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Regulatory Wrap-Up: Weekly review of retail-related legislative developments-Feb. 11

BY CSA Staff

Wages

Federal – The House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing this week on raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hr. Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) had previously introduced legislation to phase-in an increase to $15/hr over six years. His bill would also eliminate the tipped wage.

Alabama – The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals will rehear the long-standing minimum wage case in a full court review. The case argues that African-American residents in Birmingham had been discriminated against by the state legislature when it passed a preemption law that rolled back a city-wide scheduled minimum increase to $10/hr.

Colorado – A bill is moving through the legislature that would nullify the state’s preemption on wages which, in effect, would allow municipalities to set their own wage rates.

Florida – In a reversal of a decision made last Aug., the state supreme court declined to hear an appeal of a case brought by the city of Miami Beach. It sought to overturn a lower court decision invalidating the city’s 2016 minimum wage increase.

Hawaii – A bill passed a house committee that would raise the state’s minimum wage above the current level of $10.10. The bill, similar to one that failed last cycle, raises the state minimum to $15/hr by 2024 and $12.50/hr when employers offer health insurance to their employees.

Illinois – The bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15/hr by 2025 passed the senate. The house will soon take it up and is expected to move quickly as well. The bill currently maintains a statewide tip credit and extends a tax credit to companies with fewer than 50 employees who employ workers under 18 years of age. Most notably, the bill does not consider regional differentials, which was a priority for many business groups. The issue is set to move quickly with the Governor asking for a bill on his desk by Feb. 20 prior to the initiation of budget negotiations.

New Jersey – The governor officially signed the $15/hr minimum wage bill into law. The new law increases the minimum wage to $15/hr by 2024 with the first increase occurring on July 1, 2019. It also incrementally increases the state’s tipped wage to $5.13/hr by 2024 and establishes a training wage of 90% of the minimum wage for the first 120 days of employment.

New Mexico – A bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12/hr by 2021 and eliminate the state’s tip credit passed a house committee. The governor has expressed her support for the raise but has not publicly weighed in on the tip credit issue.

Wyoming – As expected, a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.50/hr failed to pass the Republican-controlled house.

Sonoma, CA – The city council voted 5-0 to establish a minimum wage subcommittee to draft an ordinance increasing the city’s minimum wage to $15/hr by 2020, three years earlier than the state law.

Paid Leave

SOTU – Although light on details, President Trump renewed his call for a national paid leave policy in the State of the Union this week.

Arizona – The state court of appeals unanimously ruled that the voter-approved 2006 law that increased the state’s minimum wage and allowed localities to increase their minimum wages beyond that of the state also applies to benefits like paid leave. The ruling effectively reverses a 2016 law passed by the legislature that sought to limit local authority to wages but not benefits. Several local governments across the state have indicated their intent to pursue paid leave mandates.

Connecticut – Details have emerged regarding a paid leave bill that is likely to move through the legislature and has support from the Governor. The bill would mandate up to 12 weeks off per year with full pay and a cap set at $1,000/wk. The program would be funded by a 0.5 percent automatic payroll deduction from the employee.

New Hampshire – A bill passed a senate committee that would establish a paid family leave program paid for by a 0.5 percent income tax on employees. The legislation is likely to advance through the senate and house. The governor has expressed his opposition in the past and prefers his proposal that allows the state to join with Vermont to develop a voluntary leave program.

New Jersey – A bill to expand the state’s paid family leave program from six to twelve weeks passed both chambers and awaits the governor’s likely signature.

New Mexico – Two bills addressing paid family leave failed to advance in a house committee. One bill would have established an employee-funded program and the other would have funded a year-long study commission on the issue. A paired down version of the study bill was the only bill to receive a vote, but the result was a tied 5-5 vote, stalling the bill. It is unclear at this point if another legislative vehicle for the issue will emerge this session.

North Dakota – A bill to establish a paid family leave program failed a floor vote in the house and will not advance this session.

Walmart – The discount retailer announced a paid sick leave policy and attendance bonus for store associates across the country. Hourly employees can now earn up to 48 hours paid sick leave and extra bonus money based on attendance.

Study – A survey of businesses across the country by a leading consultancy firm found that 40% of employers now offer a paid family leave program for new parents. This is an increase of 15% over the past three years.

Labor Policy

New Jersey – The state legislature advanced a bill to the governor’s desk that would ban non-disclosure agreements for victims of discrimination, retaliation and harassment.

New York – The state attorney general is pushing legislation that would increase penalties for employers that use immigration enforcement as a threat against workers. It would bar employers from firing, threatening, penalizing or otherwise discriminating against workers who report or blow the whistle on workplace violations.

Virginia  – A bill that would ban “low wage employees” as defined in the bill from being subject to non-compete clauses passed the senate and was referred to the house labor committee.

Virginia – A bill that bans employers from requiring nondisclosure or confidentiality agreements as conditions of employment that have “the purpose or effect of concealing the details relating to a claim of sexual assault” passed the house. The bill passed unanimously on the floor and in its first senate committee vote indicating it is likely to become law.

Miscellaneous

California – An International Brotherhood of Teamsters local chapter (local 2785) filed a petition for review to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision to pre-empt California’s meal and rest break rules for truck drivers. The state’s rest break rules require employers to allow a 30-minute break every five hours. The Trump administration recently revoked a 2008 rule that prevented the California law from being preempted by federal rules.

New Hampshire – A bill that would allow municipalities to regulate formula retail, restaurant and bar businesses has been introduced. It would allow localities to ban a formula business from any municipality or district. It is unclear if legislative leadership has an interest in advancing the bill.

Key Takeaways

  • In Arizona this week, the courts struck down the state’s preemption on minimum wage. In Alabama, courts are reviewing that state’s preemption. Florida courts just upheld a preemption there and a bill is moving through the Colorado legislature that would undo minimum wage preemption there. This conversation is far from resolved. Expect the labor community to continue to fight preemption at every turn – testing it in the courts and to rollback preemptions where the political dynamics allow for it.
  • New Jersey and Virginia have become the latest states to tackle the non-disclosure issue as it pertains to sexual harassment. While the 2019 sessions are only a month old in most places, the legislative activity stemming from the #MeToo movement and the 2018 Year of the Women continues to yield results.

Legislature Status for Week of 2/11/19

  • The United States Senate is in session this week
  • The United States House is in session this week
  • Forty-one state legislatures are in regular session:
    • AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, GA, HI, ID, IN, IA, KS, ME, MD, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NJ, NH, NM, NC, NV, NY, ND, OH, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WI, WV, 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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