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Insider's guide to retail-related legislative developments -- May 21


Arkansas - For the third time, the attorney general rejected a proposed citizen initiative to raise the state minimum wage to $12/hr by 2022 again citing ambiguous and confusing language. Approval from the attorney general is required before proponents can begin collecting signatures in advance of a July 6 submission deadline for the November ballot. Meanwhile, a lawsuit is working its way through the courts that alleges the attorney general is unlawfully thwarting the right of voters to amend the state constitution.

Pennsylvania - State Senator Scott Wagner, who won the Republican nomination for governor on Tuesday, noted during his campaign that he supports a moderate increase in the state’s minimum wage with the inclusion of a training wage at an undetermined level.

Washington, DC - Mayor Muriel Bowser and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, along with over half of the city council, announced their opposition to the proposed ballot initiative that gradually eliminates the city’s tipped wage. Initiative 77 will appear on the June 19 ballot. It gradually eliminates the tipped wage by 2026. Current city law raises the minimum wage to $15/hr by 2020 with future increases tied to inflation. The initiative is polling at 70% in support and is likely to pass; however, the council could choose to overturn the measure even if approved by voters and the measure would also have to survive a mandatory 30-day congressional review of all new DC laws.

Wilmette Village, IL - Following up on their 2017 promise, the village board announced plans this week to revisit the decision to opt out of the Cook County minimum wage and paid leave ordinances. The board published a final report produced by a task force studying both the potential impact of enacting the ordinances as well as opinion polling of village residents. The ordinance will be introduced at their next meeting June 12 and a final decision could be made at the following meeting June 26.

Paid Leave

Austin, TX - The Workers Defense Project, the Texas Civil Rights Project and two city business owners have intervened in the ongoing lawsuit brought by the Texas Association of Businesses and the attorney general against the city's recently-passed paid leave ordinance. The group has also filed a separate motion to end the suit and are arguing that the state’s preemption of local minimum wage laws does not apply to the city’s paid leave law.

Duluth, MN - The city council continues to consider amendments to the proposed paid sick leave ordinance that would apply to businesses with five or more employees. The recent court ruling in Minneapolis regarding the applicability of their paid leave law to businesses without a physical presence will also impact the drafting in Duluth. The council could vote as early as May 29 on the package.

Hoboken, NJ - The mayor signed an executive order that expands parental leave benefits to city employees. Currently, the New Jersey Family Leave Insurance fund covers two-thirds of a person’s salary with a cap at $637/week. Under the new executive order, the city will now make up the difference allowing city employees to receive their full wages while on leave.

Minneapolis, MN - A court made permanent an injunction of the city’s paid leave law as it relates to employers with no physical presence in the city. The 2016 law still applies to employers located in the city.


Oregon - The Bureau of Labor and Industries released a final version of regulations implementing the 2017 statewide scheduling law. The bureau will hold a final public hearing May 24 to review the regulations and the law is slated to go into effect July 1.

Pay Equity 

Vermont - A bill banning employers from inquiring about salary history during the hiring process was signed by the governor.


Connecticut - The governor is expected to sign into law a bill that expands sales tax collection obligations to sellers with more than $250,000 in sales or more than 200 sales into the state. 

Oregon - Several business-backed ballot initiative efforts are raising funds and collecting signatures ahead of the July 6 deadline in order to appear on the Nov. ballot.  Petition 37 would ban taxes and fees on food sales and Petition 31 would require a three-fifths legislative majority to approve any bills that raise revenue for the state. Both petitions would alter the state’s constitution and therefore require over 115,000 valid signatures to be submitted by the deadline.

Seattle, WA - The city council passed a new “head tax” on businesses making at least $20 million a year in an effort to raise revenue to address the city’s homelessness issue. The council intended to enact a $500-per-job annual tax but under threat of a mayoral veto, the council reduced the amount to a $275.


China - The United States and China released a joint statement announcing that China has agreed to increase imports (at unspecified levels) from the U.S. and the two countries will continue discussions on other issues of importance. Trump administration officials have indicated that the ongoing tariff battles between the two countries are now “on hold.” Many international trade experts suggest that China has leveraged actions they were likely to take anyway, such as increasing agricultural imports for their growing middle class, in exchange for cooperation in the ongoing negotiations with North Korea.

NAFTA - House Speaker Paul Ryan had previously stated that if Congress was to ratify a new agreement between Mexico, Canada and the U.S. before it adjourns in Dec., it would need to have received an official notification of a new agreement by May 17. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, in press statements over the weekend, allowed that the negotiations would continue beyond this Congress if necessary, indicating that progress on the divisive issues is
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