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Regulatory Wrap-Up: Weekly recap of retail-related legislative developments-May 13

BY CSA Staff

Wages

Connecticut – The house approved legislation that will increase the state minimum wage to $15/hr by 2023. The senate is likely to approve an increase before the legislature adjourns on June 5. As currently written, the tipped wage for waiters would remain at $6.38/hr, the wage for bartenders would go to $8.23/hr and a 90-day training wage at 85 percent of the minimum wage would be established for workers that are 16 and 17 years of age.

Vermont – Legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr by 2024 has stalled. In an effort to get a final bill, legislative leaders have signaled a willingness to consider a smaller increase spread over a longer timeline. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 17.

Paid Leave

Federal – The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee held a full committee hearing on the issue of parental leave this week. Republicans and Democrats in both chambers have put forward proposals over the past few years as has the White House, via Ivanka Trump who has made this issue one of her primary areas of focus.

California – The governor included a two-week expansion to family leave (four months total) in a revised budget proposal released this week. Under the plan, the expansion would not require additional funding, instead it would shrink the state’s required reserve freeing up additional funds. It would also establish a task force dedicated to fulfilling a commitment made by the governor earlier this year, expanding parental leave to six months.

Maine – The senate approved bipartisan legislation to mandate 40 hours of paid sick leave for workers in businesses with at least 10 employees. The legislation would also preempt localities from passing their own ordinances. Because the bill was amended in the senate, it needs to go back to the house for final approval. It is expected to pass both chambers and be signed by the governor.

Nevada – A senate committee heard an amended paid leave bill this week. The updated language allows for 40 hours of paid leave per year. Final passage and approval by the governor is highly likely.

New Hampshire – The governor vetoed legislation that would require employers to offer 12 weeks of paid family leave. He continues to argue that it is essentially an income tax on workers in the state due to the fact that the program is funded by a .5 percent payroll tax. It is unclear if the legislature will be able to override the governor’s veto.

Vermont – The senate amended the house-approved paid leave legislation. Changes decrease the amount of payroll tax on employees by more than half and include the elimination of personal sick leave language and splitting the parental leave benefit between two parents. Because the proposed program is not voluntary, the governor is expected to veto it. It is unlikely that the legislature would be able to override a veto by the governor.

Portland, ME – The city council voted 5-4 to defeat a proposed sick leave ordinance, deferring the issue to the state. As mentioned above, a bipartisan state bill is poised to pass the legislature and be signed into law by the governor.

Scheduling

Texas – A house committee advanced legislation to preempt localities from enacting restrictive scheduling ordinances. The bill was amended in committee to address concerns voiced by LGBT groups and the changes will protect municipalities right to enact workplace protections for LGBT workers.

Labor Policy

U.S. House – Congressional Democrats introduced the Protecting the Right to Organize Act this week. The legislative package is designed to make it easier for unions to organize workers. Although the bill will not become law this Congress, it summarizes union’s top federal priorities ahead of the 2020 election cycle.

EEOC – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is appealing a judge’s decision that the agency must enforce an Obama-era pay data disclosure requirement. The agency announced last week that it will begin accepting employer pay data submissions for 2017 and 2018 in mid-July so it can meet the court-mandated Sept. 30 deadline.

Immigration – The White House is preparing to release an immigration proposal that is likely to include a national E-Verify requirement, according to reports this week.

Taxes

Kansas – Legislation to mandating online marketplace providers to collect sales taxes on sales made by third-party vendors on their site advanced to the governor’s desk for approval. An earlier version of the bill failed along with a larger tax package that was ultimately vetoed earlier this session.

Oregon – The effort by Democrats to pass a gross receipts tax was delayed. Senate Democrats were unable to reach a quorum due to Republicans boycotting the proceedings. The measure would need a three-fifths supermajority of both chambers to be enacted. Otherwise, voters would need to approve the measure.

Texas – Both chambers have agreed to legislation that would force online marketplace providers to collect sales taxes on sales made by third-party vendors on their site. The bill now advances to the governor’s desk.

Miscellaneous

San Francisco, CA – San Francisco banned cashless stores this week. City officials stated that cashless stores are discriminatory against low-income residents.

Key Takeaways

  • The Nevada minimum wage bill that has been slowly working its way through the legislative process got a boost this week. Speaking at a Nevada union hall, Democratic Presidential frontrunner Joe Biden proclaimed, “I know your legislature is working to raise the minimum wage, but I think it’s long past $12. I think it’s long past time it should be $15 an hour across the United States of America.” This dynamic is likely to continue to play out into 2020 in cities and states across the country, energizing local efforts to enact labor policy priorities and creating a tough environment for employers.
  • The 2019 election season is gearing up in five states – Virginia, New Jersey, Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky. Issues important to the industry are likely to be prevalent in many races but could be pushed to the forefront in contests in Louisiana, Virginia and New Jersey. Brands need to pay attention. Competitive races in Virginia and Kentucky could also impact the balance of power in those states. Additionally, outcomes will be closely watched as a harbinger of the presidential cycle in 2020.
  • Companies need to pay close attention to the tug of war between the state of California and the Trump Administration over the classification of independent contractors. Several big states with significant restaurant operations like New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey have similar “ABC” tests and could easily follow California’s lead. Brands need to be aware of the activity in California and elsewhere and the implications for all business-to-business relationships.

Legislature Status for Week of 5/13/19

  • The United States Senate is in session this week
  • The United States House is in session this week
  • Twenty-seven state legislatures are in regular session:
    • AL, AK, AZ, CA, CT, DE, IL, LA, ME, MA, MI, MN, MO, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, TX, VT, WI

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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