The Providence Journal reports that a bill has been introduced in the Rhode Island legislature that would "limit the number of self-checkout lanes at any grocery store in Rhode Island to eight and mandate that grocers provide a 10% discount to customers who use self-checkout for 10 or more items."
Rep. Megan Cotter, who introduced the bill, explains it this way: “Self-checkout is a way grocery stores are avoiding paying employees by getting customers to do cashiers’ jobs for free. It seems only fair that if they are going to take on cashiers’ work, the customer should get something in return."
The story notes that "an army of lobbyists for Rhode Island's grocery stores, supermarkets, and unrelated retail businesses fearful they will be the next target" have descended on Providence to object to the legislation, saying that, in the words of cott Bromberg, president- CEO of the Rhode Island Food Dealers Association, ""This bill confronts a fundamental question for the state — to what length can government dictate the operations of a business."
The Journal says that the bill at this point seems to be supported by progressive Democrats and organized labor.
- KC's View:
This legislation is a crock. First of all, stores can't find enough employees. Second, customers like self-checkout because it gives them a sense of control and speed (though the latter can be illusory).
I have no problem with legitimate public policy, but this is protecting special interests in a way that is both obvious and misguided.
Like I said, a crock.