Advocacy Bulletins

Weekly during legislative session, and as-needed throughout the year, the GRA brings you the latest pertinent advocacy updates. 
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  • 26 Mar 2014 9:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin - Week 10

    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


    Sine Die Summary
    The General Assembly adjourned at midnight on Thursday, March 20, 2014 to complete Sine Dine/Legislative Day 40 after a contentious evening between the House and Senate. Though many of our bills passed, the Governor still has 40 days to sign them into law or veto. We would like to thank our elected officials and above all, we thank you, our members, for your support.  Whether it's through membership dues, reading these advocacy bulletins, or helping us spread the word, our members make us a stronger voice for Georgia's restaurants.

    Bill Tracking

    PASSED, Sent to Governor Deal for Signature​​ ​​
    ​HB 60: Guns
    – Would allow guns in churches, bars and government buildings. Private property owners still can decide whether or not to allow them. Governor Deal has publicly stated that he would veto gun legislation of this kind. 

    HB 384: Alternative Fuel  – Would include natural gas as an alternate fuel and provide tax credits for purchasers of alternative fuel vehicles. 

    HB 670: Trade Names – To simplify current system and create a more accurate database, company trade names are to be registered with the clerk of the superior court.

    HB 737: Homebrew – Serves as a clarification to last year’s HB 99 “Malt Beverage” bill to legalize the transportation of individual homebrew items to other individual private residences for personal consumption and to completions, following specific transpiration rules.

    HB 772: Food Stamps – Food stamp recipients can now be drug-tested.

    HB 778: Non-Profits – Exempts from a foodservice permit non-profit homes, or other residential structures, where seriously ill or injured children and their families are provided temporary accommodations in proximity to their treatment hospitals, specifically Ronald McDonald homes.

    HB 816: Postage – Direct mail is no longer subject to state sales tax on postage.

    HB 825: Fruit Growers – Would allow fruit growers licensed as farm wineries to obtain a license authorizing production of distilled spirits and fortified wines from left over fruit.  

    HB 809: Patent Trolls –  Amends the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act to prevent "patent trolls" from making bad-faith assertions of patent infringement. This will help targeted companies in fighting back. 

    HB 947: Debit Cards – Would allow companies to issue prepaid debit cards as an alternative method to pay their employees. Employees must be notified of the option availability, what fees will be charged and the ability to opt-out of the method should they choose.

    HB 954: Fair Market Value – Allows companies to utilize rental property revenue in determining fair market value. This may be of interest to property owners who lease-back.

    SB 286: Fortified Wines – Would change the maximum alcohol volume content in fortified wines from 21 to 24 percent to match the federal limit. Would require wineries who utilize distilled spirits in their fortified wines to purchase only from wholesalers or distilled spirits manufacturers. Georgia wineries could produce port type wines.

    DEAD for This Session 
    HB 290: Sick Pay – Bill sought to require employers that provide sick pay allow employees to take up to 5 days of sick pay leave to care for an immediate family member. 

    HB 907: Taxis  Intergovernmental agreement to regulate taxicabs; subcommittee established to work on compromise rules.

    HB 1023, SB 377: “Religious Freedom" bills – During Thursday's Sine Dine, the GRA worked with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and both sides of the aisle to prevent amendment language from being inserted into active bills.

    SB 404: Drivers Licenses – Would have also disallowed DACA children to use deferred status as a form of identification.

    SR 1031: English as Official Language – Bill sought to make English the official language of Georgia as well as require government official communications and driver’s tests to be in English.

    SIGNED into law
    SB 318: St. Patrick’s Day – Allows for bars to sell alcohol on Sundays in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Signed by Governor Deal into law on March 18, 2014.

    Coming Soon:

    NRA Public Affairs Conference 
    The NRA’s Public Affairs Conference is set for April 29-30, 2014 in Washington, D.C. where hundreds of restaurateurs will attend this two-day event and visit more than 300 congressional offices. When Congressman John Lewis heard the GRA was attending the conference again this year, he decided to express his excitement. Watch the clip here. Want to join the Georgia delegation for the annual Washington Fly-Up? Contact Katie@garestaurants.org.

    Brews & BBQ 

    Join us for the 2nd Annual “Pull for the PAC” GRA Sporting Clay Fundraiser. Have fun and network as we take to the shooting grounds to raise funds for the GRA PAC, the only Political Action Committee dedicated to serving the restaurant industry in Georgia. If shooting clays is not your sport, consider supporting the GRA PAC by attending the BBQ reception following the tournament! For more information, visit www.garestaurants.org/PullforthePAC.

    Advocacy Bulletin - Signing Off 

    The end of the legislative session brings with it the end of our weekly Advocacy Bulletins. Be on the lookout for our Annual Legislative Summary, compiling the entire legislative session and describing the bills we had to keep our eye on the most. Here's one final Fun Fact to tide you over until next session. 

    Fun Fact

    Did you know that in 1945, Georgia became the first state to lower the legal voting age from 21 to 18? Read more.

