US laws and regulations impacting the daily operations of businesses change every year, and 2013 is certainly no exception. While not a spotlight year for referendums on a national level, results from 2013 measures on the state and regional levels will likely impact business operations as early as January 1st, 2014.
It’s essential that businesses stay on top of changes in legislation to ensure that they are operating in compliance with the law. Businesses who do not stay informed may run the risk of incurring hefty fines, or in more severe cases, forced closure.
This year in California, a handful of laws captured the attention of the press including minimum wage increases, enterprise zone credits, and adjustments to Proposition 65 enforcement. While many of these laws impact employers in general, the food and beverage industry is particularly affected.
To help businesses ensure they are complaint and up to date with the latest laws and regulations for their area, The California Restaurant Association (CRA) has provided a list of regional laws to look out for as we approach 2014.
The table below outlines new state-wide laws affecting restaurants in California:
AB 10 (Alejo-D)
Minimum wage increase
Increase minimum wage from $8 to $9 on July 1, 2014 and from $9 to $10 by January 1, 2016. No indexing.
Enterprise Zone credits
Eliminates the current hiring tax credit beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Existing employers in enterprise zones can collect credits for existing employees hired before that date for as long as five years. Unused credits can be carried forward for as long as 10 years. Hiring credits would be available only to employers paying at least 150% of the state minimum wage. Restaurants and foodservice are among the excluded businesses, unless they are a small business with gross receipts of less than $2 million.
Proposition 65 enforcement
Allows a business that receives a notice for allegedly violating the warning provisions of Proposition 65 to correct the violation within 14 days and pay a civil penalty of $500.
AB 393 (Cooley-D)
Business fee schedules
Requires the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to post on its website information or links to information about licensing, permitting and registration requirements for starting a business as well as the associated fee information or links to the fee schedules.
Tourism Marketing Districts
Protects and preserves Tourism Marketing Districts and Business Improvement Districts by clarifying a few key terms related to the implementation of Proposition 26, which defines a local tax and sets out the categories of charges that are excluded from that definition.
Alcoholic beverage licenses / Streamlined protest process
Restaurants will no longer be required when applying for or transfer of an alcohol license to publish notification in regional print media in those cases where individual notifications are already being mailed directly to area residents. In addition, the legislation requires ABC by Jan. 1, 2016 to promulgate regulations defining what constitutes an invalid or unreasonable protest with respect to a license application.
AB 647 (Chesbro-D)
Beer manufacturers / Growlers
Revises the definition of “beer manufacturer” to include only those who have facilities and equipment for the purposes of, and are engaged in, the commercial manufacture of beer. Additionally, requires a beer label to include the brand and type of beer and would also require a beer manufacturer that refills any container (growler) supplied by a consumer to affix a label, on the container prior to its resale to the consumer.
AB 1964 (Yamada-D)
Makes a number of changes to provisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) related to religious accommodation in employment aimed at protecting “religious dress and grooming practices.”
Non-Restaurant operators in California and businesses in other states should check with their local legislature to ensure they are up to date with the latest regulations and can continue providing amazing service to their customers!