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Regulatory Wrap-Up: Weekly recap of retail-related legislative developments—Jan. 14


Maryland - Democratic lawmakers continue to prioritize a $15/hr statewide minimum wage. Republican Governor Hogan recently raised concerns regarding the economic impact of the proposed raise. While a bill has yet to be introduced, the concept of setting different wage levels for different parts of the state is under discussion.

New Jersey - More details are emerging that indicate what may be included in a negotiated $15/hr minimum wage bill. The governor wants a bill free of exemptions, but the assembly speaker and senate president want a longer phase-in and/or exemptions for certain workers. The senate president is concerned about the economic impact to agriculture and wants the minimum wage for farmworkers capped at $12.50.

Vermont - Democratic legislators are likely to push for a $15/hr minimum wage again this cycle. Now that they enjoy a veto-proof majority in both chambers, they are more likely to achieve their goal. Governor Scott vetoed similar legislation last cycle.

No-Tipping Case - A California district court judge ruled in favor of several upscale restaurants in New York City and the San Francisco area accused of price fixing. The case alleged that the restaurateurs colluded in a price-fixing scheme when they established a no-tipping policy to increase menu prices.

Wage Theft

New York - Governor Cuomo announced that the state labor department collected and returned more than $35 million in lost wages to victims of wage theft during 2018.

Paid Leave

California - The new governor plans to include in his first budget the most generous parental leave requirement in the country - an expansion of the current program to six months. However, he has not indicated how the plan would be financed. Today, parental leave in the state is financed by a one percent payroll tax. The proposal is likely to face an uphill climb in the legislature due to that fact that any tax increase must be approved by a legislative supermajority, which the Democrats currently hold.

Albuquerque, NM - The city council is set to debate a proposed sick leave mandate for employers with more than 50 workers. The council has failed to advance similar legislation in the past but recently extended paid leave to city workers.

New York City, NY - Mayor De Blasio announced support for pending legislation that would mandate businesses with more than five employees give workers ten days of paid vacation time off per year.

Portland, ME - A city council committee held a hearing on a proposed paid sick leave ordinance. No legislative action was taken but the bill’s sponsors are expected to consider changes to the bill and produce a fiscal note on the costs to the city. The committee will revisit the issue Feb. 12.

Labor Policy

E-Verify - Due to a lack of funding, E-Verify will be inoperable during the government shutdown. The Department of Homeland Security announced that employers should hold cases until the service is back online.

Overtime - Indications are that a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for a new federal overtime standard could be issued as early as March. Many expect that the DOL may set the salary level in the low-to-mid $30,000 range.


Fight for $15 - Fight for $15 helped organized strikes in Florida after a McDonald’s worker was assaulted by a customer. The video of the New Year’s Eve incident quickly went viral. Fight for $15 and other community groups protested “unsafe” working conditions at area McDonald’s.

Menu Labeling

New York City, NY - Councilmember Mark Levine has introduced a bill requiring quick service restaurants with more than 15 locations nationwide to post labels on all menu items that have more than 12g of sugar.


California - An assemblyman introduced a bill that would, beginning in 2022, require all businesses to provide receipts electronically unless the consumer requests a paper copy.

Key Takeaways

  • Employers should pay attention to the city of Portland’s response to the new Oregon pay equity law, which just went into effect. This week the city froze the pay of 1,200 workers for whom the city cannot attribute a heightened pay rate due to merit. Employers, like Nike, that have conducted voluntary audits have experienced similar outcomes. Companies should be aware of their potential exposure on the issue in Oregon which may carry significant operational and reputational exposure.

  • While the rhetoric around the proposed border wall is increasingly toxic, companies have to be extra sensitive to heightened emotions among customers and employees. Companies need to engage carefully (if at all). Companies should also focus on enforcement actions, which will likely to continue to increase, including state level legislation to mandate E-Verify as well as efforts to punish employers who employ - either knowingly or unknowingly - undocumented workers.

Legislature Status for Week of 1/14/19

  • The United States Senate is in session this week

  • The United States House is in session this week

  • Forty-one state legislatures are meeting actively this week:

    • AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY


Check out our Working Lunch podcast each week that includes further analysis into these legislative issues, policy, politics and m
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