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The Home Town Advantage Bulletin - November/December 2003

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CONTENTS

-- About this Bulletin
-- Reprint Policy
LOCAL BATTLES
-- Austin Coalition Forces Wal-Mart Retreat, City Agrees to Big Box
Study
-- California Communities Embroiled in Supercenter Debates
-- Big Box Wins and Losses on Election Day
-- Alabama Citizens Sue to Block Wal-Mart Giveaways
ALLIANCES AND COOPERATIVES
-- Austin Retailers Urge Shoppers to Ditch Chains for a Day
NATIONAL NEWS
-- Consumer Reports Gives Top Ranking to Independent Pharmacies
-- Independent Pharmacists Fight Discriminatory Health Plans
-- National Day of Action Against Wal-Mart
NEW RULES
-- California Appeals Court Upholds Formula Business Law
-- Vote on Federal Sales Tax Fairness Bill Likely in Early 2004
INTERNATIONAL NEWS
-- Irish Pharmacists Call for Limits on Corporate Ownership
-- Malaysia Freezes Hypermarket Construction
RESOURCES
-- New Report on Strategies to Revive Local Retail
-- Directory of Land Use Attorneys



ABOUT THIS BULLETIN

In communities across the country, citizens are taking action to defend
and strengthen their local economies. The Institute for Local
Self-Reliance (ILSR) has been tracking these efforts and will use this bulletin
to provide bimonthly updates on significant developments. We hope it
will serve as a tool for making connections and sharing strategies within
this growing movement. We encourage readers to share news and resources
by sending email to smitchell@ilsr.org.

ILSR is a nonprofit organization providing research, analysis, and
innovative policy solutions for building healthy communities and strong
local economies. This bulletin is part of ILSR's New Rules Project
(http://www.newrules.org), which publishes a quarterly journal, The New
Rules; several electronic bulletins on specific issues; and books,
including The Home Town Advantage: How to Defend Your Main Street Against
Chain Stores and Why It Matters. We also maintain a web-based
clearinghouse of model public policies at
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2calb2JzcWb/

Another good source of news on local efforts to keep megastores at bay
is the NewsFlash! section of the Sprawl-Busters web site
(http://www.sprawl-busters.com). Additional links and organizations are
listed at the end of each story.

If you're not already receiving this newsletter directly, subscribe by
sending a blank email to:
home_town_advantage-subscribe@topica.email-publisher.com To
unsubscribe, send a blank email to:
home_town_advantage-unsubscribe@topica.email-publisher.com.
Back issues are available at
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2canb2JzcWb/


REPRINT POLICY

Are you interested in reprinting an article from this bulletin in your
newsletter or web site? Please see our reprint policy:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2caob2JzcWb/


I. LOCAL BATTLES

AUSTIN COALITION FORCES WAL-MART RETREAT,
CITY AGREES TO BIG BOX STUDY

Faced with strong opposition from a broad array of organizations and
residents, Wal-Mart has abandoned plans to build a 24-hour supercenter on
an ecologically sensitive site in southwest Austin. The 43-acre wooded
tract sits over the Edwards Aquifer, the largest underground reservoir
in Texas. It feeds Barton Springs and supplies drinking water to
thousands of people.

Initially, opposition to Wal-Mart centered on its choice of location
and the impact polluted parking lot runoff would have on the aquifer. All
of the city's environmental groups, including the Austin Environmental
Board, the Sierra Club, and the Save Barton Creek Association, came
together as the No Aquifer Big Box Coalition to fight the project.

"But soon people with other concerns about Wal-Mart joined the
coalition," explained Mike Blizzard of Grassroots Solutions, an Austin firm
that helps citizens fight bad development.

Groups who joined the coalition included the Austin Independent
Business Alliance, which is concerned about Wal-Mart's impact on local
businesses; the Austin AFL-CIO and several union locals, concerned about the
company's treatment of workers; the Austin chapter of the National
Organization of Women, concerned about Wal-Mart's discrimination against
female employees; Livable City, Austin Neighborhoods Together, and
several other community groups motivated by a range of social issues; and
numerous homeowner associations from the surrounding neighborhoods upset
about the traffic and noise the store would generate.