  • 18 Mar 2014 3:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin - Week 9

    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


    Sine Die Countdown

    Thursday is scheduled to be "Sine Die" - the 40th and final day of session. 
    The Atlanta Journal Constitution has an excellent tool that tracks legislation during the session. See where bills stand as the session nears Sine Die.  

    Bill Tracking – Update

    House

    HB 825: Fruit Growers – Would allow fruit growers licensed as farm wineries to obtain a license authorizing production of distilled spirits and fortified wines from left over fruit.  
    Status: Senate Passed/Adopted.

    HB 809: Patent Trolls- Amends the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act to prevent "patent trolls" from making bad-faith assertions of patent infringement.  This will help targeted companies in fighting back. 
    Status: House Agrees Senate Amend or Sub.

    HB 907: Taxis- This bill would regulate taxicabs in certain circumstances. A substitute bill was passed in committee. Though believed to be dead in session, leadership has indicated that if compromise is reached between UBER and the taxi cab companies, it could be tacked on to another bill that crossed over.
    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute.

    HB 947: Debit Cards- Would allow companies to issue prepaid debit cards as an alternative method to pay their employees.  Employees must be notified of the option availability, what fees will be charged and the ability to opt-out of the method should they choose.
    Status: Senate Tabled.

    HB 1051: Professional Licensing- Bill’s original intent was to aid the Secretary of State’s office in the citizenship status verification of professional license renewals.  However, language was inserted into bill during a Senate committee meeting that would prevent DACA individuals from the ability to renew their license.  The Senate recommitted the bill back to committee. 
    Status: Senate Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute.

    Senate

    SB 286: Fortified Wines- Would change the maximum alcohol volume content in fortified wines from 21 to 24% to match the federal limit. Would require wineries who utilize distilled spirits in their fortified wines to purchase only from wholesalers or distilled spirits manufacturers.
    Status: House postponed.

    SB 318: St. Patrick’s Day- Allows for bars to sell alcohol on Sundays in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
    Status: Signed by Governor Deal into law on March 18, 2014.

    SR 1099: Three-Tier System Study Committee - Alcoholic Beverage Retail Licensing and "Tied House" Laws; create senate study committee. Special study committee on Georgia’s three-tier system.
    Status: Senate Read Second time. 

    Food Trucks to Vend on Limited Public Property

    Last week we updated you on a proposed ordinance that would create a testing of food trucks allowed to operate on public property and around government buildings in the City Hall/Capitol area. Yesterday, Atlanta City Council passed this amendment, meaning in a week or so, you could possibly be in line to buy tacos from a truck parked in a metered space by the Capitol.

    Food trucks previously had to obtain a permit to vend on private property. Supporters of this amendment are hoping to expand the area that food trucks are allowed to vend, possibly to stretch over all of Atlanta.  

    "Pull for the PAC" 

    Join us for the second annual “Pull for the PAC” GRA Sporting Clay Fundraiser. Have fun and network as we take to the shooting grounds to raise funds for the GRA PAC, the only Political Action Committee dedicated to serving the restaurant industry in Georgia. Your donations help us contribute to candidates that support the food industry, fight legislation that can hurt your business and organize grassroots campaigns to advocate for our industry. For more information, please visit www.garestaurants.org/PullforthePAC.

    Fun Fact

    Did you know that…  

    As of current, there were 1,585 total bills this legislative session. 621 of those bills passed in the House. 728 of those bills passed in the Senate. 346 bills were sent to Governor Deal. 341 bills were signed by Governor Deal. 5 bills were vetoed.

  • 11 Mar 2014 10:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin - Week 8

    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


    Only 5 Days Left in this Legislative Session
    Here are some “hot plate” bills that we need your help with!

    House Bill 1051 - Lawful presence verification; professional licensing board; change certain provisions.

    This bill was originally intended to assist the Georgia Secretary of State with renewals of professional licenses.  However, new language was inserted which would invalidate the use of DACA status to obtain a license (though the status is already approved by federal government). 

     GRA Position: Oppose. Call both Sen. Jeff Mullis (404) 656-0057 and your Senator to vote “NO” on this bill.

    Patent Trolls (House Bill 809) – Commerce and trade; bad faith assertions of patent infringement; prohibit.

    This amends the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act to prevent "patent trolls" from making bad-faith assertions of patent infringement.  This will help targeted companies in fighting back.  If it passes, Georgia will be the second known state (Vermont being first) to pass legislation of this kind.

    GRA Position: Support, Call your Representative to vote “YES” on this bill.

    Debit Cards (House Bill 947) – Labor and industrial relations; payment of wages by credit to prepaid debit card; provisions.

    Would allow companies to issue prepaid debit cards as an alternative method to pay their employees.  Employees must be notified of the option availability, what fees will be charged and the ability to opt-out of the method should they choose.

    GRA Position: Support, Call Sen. Tim Golden (404) 656-7580, Sen. David Shafer (404) 656-0048 and Sen. Renee Unterman (404) 463-1368 to vote “YES” on this bill.

