Regulatory Wrap-Up: Insider’s weekly guide to retail-related legislative developments
Alaska: The Department of Labor and Workforce announced that it is rescinding a rule that allows employers a minimum wage exemption for persons with disabilities. The state joins others, notably Maryland and New Hampshire, that have recently eliminated the exemption.
Arizona: The house passed a resolution that would eliminate an anti-retaliation provision in the 2016 voter-approved minimum wage law. Current law states that if an employer takes disciplinary action against an employee within 90 days of a worker’s complaint, the action is presumed to be illegal retaliation. If the senate approves the measure, it would appear on the November ballot. This is separate from another legislative effort that seeks to cap the wage increases and eliminate the paid leave provisions of the same 2016 voter-approved law.
New Hampshire: A bill to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr by 2021 was defeated on a party-line vote in the senate.
North Dakota: Minimum wage advocates announced an initiative campaign to place a $15/hr minimum wage measure on the November ballot. Due to low population totals in the state, advocates only need around 13,000 signatures to qualify, increasing the likelihood of success.
Oklahoma: A bill that would allow municipalities to set minimum wages higher than the state level was defeated in a house subcommittee and is dead for the year.
Pennsylvania: Attorney General Shapiro plans to fight any Trump administration efforts to regulate tip pooling. Shapiro has led a group of 17 state attorney’s general who filed formal comments opposing the proposed regulations. The regulatory process has been stalled due to accusations that the Labor Department allegedly buried data that highlighted the negative consequences of tip pooling on restaurant workers.
West Virginia: A bill preempting local governments from enacting a variety of ordinances including those related to employee wages, benefits and scheduling passed the senate and moves to the house. A similar bill passed the senate last year but died in the house due to the chamber’s singular focus on a medical marijuana bill. Proponents are optimistic that without a similar distraction this cycle, the bill will be advanced to the governor for signature.
Wisconsin: A bill to prevent localities from enacting wage, benefit and scheduling laws, among other issues, passed the house. A companion bill in the senate has passed its first committee reading. The bill faces substantial challenges in the Republican-led senate but proponents believe they can earn the necessary votes to advance the measure.
St. Paul, MN: The city council held an informational meeting on the proposed $15/hr minimum wage. Council members indicated a desire to slow the legislative process in order to perform an economic analysis on the potential impact to local businesses. Mayor Carter campaigned on the issue and remains a vocal supporter of legislative action.
Politico: An in-depth investigative report by Politico details challenges across the country related to the enforcement of wage laws. According to the report, workers lose $15 billion in wages each year to “shady bosses” because of lax enforcement and noncompliance. The report was published last week and the issue continues to receive nationwide attention.
Nebraska: An effort to pass a statewide paid leave mandate died in committee and most likely will not advance this session.
Honeywell: In what will likely be the first of many stories, Honeywell was one of the first publicly-traded companies to report its CEO to median employee pay ratio in accordance with SEC rules enacted under the Obama Administration. The Los Angeles Times reported the story highlighting Honeywell’s ratio and noted that more filings are coming and that the ratios are likely to be worse in the retail and restaurant sectors.
NLRB: The board’s inspector general concluded that member William Emanuel should have recused himself from the recent Hy-Brand decision that overturned the 2015 Browning-Ferris joint employer standard. For now, it is unclear how this issue will be resolved. Most expect the ruling to stand and/or the pre-Browning-Ferris joint employer standard to be reestablished through other cases.
Long Beach, CA: The city council voted unanimously in favor of city action to combat the long running port trucker classification and alleged wage theft controversies that have been highlighted over the past year. The council will now begin working with other local and state agencies to address the issue by supporting unspecified “current or future legislation that seeks to address the port trucker crisis.” While most labor advocates cheered the vote, some noted that the Los Angeles city attorney (who has jurisdiction over the jointly run port) has already filed suit against several trucking companies over alleged non-payment of wages.
Oregon: A bill that mandates a 45-day notification period following a data breach passed the senate and now heads to the house. The law, and others like it across the country, are a response to recent high-profile data breaches, such as the Equifax 2016 breach of more than 140 million individual records.
South Dakota: Following senate approval earlier in session, a house committee unanimously passed the data breach notification bill supported by Attorney General Jackley that would make the state the 49th to have such a law in place. Several key provisions important to businesses have been incorporated into the bill, including the need to establish “reasonably determined harm” as the requirement for notification, along with a 60-day window to alert those who could be affected by a breach. The unanimous committee vote indicates the house will likely ultimately advance the bill to the governor’s desk for his expected signature.
Kansas: A bill that raises the felony threshold level for theft of personal property from $1,000 to $1,500 passed the house and now moves to the senate. The bill represents a growing trend across the country as law enforcement and policymakers seek to reduce the cost of prosecution and imprisonment of what are perceived to be lower level criminal acts.
• Expect the Politico wage theft story to be referenced in state and local efforts around wage theft over the coming months. While labor advocates have made similar claims over the past few years, Politico is the first major publication to tackle the issue in-depth and its research will serve as data points for activists’ efforts.
• The first CEO pay disclosure went public this week. Many more companies will post in the coming months and the way the issue is covered and discussed will go a long way toward determining if this is a priority issue in cities and state capitals this year. Within the next few months, companies should have a sense of how many jurisdictions will follow Portland and enact surtaxes tied to the ratio.
Legislature Status for Week of 2/26/18
• The United States Senate is in session this week
• The United States House is in session this week
• Forty state legislatures are meeting actively this week:
o AL, AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NE, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, WY
Check out our Working Lunch podcast each week that includes further analysis into these legislative issues, policy, politics and much more. You can find Working Lunch on the Nation’s Restaurant News website, or by clicking here, and when you download the podcast and subscribe on iTunes here.
The Regulatory Wrap-Up is presented by Align Public Strategies. Click here to learn how Align can provide your brand with the counsel and insight you need to navigate the policy and political issues impacting retail.
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