The coalition circulated petitions, organized a letter-writing
campaign, and held a public meeting attended by more than 500 people. Wal-Mart
dropped the project in late September.

Rather than disbanding, many coalition members continue to work
together and are formulating a citywide strategy to curb big box growth. "This
has sparked a broader discussion about big box retailers and about
Wal-Mart in particular," noted Blizzard. "Austin residents have learned a
great deal about Wal-Mart and its corporate practices through this
controversy over the aquifer."

"The scales fell from our eyes," said Susan Moffat, a neighborhood
activist who opposed the store initially because of its environmental
impacts but whose concerns now include economic and labor issues.

So far, the coalition has logged both victories and losses. In October,
the city council unanimously passed a 45-day moratorium on the
construction of stores over 50,000 square feet over the Edwards Aquifer (about
one-quarter of the aquifer's 350-square-mile watershed lies within
Austin city limits). The city will draft permanent regulations during the
moratorium.

In early November, the city voted to commission a study of the impacts
of big box stores on Austin's economy and environment. The full scope
of the study will be determined in a few weeks.

But, under pressure from the developers, area chambers of commerce, and
the Real Estate Council of Austin, the city has given preliminary
approval to two other Wal-Mart stores and a Lowe's home improvement center.

The Lowe's, which will be built over the aquifer, was approved after a
protracted fight that included a bill passed by the Texas legislature
known as the "Lowe's amendment." The city felt the measure gave it no
legal grounds to block the store, but opponents contend Austin could have
prevailed in court.

The two new Wal-Mart stores will bring the city's total to four. The
company has said it wants to build several more supercenters within
Austin over the next year. But the coalition hopes that continued public
education and organizing, along with the results of the city's study, will
persuade the council to impose stricter regulations, including a
citywide size cap.

-- No Big Box Coalition:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2capb2JzcWb/


CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES EMBROILED IN SUPERCENTER DEBATES

Voters in Contra Costa County, California, will decide in March whether
to keep a law banning supercenters from unincorporated areas in the
county. Contra Costa County is home to about one million people and lies
east of the San Francisco Bay area.

The law, which was approved unanimously by the County Board of
Supervisors in June, prohibits stores over 90,000 square feet that devote more
than five percent of their floor space to groceries. The measure
prevents Wal-Mart and Target from opening supercenters just beyond the
borders of cities and towns. These areas are attractive to developers,
because of lower land costs and the lack of municipal land use regulations.

Shortly after the ban passed, Wal-Mart spent $100,000 to gather the
27,000 signatures needed to put the measure on the March ballot. The
company will likely spend millions on the campaign. It has launched a
"Consumer Action Network" to collect residents' names and phone numbers, and
has hired an army of workers to persuade voters to rescind the ban. At
$10 an hour, the campaigners earn more than the $8 an hour Wal-Mart
pays its supercenter employees.

A variety of labor, environmental, and community organizations have
joined forces to convince voters to back the ban. The ordinance's
sponsors, Supervisors Mark DeSaulnier and John Gioia, are leading the campaign.
They plan to hold debates, press conferences, and go door to door to
reach voters. "We know we will be outspent and we plan to be outspent
maybe 4-1. But we hope to raise $1 million," DeSaulnier told the
Tri-Valley Herald.

Supporters of the ban are focusing primarily on land use issues---the
loss of open space, the large volumes of traffic generated by
grocery-department store combinations, and the fact that groceries are
nontaxable, leaving the public to pay for the additional road maintenance costs.

"It's also about Contra Costa County---not Wal-Mart executives in
Bentonville, Arkansas---having the right to make its own decisions about
local planning," said Supervisor Gioia.

Wal-Mart is aiming to steer the referendum away from community issues
and turn it into an anti-union campaign. "So-called land-use arguments
are nothing more than a way to try to divert the real issues, which is
that this is being driven by [supermarket] unions," said company
spokesperson Amy Hill.