    Find your State Representative and Senator HERE – votesmart.org

    Never called your elected official’s office before?  Don’t worry!  Here’s all you have to say:

    “Good day.  My name is ___ and I am with _____.  I am calling to ask to you to (support/oppose) (Bill #) because it would (harm/benefit) my restaurant/business.”

    Our sincerest thanks to you all for your support!  We could not do what we do without our amazing members.

  • 04 Mar 2014 4:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin - Week 7

    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


    GRA Goes to Washington for 2014 Fisheries National Outreach Day

    Photo: Katie Jones, GRA Public Affairs Coordinator, and Dave Snyder, Halyards Restaurant Group, in Washington D.C.

    Last week, representatives from the GRA joined the Southern Catch/South Atlantic Fisherman's Association at the 2014 Fisheries National Outreach Day in Washington D.C.  They met with 7 of our 16 Congressional offices to discuss solutions which ensure healthy, affordable and sustainable seafood for our restaurant members and their guests.

    Bill Tracking:

     

    Today marked Day 31 of the 40-day Legislative Session.

     

    Yesterday was very important because it was “Crossover Day” - Day 30 of the legislative session. A bill must pass through its individual chamber on or before Crossover Day to have the opportunity to become a law.

     

    Crossed Over:

     
    HB 348: Income tax credit; purchasers of alternative fuel vehicles.
    Would allow an income tax credit for alternative fuel vehicles (i.e. natural gas)
    Status: House Passed/Adopted By Substitute

    HB 707: The Georgia Health Care Freedom and ACA Noncompliance Act; enact.
    Prohibits fund spending related to the health law by state and local governments and agencies.
    Status: House Passed/Adopted By Substitute

    HB 737: Alcoholic beverages; malt beverages produced in private residences to be transported to other locations and consumed by the producer and other individuals; allow.
    Serves as a clarification last year’s HB 99 “Malt Beverage” bill to legalize the transportation of individual homebrew items to other individual private residences for personal consumption.
    Status: Senate Read Second Time

    HB 784: Alcoholic beverages; local authorization and regulation of sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises on Sundays during the St. Patrick's Day holiday period; allow.
    Allows local jurisdictions to pass a referendum for bars to sell alcohol on St. Patrick Day’s that fall on Sunday.
    Status: Senate Read Second Time

    HB 809: Commerce and trade; bad faith assertions of patent infringement; prohibit.
    Amends the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act to prevent "patent trolls" from making bad-faith assertions of patent infringement.  This will help targeted companies in fighting back.
    Status: Senate Passed/Adopted By Substitute

    HB 885: Medical cannabis; continuing research into benefits to treat certain conditions; provisions.
    Legalizes medical marijuana for limited use in seizure treatment.
    Status: House Passed/Adopted By Substitute

    HB 947: Labor and industrial relations; payment of wages by credit to prepaid debit card; provisions.
    Allows companies to issue prepaid debit cards as an alternative method to pay their employees.  Employees must be notified of the option availability, what fees will be charged and the ability to opt-out of the method should they choose.
    Status: Senate Read and Referred

    HB 990: Social services; expansion of Medicaid eligibility through increase in income threshold without prior legislative approval; prohibit.
    Would remove power to decide Medicaid eligibility expansion from the Governor to the state legislature.  This would increase the amount of individuals eligible to participate.  Federal government would pay for new enrollee costs for the first three years. Governor Deal has long stated that he will not expand Medicaid due to cost concerns.
    Status: House Passed/Adopted By Substitute

    SB 286: Alcoholic Beverages; change the maximum percent by volume of wine; change definitions; authorize wineries to buy and use certain products.
    Would change the maximum alcohol content in fortified wines from 21 to 24% to match the federal limit.  Would require wineries that utilize distilled spirits in their fortified wines to purchase only from wholesalers or distilled spirits manufacturers.
    Status: House Second Readers

    SB 318: Alcoholic Beverages; allow for local authorization/regulation of sale for consumption on the premises on Sundays; celebration of St. Patrick's Day.
    Allows for the sale of alcohol if St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday.
    Status: Senate Passed/Adopted As Amended

    Did Not Cross Over:

    HB 290: “Sick Pay”
    Bill sought to require employers that provide sick pay allow employees to take up to 5 days of sick pay leave to care for an immediate family member. 
    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute

    HB 907: “Taxi Cabs”
    Aimed at non-complying individual taxi drivers, this bill would require them to have a medallion/permit, proper insurance and payment of taxes.
    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute

    HB 1023: “Religious Freedom Act”
    Bill sought to protect religious freedom to act according to one's beliefs despite a government rule or regulation unless government could prove otherwise. 
    Status: House Second Readers

    SB 377: “Religious Freedom Act”
    Companion bill to HB 1023, it sought to define state limits in the regulation of religious activity. 
    Status: Senate Read Second Time

    SB 404: “Drivers Licenses”
    Would have restricted the ability for immigrants to get a Georgia drivers licenses.  Would have also disallowed DACA children to use deferred status as a form of identification.
    Status: Senate Read Second Time

    SR 1031: “English as Official Language”
    Bill sought to make English the official language of Georgia as well as require government official communications and driver’s tests to be in English.
    Status: Senate Read Second Time

    Deadline for NRA Public Affairs Conference

    Friday, March 28, is the early bird deadline to register for the NRA's April 29-30 NRA Public Affairs Conference. Join hundreds of your industry peers and colleagues talking about the issues that matter to your restaurant company. Gain valuable political insights and get a better understanding of how today's top legislative issues will affect your business -- and your bottom line -- in the coming year.

