Summary Details

30

BPAA Biweekly Federal Policy Updates - July 26, 2019

posted on

LABOR & MINIMUM WAGE

  • House Votes To Raise Minimum Wage, Uniting Dems After Months-Long Struggle: The House on Thursday, July 18, passed legislation to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, following through on a key Democratic campaign promise and ending a six-month struggle within the caucus. The vote — which passed largely along party lines — marked a crucial test for Democratic leaders who worked hard to win over centrists without losing progressives as lawmakers battled behind the scenes to shape the proposal. Three Republicans ultimately supported the bill: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Francis Rooney of Florida, and Chris Smith of New Jersey. Six Democrats, largely from red states, opposed the bill: Reps. Anthony Brindisi of New York, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Ben McAdams of Utah, Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico. Hiking the minimum wage has been a key plank of the Democratic platform for years. But finding support within the fractious caucus was unexpectedly difficult. Dozens of moderates, including many in vulnerable seats, feared a backlash from businesses back home for agreeing to more than double the hourly minimum wage, which has been set at $7.25 since 2009. Progressives, too, had been dug in against any major changes to water down the bill. Democratic leaders only secured the necessary 218 votes days earlier by agreeing to phase in the wage increase over six years rather than five. Progressives disliked the idea early in the negotiations but they accepted it as necessary to solidify support among moderates. Read more at Politico.
  • Federal Minimum Wage Hikes Could Crush Small Businesses Across America: Federal minimum wage hikes could crush scores of small businesses across America, already pushed near the cliff by high rents and growing state and city labor regulations. Minimum wage hikes are reaching a fever pitch lately in America. Politicians at all levels, federal, state, and local are racing to get the minimum wage to the “living wage” of $15. The most recent push comes at the federal level, where there’s a proposal on the table for a $15 minimum wage by 2025. And it’s supported by a CBO study, which finds that a $15 minimum wage will give a big boost to the incomes of American workers paid the minimum wage. “In an average week in 2025, the $15 option would boost the wages of 17 million workers who would otherwise earn less than $15 per hour. Another 10 million workers otherwise earning slightly more than $15 per hour might see their wages rise as well,” says the report. Read more at Forbes.
  • Bernie Sanders Learns A Small Business Lesson: Bernie Sanders, one of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, this week learned a lesson in economics: if you pay staff a higher rate per hour with a budget that remains the same, one of the responses is to cut back hours. In this case, the cuts come at the expense of his own campaign staff. It’s a lesson that small business owners have long known. But just try to explain to Sanders and other Democratic presidential candidates who support increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. This week, the Vermont Senator announced that he has to cut hours in order to pay the higher wages. “We have to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour.” – Bernie Sanders
    • Ironically, Sanders, who has been outspoken in the issue, had to cut back his own staffing because of the increased pay rate. Wages, as small business owners well know, are usually the biggest line item for any organization’s budget.
    • Many small businesses are strapped and increasing the minimum wage from $9 or $10 an hour to $15 an hour is a significant economic hardship for them. In many cases, employers who had to endure increased labor costs look to find ways to cut costs. One way is to scale back the amount of hours each staffer is required to work. Another is to eliminate positions altogether, which is what has happened at eateries on the West Coast where they have installed kiosks to let customers input their own menu orders. Read more at Forbes.
  • Trump to Nominate Eugene Scalia for Labor Secretary Job: President Trump said Thursday that he would name Eugene Scalia as his next secretary of labor, tapping the longtime labor lawyer and son of the former Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia for a position with vast responsibility over the American work force. The appointment is likely to be contested by Democrats and labor unions because Mr. Scalia has a long record of representing Walmart and other companies that pushed back against unions and tougher labor laws. He was a top lawyer for the Labor Department in the George W. Bush administration and is currently a partner in the Washington office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a prominent corporate law firm. Read more at the New York Times.
  • Opinion: A $15 Minimum Wage Would Drown Middle America: It had been in the works for a long while, and last week the House finally did it. Democrats passed legislation that would raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next six years. Of course, no one expects the bill to pass the Republican-controlled Senate, but its success in the House means that doubling the minimum wage is now a pillar of the Democratic platform. Of course, Democrats claim the bill tackles inequality, but it will actually do the exact opposite of that. And the small town worker and the poor urbanite will be the ones who suffer.
    • It’s only over the past few years that Democrats have really dug in their heels on a high national minimum wage. Back in 2015, when the #FightFor15 movement first emerged, even the Obama administration recognized that such a high wage floor could do damage. If the goal was indeed a “living wage” that lifts workers out of poverty, as Obama’s labor secretary noted, then wage policy had to account for cost of living differences among the various parts of the United States. High federal wages could very well be dangerous in some parts of the country—something Hillary Clinton acknowledged in a 2015 speech at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “Let’s remember the cost of living is different in Manhattan than in Little Rock and many other places,” she said. Indeed, Arkansas’ minimum wage is lower than in New York’s, but lower costs of living there also translate into more purchasing power. Read full article here.

MUSIC LICENSING

  • Antitrust Division Reviews the ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees, Creating the Possibility for Large Scale Change in the Music Industry: Last month, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ) announced its plans to review two music licensing antitrust consent decrees which have been in place, in some shape or form, for almost 80 years. Due to the newly-initiated review, the competitive mechanisms that dictate how music is broadcasted, streamed or played live could soon drastically change.
    • In 1941, the DOJ entered into two separate consent decrees with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)—the two largest performing rights organizations (PROs) in the United States, controlling nearly 90% of the market—to address competitive concerns arising from their significant market power. PROs, including ASCAP and BMI, distribute licenses to publicly perform musical works to entities, such as radio broadcasters, streaming services and live venues, that transmit the performance of musical works to listeners. In their current manifestations, the consent decrees require ASCAP and BMI to license the public performance rights to all musical works in their respective catalogues upon request and at a reasonable rate.
    • Upon conclusion of the newly initiated review, the DOJ has two options: (1) leave the consent decrees in place, in favor of consistency and predictability in the marketplace; or (2) modify or terminate the consent decrees, which may serve as a catalyst for wholesale reform of the music licensing rules currently in place. While it is difficult to predict what the DOJ might do, it is clear that modifying or terminating the decrees, even over time, would have far-reaching implications for the entire music industry. Read more at Law.com.
| Categories: Federal Policy | Tags: | View Count: (1181) | Return