Regulatory Wrap-Up
Market Insights

Regulatory Wrap-Up

BY HBSDealer Staff

Wages
Colorado – House-approved legislation to repeal the state’s minimum wage preemption barring local governments from having a wage rate that is different than the statewide minimum, was heavily amended in the senate, including a problematic amendment related to the tipped wage. The bill will see further changes before final passage in the senate. That version must be adopted by the house or reconciled with the house bill in a conference committee. The differences must be worked out before the fast-approaching conclusion of the legislative session.

Idaho – The secretary of state has authorized minimum wage proponents to begin collecting the necessary signatures to qualify for placement of a measure on the 2020 ballot. The initiative, as written, would use a yet to be determined formula to increase the state’s tipped wage and eliminate the training wage.

Louisiana – A bill that would eliminate a state preemption on minimum wage, allowing localities to raise their minimum wage levels above the state rate, was diverted to the house labor committee likely killing it for the year.

Oregon – On a party line vote, the senate approved legislation to eliminate a subminimum wage for people with disabilities. Action moves to the house where a similar outcome is expected.

Vermont – The house speaker announced that over the next few weeks, he would prioritize legislation to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15/hr. Debate continues regarding the length of the phase-in as well as the specifics of a proposed training wage.

Paid Leave
Colorado – The bill to establish a paid family leave program passed its second senate committee and will advance to the full senate. The previously-amended bill reduces the amount employers must contribute, extends the enactment date to 2023 and allows employers with equivalent programs to opt-out. The version that emerges from the senate is expected to be adopted by the house; otherwise, the two would need to be reconciled in a conference committee, either of which must occur before the fast-approaching conclusion of the legislative session.

Maine – A bipartisan compromise was reached in committee on legislation to establish a paid sick leave mandate. The new language would impact businesses with more than 10 employees and would preempt local governments from enacting their own benefit levels.

New York – The governor signed a bill into law that allows any employee that is a registered voter up to three hours of paid time off (at the beginning or end of their shift) to vote on the day of a primary, special or general election for local, state and federal elections. The law is effective immediately.

Vermont – The house speaker stated he would work to advance legislation in the coming weeks that would establish a statewide paid leave program. The specific language is still under debate.

Labor Policy
Alabama – Franchisee “bill of rights” legislation continues to advance in the senate and house. The bill as introduced would significantly alter existing franchise agreements for most major brands.

Colorado – The senate approved a far-reaching equal pay measure. It would, among other provisions, prevent employers from asking prospective employees about their salary history and also create a private right of action. The bill has one more committee stop in the house before it moves to the floor.

Illinois – The governor signed into law a bill that bars local governments from establishing so-called right-to-work zones.

Maine – The governor signed a pay equity bill into law prohibiting employers from asking a prospective worker their salary history.

New York City, NY – New York City approved a first-of-its-kind law that prevents employers from testing job applicants for marijuana. There are exemptions for certain types of safety-sensitive industries. Employers are still allowed to test employees they believe to be under the influence at work.

Stop & Shop – The company’s 10-day strike appears to have ended with the initial approval of a three-year labor agreement this week. 31,000 workers returned to work, while awaiting the final approval process. The strike gained national attention as workers were bolstered by visits from presidential contenders Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Data Privacy
Washington – A senate-passed data privacy bill, modeled after a similar law in California, failed to advance in the house and is dead for the year. Negotiations between home state tech powerhouses Microsoft and Amazon and privacy advocates broke down ahead of a key deadline but the legislation will likely be revived next year.

Taxes
Colorado – The house passed legislation which would force online marketplace providers to collect sales taxes on sales made by third-party vendors on their site. The bill now moves to the senate for consideration.

Hawaii The legislature passed a bill establishing that out-of-state sellers with more than $100,000 in annual sales or more than 200 transactions per year must begin collecting and remitting sales taxes on all sales made to in-state consumers.

Trade
China – The U.S. Trade Representative announced a third round of product exemptions from the tranch of Section 301 tariffs on $34 billion of imports from China. The exemptions are retroactive to last July when the tranch was originally released.

Key Takeaways

  • Democratic presidential contenders Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren joining the Stop & Shop Strike picket line is notable. Between now and the Democratic Presidential Primary, any employer caught in the labor dispute should not be surprised if candidates participate in actions against them, pulling TV cameras and reporters along. All candidates will be looking for ways to boost their labor bona fides.
  • Significant media attention was given this week highlighting large companies – notably McDonald’s, Amazon and Bank of America – withdrawing from the minimum wage conversation and essentially leaving the fight to small business owners and franchisees. As a result, the large industry trade associations they fund will come under increasing pressure both from some members and policy makers to withdraw as well. Brands that still choose to engage on minimum wage should begin to identify like-minded cross-industry allies with whom to coordinate efforts.

Legislature Status for Week of 4/22/19

  • The United States Senate is in recess this week
  • The United States House is in recess this week
  • Thirty-FIVE state legislatures are in regular session:
    • AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, HI, IN, IA, LA, ME, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NC, ND, OK, OR, SC, TN, TX, VT, WA, WI, WV

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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