    Want to join the Georgia delegation for the annual Washington Fly-Up, April 29-30?
    Contact Katie@garestaurants.org.

    House looks ready for full-time definition vote

    The House of Representatives appears ready to vote on a bill that would change the health care law’s definition of full-time employment. It would redefine full time as 40 hours, rather than 30.

     

    Fun Fact: 

    Did you know that Democrat Tom Murphy was the Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives for twenty-eight years, the longest tenure for a Speaker in any state legislature across the nation. He was the Speaker of the House between 1974 and 2002.

  • 26 Feb 2014 8:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin - Week 6

    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


    State Restaurant Day & Taste of Georgia - Thank You!

    Thank you to all who attended and participated in last week’s Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception!  It was a resounding success and we have received positive feedback from all who attended.

    February 19th, 2014 officially marked State Restaurant Day in Georgia. We kicked off the day at the Capitol as two of our resolutions were read.

    SR 959:  By Senator Balfour of the 9th: A RESOLUTION recognizing February 19, 2014, as State Restaurant Day at the state capitol and commending the restaurant industry of Georgia; and or other purposes.  

    SR 960: By Senator Orrock of the 36th: A RESOLUTION congratulating Dr. Debby Cannon on being awarded Georgia's Distinguished Service Award; and for other purposes. 

    That evening, nearly 30 restaurants and organizations provided tastes to a crowd of approximately 300 legislators, dignitaries and guests - including Governor Nathan Deal and Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black.

    Check out our event pictures on our Facebook page and watch the reading of our “State Restaurant Day” resolution in the Senate Chamber (33:55 mark) as well as our “Distinguished Service” resolution honoring Dr. Debby Cannon, Georgia State University (1:13:58 mark).

    Bill Tracking Update


    The GRA was in attendance at a number of House and Senate committee meetings last week including Agriculture & Consumer Affairs, Ethics, Regulated Industries, and Public Safety & Homeland Security.

    Crossover has been set for March 3rd. This marks Day 30 of the legislative session. What exactly is Crossover day? See our Fun Fact for more information.

    On the Front-Burner:

    House Bills:

    HB 290: Sick Pay– Would allow an employee to use sick leave to care for an immediate family member.
    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute

    HB 809: Patent Trolls–This bill seeks to curtail bad faith infringement assertions through demand letters.
    Status: Senate Passed/Adopted By Substitute

    HB 947: Debit Cards– Would allow companies to issue prepaid debit cards as an alternative method to pay their employees.  Employees must be notified of the option availability, what fees will be charged and the ability to opt-out of the method should they choose.
    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported

    HB 907: Taxis– Aimed at non-complying individual taxi drivers, this bill would require them to have a background check, permit, proper insurance and payment of taxes.
    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute

    HB 990: Medicaid–This bill would remove power to decide Medicaid eligibility expansion from the Governor to the state legislature.  This would increase the amount of individuals eligible to participate.
    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute


    HB 784: St. Patrick’s
    – This bill would allow for alcohol sales during St. Patrick’s Day if it falls on a Sunday.
    Status: Senate Read Second Time

    HB 778: Food Permits– This bill would exempt nonprofit organizations from having a food permit if they are operating a house or residential structure where seriously ill children and their families are provided temporary accommodations in proximity to their treatment hospitals. 
    Status: Senate Read and Referred

    HB 1083: Preservation of Religious Freedom Act – This bill is intended to give individuals, businesses and other entities, including government employees, the right to differentiate themselves from others who conflict with their religious beliefs. This may include not hiring, serving in a restaurant and/or renting a hotel room to them. 
    Status: House Second Readers 

    Senate Bills:

    SB 404: Motor Vehicle– This bill would block participants in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivlals program from receiving driver's licenses, allowing only temporary identification cards. 
    Status: Senate Read and Referred

    SR 1031: English as Official Language– This proposes an amendment to the Constitution so as to declare English as the official language of Georgia.  
    Status: Senate Read and Referred

     

    Survey Says… Wage Increase Is Not the Best Way to Reduce Poverty

    Provided by the National Restaurant Association.

    The NRA conducted a poll in late January asking over 1,000 adults for their opinion on whether three factorsundefinedincreasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, ensuring that more young people finish high school and have an opportunity to acquire post-secondary education, and providing more opportunities for job training for the unemployed and under-employedundefinedwould have a significant, fairly significant, or somewhat of an impact on reducing poverty.

