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BPAA Federal Policy Update - October 19

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TAX

IRS - Tax reform brings changes to fringe benefits that can affect an employer’s bottom line: The IRS reminds employers that several programs have been affected as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed last year. This includes changes to fringe benefits, which can affect an employer's bottom line and its employees' deductions. Read here for information about some of these changes that will affect employers: Entertainment Expenses & Deduction for Meals, Qualified Transportation, Bicycle Commuting Reimbursements, Qualified Moving Expenses Reimbursements, and Employee Achievement Award. 

FOOD/BEVERAGE NEWS

Alabama’s Michael Schilleci elected to lead National Beer Wholesalers Association: Alabama beer distributor Michael Schilleci has been elected Chairman of the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA). In the role, he will lead the distribution industry’s national policy and advocacy efforts for the next year. Schilleci owns and operates North Alabama-based Supreme Beverage Company. Upon his election, he became the first Alabamian to ever chair the national organization. The Alabama Wholesale Beer Association (AWBA) is an active member of NBWA. Schilleci got involved with the NWBA through his involvement with the AWBA, which previously chaired. There he played a leading role in passing state legislation that eased outdated restrictions and allowed the craft brewing industry to grow in Alabama. Upon his election at the group’s convention in San Diego, Schilleci told his peers he wanted to use “strategic advocacy” to grow and protect the beer distribution industry. He also wants to keep a strong focus on the Beer Growth Initiative (BGI) in order to strengthen overall beer category health. As well as continue validating the beer industry’s independent distribution model. Read more here.

LABOR POLICY NEWS

 

  • Bloomberg Government reports, Trump Administration Taking On Overtime Pay, Franchise Liability: The Trump administration plans to tackle two important labor policy issues in the coming months: overtime pay and “joint employer” liability for companies in staffing and franchise relationships. Both items are on the administration’s new regulatory agenda for the next several months. The Labor Department plans to roll out updated overtime pay requirements (RIN:1235-AA20) by March. The DOL intends to propose a new rule (RIN:1235-AA26) on when businesses in staffing, franchise, and other arrangements share legal responsibility for any wage and hour violations by their partners as soon as December.
  • The National Labor Relations Board is also working on its own version of a final rule on joint employment. A proposal it released earlier this year would limit the circumstances in which affiliated companies are liable for unfair labor practices against—or required to bargain with—each other’s workers. The board said it will close the public comment period for the proposed rule in November. The regulatory moves are likely to have a significant impact on businesses and their workers.
  • Worker advocates consider overtime a way to boost paychecks in traditionally lower-wage sectors like retail and restaurants. Critics say quick and significant changes can kill jobs.

Joint employer questions have vexed companies like McDonald’s and Microsoft, which have faced claims that they’re on the hook for labor violations against franchisee and staffing firm workers, respectively. Obama administration moves to expand joint employment have been hailed by advocates as a way to give workers a stronger voice on the job with the company

SPORTS BETTING

 

  • American Gaming Association: NBA & MLB Could See Combined $1.7 Billion From Legalized Sports Betting: Annual revenues for Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) may increase by $1.1 billion and $585 million, respectively, due to widely available, legal, regulated sports betting, according to a new Nielsen Sports study commissioned by the American Gaming Association (AGA). The study analyzes the revenue streams that legal sports betting could generate for both professional leagues: revenue as a result of spending from betting operators on advertising, data and sponsorship, and revenue generated as a result of increased consumption of the leagues’ media and products.
  • According to Nielsen Sports, greater fan engagement and viewership could boost the two leagues’ total annual revenue from media rights, sponsorships, merchandise and ticket sales, producing $952 million for MLB and $425 million for the NBA from increased consumption of the leagues’ products.
  • Today’s research shows that legal sports betting could help generate additional revenues of $160 million for the NBA and $154 million for MLB as a result of spending by betting operators and data providers. The study projects that gaming operators may spend $64 million on MLB advertising and $57 million on the NBA – which may directly increase the leagues’ rights fees by the same amount. Sponsorship revenues from gaming operators would provide an additional $78 million for the NBA and $62 million for MLB. The NBA and MLB are also projected to earn $25 million and $28 million from data rights, respectively.
  • AGA recently released revenue projections for the NFL and NHL, showing that those leagues and teams stand to gain $2.3 billion and $216 million, respectively, from widely available, legal, regulated sports betting. The research generated significant national news coverage, including by Reuters this morning: "Exclusive: U.S. sports leagues could see $4.2 billion annually from legal betting." 
  • Clues To The Future Of Sports Betting Revealed In How Elected Officials Are Steering The Conversation: After mainly focusing on Thursday on what five speakers had to say at a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearing on U.S. sports betting legalization in Washington, D.C., we are following up by looking closely at how the House members asking them questions addressed the topic. Some of them ranged a bit far afield, and there was no real consensus on how to approach this issue in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in May that wiped out a near-total ban on legal sports gambling that had been passed by Congress in 1992. But some clues were provided that could give us a better idea on what directions this committee might consider going in the future.

Congress’ trump card on sports betting: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a 75-year-old Republican from Wisconsin, ran the meeting as chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. Sensenbrenner mentioned in passing one of the most misunderstood aspects of the Supreme Court’s voiding of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992: the fact that “Congress can regulate sports betting directly.” Where PASPA failed, according to the 6-3 ruling on May 14, was by improperly “commandeering” states into doing the federal government’s bidding in enforcing the law. Sports betting legalization advocates should keep an eye out for any Congress member who pushes forward a bill for a 50-state ban — something Congress can do, all sides agreed during New Jersey’s battle with five major professional and collegiate sports organizations that began in 2012. Read more here at US Bets. 

REGULATORY UPDATE

  • Fall 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions: The Trump Administration's Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Agenda) reports on the actions administrative agencies plan to issue in the near and long term. Released by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the Agenda demonstrates this Administration's ongoing commitment to fundamental regulatory reform and a reorientation toward reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens on the American people. By amending and eliminating regulations that are ineffective, duplicative, and obsolete, the Administration can promote economic growth and innovation and protect individual liberty.
  • Fulfilling longstanding principles to review and assess existing regulations, the Agenda includes new deregulatory actions, as well as the withdrawal and reconsideration of other regulatory actions. Agencies are committed to careful assessment of the costs and benefits of each regulatory and deregulatory action and to ensuring that the benefits of regulations substantially justify the costs. The Agenda recognizes that reform will take time and require rigorous analysis, public input, and careful consideration of legal requirements. To this end, the Agenda provides greater information and transparency about regulatory actions proposed by agencies.

The Agenda represents ongoing progress toward the goals of more effective and less burdensome regulation. Read the broad regulatory reform priorities here.

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