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BPAA Biweekly State Policy Updates - July 26, 2019

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MINIMUM WAGE & PAID LEAVE

  • Florida: John Morgan Says He Has Signatures For 2020 Minimum Wage Measure: If Orlando-based lawyer John Morgan has his way, millions of Florida workers could be getting a raise. This week, Morgan announced he had collected enough signatures to put a $15 minimum wage proposal on the ballot for the 2020 election. “In life, I think that you’re supposed to do the most, for the most with the least,” Morgan, who has amassed a considerable net worth as founder of the law firm Morgan and Morgan, said in an interview. Florida’s minimum wage is currently indexed to inflation, and the increases only began in 2004, when the federal minimum wage was just $5.15 an hour, already below the cost of inflation. In other words, if the state had made an initial adjustment for inflation when the increases kicked in, the state’s current minimum wage would be more than $9.50 an hour. It is currently $8.46 an hour; the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Read more at Tampa Bay Times.

FOOD AND BEVERAGE

  • New Bill Clears Path For Restaurant Guests To Bring Their Own Cups, Containers: Previously, health regulations related to accepting customer reusables weren't clear. AB 619 establishes a clear handling procedure. Matt Sutton, senior vice president, government affairs and public policy for the California Restaurant Association said the intent of the bill is to clarify how restaurants can safely allow reusables if they choose — and it reinforces that such practices are voluntary. “A restaurant doesn’t have to accept these containers, but if they want to, there’s no responsibility on the restaurant’s part to clean and sanitize them,” he said. Read the full story here.
  • California Restaurant Association: News You Need To Know: Regulations On Sugary Drinks Fail To Pass: A package of bills lawmakers were considering this year would have regulated sugar-sweetened beverages by imposing new taxes on these drinks, limiting the size of cup they can be sold in and prescribing new warning labels, along with where they would need to be posted in a restaurant. All these bills have failed, but expect them to be reintroduced next year, especially since they’re now the subject of a larger political battle. See the update video from CRA here.

STATE TAX AND BUDGET NEWS

  • Tax Foundation: State and Local Sales Tax Rates, Midyear 2019: Retail sales taxes are one of the more transparent ways to collect tax revenue. While graduated income tax rates and brackets are complex and confusing to many taxpayers, sales taxes are easier to understand; consumers can see their tax burden printed directly on their receipts. In addition to state-level sales taxes, consumers also face local sales taxes in 38 states. These rates can be substantial, so a state with a moderate statewide sales tax rate could actually have a very high combined state and local rate compared to other states. This report provides a population-weighted average of local sales taxes as of July 1, 2019, to give a sense of the average local rate for each state. Table 1 provides a full state-by-state listing of state and local sales tax rates. Key findings:
    • Forty-five states and the District of Columbia collect statewide sales taxes.
    • Local sales taxes are collected in 38 states. In some cases, they can rival or even exceed state rates.
    • The five states with the highest average combined state and local sales tax rates are Tennessee and Arkansas (9.47 percent), Louisiana (9.45 percent), Washington (9.21 percent), and Alabama (9.16 percent).
    • Utah’s statewide rate increased from 5.95 percent to 6.1 percent in April 2019. No other state rates have changed since July 2018, although the District of Columbia’s rate increased to 6 percent in October 2018.
    • Sales tax rates differ by state, but sales tax bases also impact how much revenue is collected from a tax and how the tax affects the economy.
    • Sales tax rate differentials can induce consumers to shop across borders or buy products online.
    • Read the full report here.
  • Bloomberg Government - Ohio Governor Signs $700 Million Tax Cut in Budget Bill: Across the board tax cuts totaling an estimated $700 million were signed into law by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) July 18. The myriad tax tweaks include elimination of the state’s bottom two income tax brackets and a corresponding 4% percent cut to the remaining five brackets. That will reduce revenue by $340 million in 2020 and $350 million in 2021, the state estimates. The state didn’t have to cut services in order to pay for the cuts because of increasing revenue expectations from the improved U.S. and Ohio economies. DeWine initially said that it was time to invest in Ohio rather than cut taxes, and he included no significant tax cuts or overhauls in his budget proposal. But he issued few line-item vetoes over changes worked out in House and Senate versions of the legislation. Traditionally the budget bill has been a vehicle for the GOP-controlled House and Senate to tinker with tax policy, and the chambers battled for weeks over differing views of whether Ohio should reduce expenditures. This year’s major changes included:
    • Scrapping Ohio’s current physical presence-based nexus—or taxing connection—for out-of-state-retailers in favor of the economic thresholds that survived a U.S. Supreme Court challenge in South Dakota v. Wayfair. Ohio joins many states with thresholds of $100,000 in sales or 200 transactions for collection and remittance of its 5.75% sales tax.
    • Expanding the state’s $40 million film tax credit to cover Broadway style theater and post-production services for movie making—a field Ohio universities have been highlighting.
    • Greatly expanding a job-retention tax credit, making all state manufacturers eligible to apply when they make a capital investment of 5% of the tangible property at their facility.
    • Stripping lawyers and lobbyists from being able to claim Ohio’s $250,000 business income tax deduction for income taxes paid by pass-through entity owners. The Ohio House wanted to lower the deduction to $100,00 for all taxpayers, but that push died in conference committee.

SPORTS BETTING

  • The Week In Sports Betting: New York Gets a Taste, Pennsylvania Gets The Whole Shebang: Almost six years after the enabling law passed and 14 months after PASPA fell, the first regulated sportsbooks finally popped up in New York last week. If you thought this day would never come, you’re not alone. Rivers Schenectady was the first NY casino to take a legal bet, holding its grand opening ceremonies on Tuesday. Tioga Downs followed a day later with the long-awaited debut of its FanDuel Sportsbook on property. Our friends at TheLines got a look at the space before it opened, and the folks at FanDuel have outdone themselves.
    • Location, however, is an issue for every NY sportsbook. The Empire State might be the most populous one with legal wagering, but it is in no position to dominate. NY sports betting is limited to upstate and tribal casinos — none of which are centrally located — and the lack of online betting will limit the market’s ceiling. An effort to expand that framework via additional legislation came up short once again this year. The NYS Gaming Commission will instead commission a study to weigh the appetite for online betting and its potential impacts. Even with legal options in their own state, most NY bettors still live closer to legal options in neighboring states. But hey, it’s a start. And it’s a handy addition for folks in the greater Buffalo and Syracuse areas.
    • Arkansas is the only other market that has opened in 2019, bringing the total to 10 US states with legal sports betting. These two won’t be the last this year, though, with Iowa and Indiana among those scrambling to launch before football season. Read more at Legal Sports Report.
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