     

    A federal minimum wage increase ranks a distant third, behind post-secondary education and job training opportunities, as a factor that stands to significantly reduce poverty in the United States, according to the results. Read more.

    Vote for 40-Hour Bill is Soon

    We’re hearing word that the House could vote soon on the Save American Workers Act, H.R. 2575, which would change the health care law’s definition of “full-time” to 40 hours a week, from 30. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and has more than 200 bipartisan co-sponsors. Democrats who previously supported Rep. Dan Lipinski’s “40 Hours is Full-time Act” have indicated they’ll support H.R. 2575. Lipinski has agreed to work with Young rather than sponsor his own legislation. This is one of the NRA’s top legislative priorities. Bill info http://1.usa.gov/1eKwVSD.

    Digging Deeper on ACA Employer Mandate

    Provided by BenefitsPro.com

    When the final ACA employer mandate rules were released earlier in February, it was quite the hot topic. With the final rules comprising of over 200 pages, let's dig a little deeper into six provisions that may have a great impact on your establishment.

    1. Employer Relief: Employers with more than 50 but fewer than 100 workers got several special concessions.
    2. Full-time Equivalent Employees: Providing the definition of a FTE.
    3. Break in Service: The difference between a rehire and an ongoing employee.
    4. Temp Agencies: Separation between temp agencies.
    5. Administrative Practices: Interpreting and determining how to be integrated into existing admin systems.
    6. Dependent Coverage: Covering dependents including kids up to the age of 26.

    Read the full article.

     

    Fun Fact: 

    What is Crossover Day? This is typically Day 30 of the session. All bills in each chamber must be approved by this day so that they can then move to the other chamber for discussion and review. For example, a bill in the Senate must pass the Senate by this day in order to be considered by the House. If a bill does not pass its initial chamber, it can no longer move forward this year, but its hopes for passage may lie for another year.

  • 18 Feb 2014 3:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin - Week 5

    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


     

    Bill Tracking Update

     

    With temperatures heating up, the General Assembly is back on track this week, meeting Monday through Friday. Last week, the House and Senate adopted resolutions setting the last day of session for 2014, Sine Die, for March 20.

     

    On the Front-Burner:

     

    House Bills:

    HB 290: Sick Pay– Would allow an employee to use sick leave to care for an immediate family member.
    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute

    HB 809: Patent Trolls–This bill seeks to curtail bad faith infringement assertions through demand letters. 
    Status: Senate Read and Referred

    HB 947: Debit Cards– Would allow companies to issue prepaid debit cards as an alternative method to pay their employees.  Employees must be notified of the option availability, what fees will be charged and the ability to opt-out of the method should they choose.
    Status: House Second Readers 

    HB 907: Taxis– Aimed at non-complying individual taxi drivers, this bill would require them to have a medallion/permit, proper insurance and payment of taxes.
    Status: House Second Readers

    HB 990: Medicaid–This bill would remove power to decide Medicaid eligibility expansion from the Governor to the state legislature.  This would increase the amount of individuals eligible to participate.
    Status: House First Readers

     

    Senate Bills:

    SB 303: Distilled Spirits– Would allow registered voters to petition their election superintendent for a local referendum on distilled spirits.
    Status: Senate Read and Referred

    SB 314: Minimum Wage– Seeks to increase state minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. 
    Status: Senate Read and Referred

    Webinar: Big Changes in Auto Grats Began January 1, 2014

    The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) will be hosting a FREE webinar on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. EST for GRA members featuring Bob Wagner and Kristina Howard of NetFinancials, Inc. regarding the auto gratuity rules following the 2014 IRS ruling. Learn how the new IRS rules for auto gratuities impact your business.

    Date and time: Monday, February 24, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. EST
    Duration: 1 hour 
    Topic: IRS Rules on Auto-Gratuities

    To register for the webinar, please click hereAfter registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

    Extreme Weather Affecting Restaurant Sales

    The NRA’s Chief Economist analyzed data from the U.S Census and found that restaurant industry sales were slow in December and Januaryundefinedmainly as a result of the extreme weather conditions being seen all across the country. The December and January sales declines took off nearly $1 billion off of November’s record high volume of $47.3 billion. Despite these declines, the outlook on sales for 2014 still looks positive. Read more.

    NRA Public Affairs Conference 

    The NRA’s Public Affairs Conference is set for April 29-30 in Washington, D.C. where hundreds of restaurateurs will attend this two-day event and visit more than 300 congressional offices. The meetings with representatives, senators and legislative staff help lawmakers understand how frustrating and expensive some issues can be for restaurateurs. 
    Want to join the Georgia delegation for the annual Washington Fly-Up? Contact Katie@garestaurants.org.

