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Regulatory Wrap-Up: Weekly recap of retail-related legislative, labor developments-April 1


Federal - Disagreement within the Democratic caucus on a $15/hr federal minimum wage spilled into the open recently. Democrats in rural swing districts voiced concerns over the current bill and are advocating for a more moderate increase. Although the bill may reach the floor and even pass, it will not move in the Republican-controlled senate.

Labor Department - The Labor Department proposed regulations related to overtime rate requirements that define what forms of payment employers can consider when determining workers’ overtime rates. The proposed rule clarifies that employers may exclude, or include, certain kinds of perks or benefits, such as wellness programs, unused leave and tuition programs.

Hawaii - A house-passed bill was amended in a senate committee to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15/hr at a faster rate than the original language provided. The amended version increases the level to $12/hr by 2020 and to $15/hr by 2023, and eliminates a lower rate for businesses that provide health insurance.

Maryland - The legislature overrode the governor’s veto of legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr by 2025. The cash wage for tipped employees will remain at its current $3.63/hr. Maryland becomes the sixth state to pass a $15/hr wage.

Michigan - Despite ongoing litigation, the minimum wage increase and paid leave mandate approved by the voters last November will take effect April 1. Voters originally passed an increase to $12/hr by 2024 but in the lame duck session following the election, outgoing Republican leaders quickly passed legislation to stretch out the compliance date until 2030.

Nevada - A bill to raise the minimum wage was introduced prior to a legislative deadline in the assembly. The legislature passed similar legislation last cycle which was then vetoed by the previous governor. The current governor, a Democrat, is supportive of a wage increase making passage more than likely this session.

McDonald’s - The nation’s largest quick-service chain announced that it would no longer lobby on minimum wage legislation at the state, local or federal levels of government. The announcement comes as Democratic U.S. House members debate the details of a federal increase, and states and localities across the country continue to consider varying levels of increases.

Paid Leave

Federal - Several Republicans in both the U.S. House and Senate filed companion legislation that would establish a federal paid leave program allowing participants to draw off their future social security payments. This new legislation expands on concepts in a bill introduced several weeks ago by Senators Mike Lee and Joni Ernst allowing participants to either delay their benefits at retirement or have the sum reduced over five years. Parents could also choose to use the funds for childcare expenses while continuing to work.

Michigan - Despite ongoing litigation, the minimum wage increase and paid leave mandate approved by the voters last November will take effect April 1. The legislature amended the paid leave mandate to exempt businesses with fewer than 50 workers.

Minnesota - The senate budget committee released a cost estimate report on legislation establishing a paid family leave program that Democrats have supported. The report estimates the program would cost $450 million in its first year and up to $900 million/year thereafter. Leaders in the Republican-controlled senate have shown no interest in taking up the proposal, while Democrats have pledged to pass a bill in the assembly and negotiate it into any final legislative package. The program would require a 0.65 percent income tax shared equally by employers and employees.

Oregon - A hearing was held on legislation to mandate a family and medical leave insurance fund to give employees up to twelve weeks of paid leave for themselves or caring for a family member that is ill, fourteen weeks for the birth of a newborn and six weeks for pregnancy. Because this would function as a payroll tax, it requires a three-fifths majority to pass which is very uncertain at this point.


Maine - “Fair Work Week" legislation was introduced ahead of a legislative deadline. Similar to bills in other jurisdictions, the language would require employers to compensate hourly employees with additional pay if schedule changes are made within two weeks of the change.

Chicago - Hearings are expected to be held in the coming weeks on a restrictive scheduling proposal. The sponsor of the bill is in a tough reelection runoff next week but regardless of the outcome, he has pledged to move forward with the proposal.

Wage Theft

Minnesota - As bipartisan legislation to enhance wage theft penalties moves through the legislative process, Attorney General Keith Ellison is creating a new labor division to broaden the office's prosecutorial power to address “economic crimes.”

New Jersey - A bill that increases penalties on employers who underpay employees and extends the time in which an employee can file a wage grievance passed the senate. The bill would also give the state’s labor department enhanced authorization to audit employers. A similar bill passed both chambers last cycle but was vetoed by then-Governor Christie. Current Governor Murphy is likely to support the bill. The legislation moves to the general assembly for consideration.

Pay Equity

Federal - U.S. House Democrats passed their first major labor priority this week, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen current law (the Equal Pay Act). The U.S. Senate is unlikely to advance the bill, providing Democrats a point of distinction heading into 2020.

Health Care
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