Wal-Mart hopes that by winning the referendum it can send a strong
message to communities across California, where interest in banning
supercenters is on the rise. The state is one of the last frontiers for
Wal-Mart supercenters. When the company announced a year ago that it planned
to open more than 40 supercenters across California, labor unions and
community activists began organizing to block the company's expansion.

In November, the Oakland city council voted 7-1 to adopt an ordinance
similar to the one in Contra Costa County. Earlier this year, Martinez,
the county's seat, implemented its own ban. Supervisors in Alameda
County, which encompasses Oakland, are also considering a ban. As we
reported in the July issue of this Bulletin, Los Angles is weighing a measure
to require that big box stores pay a living wage.

Voters in two other California cities will face Wal-Mart questions on
the March ballot. In San Marcos, about 35 miles north of San Diego, a
grassroots group called Citizens for Responsible Development gathered
signatures for an initiative to overturn a 3-2 decision by the city
council to approve a Wal-Mart supercenter. Wal-Mart tried to have the
referendum invalidated by a court, but failed. One city councilor who voted
for the store has said he may change his vote when the council
reconsiders the matter on Nov. 18, which would effectively cancel the referendum.

In Inglewood, near Los Angeles, Wal-Mart has organized an unprecedented
referendum to give voters the power to approve a supercenter that has
not yet gone before city officials. If it passes, the initiative would
allow the supercenter to go forward without a public hearing,
environmental impact study, or any of the other standard review procedures.

The initiative reads, "The reviewing official shall be required to
issue the requested permit or permits without the exercise of any
discretion and no development standards, criteria, requirements, procedures,
mitigations or exactions shall be imposed." The referendum needs a simple
majority to pass, but a two-thirds vote would be required to repeal or
amend it.

"This is the most outrageous thing I've seen a corporation do in a
low-income community," said Madeline Janis-Aparicio, director of Los
Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, which is organizing opposition to the
Inglewood supercenter and support for the living wage measure in Los
Angeles.

-- Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2caqb2JzcWb/
-- See "Los Angeles May Require Supercenters to Pay Higher Wages," in
the July issue of this Bulletin:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2carb2JzcWb/


BIG BOX WINS AND LOSSES ON ELECTION DAY

Voters in Lakeway, Texas, about 20 miles west of Austin, overwhelmingly
rejected a resolution to allow the construction of a 48-acre shopping
center anchored by a 184,00-square-foot Wal-Mart store. The election
drew the largest turnout in Lakeway history with residents voting 1,880 to
749 to block the development by retaining the town's current
100,000-square-foot size limit on retail stores.

The city council had earlier voted to lift the size cap and grant
preliminary approval to the project. Although the ballot resolution is
non-binding, the grassroots citizens group Lakeway First believes the strong
showing at the polls will convince the city council to withhold final
approval for the development and restore the size limit at its next
meeting.

Meanwhile, by a margin of just 34 votes, residents of Cotati, a small
town in northern California, endorsed a referendum that will exempt a
52-acre site from a city law prohibiting stores over 43,000 square feet.
The vote, 1,047 to 1,013, opens the way for a 165,000-square-foot
Lowe's superstore. The developers spent $180,000 on the campaign, while
citizens opposed to lifting the cap, known as Cotati Residents Against
Measure B, spent $30,000.

Residents Against Measure B are considering a legal challenge against
the city. They contend the referendum's language was confusing, and that
city officials misled residents by saying the store would produce $1
million annually in new tax revenue. The city has never provided
documentation supporting this figure. For Lowe's to generate that much in sales
tax revenue, it would have to double its national average of $300 in
sales per square foot. Nor did the $1 million figure account for public
costs associated with the development, such as road maintenance, or lost
revenue from existing businesses that will lose sales when Lowe's
opens.

-- No on B: http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2casb2JzcWb/


ALABAMA CITIZENS SUE TO BLOCK WAL-MART GIVEAWAYS

Owners of a small business in Birmingham, Alabama, near the site of a
proposed Wal-Mart supercenter, have filed suit against the city for
giving the retailing giant a $10 million subsidy. Southeast Meats of
Pelham, in operation for over two decades, contends the handout gives
Wal-Mart an unfair advantage. The suit also asserts that the city improperly
threatened to use eminent domain to force owners of the Wal-Mart
property to sell.

