Foodservice Equipment Reports

Operators Gather In D.C. For NRA Conference

The National Restaurant Association hosted more than 650 operators from 42 states at its Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. They came armed with a full agenda of issues, including healthcare, labor, wages and taxes. Lawmakers who spoke to the group also covered immigration reform, patent abuse, data security, menu labeling, food costs and tourism.

“There has never been a more important time for us to make our voices heard and stand up for restaurants,” NRA CEO Dawn Sweeney told attendees at the conference’s opening session. “We are here to set the table.”

Operators said help could come in a number of forms, such as passing legislation to change the healthcare law’s full-time definition from 30 to 40 hours; tax changes, including permanently implementing a 15-year depreciation schedule for restaurant improvements; or passing sensible immigration-reform measures.

NRA Chair Jack Crawford pointed to the National Labor Relations Board’s just-enacted “ambush-election” rule, which dramatically narrows the time restaurateurs have to respond to union petitions, and the NLRB’s recent redefinition of its decades-old “joint-employer” standard, which threatens to redefine the franchise model, as top challenges. The NRA and other business groups have sued the NLRB in an effort to overturn the rule.

In his remarks to the group, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pointed to both of these issues as examples of regulatory overreach. Former ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton, who covered Washington, D.C., for more than 40 years, told attendees that the level of bipartisanship is the lowest she’s ever seen. But the voices of constituents from legislators’ home states and districts still matter. “Make your case,” Compton said. “They listen to people from home more than they listen to those of us in Washington.” Compton pointed out the important role restaurants have in campaigns, as they’re often spots for presidential and other candidates to mingle with voters.

U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet told attendees that SBA loan approval for restaurants has increased and thanked the industry for its support of immigration reform.

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