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SmallBytes January 2014 Edition
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Looking Ahead to the 2014 legislative session

Governor Cuomo recently delivered his State of the State Address, officially opening the 2014 Legislative Session. 


Minimum Wage Fight Not Over


As the implementation of last year’s new minimum wage law goes into effect, Assembly Democrats have now reversed course and submitted new legislation to expand and accelerate last year’s minimum wage increase.  As you recall, last year the NYS Restaurant Association was successful in our efforts to educate legislators and the Governor about the unique nature of tipped wages in our industry.   Now special interests have convinced some in the Assembly that last year’s agreement does not go far enough.  Short of legitimate policy arguments, special interests have engaged in a misleading public relations campaign twisting the tipped wage issue as a "sweetheart” deal to advance their self-fulfilling agenda.


In his State of the State Address, the Governor made no mention of the minimum wage issue.   In 2014, the Association will be aggressive in pushing back these misleading efforts in the legislature and the press aimed at undoing the new minimum wage law that we worked so hard to secure last year.


Another Push for Regulatory Reform


Arguably our industry is the most heavily regulated in the State.   At the beginning of his term, the Governor made regulatory reform a priority to make New York more business friendly and create jobs.   Such efforts have stalled, but the Governor has announced a new effort to push things forward to see real results by the end of the Legislative Session.


Last fall, Association Board Chair Colleen O’Bryan Holmes submitted testimony to the Senate Majority Coalition’s informational hearing asking for suggestions to reduce the regulatory burden on the tourism and hospitality industries.   The NYS Restaurant Association made numerous recommendations for reform of regulations at the Health Dept., Liquor Authority, Labor Dept. and Taxation & Finance.   We are hopeful this renewed effort will be met with universal support in the Legislature and we will be working diligently to include the Association’s recommendations as a part of these efforts. 


Thwarting Adverse Legislation


As always, we will be working diligently to thwart any legislation adverse to our industry.   In Albany over 500 pieces of legislation are currently introduced affecting the restaurant industry.  


New Food to Table Summit, Second Round of Industry Summits


The Governor has indicated he will convene a "Food to Table Summit” to connect upstate food producers to downstate consumers.   Additionally, we can expect a second round of other industry summits in 2014, including a Yogurt Summit and a Wine, Beer & Sprits Summit.  We will keep you apprised as details of these events unfold.  


Supporting the Governor’s Taste NY Program Promoting Local Food & Beverages


In his State of the State Address, Governor Cuomo announced new funding to promote the Taste NY program that supports use and consumption of locally produced food and beverages.   Working with the Association, the Governor’s Office is asking chefs statewide to sign a pledge to support his TasteNY campaign by using locally grown products and helping spread the word to support New York State’s local food businesses. The NYS Restaurant Association has been working for the better part of a decade to connect members to local food and beverage vendors, by highlighting them at the International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York and at Association events.


For those who have not done so, we urge you to strongly consider signing the non-binding pledge.   To do so, click the following link:  CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE PLEDGE

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