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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  • 25 Mar 2015 11:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin Week 11

    This bulletin is provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Political Action Committee weekly during Legislative Session. 

    The GRA is successful in fighting against legislation that will hurt your business through the support of our members, including support of the GRA-PAC, the only Political Action Committee dedicated to serving the restaurant industry in Georgia. Want to know what we are working on currently? Click here to stay up-to-date on all of our current position statements on various topics. 
     


    Countdown to Sine Die

    Today marks day 35 of the legislative session. The General Assembly will be in session the remainder of this week. Thursday, April 2nd is scheduled to be the final day of the 2015 legislative session, or what is known as Sine Die.

    Bill Tracking Update

    HB 535: Brunch Bill; would allow for municipalities to opt in to permit their restaurants to start serving alcohol at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays.

    Status: Senate Read and Referred—The bill was assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

    We are anticipating that HB 535 is sent to the floor by Friday, if not early next week. Keep the momentum going by contacting your Senator for their support of HB 535. Learn how.

    SB 139: Preemption Packaging Ban; This bill gives the state the power to regulate bans and taxes on plastic bags, cups, cloth, etc. It does not apply to county/municipal owned property or hurt recycling programs in place.

    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute

    Your support for this bill will help ensure that a patchwork of laws is avoided by allowing the state to decide as a whole on packaging bans. If municipalities are allowed to decide on packaging bans, restaurants may be faced with costly and confusing operating plans, because restaurants that fall in different cities would face dissimilar rules and regulations regarding the ban.

    The Georgia Restaurant Association supports our industry, other businesses and the community as a whole to help lessen our environmental footprint and become more sustainable. However, the GRA opposes arbitrary patchwork rules that have not been evaluated and tested properly to ensure feasibility.

    This bill is expected to be heard on the floor this week. Look up your local representative here. Call their office or send them an email asking them to support SB 139: Preemption Packaging Ban. Let them know that you live in their district and that this is important to you.

    Prepare for April Labor Protests

    The SEIU and its allies are planning the next round of nationwide protests targeting restaurants on April 15. That's a day after the NLRB's "ambush-election" rules are scheduled to take effect. We will keep you updated on possible protest locations. 

    Reminder to Claim Your Sales Tax Refund

    In October, the GRA informed our restaurant members about the Georgia Department of Revenue sales tax regulation 560-12-2-.115, which could result in potential sales tax savings as well as a refund opportunity for Georgia restaurants and other establishments that sell prepared food (e.g., caterers, food trucks, cafeterias). Georgia restaurants can claim a sales tax refund on affected items purchased within the last three years. Learn more.

    Take advantage of this opportunity and apply for a refund:

    1.     Provide the applicable supplier(s) with a Georgia sales tax exemption certificate and request a refund of the sales tax paid to the supplier(s). 

    2.     Alternatively, the supplier(s) can allow the restaurant to request a refund directly from Georgia.

    3.     Click here to view full instructions to request a refund, courtesy of Bennett Thrasher.

    Webinar: Georgia Sales Tax Refund for Restaurants, presented by Bennett Thrasher.

    Mark Your Calendar

    -NRA Public Affairs Conference | April 14-15, 2015 | Washington, D.C.

    -4th Annual GRA Golf Invitational | June 15, 2015 | Atlanta Athletic Club

    Fun Fact: 

    As of today, there were 887 total bills this legislative session. 170 of those bills passed in the House. 302 of those bills passed in the Senate. 11 bills were sent to Governor Deal. 11 bills were signed by Governor Deal. 0 bills were vetoed.


  • 18 Mar 2015 9:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin Week 10

    This bulletin is provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Political Action Committee weekly during Legislative Session. 

    The GRA is successful in fighting against legislation that will hurt your business through the support of our members, including support of the GRA-PAC, the only Political Action Committee dedicated to serving the restaurant industry in Georgia. Want to know what we are working on currently? Click here to stay up-to-date on all of our current position statements on various topics. 
     