Meanwhile, 25 miles south in Alabaster, Alabama, a group of residents
have sued to block the city from condemning their property for a massive
shopping center anchored by a Wal-Mart supercenter. Developers acquired
all but twelve acres of the 400-acre site. When the remaining residents
refused to sell, the city declared their homes "blighted" and moved to
take the property. Alabaster has also pledged $2 million in roads and
sewers for the project.

Cities are increasingly using their power to condemn property to
facilitate chain store development. Subsidies and tax breaks are rampant as
well.

In October, Wheat Ridge, Colorado, declared property owned by three
independent businesses "blighted." The three enterprises---a
multi-generation, family-owned automotive repair shop, a billiards hall, and a
kitchen cabinet business---will be booted for a Walgreens drugstore. The
city has also given the developer $500,000 in public subsidies.

Meanwhile, in Denver, more than a dozen Asian-owned small businesses
are slated to evicted from a shopping center that Wal-Mart is seeking to
redevelop into a supercenter. The city's Urban Renewal Authority has
offered Wal-Mart $10 million in tax breaks. (Readers may recall that this
plan first surfaced more than a year ago, but, as we reported, the
small businesses successfully fought back. Now, under a new mayor, the
project has resurfaced and is moving forward.)

Local officials argue these big stores warrant subsidies because of the
jobs and tax revenue they generate. But studies have found that big box
retailers eliminate about as many jobs as much tax revenue as they
create by forcing local stores to close.

-- See "Denver's Asian Businesses Force Wal-Mart Retreat" and "Small
Businesses Fight Abuse of Eminent Domain" in the August 2002 issue of
this Bulletin:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2catb2JzcWb/


II. ALLIANCES AND COOPERATIVES

AUSTIN RETAILERS URGE SHOPPERS TO DITCH CHAINS FOR A DAY

Independent retailers in Austin, Texas, are calling on local residents
to break the chain store habit by shopping exclusively at locally owned
businesses on Saturday, November 15.

The one-day event---known as Austin Unchained---is being organized by
the Austin Independent Business Alliance (AIBA), a association of some
200 locally owned businesses. The group is promoting Austin Unchained
through tee-shirts, flyers, and posters.

AIBA has generated significant media coverage in the days leading up to
the event, including appearances on local radio and television
stations.

"Our core message is that there is a considerable economic impact when
consumers choose to make their purchases at locally owned stores
instead of chains," said Steve Bercu, owner of BookPeople and a co-founder of
AIBA.

To support AIBA's contention, Civic Economics, a consulting firm,
analyzed the potential economic impact of the event. The firm concluded that
if Austin consumers shift all of their chain store spending to local
businesses on that day, it could generate an additional $7.2 million in
local economic activity (due to the fact that, compared to chains, local
retailers spend a much larger share of their revenue within the local
economy, purchasing more goods and services, such as printing and
accounting, from other local businesses).

In the next issue of this Bulletin, we'll let you know how residents
responded to Austin Unchained.

-- To learn more about AIBA or order an Austin Unchained tee-shirt:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2caub2JzcWb/
-- "Independent Businesses, Unite!" a recent article on independent
business alliances:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2cavb2JzcWb/


III. NATIONAL NEWS

CONSUMER REPORTS GIVES TOP RANKING TO INDEPENDENT PHARMACIES

An article in the October 2003 issue of Consumer Reports opens with the
following recommendation: "If you're among the 47 percent of Americans
who get medicine from drugstore giants such as CVS, Eckerd, and Rite
Aid, here's a prescription: Try shopping somewhere else. The best place
to start looking is one of the 25,000 independent pharmacies that are
making a comeback throughout the U.S."

The article highlights the results of a year-long survey of more than
32,000 readers about their drugstore experiences. "Independent stores,
which are edging toward extinction a few years ago, won top honors from
Consumer Reports readers, besting the big chains by an eye-popping
margin," the magazine reports.