     

    Tomorrow Night: Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception

     

    Featuring:

    ACF Atlanta Chefs Association

    American Roadhouse

    Another Broken Egg Cafe

    Atlanta Technical College

    Dantanna's

    Frozen Pints

    GENKI Noodles& Sushi

    Georgia Grown

    Johnny Rockets

    Las Costas Nayaritas

    Local Three

    Max Lager's

    Mediterranean Grill

    Miller's Ale House

    Moe's Southwest Grill

    Montaluce-Le Vigne Restaurant

    Muss and Turner's

    Nikolai's Roof

    Pittypat's Porch

    Royal Cup Coffee

    Seven Seas Mediterranean Cafe

    Southern Art

    Sufis Atlanta

    Sun Dried Restaurant & Lounge

    Taco Mac Sports Grill

    Thrive

    Veni Vidi Vici

    Waffle House, Inc.

    White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails

    Willy's Mexicana Grill

    Wrecking Bar Brewpub

     

    For more details on the event, please visit www.garestaurants.org/tasteofgeorgia.

     

    Fun Fact: 

    In honor of President’s Day yesterday…

    President Jimmy Carter, the only president to hail from the state of Georgia, created the Department of Energy in 1977; today the DOE works with the Obama Administration to drive towards innovation in energy and reducing reliance on foreign oil.

  • 11 Feb 2014 4:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin - Week 4

    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


    Bill Tracking Update

     

    Today marked Legislative Day 21!  With more winter storms headed our way, several meetings are being cancelled and facilities are closing. You should continue to monitor the weather and most importantly be safe!

     

    On the Front-Burner:

     

    House Bills:

     

    HB 947: Debit Cards – Would allow for an employer to provide an employee with the payment of wages by credit to a prepaid debit card; would require employers to offer employees certain choices relating to the payment of wages; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

    Status: House Hopper.

     

    HB 290: Labor – Would allow for employees to use sick leave for care of immediate family members.  

    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute.

     

    HB 809: Patent Trolls – Would prohibit bad faith assertions of patent infringement through demand letters by patent trolls.

    Status: Senate Read and Referred.

     

    HB 907: Taxis –Intergovernmental agreement to regulate taxicabs in certain circumstances; to prevent local ordinances and rules and regulations from prohibiting taxicabs from taking certain passengers;; to provide for tax decals for limousines and taxicabs in lieu of sales and use taxes on fares; and for other purposes.

    Status: House second readers.

     

    ACA Employer Mandate Final Rule

    The Obama Administration extended transition relief to some employers impacted by the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Department of Treasury announced that employers with 50 to 99 employees will be given until January 2016 to comply with the ACA’s employer mandate of providing health insurance or face penalties.

    However, the GRA is still concerned regarding the Treasury’s proposed employer reporting requirements, and Congress need to make changes in the law to benefit employers and employees.

    The rule also provides a phase-in for the smallest employers who are subject to the employer responsibility provision of the law. For those employers with 100 employees or more, they must offer coverage to at least 70 percent of their full-time employees in 2015 to avoid penalties.

    For more information, see the fact sheet here and final rule here.

    Annual AALAC Legislative Breakfast

    The Georgia Restaurant Association attended the third annual Asian American Legislative Breakfast and Lobby Day on Monday, February 10, 2014 at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot. This legislative breakfast is designed to be a relationship-building opportunity among Asian American leaders, Georgia elected officials and other policy makers.

    Speakers included Governor Nathan Deal, U.S. Congressman Rob Woodall, U.S. Congressman Hank Johnson, House Minority Leader, Representative Stacey Abrams, Administration Floor Leader, Representative Lynne Riley and Vice Chair of Higher Education, Representative Katie Dempsey.

     

    Food Safety Tips in the Event of a Power Outage   

     

    In the event that power goes out for an extended period of time in your neighborhood, the food in your refrigerator and freezer may be saved if you take special care during the outage.

     

    First, unplug the freezer and refrigerator, as well as other appliances, to protect them from electricity surges when power returns. Also make sure everyone in your household knows not to open the refrigerator or freezer doors; keeping the doors closed will keep the food cold for a longer period of time.

     

    Items in the freezer potentially can stay frozen for 2 to 4 days, depending on the size of the freezer, how full it is, and how well insulated it is. A full freezer that had been operating at 0°F will keep foods frozen for about 48 hours if the doors remain closed.

     

    See special tips on storing fruits, vegetables, ice cream and more.

     

    LAST CHANCE TO RSVP: Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception

     

    When: Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

    Where: The Freight Room at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot
    65 Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive, S.E.
    Atlanta, Georgia 30334

    What: This annual event is an opportunity for GRA members to showcase their food to elected officials, and for our legislators to network with our state’s second largest employer.
    Space is Limited - Register Today

     

    Fun Fact: 

    Do you know the difference between a winter storm watch, advisory, or warning? With all of this unusual winter weather Georgia has been seeing lately, it is important to know the difference between these terms and be prepared for what might be headed your way. Read up on the Weather Channel’s Storm Encyclopedia

  • 05 Feb 2014 1:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin - Week 3

    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


    Bill Tracking Update

    Due to last week’s Snow Jam, the General Assembly took a two-day pause and reconvened again on Friday for Legislative Day 14.  Today marks as Day 16. The legislative calendar has been published through February 19th, and is expected to be done by mid-March.

