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BPAA State Policy Update - January 29

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TAX NEWS

How federal tax reform is impacting states:

Federal Law Prompts States to Weigh Own Tax Policy Overhauls

- Bloomberg Law -- California. Maryland. New Jersey. New York. Pennsylvania. These states are joining number of others in proposing policy changes to bypass federal tax law changes that eliminate many deductions and alter the way businesses are treated.

States Scramble to Measure, Mitigate Impact of Federal Tax Law

- Bloomberg Law -- Taxpayers operating in multiple states may find the next few years challenging as states examine the implications of the new federal tax law for their revenue and tax administration, including, most pressingly, whether and how to conform to all the changes. 

MINIMUM WAGE

Minnesota: The Pioneer Press reports, “The minimum wage debate is heating up in St. Paul. Here’s what to look for” -- St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and the St. Paul City Council have committed to studying a citywide increase to the minimum wage, but how quickly it could be implemented and what types of employers or employees may be partially exempted remains to be seen. Minneapolis recently passed an ordinance that gradually increases the minimum wage over five years. By July 1, 2022, large employers there must pay at least $15 an hour; small employers must by July 1, 2024. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce recently withdrew from a legal challenge to the increases, though their litigation against the city’s paid sick leave mandate is active. St. Paul, which is likely to take more time on the wage question, has asked the Citizen’s League, a nonpartisan public interest group, to study it. An initial report outlining pros and cons of a citywide wage mandate is likely in early February. Lisa Schmid, an employment attorney with the Minneapolis firm of Nilan Johnson Lewis, has been advising Twin Cities employers how to comply with recent paid sick leave and minimum wage mandates. Her explanatory articles on paid sick leave are posted on the firm’s website.

FOOD & BEVERAGE

Washington: The American Beverage Association reports, “Seattleite’s Shocked by New Beverage Tax” -- For people in Seattle, the new year brought in a new tax. In 2017, Seattle’s city council passed a 1.75 cent per ounce tax on beverages with sugar, including sports drinks, juices, teas – even meal supplements like Ensure are impacted. Starting Jan. 1, the tax went into effect and already small businesses are having to navigate the new tax and are concerned what it will mean not only for their customers but also their bottom line. One store owner was quoted, “I don't want to upset customers, it's a difficult situation.”

Indiana: CNHI Statehouse Reporter, “Sunday alcohol sales takes step forward” -- The Sunday sales of alcohol inched forward in one legislative bill Wednesday, and took a temporary pause in another, as they move through the Indiana General Assembly. Two committees discussed separate bills allowing Sunday sales from noon to 8 p.m. in groceries, package liquor stores and for other permit-holders that currently sell alcohol during the week. The bill was authored by Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, who serves on a commission looking at reform of Indiana's alcohol laws. Meeting during the summer, the commission recommended Sunday sales but not the expansion of cold beer sales. Alting's committee is scheduled to hear a bill expanding cold beer sales, but leading legislators have said that bill will likely not pass through the General Assembly this session.

Iowa: The AP reports, “Ignition interlocks will soon have cameras in Iowa” -- Iowa soon will require that ignition interlocks have cameras so drivers required to take breath tests don’t have other people start the drivers’ vehicles. The vehicles would still start, but the drivers could lose their restricted driver’s licenses and be charged with crimes after the ignition interlock company notifies the state that other people blew into the devices. “That falls into the category of tampering or circumventing the device,” said Melissa Spiegel, the Iowa Transportation Department’s director of motor vehicles. Most nearby states already have the camera requirement, Patrick Hoye, chief of the governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, told The Des Moines Register. All repeat drunken driving offenders are required to install interlock devices in Iowa. First-time offenders must install the devices if their blood alcohol figures were higher than 0.10 when they were arrested or if they were involved in accidents.

PAID SICK LEAVE

Maryland: The AP reports, “Veto defeated, Most Maryland workers to get paid sick leave” -- Some 700,000 workers in Maryland will be able to earn up to five days of paid sick days a year now that state lawmakers have overturned the governor's veto. The requirement applies to Maryland businesses with 15 or more employees. The Maryland Senate voted 30-17 Friday to override Gov. Larry Hogan's veto, following a House vote on Thursday. Both chambers mustered the necessary three-fifths to override. Employees can now earn an hour of sick leave for every 30 hours they work. Hogan vetoed the measure, calling it badly flawed and damaging to small businesses. He urged lawmakers to consider an alternative that would have phased in sick leave for businesses with 25 or more employees by 2020.

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