Independents outranked all other pharmacies----including drugstore
chains, supermarkets, mass merchandisers (e.g., Wal-Mart), and internet
companies---in terms of providing personal attention, offering health
services such as in-store screenings, filling prescriptions quickly,
supplying hard-to-find drugs, and obtaining out-of-stock medications within
24 hours.

Overall, more than 85 percent of customers at independent drugstores
were very satisfied or completely satisfied with their experience,
compared with 58 percent of chain store customers.

The one drug chain that nearly equaled the scores of independent stores
was The Medicine Shoppe, which is actually a franchise, meaning that
its outlets are locally-owned and operated.

The survey did find that internet pharmacies and mass merchandisers
often have lower prices, but customers wait longer and receive less
personal attention and heath information. Chain drugstores, such as CVS and
Walgreens, had the highest prices, higher than independents.

-- If you subscribe to the Consumer Reports web site, you can download
the report: http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2cawb2JzcWb/


COMMUNITY PHARMACISTS FIGHT DISCRIMINATORY HEALTH PLANS

Pennsylvania pharmacists are up in arms over a new health plan for
state workers that bars them from filling prescriptions at locally owned
drugstores, requiring instead that they use Rite Aid or a mail order
service.

The plan is run by a pharmacy benefit management company (PBM), which
the state says will reduce costs by negotiating lower drug prices. In
exchange, employees must accept restrictions on where they fill their
prescriptions.

"They bought a pig in a poke," contends John Rector, senior vice
president for government affairs at the National Community Pharmacists
Association (NCPA). More often than not, he says, it's more expensive to use
a PBM. These companies own their own mail order pharmacies and have
financial ties to major drug manufacturers. Benefits are often structured
to boost profits for the PBM and its affiliated drug company, not
reduce costs or provide high-quality care.

One reason that PBMs are more costly is that they underutilize generic
drugs. On average, more than half the drugs dispensed by a retail
pharmacy are generics, but under PBMs, the rate is only 28 percent.
Name-brand drugs are favored because PBMs commonly receive kickbacks from drug
makers. Several employers, including the state of West Virginia, have
filed suits alleging PBMs pocketed rebates and discounts, and did not
deliver the cost savings they promised.

In terms of quality of care, Rector says the decision-makers in
Harrisburg should visit the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, who filed suit
against Medco, the nation's largest PBM, in September. The complaint
alleges that Medco routinely shorted customers by mailing less than the
prescribed number of pills but still charging full price; creating false
records indicating physicians had been contacted to discuss medications
when they had not; and favoring drugs manufactured by Merck, Medco's
former parent company, over less expensive alternatives.

The NCPA is working on several fronts to prevent PBMs from forcing
independent pharmacies out of businesses. The association and its members
have persuaded 33 states to adopt laws that bar health plans from
limiting patients' choice of pharmacies or imposing higher co-pays on those
who choose community pharmacies over chains or mail order.

The NCPA has also filed a class-action suit against Medco and
AdvancePCS, which together manage drug benefits for 140 million Americans. The
suit charges that the companies violated antitrust laws by using their
market power to force retail pharmacies to accept one-sided contracts
and artificially low reimbursement rates. It accuses them of steering
consumers to their own mail order operations by, for example, barring
retail pharmacies from providing more than a 30-day supply, while the mail
order firms routinely dispensed 90-day supplies.

-- National Community Pharmacists Association:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2caxb2JzcWb/
-- Examples of state laws mandating equal access to all pharmacies:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2cayb2JzcWb/


NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST WAL-MART

The United Food and Commercial Workers union and dozens of allied
groups are organizing a National Day of Action to protest Wal-Mart's
treatment of workers and its impact on small businesses, communities, and the
environment. Rallies, meetings with lawmakers, and public educational
events will be held in all 50 states on Wednesday, January 14.

