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Regulatory Wrap-Up: Wages back in the spotlight



Labor Department: The Labor Department began the rulemaking process to revise or rescind its tip pooling regulation when the agency sent a revised rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review. The 2011 Obama-era rule, which is currently in effect, prevents tip-pooling policies whereby tipped workers share with non-tipped employees. That rule has been the subject of multiple legal challenges and the U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing one of those cases. If the Trump Administration moves to rescind the rule, then the U.S. Supreme Court case may become moot.

GAO Wage Study: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study commissioned by Senator Bernie Sanders that found roughly 20 percent of families with a worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr were at or below the poverty line. The study also examined the use of federal safety net programs by families at or near the poverty level.

Cincinnati, OH: A council member has proposed a motion to link an existing business tax credit to a minimum wage increase beyond the state minimum of $8.15/hr Under the motion, companies seeking the job creation tax credit must offer a minimum $12.50/hr wage to their employees.

Tipped Wage: The Restaurant Opportunities Center launched the website to advocate for the elimination of the tip credit. The organization has been active in state and local campaigns across the country.

Paid Leave

Washington: The State Department of Labor and Industries released its implementation rules for the paid sick leave law that passed by initiative in 2016. The rules cover specifics of the law such as how employees will accrue paid sick leave, when they can use it and how to calculate rates of pay during the leave period. The rules will be open for public comment through Nov. 17.

Duluth, MN: The city council agreed with the mayor to delay discussion of a potential paid leave proposal until after the Nov. 7 election. The mayor’s current priority is a ballot initiative to increase the sales tax by half a cent. Business leaders reportedly agreed to support the sales tax proposal if the city tabled discussions of a potential paid leave mandate.

Netflix: The popular online video streaming company announced an unlimited leave policy for new parents during the first year after a child is born or adopted.

Pay Equity

Illinois:  The house voted to override the governor’s veto of legislation that bans employers from asking about prospective employee’s salary histories. The override vote awaits action in the Senate.


E-Verify: The House Judiciary Committee, by a 20-10 vote, approved legislation that would mandate a nationwide E-Verify program. A separate bill that would overhaul the H visa guest worker program was approved by a much narrower margin (one vote). House leadership has not indicated when either bill will receive floor time.

Tax Reform

U.S. House: House members approved the U.S. Senate-passed budget rules that provide an easier path for future large-scale tax reform. The new rules will allow tax cut and tax reform legislation to proceed with a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of meeting the 60-vote threshold.

Health Care

Congress: Senator Orrin Hatch and Representative Kevin Brady, both chairmen of powerful tax writing committees, introduced legislation to extend the cost-sharing subsidies for insurers for two years. The bill is being presented as a tradeoff for delaying enforcement of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate and retroactively exempts businesses from the employer mandate. This represents a significantly more conservative approach than the bipartisan subsidy fix proposed by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray.

ACA: Attorneys General from 19 states petitioned a federal court to force the federal government to continue making monthly ACA subsidy payments to insurance companies while litigation against the Trump Administration proceeds. The court rejected the request, handing a victory to the Trump Administration.


FTC: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it will not pursue enforcement actions against companies that sell products that allow children to give voice commands. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act currently bans the collection of audio recordings of children under 13 without parental consent. Companies that collect the recordings must do so for only a brief period of time and use them solely for voice commands.


U.S. House: Two democratic lawmakers introduced the Clean Ports Act and the Port Drivers’ Bill of Rights Act in the U.S. House. The Clean Ports bill seeks to improve air quality in port regions, while the other bill is in response to the recent USA Today investigative articles on the wages and working conditions of port truckers. Neither bill has a chance to advance in the Republican-controlled House but serve to highlight the contentions issues in and around the nation's ports.

Los Angeles/Long Beach, CA: The ports released the final update to their Clean Air Action Plan. The update will be considered at a joint public meeting on Nov. 2.


Amazon: During the past year the e-commerce retailer has won approval to become a wholesale drug distributor in several states, signaling an effort to enter the pharmacy benefit manager industry.

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