    Brunch Bill Crosses Over to the Senate

    On Friday, March 13, 2015 the House passed HB 535: Georgia Brunch Bill, allowing municipalities to opt in to permit their restaurants to start serving alcohol at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays, two hours earlier than usual.

    HB 535 will now be assigned to committee in the Senate. If the Senate passes the bill and the Governor does not veto, it could essentially take about 60 days for municipalities to approve these new ordinances.  The GRA will continue to keep you updated on the status of this bill. Click here to learn more on how you can support HB 535.

    Bill Tracking: Recap of Crossover Day

    HB 33: relating to obstruction of public administration and related offenses, so as to provide for the criminal offenses for resisting a code enforcement officer, this would have included health inspectors.

    Status: Did not cross over.  

    HB 152: This bill will apply to bars only. Bars are defined as establishments that receive 75% or more revenue from alcohol sales. No one under 21 can enter or work at a bar. Bars must report violations in 45 days to the Department of Revenue. The GRA was instrumental in removing restaurants from the language and changing the report time from 15 days to 45 days.

    Status: House Passed/Adopted by Substitute.  

    HB 535: Brunch Bill; would allow for municipalities to opt in to permit their restaurants to start serving alcohol at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays.

    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported; assigned to committee in the Senate this week. 

    SB 63: Beer Jobs Bill; allows 36 ounces of alcohol to be consumed on-premise and 64 ounces to be taken home, but can only be purchased in a single container – growler or 12 ounce bottle.

    Status: Senate Passed/Adopted By Substitute; will be assigned to a House committee this week

    SB 103: St. Patrick’s Day; this bill was changed to allow local municipalities/counties to allow bards to be opened one Sunday a year by resolution or ordinance.

    Status: Signed by the Governor.

    SB 139: Preemption Packaging Ban; The bill is being sent back to committee for an amendment. It gives the state the power to regulate bans and taxes on plastic bags, cups, cloth, etc. It does not hurt recycling programs in place and allows events on public and school property to have restrictions on plastic bags and single-use containers.

    Status: House Withdrawn, Recommitted 

    Thousands Stepped Up for Hunger Walk

    Thank you to all of our members who made donations, formed teams and helped spread the word about the 2015 Hunger Walk/Run benefiting the Atlanta Community Food Bank. More than 20,000 people participated in the event and over $580,000 was raised, according to the Atlanta Community Food Bank! Pictured right: GRA Hunger Walk Team.

    Reminders

    -NRA Public Affairs Conference | April 14-15, 2015 | Washington, D.C.

    -4th Annual GRA Golf Invitational | June 15, 2015 | Atlanta Athletic Club

    Fun Fact: 

    In honor of St. Patrick’s Day…

    St. Patrick’s Day rakes in a lot of green (pun intended), and Savannah, GA is home to one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the country. It is hard to put an exact number on the economic impact of St. Patrick’s Day, and the last economic impact study was conducted way back in 2001, however it was estimated that visitors spent $30 million just at the bars, restaurant and merchants along the city’s riverfront


  • 11 Mar 2015 9:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin Week 9

    This bulletin is provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Political Action Committee weekly during Legislative Session. 

     

    The GRA is successful in fighting against legislation that will hurt your business through the support of our members, including support of the GRA-PAC, the only Political Action Committee dedicated to serving the restaurant industry in Georgia. Want to know what we are working on currently? Click here to stay up-to-date on all of our current position statements on various topics. 
     


    Keep the Momentum Going

    HB 535: Georgia Brunch Bill

    This bill would allow for municipalities to opt in to permit their restaurants to start serving alcohol at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. This creates a level playing field with state-owned facilities such as the Georgia World Congress Center, Lake Lanier Islands, as well as the many other private country clubs in Georgia.

    This bill would have a huge economic impact for restaurants in the state of Georgia. The bill goes to the Rules Committee on Wednesday, then to the floor of the House to be voted on by the entire body.

