Whether it’s the continued fight over GMO labeling or the federal minimum wage debate, associations and nonprofits can wield major influence with lawmakers and the general public. On those two highly contentious issues alone, major associations have recently filed lawsuits against state and local governments, fighting for their positions in the wake of new legislation. Additionally, in the realm of public safety, many are questioning the work habits of long-haul truck drivers following the tragic accident involving comedian Tracy Morgan. Trucking associations are speaking out about the difficult balance between making their deliveries on time and pushing the limits of safety.

Grocery Association Files Suit over GMOs: The discussion and debate around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been swirling in this country for months. Many healthy eating enthusiasts argue that GMOs are harmful, and have been lobbying at the state and federal level for additional labeling guidelines for foods containing GMOs. The Grocery Manufacturers Association weighed in on this topic in a big way recently, filing suit against the state of Vermont for its recently passed legislation requiring GMO labeling. See coverage of this story.

“The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) announced the suit last week, which it filed jointly with the Snack Food Association, International Dairy Foods Association, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

‘Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law—Act 120—is a costly and misguided measure that will set the nation on a path toward a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies that do nothing to advance the health and safety of consumers,’ the group said in a statement. ‘Act 120 exceeds the state’s authority under the United States Constitution, and in light of this, GMA has filed a complaint in federal district court in Vermont seeking to enjoin this senseless mandate.’”

Franchise Association Sues Seattle over Minimum Wage: As the debate in Washington over the minimum wage laws continues, Seattle recently took steps at the local level, increasing minimum wage within the city to $15.00 per hour. The International Franchise Association has filed suit against the new law, claiming it places undue burden on individual franchisees. From the coverage: “The association’s concern stems from the fact that the law puts franchisees under the same umbrella as their corporate parents, which the association argues goes against legal precedents. As a result, franchisees must comply with the $15 wage within the next three years, whereas independent companies have seven years to comply.

‘Not only is the Seattle ordinance unwise and unfair as a matter of economic policy, it is unlawful as a legal matter,’ the legal complaint states. ‘The irrational and discriminatory treatment of interstate commerce and small franchisees vis-à-vis their non-franchise competitors violates the Commerce Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as Article I, Section 12 of the Washington State Constitution.’”

Truckers, Safety, and Tracy Morgan – After a deadly collision that nearly killed comedian and Saturday Night Live alum Tracy Morgan in early June, and did claim the life of Morgan’s fellow passenger, comedian James McNair, many are scrutinizing the trucking industry. An overtired truck driver for Walmart was the cause of the accident, having fallen asleep behind the wheel of his big rig and slamming into Morgan’s limo bus. The American Trucking Association, among other groups, is speaking out about the incident, with ATA president Bill Graves noting that the industry cannot force truckers to sleep on their off time: “’[The rules] do not dictate what drivers do during that off-duty period. No rule can address what a driver does in his or her off-duty time. The industry—including ATA, our member fleets, our state associations and the millions of safe, professional truck drivers on the road today—strongly believes that drivers must take advantage of their off-duty periods for rest and that drivers should not drive if they are fatigued.’ Graves also noted ATA’s support for the use of electronic logging devices to track drivers’ compliance with regulations and the use of electronic speed governors to limit the speed of large trucks to 65 miles per hour. Despite the apparent role of fatigue in the crash involving Morgan, Graves emphasized that just 10 percent of truck crashes involve some sort of fatigue. The association ‘believes we need to do far more to address the other 90 percent of crashes,’ he said.”