We may not get another issue of the Bulletin out before the 14th, so
please mark your calendars now and check the Day of Action web site
(still under construction) for state-by-state details and information on how
you can get involved:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2cazb2JzcWb/

Wal-Mart's labor practices have recently garnered coverage in
mainstream media. Here's a sampling:

Stores Follow Wal-Mart's Lead in Labor
Washington Post, November 6, 2003
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2caAb2JzcWb/

Illegally in U.S., and Never a Day Off at Wal-Mart
New York Times, November 5, 2003
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2caBb2JzcWb/

Is Wal-Mart Too Powerful?
Business Week, October 6, 2003
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2caCb2JzcWb/
(You can access it after a free registration.)


IV. NEW RULES

CALIFORNIA APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS FORMULA BUSINESS LAW

A California Appeals Court has upheld a local ordinance restricting the
proliferation of formula retail businesses in Coronado, a city of
24,000 people near San Diego. The court ruled that the ordinance does not
violate the US Constitution's commerce and equal protection clauses, and
is a valid use of municipal authority under California state law.

The ordinance, enacted in December 2000, requires anyone seeking to
open a formula retail business to obtain a special permit. Approval hinges
on demonstrating that the store will be compatible with surrounding
uses, will be designed and operated in a manner that preserves the
community's character and ambiance, and will contribute to an "appropriate
balance of local, regional, or national-based businesses." The ordinance
further requires that formula retail stores be limited to no more than
50 linear feet of street frontage and no more than two stories.

The law defines formula retail businesses as those "required by
contractual or other arrangement to maintain any of the following:
standardized ('formula') array of services and/or merchandise, trademark, logo,
service mark, symbol, decor, architecture, layout, uniform, or similar
standardized feature."

A group of property owners challenged the law several months after it
was enacted. The ordinance was upheld at the superior court level and
then again on appeal.

Most of the appeals court ruling deals with the property owners'
primary contention, which is that the ordinance discriminates against
out-of-state companies. The court found that the law does not in fact "impose
different regulations on interstate as opposed to intrastate
businesses, nor does it distinguish between those businesses that are locally
owned and those that are owned by out-of-state interests." The court notes
the law focuses on whether the store is contractually required to have
standardized features, regardless of whether it is part of a national
chain or owned by a California resident.

The court further ruled that the law does not have a discriminatory
purpose. The ordinance's lengthy preamble states that the city seeks to
maintain a vibrant and diverse commercial district, and that the
unregulated proliferation of formula businesses would frustrate this goal and
lessen the commercial district's appeal. The court concludes that this
is a legitimate purpose, noting that "the objective of promoting a
diversity of retail activity to prevent the city's business district from
being taken over exclusively by generic chain stores is not a
discriminatory purpose under the commerce clause."

The court also dismissed the equal protection and state law challenges,
stating that the ordinance is rationally related to a legitimate public
purpose.

-- To read the decision:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2caDb2JzcWb/
-- To view Coronado's law and other examples of formula business
ordinances:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2caEb2JzcWb/


VOTE ON FEDERAL SALES TAX FAIRNESS BILL LIKELY IN EARLY 2004

Legislation introduced in Congress that would require internet
retailers to collect state and local sales taxes stands a fairly good chance of
passing in the first few months of 2004, according to supporters of the
bill.

The bill, sponsored in the Senate by Byron Dorgan (D-SD) and Michael
Enzi (R-WY) and in the House by Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA), gives
Congressional approval to a national compact made up of states that have
simplified and aligned their sales tax rules and regulations. Once states
have sufficiently simplified their tax codes and joined the compact, they
would be allowed to require internet and mail order retailers with more
than $5 million in annual sales to collect local and state sales taxes.

Supporters argue that e-commerce companies like Amazon.com should be
subject to the same sales tax requirements imposed on bricks-and-mortar
stores. The legislation would also restore millions of dollars in state
and local revenue lost as consumers have migrated to internet shopping.

The Supreme Court has ruled that requiring remote sellers (e.g., mail
order or internet companies) to comply with the various rules and rates
governing the nation's 7,500 local sales tax jurisdictions would impose
an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.

