Foodservice Equipment Reports

States Face Environmental, Wage and Healthcare Issues

Only a month into 2013, and state legislatures and state restaurant associations are wrestling with some major issues. Minimum-wage increases, paid sick leave and environmental issues are just a few of the legislative issues being addressed in California and Pennsylvania.

In California, legislation has been introduced that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.25 an hour by 2017. California currently has the lowest minimum wage on the West Coast.

The California Restaurant Association also is dealing with environmental measures, from local and statewide debates on packaging as well as the Global Warming Solutions Act signed into law in 2006. That legislation aims to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 2020. CRA Pres./CEO Jot Condie said state legislators have targeted restaurants as a source of greenhouse gas emissions because of the industry's organic waste material.

“Organic waste has been identified as a source of greenhouse gas in the landfills, and legislators and environmentalist have begun to look at the less obvious sources like restaurant waste,” he said. “As the state continues to implement the law, we expect we will be drawn into the policy debate and regulatory process. If they’re going to require businesses to separate out the trash, it’s going to end up as another cost of operating the business.”

It’s local legislation that could most affect some operators in Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia, they face a push for paid sick-leave legislation which covers any business with five or more employees, and covers any full or part-time employees. In addition, an employee could use the paid sick leave for anything from being physically sick to caring for a sick family member or friend, or a doctor’s appointment; employees would be urged to give notice for time off, but would not be required to do so. The Pennsylvania Restaurant Association calls the bill a huge financial and logistical burden for city businesses. Across the state, Pittsburgh faces another proposal for a letter-grade inspection system.

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