    Help us change the law! Here are a few ways to get involved:

    1. Look up your local senator and representative here. Send them an email asking them to support HB 535: Brunch Bill. Let them know that you live in their district, and that this is important to you. View talking points and fact sheet or download a sample letter to send to elected officials.

    2. Contribute to the GRA Political Action Committee. With your contribution, the GRA can become more effective in passing the Brunch Bill. Your contributions will help fund our efforts to make a change and will be used towards our political lobbying efforts.

    3. Use #GABrunchBill to show your support and educate the public on this initiative. View sample social media posts.

    Read Karen Bremer and Representative Brett Harrell’s interview today with Atlanta Magazine.

    On the Front Burner

    HB 152: Violation reporting; relating to the regulation of alcoholic beverages generally, so as to impose certain requirements upon holders of certain alcohol licenses and those who issue such licenses; Rep. Duncan said the bill was rewritten to specifically aim the legislation to bars only.

    Status: House Second Readers

    HB 340: St. Patrick’s Day; change certain provisions relating to sales on Sunday during the St. Patrick's Day holiday period; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes; lists the holiday period lasting 5 days.

    Status: Senate Read and Referred

    HB 412: Worker’s Comp; this bill slightly raises weekly/overall payout for worker’s compensation but prevents Georgia from falling under the Consumer Price Index, which would significantly raise payouts.

    Status: Senate Read and Referred

    HB 535: Brunch Bill; would allow for municipalities to opt in to permit their restaurants to start serving alcohol at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays.

    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported

    SB 129: Religious Freedom; to provide for religious freedom; repeal of conflicting laws.

    Status: House First Readers

    SB 103: St. Patrick’s Day; change certain provisions relating to sales on Sunday during the St. Patrick's Day holiday period; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes; lists the holiday period lasting 3 days but enables counties/local municipalities to allow bars to be opened one Sunday a year for a local festival.

    Status: House First Readers

    SB 139: Preemption Packaging Ban; The bill passed out of committee with 2 amendments to allow commercial recycling programs already in place to continue and to not interfere with festivals/events that are hosted in local jurisdictions that want to be eco-friendly and not have plastic bags, etc.

    Status: House Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute

    National Updates

    FICA Tip Credit—The National Restaurant Association is working to schedule meetings with ranking members in Joint Tax, Ways & Means and the Senate Finance Committee Business Tax Reform Working Group to discuss the FICA Tip Credit.  

    NLRB “Ambush Election” Rule—The Senate voted to overturn this rule, citing that it gave the unions an unfair advantage over employers. 

    World Health Day: 2015

    World Health Day is on April 7th this year and the theme is food safety. Every year, millions of people die from unsafe food and there are several new threats to food safety that are constantly emerging.  It is important that as an industry, and society as a whole, that we maintain the utmost responsibility when it comes to food safety.

    Below are 5 factors to practical guidance for handling and preparing food:

    1. Keep clean.

    2. Separate raw and cooked food.

    3. Cook food thoroughly.

    4. Keep food at safe temperatures.

    5. Use safe water and raw material.

    The Georgia Restaurant Association offers complimentary food code briefings to make sure that your establishment is adhering to all the proper rules when it comes to food safety. The next food code briefing will take place on Monday, April 13. Register Today

     

    Reminders

    -NRA Public Affairs Conference | April 14-15, 2015 | Washington, D.C.

    -4th Annual GRA Golf Invitational | June 15, 2015 | Atlanta Athletic Club

     

    Fun Fact: 

    Day 30 of the legislative session, also known as Crossover Day, is slated for Friday, March 13. Crossover Day is the deadline for a bill to pass in the chamber where it originated. Once the bill has passed, it then crosses over to the other chamber to potentially become a law.

  • 04 Mar 2015 9:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin Week 8
    This bulletin is provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Political Action Committee weekly during Legislative Session. 

