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Regulatory Wrap-Up: Weekly recap of retail-related legislative developments-March 4


Arizona - The house approved legislation creating a subminimum training wage of $7.25/hr for employees under 22 that work 20 hours per week or less. The legislation is intended to soften the voter-passed initiative to raise the minimum wage to $12/hr by 2020.

Colorado - Legislation to repeal preemption laws prohibiting localities from setting their own minimum wages was introduced in the house and senate. Passage is highly likely.

Hawaii - Legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr by 2023 completed its final committee stop and is headed to the senate floor. Similar legislation is working its way through the house.

Maryland - The house approved legislation increasing the state minimum wage to $15/hr by 2025 but preserving the cash wage for tipped employees at the current level of $3.63/hr. Action now moves to the senate.

New Mexico - The senate advanced two minimum wage bills this week. One calls for an increase to $12/hr by 2021. The second bill would raise the minimum wage to $9.25/hr and then to $10/hr in 2021. Both would set the server wage at 30 percent of the regular minimum wage.

Pennsylvania - Republican legislative leaders have signaled an openness to a minimum wage increase, albeit significantly less than the governor’s proposal of $15/hr. This could signal the beginning of a compromise that includes a minimum wage increase.

Vermont - The senate approved an increase in the state minimum wage to $15/hr by 2024. The bill now moves to the house. Last year, the governor vetoed similar legislation; however, as a result of the last election cycle, Democrats now have veto-proof majorities in both bodies. If the house passes the legislation as expected, the governor’s expected veto may be a moot point.

Wisconsin - The governor’s budget includes a minimum wage increase of $1 to $8.25/hr beginning in 2020 that would increase to $9/hr in 2021. It would then go up 75 cents per year in each of the next two years, and then it would go up according to inflation every year after that. The legislature is likely to oppose an increase.

Paid Leave

Maine - A senate committee held a public hearing on paid leave. The discussion centered on a mandate that employers with more than five employees offer paid sick leave. Democrats control the legislature and the governor’s office for the first time in eight years, making passage a real possibility. A potential 2020 ballot initiative on the issue is also helping to encourage the business community to participate in legislative negotiations.

New Hampshire - The house voted to support a mandatory paid family leave program by a 199-133 vote which is fewer than would be needed to override a gubernatorial veto. The bill is subject to another vote on the house floor and would need to be reconciled with a senate-passed bill offering a similar program. Both proposals are funded by a .05 percent payroll deduction and provide 60% of wages for 12 weeks.

Vermont - Legislation that, if passed, would offer one of the most generous paid family leave programs in the country ran into some headwinds in the House Ways and Means Committee. Members raised serious concerns related to the financing and solvency of the system. The program relies on a .93 percent payroll tax split between employers and employees and replaces 100% of wages for 12 weeks.

Portland, ME - A city council committee voted unanimously to advance a city-wide paid sick leave mandate. As referenced above, Maine has a statewide bill under consideration but it would not preempt city action. No date has been set for full council action on the ordinance.

Unilever - The product manufacturer announced a grant program offering $5,000 to fathers who do not have access to paternity leave at their places of work. The program pledged $1 million over two years and established a grant application process for new fathers.


New York - The state labor department announced that it will abandon the “fair workweek” regulations it has been workshopping over the past two years. The regulations were expected to require employers to post schedules with 14-day advanced notice and require penalty pay if changes were made within that period. Although the regulations have been abandoned, a legislative path still remains as Democrats now control both chambers of the state legislature and the governor's office, which was not the case for the last two years.

Los Angeles, CA - Members of the city council held a press conference along with activists from the Fair Workweek Initiative to announce their plans to introduce restrictive scheduling legislation in the city. While the proposed ordinance has yet to be drafted, supporters are pushing for requirements such as two week’s advanced notice of work schedules, written and posted schedules as well as access to additional hours.

Labor Policy

Labor Department - The Labor Department will soon propose a $35,000 salary threshold for overtime pay requirements; however, the official rule has not yet been released. The current threshold is $23,660. The Obama administration attempted to raise it to $47,476 but that rule was blocked by the courts.

SCOTUS - In-N-Out Burger sought to prohibit its employees from wearing buttons supporting the Fight for $15 movement. Last year, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the burger chain’s concerns about food safety and its unique public image can’t justify restricting workers’ rights to communicate and take actions to improve their employment conditions via a ban on buttons. The company asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case and made a novel argument to extend the free speech rights of corporate entities.
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