In New York City, our team constantly advocates on behalf of the hospitality industry at City Hall, before the City Council, and with numerous City agencies. Here is our monthly recap of what’s going on in the New York City political scene for the month of May.
Paid Sick Leave
The Association met with Council Member Raphael Espinal, Chairman of the Consumer Affairs Committee, who oversees the department in charge of the implementation of the Paid Sick Leave Legislation. Many members are concerned over not just the financial impact of the bill, but also the logistical difficulties that apply to the restaurant industry. The Association shared several important points that we believe will be problematic, and the Council Member said he would look into them, and he plans to hold an oversight hearing on the implementation of Paid Sick Leave early next year.
One of the most common complaints from restaurateurs about letter grades is that inspectors fine first and educate second. Many issues cited by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) are not critical food violations and could be fixed without the need for a fine. The Association believes fines should only occur if a restaurant does not fix a violation after being given an opportunity to cure. The Association supported the DOHMH's creation of a consultive inspection program; the program will have DOHMH inspectors will "inspect" a restaurant for a small fee and make suggestions to improve inspection compliance and food safety. This month, the Association testified at a DOHMH rule-making hearing to support the creation of and give suggestions on how to improve the consultive inspection program so it helps reduce fines while improving food safety.
At Rest Legislation
There is a bill pending in New York State commonly referred to as “at rest legislation,” which would require alcohol into the state to sit in a NY warehouse for a minimum of 24 hours before being delivered. This bill could potentially raise the cost of all wine sales from restaurants, according to some in the industry. The Association testified at a hearing held in NYC on the topic and will share any developing news on the legislation with our members.
Food Industry Advisory Panel
In its continuing fight to give our members a voice, the Association last year worked to create the Food Industry Advisory Panel, a group that will work with and advise the DOHMH on further improvements to the operation of the letter-grade system and food safety in general. To date, the panel has not been convened, but the Association has been working to push the process forward. Stay tuned for more information as the Association will sit on this panel as well as the DOHMH's Food Safety Technical Advisory Committee.