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BPAA State Policy Update - March 12

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  • This week was very active for state tax debates. Georgia, Idaho, and Oregon passed bills reacting to the federal tax cut, as Maryland and other states made headway on their own responses. Florida lawmakers sent a harmful "supermajority" constitutional amendment to voters. New Jersey now has two progressive revenue raising proposals on the table (and a need for both). Louisiana ended one special session with talks of yet another. And online sales taxes continued to make news nationally and in Kansas, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania. Read the Rundown online here.


  • New York: NY hearing on minimum wage for servers, bartenders moved to April - Syracuse, N.Y. - A public hearing about the minimum wage for tipped workers has been rescheduled for April 30. The Syracuse-area hearing, hosted by the state's Department of Labor, was originally set for Monday at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Pre-registration is required for those wishing to speak at the hearing. Anyone can submit written comments to the state by July 1. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed changing the way tipped workers are paid in New York. Currently, servers and bartenders in Upstate regions have a minimum hourly wage of $7.50. Cuomo has proposed increasing that to $10.40 - in line with other minimum wage jobs in the same regions. The proposal would not limit tipping. Instead, it would make employers pay the full $10.40 minimum wage. Right now, employers can apply a "tip credit" to hourly wages. It means the bosses can count up to $2.90 an hour from a server's tips toward the full minimum wage.
  • North Dakota: “Group seeks to raise North Dakota minimum wage to $15” - BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A group seeking to raise North Dakota's minimum wage to $15 is hoping to bring the proposal to voters in November. Secretary of State Al Jaeger says he received a draft petition on Monday and is reviewing it. If it's approved, supporters would need to gather and submit at least 13,452 valid signatures to get a proposed measure on the ballot.
  • Minnesota: City wins court case on minimum wage - A Hennepin County District Court judge sided with Minneapolis in a lawsuit that sought to invalidate the city’s municipal minimum wage ordinance. Mayor Jacob Frey described the outcome as “a big win for workers” that “solidifies Minneapolis as a laboratory of democracy.” The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce filed the lawsuit in November, less than two months before the first of the wage hikes called for in the ordinance took effect Jan. 1. Joined by co-plaintiffs TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Recruiting and Staffing Association and Graco Inc., the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce argued the state set a minimum wage with the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act and that a local wage ordinance would conflict with state law. In a statement released Feb. 28, City Attorney Susan Segal said she was “very pleased with the outcome in this important case. The court’s decision is well-reasoned and affirms the basic authority of the City to address local needs — in this case, by providing a minimum wage more in tune with costs of living in an urban center and that will promote the health and well-being of City workers through a more livable wage,” Segal said.


  • Hawaii: Hawaii paid family leave bill crosses from Senate to House - A bill that would establish a paid family leave program in Hawaii crossed over from the Senate to the House on Tuesday. Senate Bill 2990 would implement a framework of laws and policies that would give employees access to leave benefits during times when they need to provide care for a family member, as well as create a paid family leave implementation board. The bill has garnered support from some of the state’s largest labor unions, as well as Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii and Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Hawaii Coalition, among others. Language in the bill calls for $1.5 million to be appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii for fiscal year 2018-2019 and be deposited into the paid family leave special fund. The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii opposes the bill, saying it would harm Hawaii businesses due to the state’s high cost of doing business and its low unemployment rate. In its testimony, the chamber suggested encouraging businesses rather than mandating them to adopt paid leave programs. Currently there are no scheduled hearings for the bill.


  • Washington: Beverage industry, allies start campaign to stop Seattle’s soda tax from spreading - After watching Seattle’s soda tax take effect last month, the beverage industry and its allies have begun an initiative campaign aimed at stopping other Washington communities from adopting similar taxes. “Yes! To Affordable Groceries” registered as a ballot committee Monday with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. The committee is sponsored by the American Beverage Association and supported by organizations including the Korean American Grocers Association, Washington Food Industry Association, Washington Farm Bureau and Joint Council of Teamsters, said Jim Desler, a spokesman. “This is the first step in a process to explore a statewide ballot measure that will keep groceries affordable and free of new local taxes,” Desler said in an email… The committee won’t try to roll back Seattle’s 1.75-cents-per-ounce tax on the distribution of beverages such as sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks, which took effect Jan. 1. “We are not trying to change any current revenue streams already passed by local governments,” the flyer says. “But Washingtonians need to draw the line at attempts to tax food and beverages that make groceries unaffordable … We should stop these taxes from spreading now.”
  • Colorado: Aluminum and steel tariffs could weigh heavily on Colorado economy - Broomfield-based Ball Corp. produces two out of every five aluminum beverage cans used in the United States, and the northern Front Range has one of the highest concentrations in the country of beverage industry workers filling those cans. Across the Western Slope and in Weld County, petroleum producers are laying down hundreds of miles of steel pipe. And Vestas converts tons of steel into hulking wind turbines at plants in Windsor, Brighton and Pueblo. Aerospace manufacturers along the Front Range are building rockets and satellites with imported metal, and more than 100 construction contractors specialize in putting steel into bridges and buildings. All are waiting for details about the tariffs of 10 percent on imported aluminum and 25 percent on imported steel that the Trump administration plans to impose next week. President Donald Trump has said the tariffs will resuscitate the country’s diminished steel and aluminum industries, boosting jobs and bolstering national security by ensuring adequate domestic supply. Notably, steelmaking once was a key industry in Pueblo, which voted for Trump in 2016 despite being a Democratic stronghold. “As a leading manufacturer of beverage and food cans, we urge President Trump to exclude aluminum can sheet and tinplate steel for beverage and food containers from the tariffs that he announced will be imposed next week,” said Renee Robinson, director of corporate communications at Ball, which produces about 100 billion cans a year globally. Robinson said those products have no national security applications, and tariffs will drive up costs for consumers.
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