    The GRA is successful in fighting against legislation that will hurt your business through the support of our members, including support of the GRA-PAC, the only Political Action Committee dedicated to serving the restaurant industry in Georgia. Want to know what we are working on currently? Click here to state up-to-date on all of our current position statements on various topics. 
     


    #GABrunchBill

    This bill would allow for licensed or permitted premises to sell alcoholic beverages starting at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays in Georgia. The bill has officially been dropped in the hopper and will receive a number tomorrow.

    The passing of the Brunch Bill will have a huge economic impact on restaurants and the state of Georgia. Each restaurant that can sell alcoholic beverages in Georgia will generate an average of $480.77, or $25,000 per year. There are roughly 4,000 restaurants in Georgia that could benefit from this bill, which would mean a total of $100 million in additional revenue.

    The Georgia Restaurant Association will be sending out additional information about the Brunch Bill tomorrow regarding collateral, talking points, and how to contact your local senator or representative to support this bill. 

    On the Front Burner

    HB 33: would make opposing, resisting, hindering, etc. a code enforcement officer a misdemeanor.

    Status: Dead in session

    HB 261: allows the sale of alcoholic beverages in commercial service airports owned or operated by a municipal governing authority starting at 5:00 a.m. on Sundays. 

    Status: Passed in the House; Senate Read and Referred

    HB 340: St. Patrick’s Day; change certain provisions relating to sales on Sunday during the St. Patrick's Day holiday period; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

    Status: House Passed/Adopted By Substitute

    HB 460: would allow distilleries to sell a limited amount of product on site.

    Status: House Second Readers

    SB 63: limited retail sales of malt beverages under certain circumstances; to change the definition of a "brewpub"; to provide for licensed brewpubs to sell malt beverages manufactured on its premises to the public for off-premises consumption.

    Status: Senate Read and Referred

    SB 174: would allow breweries and distilleries to sell limited product at a company store that is on their property or contiguous to their licensed property.

    Status: Senate Read and Referred

    SB 139: Preemption Packaging Ban; this bill states that laws and regulations on packaging can only come from the state level.  

    Status: Senate passed; House First Readers

    What is EMV? Are you ready for the liability shift?

    In October 2015, the next generation of the payment card associated with EuroPay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) is due to take effect in the United States. EMV is a global standard set of specifications for integrated circuit cards (“chip cards”) and their point of sale terminals.

    With less than a year to go until the liability shift for EMV, restaurateurs have several decisions to make. For those who want to make the investment and meet the October 1, 2015 deadline, considerations include: updating hardware, training staff, customer acceptance, and what EMV can and can’t do to improve data security. Learn more.

    Hunger Walk: Help Prevent Hunger

    Join the Atlanta Community Food Bank on Sunday, March 15 for the 2015 Hunger Walk/Run. Funds raised by Hunger Walk/Run help stock shelves in hundreds of food pantries, shelters, community kitchens, and child and senior centers across the community. There are several ways to get involved, including making a donation, forming a team, joining the GRA Team, or by participating in the Hunger Walk/Run Restaurant Program. Learn More.

    When: Sunday, March 15, 2015

    Time: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. (5K begins at 2 p.m.)

    Location: Turner Field (Green Lot) | 755 Hank Aaron Drive, Atlanta, GA 30315

    Reminders

    -NRA Public Affairs Conference | April 14-15, 2015 | Washington, D.C.

    -4th Annual GRA Golf Invitational | June 15, 2015 | Atlanta Athletic Club


  • 25 Feb 2015 10:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin Week 7
    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


    State Restaurant Day

    Wednesday, February 18, 2015 was officially designated as State Restaurant Day in Georgia. To kick off the day, representatives from the GRA and West Egg Café/The General Muir/Fred’s Meat and Bread/Yalla gathered at the capitol for a reading of SR 129. This resolution recognized and congratulated West Egg Café/The General Muir/Fred’s Meat and Bread/Yalla as the 2014 GRACE Award Restaurateur of the Year Winner. (Pictured left.)

