Regulatory Wrap-Up: Weekly recap of retail-related legislative developments-Feb. 25
Illinois – The governor signed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr by 2025. The current cash wage formula of 60% of the minimum wage was maintained; therefore, the cash wage for tipped employees will increase to $9/hr by 2025 as well.
Maryland – A senate committee discussed legislation that would raise the state minimum wage to $15/hr by 2023 and eliminate the tip credit. The legislature is likely to approve a $15/hr measure; however, there may be less support for eliminating the tip credit. The governor has expressed reservations regarding the proposed increase which may not matter since both the house and senate have Democratic veto-proof majorities.
Massachusetts – Last week, legislation was introduced in the house to eliminate the tip credit by 2027. Passage appears unlikely at this point.
Michigan – In an effort to bypass the new attorney general, the Republican-led legislature is petitioning the state supreme court to rule on the constitutionality of changes that it made to the voter-passed minimum wage and paid sick leave laws. At question is whether or not the legislature can change citizen ballot initiatives in the same legislative cycle in which they were originally approved by voters.
New Hampshire – The house held hearings on three competing bills to raise the state’s minimum wage to anywhere from $10/hr to $15/hr over a period of years. The governor has opposed wage increases in the past but support for an increase is more widespread in the legislature this cycle.
North Dakota – A bill that would preempt localities from raising the wage above the state level passed the house and moved to the senate.
Wisconsin – The governor announced that he will propose a minimum wage increase in his state budget. He favors an increase that matches neighboring Illinois ($15/hr). The Republican legislature is likely to oppose such a measure but the governor has stated there is a “clear pathway” forward. The current minimum wage in Wisconsin is $7.25/hr and hasn’t increased since 2010.
Indiana – A bill passed the senate requiring the Department of Insurance to develop a proposal for a voluntary family leave program. The department will submit the proposal to the senate’s budget committee with projected costs for review.
New Jersey – The governor signed legislation to expand the state’s paid family leave program from six to twelve weeks. The bill allows workers to take 12 weeks of paid time off after childbirth or to care for a sick family member. It also increases maximum pay under the leave program from $650/wk to $860/wk and makes benefits available to those assisting a broader range of family members.
New Hampshire – The senate approved a bill mandating 12 weeks of paid leave for employees for the birth, adoption or fostering of a child. The provisions also allow for the care of certain relatives with serious illness and would be funded by a 0.5 percent tax on employee wages. If it passes the house, the governor has indicated he will veto it.
Missouri – A bill passed the senate that would define employees of a franchisor only if the franchisor exercises direct and immediate control over the hiring, termination, discipline and direction of the employees of a franchisee. It now moves to the house.
Labor Department – The Labor Department rescinded Obama-era guidance on the 80/20 rule. In effect, it eliminated the “dual jobs” interpretation which stated that tipped employees who spent more than 20 percent of working hours on non-tipped duties, like setting tables, rolling silverware or prepping salads, could not be paid the subminimum wage for that time.
Colorado – A pay equity measure is advancing through the Colorado legislature. It would require that employers post every job opening both internally and externally, would bar executives from asking position-seekers about their pay levels at previous jobs and would create a right of legal action for anyone who feels a company or official violated these new rules.
Washington – The attorney general announced that seven additional franchises have eliminated no-poach practices nationwide, including Einstein Bros. Bagel, Express Employment Professionals, FASTSIGNS, L&L Franchising, The Maids, Westside Pizza and Zeek’s Pizza. This brings the total number of corporate chains that have signed legally binding agreements with the attorney general to 57.
SEIU – The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) filed a federal court appeal to challenge an NLRB ruling that a group of subcontracted janitors were justifiably fired for picketing at the building where they worked. The Board held that the workers weren’t covered by federal labor laws because they were trying to convince a “secondary employer,” the property management company, to cut ties with their direct employer. SEIU has appealed and is also arguing that the workers were protected by the First Amendment’s free speech rights. The case could set a far-reaching precedent.
Stop & Shop – A local Massachusetts unit of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union has scheduled a strike authorization vote amid the ongoing contract negotiations with the New England-based supermarket chain.
Kentucky – Language embedded in a larger bill that would require online marketplace facilitators to collect sales taxes on behalf of third-party sellers on their platform passed the house and heads to the senate.
Texas – A bill that would require online marketplace facilitators to collect sales taxes on behalf of third-party sellers on their platform was introduced as part of a legislative package meant to lessen the compliance burden on remote sellers.
Wyoming – Legislation that would have imposed a seven percent corporate income tax on publicly-traded companies with at least 100 shareholders was indefinitely postponed by a senate committee, killing the legislation’s momentum in the upper chamber with under a week left in the regular legislative session. The bill overwhelmingly passed the house and originally had strong bipartisan support in the senate including the senate president, vice president and the relevant committee chairs but business community opposition has stalled the bill.
China – President Trump announced a delay of the March 1 deadline for increasing tariffs from 10% to 20% on more than $200 billion in Chinese imports. The deadline was first imposed by Trump himself to pressure China on ongoing trade reform talks. The president has touted positive developments in the negotiations but neither side has released any specifics.
- While the guidance issued by the Labor Department on the 80/20 rule is encouraging, companies should strongly consider the pros and cons of deviating from their current operational practices with regard to sidework. From employees to labor community activists to their advocates in elected office, there will be tremendous scrutiny on companies that try to aggressively take advantage of the new standard potentially causing deep blue states to enact their own standards.
- States continue to take action in the wake of the landmark South Dakota v. Wayfair Supreme Court decision regarding sales tax collections by out-of-state sellers. While a majority of states have set an economic threshold standard in the wake of the case, an emerging trend is mandating online marketplaces collect sales taxes on sales by third-party sellers on their platforms. To date, thirty-three states have passed or are considering such measures which would make compliance easier for small businesses that sell through these large platforms.
- The decision by Amazon to pull out of New York City should be instructive for brands to understand the quickly escalating fervor of the anti-corporate rhetoric. So far, companies like Walmart, Amazon, and Starbucks are in the crosshairs of the movement – all of them entry-level employers. As the presidential campaign heats up, brands need to be keenly aware of this dynamic.
Legislature Status for Week of 2/25/19
- The United States Senate is in session this week
- The United States House is in session this week
- Forty-two state legislatures are in regular session:
- AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK,OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, 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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