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BPAA Biweekly Federal Policy Updates - June 28, 2019

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  • House Democrats Optimistic On $15: Top House Democrats are confident they have the 218 votes needed to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2024 (up from the current $7.25), and they expect to bring the bill to the House floor shortly after the July 4 recess, POLITICO's Sarah Ferris reports. "Several one-time holdouts — including Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), who has championed a competing approach that would create a 'regional' minimum wage — now say they will vote for the bill on the floor, though they are still looking for additional assistance for small businesses that may be hurt by the minimum wage." Democrats believe they can use the pressure of a roll call vote to secure the last few votes they'll need, but Republicans are expected to force liberal and more conservative members of the caucus to go the record with procedural votes on carve-outs for small businesses and other amendments. Leaders of the Blue Dog Coalition have fortified themselves against that effort by inserting a compromise amendment that would require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the policy's economic effects after roughly two years. More on the minimum wage here at Politico.


  • Bloomberg government reports - House Hearing Offers Preview of Legal Fight on Overtime Rule: Lawmakers continued making their arguments for and against a Department of Labor proposal to expand overtime pay protections at a Congressional hearing June 12. The proposal from President Donald Trump’s administration would make about a million employees newly eligible for time-and-a-half overtime rates for each hour beyond the standard 40 a week. An earlier proposal by the Obama labor department—which was blocked by a federal judge in 2016 and remains tied up in court—would have covered about 4 million workers. The labor department is still in the earliest stages of reviewing public comments and formulating the details of eventual rule. Nonetheless, Democrats have already signaled their opposition and an intent to delay implementation via laws like the Congressional Review Act—which allows for a simple majority of both the House and Senate to pass a disapproval resolution.
    • A coalition of Democratic state attorneys general also appear to be preparing a lawsuitthat would argue that the Trump DOL hasn’t adequately justified the policy reasons for abandoning the Obama-era proposal. The agency’s overtime proposal could also face challenge from some business groups wary about any rise in their payroll costs. The division on the issue among both stakeholders and lawmakers means that both labor and business will likely be dealing with uncertainty for a while with regards to employee classification and which workers are legally eligible for overtime.


  • Democrats in House and Senate Introduce Bill to Increase Overtime Salary Levels 
    • Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) and Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), Committee on Education and Labor, and Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Committee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions introduced legislation to make millions of American workers newly eligible for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week, providing economic security to millions of working families. The Restoring Overtime Pay Act would increase the overtime salary. 



  • Justice Department Opens Formal Review of Music-Licensing Rules; extends public comment period: WASHINGTON—The Justice Department on Wednesday opened a formal review of music-licensing rules that have been in place since 1941, a process that could shake up how businesses, broadcasters and digital streaming services secure rights from songwriters and publishers.
    • The move to reassess the mechanics of music licensing is part of a broader initiative in which Justice Department antitrust officials are revisiting long-ago legal settlements, known as consent decrees, that remain on the books across a range of industries. Legal observers believe the music review is likely the most consequential issue the department is revisiting.
    • At issue are two Justice Department decrees with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and Broadcast Music Inc., the two most dominant performance-rights organizations, or PROs, that together license about 90% of the music in the U.S. on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers. Read more at the Wall Street Journal.



  • Inside Gaming: DOJ Extends Wire Act Compliance to End of Year: The US Department of Justice is waiting until at least 2020 to enforce its reinterpretation of the Wire Act, according to a memo sent by the agency on June 12. Last week in this space we reported news of a significant ruling by a U.S. District Court regarding the recent reinterpretation by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel of the 1961 Interstate Wire Act. Revising a 2011 opinion that the Wire Act's application to online gambling only applied to sports betting, the DOJ had put forth the view in November 2018 that the Wire Act in fact applied to all forms of online gambling. But on June 3 a U.S. District Court judge ruling on a case brought by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission was to the contrary, stating the law only covers sports betting and not sales of lottery tickets or other gambling games, including online poker. Most observers anticipate the new ruling will be appealed and that the case will eventually work its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meantime, the deadline for compliance with the new reinterpretation of the Wire Act that had been set for today, June 14, was pushed forward until the end of the year according to a memo issued on Wednesday from Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. Read more at PokerNews.
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