    Karen Bremer, GRA executive director, then led a Grassroots Advocacy Training Seminar for members interested in learning more about advocacy and how to get involved with the GRA. From there, the GRA Board of Directors gathered at the Ga Dept. of Agriculture for their quarterly board meeting and then ended the day at the Freight Depot for the annual Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception.

    Thank you to all who attended and participated in last week’s Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception! We had nearly 30 restaurant participants and approximately 300 legislators, dignitaries and guests—including Governor Nathan Deal, First Lady Sandra Deal and Commissioner of Agriculture, Gary Black. View the photo gallery from this year’s Taste of Georgia event.

    On the Front Burner

    HB 390: Would exempt from having to pay sales and use taxes on food and/or food ingredients donated to qualified non-profit agencies.

    Status: House Hopper. 

    Position: GRA is in support of this bill.

    HR 45: A resolution creating a House Study Committee on Genetically Engineered Foods; stating that there is a need to study the issues regarding genetically modified organisms generally and genetically engineered foods in particular.

    Status: House Hopper. 

    Position: GRA is in support of this resolution. 

    Congratulations are in order…

    The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) officially announced the 2015 Restaurant Neighbor and Faces of Diversity American Dream award winners yesterday. Nominations were submitted from all over the country, yet there was only spots for four winners, including GRA’s very own—Ryan Turner, Chris Hall & Todd Mussman, Founders of Unsukay Community of Businesses.

    Unsukay Community of Business is being honored the Cornerstone Humanitarian Award for their work with the Giving Kitchen Initiative, a non-profit whose funds provide crisis grants to members of Atlanta’s restaurant community. The winners will be honored at a gala on April 14, 2015, during the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. View the full press release here.

    Our Economic Impact is Huge

    The National Restaurant Association (NRA) released new statistics on the economic impact the restaurant industry has in the state of Georgia.  View Georgia’s restaurant industry facts at a glance.

    Save the Date

    -NRA Public Affairs Conference | April 14-15, 2015 | Washington, D.C.

    -4th Annual GRA Golf Invitational | June 15, 2015 | Atlanta Athletic Club

    Fun Fact: 

    In 1945, Georgia became the first state to lower the legal voting age from 21 to 18. 


  • 17 Feb 2015 9:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin Week 6

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


    Legislative Update

    Today marked Day 16 of the 40-day Legislative Session.

    Last week, the GRA was in attendance at several House and Senate Committee Meetings including the Senate Economic Development committee meeting on packaging, Senate Insurance and Labor committee meeting regarding minimum wage and the Senate Regulated Industries committee for a hearing on SR 135.

    Federal Updates:

    • Tip Credit: In his proposed budget, President Obama is seeking to eliminate the 45(B) FICA tip-tax credit, a reimbursement to food and beverage employers for a portion of FICA taxes paid on certain employee tip income. NRA and GRA oppose this measure as the 45(B) credit has been critical in getting restaurateurs to encourage tip reporting and helping the IRS collect employment and income taxes on employee tips. 
    • Fight For 15: We received word that there will be a downtown Atlanta neighborhood “canvassing” event scheduled on Saturday, February 21st by Atlanta Jobs for Justice and other labor organizations.

    We will have not one, but TWO resolutions read tomorrow morning.

    HR 204 “State Restaurant Day”: recognizing Wednesday, February 18, 2015 as state restaurant day; sponsored by (1) Peake, Allen 141st (2) Pezold, John 133rd (3) Hatchett, Matt 150th (4) Kaiser, Margaret 59th.

    SR 129 “Georgia’s Restaurateur of the Year”: to recognize and congratulate the 2014 GRACE Award Restaurateur of the Year winner West Egg Café/The General Muir/Fred’s Meat and Bread/Yalla; sponsored by (1) Miller, Butch 49th.

    Watch us LIVE at the Capitol tomorrow on the individual chamber online feeds –House, Senate.