    On the Front-Burner:

    House Bills:

    HB 737: Alcoholic Beverages – Serves as a clarification to last session’s HB 99 (Malt Beverage) bill to legalize the transportation of individual homebrew items to other individual private residences for personal consumption.
    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute. 

    HB 784: Alcohol Sales During St. Patrick’s Day – Would allow local jurisdictions the ability to pass a local referendum for bars to sell alcohol on Sundays if St. Patrick’s Day falls on that day. Currently, Atlanta is the only jurisdiction with this ability. 
    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported.

    HB 290: Sick Leave – Would allow an employee to use sick leave to care for an immediate family member.  
    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute. 

    Senate Bills:

    SB 286: Maximum Percent by Volume of Wine – Would change the maximum for alcohol content in fortified wine from 21% to 24%, and require wineries who utilize distilled spirits in their wines (i.e. fortified wine) to purchase only from wholesalers or distilled spirits manufacturers. (This will raise the Georgia limit to match the federal government's current regulations.) 
    Status: Senate Read Second Time; GRA will continue to watch.

    SB 318: Alcohol Sales During St. Patrick’s Day – Companion bill to HB 784, Would allow bars to sell alcohol on Sundays if St. Patrick’s Day falls on that day. 
    Status: Senate Read and Referred.

    Key Advocate Program

    The National Restaurant Association is reaching out to the GRA for assistance in creating a list of our members who have personal relationships with U.S. Congressional members. The mission of the Key Advocate Program is to have at least one restaurateur in every single congressional district to effectively communicate and advocate on priority legislative issues to all Members of Congress on behalf of the industry. This will be beneficial for any legislative issues that may arise in the future. Read more on the program.

    If you would like to serve as a liaison between Members of Congress and the NRA, please email Katie Jones, Public Affairs Coordinator, at katie@garestaurants.org

    FDA Rulings: Prevention of Human and Animal Food During Transportation

    The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) held a conference call this afternoon to announce proposed rulings in the prevention of human and animal food during transportation under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Although restaurants are considered exempt in the proposed regulations, there might be some record keeping requirements in regards to foodborne illnesses.  Those restaurants that have their own transportation fleet/trucks could also fall under a non-exempt definition of shipper and carrier.  Public comments are due by May 31, 2014. We expect a more detailed analysis from the NRA soon.

    40 Hours Should be Full Time

    The National Restaurant Association is making progress in efforts to change the definition of “full-time” under the Affordable Care Act from 30 hours to 40 hours. The House Ways & Means Committee today approved on a 23-14 party-line vote H.R. 2572, the Save American Workers Act.

     

    Now that this key House committee has approved the measure, help support the bill by sending a letter to Congress.

    RSVP: Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception

    When: Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

    Where: The Freight Room at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot
    65 Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive, S.E.
    Atlanta, Georgia 30334

    What: This annual event is an opportunity for GRA members to showcase their food to elected officials, and for our legislators to network with our state’s second largest employer.
    Space is Limited - Register Today

    New Legislative Intern – Welcome Daniel!

    Daniel New will be joining Laura Hossfeld as our newest GRA Legislative Intern. They will be working on bill tracking and other legislative initiatives during the session.

    Fun Fact: 

    Ever wonder how much economic impact the restaurant industry has on the state of Georgia? In 2014, Georgia’s restaurants are projected to register $16.5 billion in sales. Also in 2014, restaurants will account for 405,800 jobs in Georgia - 10% of employment in the state. Download the full state fact sheet

  • 29 Jan 2014 12:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin - Week 2

    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


    GRA Update

    The GRA attended a Senate Regulated Industries committee meeting last Wednesday. We are currently tracking at least 10 alcohol related bills along with a reappearance of immigration, minimum wage and sick pay legislation.

    We have confirmed our participation again in the upcoming annual Environmental Defense Fund/Southern Fishery Management’s National Outreach Day in Washington, D.C. (February 25-27th) to promote better legislation for our coastal fisherman and restaurants.

    Check for $1.361 Billion Presented at Georgia Tourism & Hospitality Day

    Representatives from the tourism & hospitality industries, including the Georgia Restaurant Association, presented Gov. Nathan Deal with a check representing the $1.361 billion in state tax revenue generated from tourism-related expenditures. The tourism industry has a positive effect on nearly every community in Georgia. Tourism has a total economic impact of $49 billion, supporting more than 400,000 jobs in Georgia. 

    Bill Tracking Update

    Today marked Day 11 in Week 3 of the 40-day Legislative Session.

    Immigration (HB 125) – Though originally intended to fix the burdensome license-renewal processes resulting from HB 87’s passing, pro-immigration groups are concerned that this bill still presents a threat to comprehensive immigration reform.  More analysis is needed.

    Sick Pay (HB 290) This bill is scheduled to be read in this week’s House Human Relations & Aging Committee meeting.  HB 290 was killed in committee during last year’s session but continues to be on our watch list.  

    House and Senate Committee Assignments for 2014
    The Georgia House and Senate announced Committee assignments for the 2014 General Assembly.
     
