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Regulatory Wrap-Up: Insider’s weekly guide to retail-related state of legislative developments



Massachusetts: A poll released this week shows that nearly two-thirds of voters support a $15/hr minimum wage initiative that will appear on the November ballot. The high level of public support significantly reduces the likelihood that the legislature will pass a compromise bill and avoid sending the issue to the voters.

Utah: Legislation to raise the minimum wage to $12/hr and increase the tip wage to $3.13/hr was defeated in the house and will not advance this session.

Minneapolis, MN: A Hennepin District Court judge ruled that the city minimum wage law is valid and the city is within its authority. Only one company remained as a plaintiff after the city’s chamber dropped out of the case last year. The decision will provide momentum for advocates in the ongoing debate over a $15/hr ordinance in other cities like St. Paul.

Paid Leave

Hawaii:  A second house committee unanimously approved a paid leave bill, sending it to the house floor. The bill requires employers with fewer than fifty workers to provide paid sick leave accruing at a rate of one hour per every 40 hours worked to care for themselves or a family member. The bill was amended to include an exemption for employers who already offer a more generous paid leave policy or pay workers at least $1.65 in more than the minimum wage starting in 2019, escalating thereafter.

Indiana: The senate passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a paid leave study committee to explore the feasibility and cost of an employer mandate. An agreement was reached last session to establish a similar committee, but no action was taken.

Austin, TX: The city council posted the final version of the recently-passed paid leave bill which will go into effect Oct. 1. Originally, the law applied to all businesses in the city but it was amended to require employers with fewer than 15 employees provide 48 hours of leave. Larger employers must offer 64 hours of leave per year. A statewide preemption bill is expected to be introduced when the legislature convenes in 2019.


Missouri: A bill to prohibit localities from enacting scheduling legislation passed its second house committee and will likely advance to the floor.

Labor Policy

NLRB: The inspector general concluded that member William Emanuel should have recused himself from the recent Hy-Brand decision that overturned the 2015 Browning-Ferris joint employer standard. The Board subsequently announced that the Hy-Brand decision has been vacated and the Browning-Ferris standard has been re-established as a result.

Hawaii: A bill unanimously passed the house and now moves to the senate that would direct state agencies to publish an annual report of the 50 employers in the state with the highest number of employees receiving public assistance.

Virginia: The senate passed a bill codifying that neither a franchisee nor a franchisee’s employees shall be considered employees of the franchisor. The bill passed the house in January and will advance to the governor’s desk.

New York City, NY: The city council has introduced legislation which would mandate that employers provide 80 hours of sexual harassment training to employees per year.


New Hampshire: A bill that would have limited private companies from paying their highest-paid worker more than 43 times the lowest-paid worker died in committee.


Federal: The American Truckers Association announced their public support for an increase in the gas tax to pay for infrastructure projects. The plan, in which the ATA refers to the tax as a “fuel user fee,” would add 20 cents to the fuel tax now and then 5 cents/year increase over the next four years. The plan would also impose the tax at the wholesale level, not at point of sale.

Swipe Fees

SCOTUS: The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the landmark Ohio v. American Express Co. case. The question before the court is whether the credit card company’s “anti-steering” rules stifle price competition and ultimately prove anti-competitive. Currently merchants are prevented from offering discounts to encourage the use of competing cards with lower processing fees.


Idaho: A bill that expands the definition of a retailer in the state for sales tax collection purposes passed the house and heads to the senate. The bill models the affiliate language first passed by New York in 2009 and applies to sellers who generate more than $10,000 in sales into the state through an “affiliated” Idaho-based agent.

Iowa: A bill to require out-of-state retailers with more than $100,000 in annual sales or 200 individual sales to collect the state’s sales tax was included in a larger tax reform proposal that passed the senate and now heads to the house.


Federal: President Trump announced broad tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in an effort to protect domestic producers. The tariffs have yet to be imposed and several countries have threatened trade re
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