversees SNAP, is planning a migration of EBT cards to chip card technology. NACS and other retail groups believe it is imperative that the ban on processing fees is made permanent in the Farm Bill to ensure that retailers are protected from bearing costs of this costly transition and from other fees that should be borne by state-contracted EBT processors.

Fuels and EVs

In the fuels and EV area, NACS has effectively created and used coalitions, formal and informal, to advance our issue priorities. With so many issues at the federal and state level affecting what type of transportation fuel we sell and how we sell it, identifying allies and working together with like-minded stakeholders is even more important than it is with other issues.

NACS believes that EV charging should be an open, competitive market.

Creating a Competitive Electric Charging Market

As part of its climate agenda, the Biden Administration has focused its efforts on expediting the electrification of the transportation system, including the goal of installing at least 500,000 EV chargers in the transportation refueling system. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act included major incentives programs for EV charging. 

At the state level, many states are pursuing policies to promote EVs, including banning the sale of cars using internal combustion engines or mandating zero-emissions vehicles. In several states, electric utilities have been approved to charge all customers (or ratepayers) to subsidize the cost to build the necessary infrastructure as well as own and operate the chargers themselves. In addition, some states require businesses that sell electricity for the purpose of charging EVs to be regulated like a utility. Further, businesses are also having to pay additional fees or tariffs, called demand charges, above and beyond the cost of the electricity itself. This outdated market design dampens private sector investment and makes it difficult for convenience and fuel retailers to participate in the EV charging market.

As part of its advocacy strategy in responding to these policies, NACS works with a wide range of stakeholders, including other fuel retail groups, oil and gas producers and refiners, ethanol producers, EV equipment suppliers and manufacturers and state associations. NACS co-founded the Charge Ahead Partnership to advance our priority of creating a competitive EV charging market and stop efforts that favor one industry sector, such as investor-owned utilities, from monopolizing this emerging market. 

NACS believes that EV charging should be an open, competitive market. Convenience and fuel retailers should have the option to sell any legal source of transportation energy in a competitive market with a level playing field. Allowing the private sector to compete evenly is the best way to spur investment in and the development of electric charging infrastructure. It is also the best way to ensure that vehicle owners get the best prices and experience over the long term.

With over 116,000 fueling locations, the convenience industry is well-positioned to meet the energy needs of future drivers—regardless of the energy source. All industries, whether it be a gas station, utility, technology company or other type of business, should have fair access to incentive and investment opportunities to provide consumers the widest range of choices in fueling their vehicles.


Today, fuel retailers are unable to sell E15 year-round to their customers unless the EPA grants an emergency waiver. A permanent one-pound Reid vapor pressure waiver is needed to fix this obstacle for the fuel retailing industry.

NACS has informally worked with a wide group of associations representing the ethanol industry, the oil and gas industry and fellow fuel retailer groups to push legislation that would provide a permanent waiver for E15 and allow for the sale of E15 the entire year.

While the EPA has granted a waiver to allow E15 to be sold this summer, a permanent legislative solution is needed.

NACS believes fuel retailers should have the opportunity to sell any legal fuel, such as E15, to customers who wish to buy and fuel their vehicles with that fuel. As a result, NACS supports the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 785/H.R. 1608), introduced in the Senate and House by a bipartisan group of members of Congress. While the EPA has granted a temporary emergency waiver to allow E15 to be sold this summer, a permanent legislative solution is needed. 

Consumer Data Privacy

In response to advances in technology, numerous media reports about privacy abuses and the proliferation of state legislation on consumer data privacy, Congress is working to create a federal privacy law and grant consumers rights with respect to information about them. NACS supports a national uniform privacy bill that applies to all industry sectors that does not shift the requirements solely onto the retail sector of the economy and does not pick regulatory winners and losers among different business sectors, nor exempt any industry or business.

As part of its advocacy strategy, NACS co-founded the Main Street Privacy Coalition (MSPC), which is comprised of a broad array of national trade associations representing businesses that line America’s Main Streets. From retailers to realtors, hotels to home builders, grocery stores to restaurants, and gas stations to convenience stores, the businesses represented by member associations interact with consumers every day. 

Throughout the legislative process, including markup of the House Financial Services Committee privacy bill and hearings and markup of the House Energy and Commerce Committee privacy bill, NACS has worked closely with its Main Street partners in sending letters, hosting district meetings with Main Street business owners and their member of Congress, educating members and staff on the committee and testifying at legislative hearings. 

To date, NACS and the Main Street Privacy Coalition have convinced members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to make significant improvements from the original draft in preserving loyalty and rewards programs and ensuring Main Street businesses are not responsible for the misuse and mishandling of consumer data by third parties and service providers. NACS and the coalition continue to push for changes to protect Main Street businesses from frivolous lawsuits, strengthening federal preemption over state laws and ensuring business sectors under different privacy requirements or regulatory regimes are able to work with Main Street businesses in complying with consumers’ requests regarding their personal information.


One of the concerns we hear about most frequently from members is the limited availability of labor. The convenience retailing industry is certainly not alone in struggling to find reliable workers to fill shifts. It is a challenge being felt by all industries across the economy. NACS has helped launch the Critical Labor Coalition, which is a group of varied industry interests who have come together with the goal of finding unique ways to help expand the U.S. labor force. The coalition is focused on finding ways to improve the availability of specific universes of workers, including immigrants, asylum seekers, seniors, caregivers and second-chance workers. The goal is to enact meaningful legislation to help reduce barriers that keep some of these populations from entering or reentering the workforce. 

While working to expand the workforce, employers are also finding themselves facing headwinds in terms of the cost of labor. In some cases, much of that cost is being driven not by natural market forces but by regulatory actions taken by federal agencies. Both the National Labor Relations Board and the Department of Labor have been busy lately proposing rules that will unnecessarily drive up direct store operating expenses. To help push back on many of these efforts, NACS is also a part of a few different coalitions focused on specific efforts, be it joint-employer regulations or overtime. 

These are also areas where we rely on you as well. Direct comment campaigns, such as the one many of you supported in relation to the NLRB’s joint-employer rulemaking, can have a real impact on the outcome of these proceedings. The government relations team will continue to encourage you to file comments and write letters to legislators.

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