    Click here for House committees.
    Click here for Senate committees.

    New Legislative Intern – Welcome Lauren!

    Join us in welcoming Laura Hossfeld, our newest Legislative Intern, to the team!  Lauren will be assisting with bill tracking and other legislative initiatives during the session.

    NRA Public Affairs Conference

    When:  April 29-30, 2014

    Where: Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center
    1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

    Washington, DC 20004

    What: The restaurant industry is facing unprecedented challenges on a variety of legislative fronts from health care and taxes to minimum wage and immigration reform. 2014 will be a critical mid-term election year for restaurateurs large and small.  Congress needs to know how all of these issues affect you and your employees.  Join hundreds of industry peers and colleagues for two days in Washington, DC. Learn about the issues, talk with colleagues and share your story with Congress. If you are interested in joining the Georgia delegation for the annual Washington Fly-Up, please contact Katie@garestaurants.org.

    Fun Fact: 

    Did you know the following elected officials are also tied in with the restaurant industry? 

    Senator Tommie Williams – Elements Bistro & Grill
    Rep. Allen Peake – Franchisee of Cheddar’s Casual Cafes and Captain D’s Seafood 
    Rep. John Pezold – Franchisee of McDonald’s 
    Rep. Matt Hatchett – Franchisee of Bruster’s Real Ice Cream and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs
    Senator Don Balfour - Waffle House
    Rep. Margaret Kaiser - President of Kaiser Dough and Pizza Concepts 

  • 22 Jan 2014 10:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Welcome Back - Advocacy Bulletin

    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


    Legislative Session Kicks Off

    The GRA kicked off the legislative session by attending the annual Wild Hog Supper on Sunday, January 12 at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot. This event symbolizes the “unofficial” start to the session and generally comprises of around 1,000 attendees including mostly lobbyists and politicians. Pictured left at the event: Lily Manavi, Chris Hardman, Governor Nathan Deal and Katie Jones) 

    We also attended the annual Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s “Eggs & Issues” Breakfast and the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Breakfast.  Thank you to all of our members that came out and supported these events with us!  

    Refresher: How a Bill is Passed in the Georgia Legislature

    One of the services the GRA provides is Bill Tracking on the national and state level. What may seem like just a bill could turn into harmful legislation. To follow along with our bill tracking, brush up with this helpful chart: How a Bill is Passed in the Georgia Legislature. Also, Tracking a Bill Through the General Assembly.

    Bill Tracking

    Malt Beverage- Individual (HB 737) – Serves as a clarification to last session’s HB 99 (Malt Beverage) bill to legalize the transportation of individual homebrew items to other individual private residences for personal consumption.

    Fortified Wines (SB 286) – Would change the maximum wine volume content from 21 to 24% and require wineries who utilize distilled spirits in their wines (i.e. fortified wine) to purchase only from wholesalers or distilled spirits manufacturers.

    Transparency (SR 738) – Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) has introduced a resolution calling for more transparency in Conference Committees.  Conference committees are made up of six member (three House and three Senate) appointees whose task it is to reconcile bills passed in both chambers.  In this resolution, any committee meetings would require advance public notification, a meeting location/time and can be video-recorded. 

    Lawful Prescence (HB 125) – Would allow for proof of citizenship/verifiable documentation to remitted through electronic methods (i.e. email, fax).  

    Food Service Establishments (HB 778)  - As a clarification to HB 101 (passed last session), this bill also excludes food banks/kitchens from the food-service establishment definition that would require a permit.

    Gun Bills7 various gun bills have been proposed.

    New Municipalities - DeKalb County has proposed 3 new city creation bills (HB 677, SB 277, SB 278).

    Appointment of Tax Commissioner (HB 346) Fulton County has a bill proposed that would require a seat appointment for county Tax Commissioner rather than an elected position.

    Karen Bremer Named Notable Georgian 

    Georgia Trend Magazine recently named GRA Executive Director, Karen Bremer, to its list of “
    100 Most Notable Georgians.” This list is comprised of a group of notable citizens who affect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.

    Coming Soon:

    Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception


    When: Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

    Where: The Freight Room at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot
    65 Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive, S.E.
    Atlanta, Georgia 30334

    What: This annual event is an opportunity for GRA members to showcase their food to elected officials, and for our legislators to network with our state’s second largest employer.
    Space is Limited - Register Today

    “Pull for the PAC” Sporting Clay Fundraiser

    When: Monday, April 7, 2014, 2:00 pm - 7:00 pm

    Where: Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club
    8000 Capps Ferry Road

    Douglasville, GA 30135

    What: Join us for our 2nd Annual “Pull for the PAC” GRA Sporting Clay Fundraiser. Have fun and network as we take to the shooting grounds to raise funds for the GRA PAC, the only Political Action Committee dedicated to serving the restaurant industry in Georgia. Your donations help us contribute to candidates that support the food industry, fight legislation that can hurt your business and organize grassroots campaigns to advocate for our industry.



    Fun Fact: 

    Did you know that Georgia had three Governors in office at the same time? Read more

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