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Regulatory Wrap-Up: Weekly recap of retail-related legislative developments-Jan. 21

BY CSA Staff

Wages

Federal – Democratic leaders in both the house and the senate registered their support for a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hr and eliminate the tip credit. The leaders also noted that President Trump made statements supporting a $10/hr federal minimum wage during the 2016 campaign.

Massachusetts – As a result of the recently-passed minimum wage increase that went into effect Jan. 1, employers in the state with tipped employees must now calculate tipped wages at the end of each shift instead of at the end of each pay period.

New Jersey – The governor and lawmakers have hammered out a deal that will raise the state’s minimum wage to $15/hr for a majority of workers by 2024. The wage for farm workers will rise to $12.50/hr by 2024 and can be elevated up to $15/hr by 2027 based on a determination by the state labor commissioner and agriculture secretary.

New Mexico – Democratic leaders in the legislature established what is referred to as a “rocket docket,” whereby any legislation that was previously vetoed by former Republican Governor Susana Martinez could be fast tracked through the legislature. Then-Governor Martinez vetoed several minimum wage bills that would have raised the state minimum to around $9.00/hr. Minimum wage does not appear to currently be on the “rocket docket” but that is subject to change.

Virginia – The senate labor committee surprised most observers when the Republican-controlled committee passed legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15/hr. The bill now advances to the senate floor for a vote. Republicans have a slim majority in the upper chamber and the vote is expected to break along party lines.

Chicago, IL – Cook County Board President and Chicago mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle outlined a plan to raise the city’s minimum wage from the current $13/hr to $15/hr by 2021. If Preckwinkle wins the Feb. 26 election, expect the proposal to move quickly through the process.

Fremont, CA – The city passed a law that accelerates the increase in the minimum wage to $15/hr faster than the state’s mandated phase-in period. Employers with more than 26 employees must offer $13.50/hr by July 1, 2019 and escalate to $15/hr by July 2020, two years ahead of the state. Smaller employers have until July 2021.

Glenview, IL – The Village Board voted 4-1 to comply with the Cook County ordinance establishing a $13/hr minimum wage by 2020. The new law will go into effect on July 1.

Wage Theft

Illinois – On his first day in office, the new governor signed a package of labor-backed executive orders, including a wage theft order. It directed the labor department to “expeditiously handle all cases of wage theft and day labor exploitation, including referring appropriate cases to the attorney general.”

Hilton – A federal judge ruled that a Hilton hotel in Miami, Florida must pay a former dishwasher $21.5 million for religious-based retaliation. The worker was fired for refusing to work on Sundays, due to religious reasons.

Paid Leave

Virginia – Paid family leave bills have been introduced in the house and the senate. Both proposals contemplate a program funded by both employers and employees. Both chambers have slim Republican majorities so the proposals could gain more traction than in previous years. A Republican delegate has introduced a similar bill for state employees, and the governor would likely sign a bill if it advanced to his desk.

Maine – The house speaker introduced legislation to establish a paid family leave program funded by a half percent tax on employee earnings. Democrats control both the executive and legislative branches of government and some form of the proposal is likely to be enacted into law.

New Hampshire/Vermont – Republican Governors Scott (VT) and Sununu (NH) have announced a unique bi-state proposal to offer a voluntary paid leave program to workers in both states. Merging the states’ employees together is necessary in order to have a large enough pool to finance the program. The proposals are intended to counter Democratic efforts to move legislation establishing a mandatory paid leave program funded by payroll taxes. Governor Scott previously vetoed similar legislation.

Glenview, IL – The Village Board voted 4-1 to comply with the Cook County ordinance mandating employers provide paid sick leave to their employees. The new law will go into effect on July 1.

Joint Employer

Attorneys General – A coalition of attorneys general from ten states and the District of Columbia urged the NLRB to uphold the Obama-era joint employer standard. The development is notable for many reasons, but one area of concern is that an expansive view of the joint employer standard held by these attorneys general could manifest in state-level enforcement actions.

NLRB – The NLRB Board Chairman responded to Congressional Democrats with a sternly-worded rebuke that left little doubt that the Board intends to proceed with rolling back the controversial Obama-era joint employer standard. The NLRB also issued a two-week extension for the public comment period to Jan. 28. Nearly 30,000 comments have been submitted so far.

Labor Policy

Florida – Florida legislators have pre-filed E-Verify bills for the 2019 legislative session. Business groups in the state have opposed a state-level E-Verify mandate in the past.

New York – The legislature passed a law expanding protections against employment discrimination to transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. The governor is expected to sign the bill into law.

Chili’s – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a sex discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Chili’s Bar and Grill which alleges that a female employee was told that she needed to “dress more gender-appropriate” if she wanted a promotion. The company has denied any wrongdoing.

Washington – Attorney General Ferguson announced that his initiative to force companies to end the use of no-poach clauses in franchise contracts has now extended to fifty corporate chains nationwide.

Google – Employees who walked out in protest over the tech company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against former executives are now making the case that the company has not gone far enough to eliminate the use of forced arbitration. Under pressure from their own employees, the company recently announced voluntary arbitration policies for sexual harassment and assault cases. Employees want that policy expanded to other cases of discrimination and harassment and have instigated a social media and educational campaign against those policies.

Data Privacy

Federal – Senator Rubio introduced a data privacy bill that would require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to recommend data privacy regulations to Congress. If after two years, Congress had not acted on those recommendations, the FTC would have the authority to write new rules, a power the agency currently does not have. The bill would also preempt state laws on the matter, likely negating any necessary bipartisan support for the bill.

Apple – CEO Tim Cook called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to require data brokers to register with a clearinghouse. The proposal goes on to recommend “giving users the power to delete their data on demand, freely, easily and online, once and for all.” In an effort to distinguish Apple from other tech industry leaders, Mr. Cook has become a vocal advocate for policy changes in the wake of recent data sharing scandals that have sparked renewed interest in legislative solutions.

Taxes

New York – The state department of taxation and finance released a guidance document establishing $300,000 in sales and greater than 100 transactions annually as the threshold above which out-of-state sellers must collect and remit the state’s sales tax.

South Carolina – A senate committee has advanced legislation that would clarify the sales tax obligations of marketplace facilitators. The proposed law would make clear that marketplace providers must collect and remit on behalf of third-party sellers on the site.

Key Takeaways

  • The 2020 Democratic primary is heating up and every announced candidate has publicly stated that he/she will not accept corporate PAC donations. Corporate PACs have played a diminishing role in both Republican and Democrat campaigns, but the position of the Democratic field illustrates the challenges the business community and corporate brands face with many of the party’s frontrunners.

 

  • This week’s announcement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that they will revamp their criteria for rating and endorsing lawmakers to include bipartisanship is important. Not only is it a clear acknowledgement by the Chamber that economic conservatives have lost their clout within the Republican party in favor of social conservatives, but that development has eroded the political center where common-sense pro-business legislation normally resides. Additionally, companies that are leading members of the Chamber need to prepare themselves for potential political fallout and/or may be called upon to engage in the broader conversation around bipartisanship.

Legislature Status for Week of 1/21/19

  • Forty-four state legislatures are in regular session:
    • AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS,  KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

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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