Led by the National Governors Association, a group of states began
working several years ago to streamline and simplify their sales tax rules,
thus removing the burden of collecting taxes for multiple jurisdictions
and opening the way for the bill now before Congress.

To date, 32 states have approved a model interstate agreement that
establishes uniform sales tax rules and definitions, and 20 state
legislatures have enacted implementing legislation.

Under the new rules, states and cities will still have the authority to
determine what goods are taxed at what rate, but must adhere to rules
governing such things as how and when they can change tax rates, as well
as uniform definitions (e.g., whether marshmallows are considered food
or candy for tax purposes).

-- For more on the bill and the Streamlined Sales Tax Project, see:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2caFb2JzcWb/


V. INTERNATIONAL NEWS

IRISH PHARMACISTS CALL FOR LIMITS ON CORPORATE OWNERSHIP

The Irish Pharmaceutical Union (IPU) has asked the government to adopt
restrictions on the ownership of pharmacies similar to regulations in
place in most European countries.

The IPU favors restricting pharmacy ownership to pharmacists, and
capping the number of pharmacies any pharmacist can own at five. Eleven of
the fifteen European Union countries, including France and Germany, have
similar laws prohibiting corporate chains from operating drugstores.
The rules are often part of national healthcare regulations and are
designed to preserve the integrity of prescription drug services by keeping
pharmacists in control.

More than one-third of Irish pharmacies are already part of a chain. In
Norway, where ownership restrictions were lifted two years ago, 70
percent of drugstores are now owned by three chains.


MALAYSIA FREEZES HYPERMARKET CONSTRUCTION

Malaysia has placed a five-year ban on the construction of hypermarkets
in Klang Valley, which includes Kuala Lumpur, and the states of Johor
and Penang. New guidelines also lengthen the approval time for
developers seeking to build hypermarkets in other areas from four months to two
years.

Hypermarkets are stores larger than 8,000 square meters (86,000 square
feet) that sell both department store merchandise and groceries,
similar to Wal-Mart supercenters. The global chains Carrefour, Tesco, Makro,
and Giant operate hypermarkets in Malaysia.

In announcing the new policy, Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer
Affairs Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that the three regions are
saturated with hypermarkets and additional development of large stores would
adversely impact thousands of small businesses.

Klang Valley has 18 hypermarkets, or one for every 278,000 people.
Planning guidelines suggest no more than one per 350,000 people. The U.S.
has one supercenter for every 158,000 people.

-- For news on other countries that have restricted large-scale retail
development, see the International subheading at the end of our
articles index at:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2caGb2JzcWb/


VI. RESOURCES

NEW REPORT ON STRATEGIES TO REVIVE LOCAL RETAIL

Written by Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and
published by the Preservation Trust of Vermont, a new report, "10
Reasons Why Vermont's Homegrown Economy Matters and 50 Proven Ways to Revive
It," offers specific reasons why locally owned businesses matter and
practical ways to plan for a homegrown economy, foster downtown
revitalization, and strengthen independent businesses. The report highlights
examples from across the U.S.

-- Download in pdf or contact the Preservation Trust for hard copies:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2caHb2JzcWb/


DIRECTORY OF LAND USE ATTORNEYS

A directory of attorneys who will represent citizens in land use and
environmental cases has just been published by Community and
Environmental Defense Services (CEDS). CEDS has only done minimal screening of the
attorneys listed and urges citizens groups to exercise prudence in
hiring an attorney. CEDS hopes to enlarge the directory over time and
encourages people to contact them with names and contact information for
attorneys with a good history of representing citizens in land use and
environmental cases.

-- Download in pdf:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2caIb2JzcWb/



Copyright 2003 by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. No portion
of this bulletin, except for brief quotations with attribution, may be
reproduced or utilized in any form without permission from the Institute
for Local Self-Reliance, 1313 5th Street SE, Minneapolis MN 55414 -
Tel: 612-379-3815 - Fax: 612-379-3920 - Web:
http://home-town-advantage.c.tep1.com/maabFvOaa2caJb2JzcWb/ - Email:
smitchell@ilsr.org.

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