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Regulatory Wrap-Up: Insider’s review of retail-related legislative developments – June 11

BY CSA Staff

Wages

North Carolina – A $15/hr provision for state workers was recently included in the state budget. Democrat lawmakers followed that with the introduction of a bill to raise the statewide minimum wage for the private sector from $7.25/hr to $8.80/hr. However, the Republican-led legislature appears likely to block the bill from moving forward.

North Dakota – Organizers of a $15/hr minimum wage ballot initiative expressed doubt that they would collect the necessary signatures prior to the July 9 deadline. As of May 2 they had only collected 2,000 of the nearly 13,000 required signatures.

Fargo, ND – The city commission voted 4-1 to consider a proposal to establish a $12/hr minimum wage by 2022. The proposal now goes to the community development committee for consideration.

St. Paul, MN – A non-profit group, the Citizens League, is participating in four public hearings held by the city over the next several months to collect input and data regarding the proposed increase of the city’s minimum wage to $15/hr. The group submitted the first part of their study (commissioned by the St. Paul Foundation) earlier this year. A council vote on the proposal is expected before the end of the year.

Wage Theft

Study – Good Jobs First, released an analysis of wage theft cases at the state and federal level since 2000. The data found that over $9 billion in payments and penalties have been paid out by some of the nation’s largest employers including retailers, restaurants, insurance companies and banks.

Joint Employer

NLRB – The Board announced this week that it will not reconsider the Hy-brand case (the vacated decision that for a brief period overturned the Browning-Ferris decision). Chairman Ring also responded to an inquiry from Sens. Sanders, Warren and Gillibrand this week confirming that the Board will begin the rulemaking process on the joint employer issue this summer. He explained “rulemaking will enable the Board to address ‘specific factual circumstances’ hypothetically and thus to furnish unions and employers the guidance that Browning-Ferris conspicuously failed to provide.”

Labor Policy

Vermont – A new law, intended to curb workplace sexual harassment, will create an online portal for filing complaints and will allow the attorney general’s office to enter a workplace, inspect records and/or conduct a survey of employees. The law also expands protections for workers against retaliation in their current workplace or in future roles. Provisions will also apply to non-employees, such as independent contractors and interns.

Taxes

LouisianaA much-debated tax package passed both the house and the senate and now heads to the governor’s desk. Among other provisions dealing with sales taxes, the package includes language that expands sales tax collection obligations to sellers with more than $100,000 in sales or more than 200 sales into the state annually. The language is modeled after the landmark South Dakota law that is awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court regarding its constitutionality. That decision is expected sometime in June.

Trade

Federal – Bipartisan legislation was introduced to curb President Trump’s tariff actions based on national security threats. The bill would give Congress the authority to approve tariffs, but it faces a hard path forward in a contentious election year. President Trump would likely veto the legislation, if passed, so it would need at least 67 votes in the senate to sustain a veto. Leader McConnell has indicated an openness to adding the provision to an unrelated package set to move through the Senate in the coming weeks but has not indicated his direct support for the language.

European Union – The EU joined with Mexico to announce pending tariffs on U.S. exported products. The move is in retaliation to the Trump Administration’s reissuance of tariffs on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum. The EU member countries said they were finalizing a list totaling nearly $7 billion worth of imports including steel, agricultural and apparel products and the tariffs would go into effect in early July. The action follows Mexico’s announcement of similar pending retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. Rounding out the action from key U.S. allies, Canada’s Prime Minister hinted at a similar path in his concluding speech at the G7 summit.

Key Takeaways

  • The NLRB is fast-becoming a lightning rod. Among other things, Board members have been taking the unprecedented step of refuting one another’s decisions and ideologies in public forums. While employers will applaud recent decisions and upcoming rulemakings by the Board, the breakdown of collegialism and the institutionalization of partisan infighting is a precedent that will create chaos in the future, leading to wild partisan swings at the Board. Over the long run, that instability, and the subsequent uncertainty it could cause for operators, may prove more damaging than unfavorable, short-term rulings or opinions.
  • The installation of self-service kiosks in over a thousand McDonald’s restaurants (with many more coming) significantly impacts the national narrative over higher minimum wages and the Fight for $15 campaign. Having the largest restaurant company openly embrace and invest in technology designed to replace actual workers signals to policy makers, opinion leaders and other stakeholders that there are real world implications to large mandated wage increases.

Legislature Status for Week of 6/11/18

  • The United States Senate is in session this week
  • The United States House is in session this week
  • Eight state legislatures are meeting actively this week:
    • CA, DE, MA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, RI

Podcast

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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