    Kudos to the AJC on their handy dandy Legislative Navigator

    This interactive database helps keep track of bills, determine how legislators voted and who contributed to their campaigns. Take a look

    Be at the table, not on the menu

    The most important week for restaurants in our nation’s Capital is coming this spring. Registration is open for the National Restaurant Association’s 2015 Public Affairs Conference. Hundreds of restaurateurs will attend this two-day event and visit more than 300 congressional offices—helping lawmakers to understand issues and concerns that can be frustrating to our industry. Register Today.

    Date: April 13-15, 2015

    Location: Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington, D.C. 

    Taste of Georgia: Tomorrow Night

    Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception

    Wednesday, February 18 | 5 – 7 p.m. | Georgia Railroad Freight Depot

    This annual event showcases Georgia’s restaurant industry to elected officials. Come out for food, fun and networking! Last chance to register.

     

    Below is the list of participating restaurants and organizations:

    • 4th & Swift
    • ACF
    • Bad Dog Taqueria
    • Bhojanic
    • Big Sky Buckhead
    • Canoe
    • Chick-fil-A
    • Common Quarter
    • Dantanas
    • Georgia Grown
    • Grand Champion BBQ
    • Imperial Fez
    • Joystick Gamebar
    • Just Loafn Poboys
    • Local Three
    • Mary Mac's Tea Room
    • Max Lager's Wood Fire Grill
    • MAX's Wine and Dive
    • Moe's Southwest Grill
    • Muss & Turner's
    • Panera Bread
    • Pittypat's Porch
    • Ruth's Chris Steak House
    • Seven Seas Mediterranean Cafe
    • Sufis Atlanta
    • The Pig & The Pint
    • THRIVE
    • Tin Lizzy's Cantina
    • Twin Smokers
    • White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails

    Grassroots Advocacy Training Seminar

    TOMORROW: Wednesday, February 18 | 2 – 3 p.m. | GA Dept. of Agriculture – Horizon Room

    Learn more about advocacy and how to get involved with the GRA –members only seminar! RSVP to Katie Jones, katie@garestaurants.org or (404) 467-9000.

    Fun Fact: 

    In honor of President’s Day yesterday…

    President Jimmy Carter, the only president to come from the state of Georgia, was the first president to be born in a hospital. Thus begging the question, where were all of the other presidents born that came before him? 


  • 11 Feb 2015 10:11 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin Week 5
    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


    Legislative Update

    Today marked Day 13 of the 40-day Legislative Session. The calendar has been set for the rest of the session, marking Thursday, April 2 as Day 40. 

    Last week, the GRA was in attendance at the House Economic Development and House Regulated Industries meetings. Karen Bremer, Executive Director, and Ryan Costigan, Director of Membership, attended a meeting with NRA policy staff and national chain legal and government affairs representatives to discuss national issues facing our industry. Karen was also able to meet with our freshman Congressman and Senate members to introduce the GRA and discuss our state concerns.

    Bill Tracking:

    House Bills:

    HB 152: Alcohol Licensing & Reporting– This bill is seeking to require reporting requirements for violations by alcohol license holders.  It would require businesses cited for alcohol violations to report them within 15 days and impose a $750.00 fine for each citation (two or more resulting in suspension of license).  Rep. Geoff Duncan and Rep. Mike Dudgeon have spearheaded this bill (aka “Michael’s Law”) as a result of a recent incident with underage drinking.  An underage patron of a local bar in Statesboro, Georgia had died following an altercation with a bouncer employed by the establishment.

     

    The GRA does not support this current bill version due to concerns of the self-reporting requirement language and the $750.00 fine within the 15 day period, even if the violation or citation has not been heard by the court or regulatory committee. Also, there is no clear mechanism for enforcement and no clarity on what the DOR will do with the information. 

    HB 218: Religious Freedom—Rep. Sam Teasley has filed another version to the previously filed HB 29.  The differences between HB 218 and his pre-filed bill are that specific sections were removed in the new version regarding imposing parental rights and that it was not to be construed as applying to sexual offenses against a minor. Interestingly, another section added says that the bill will become effective upon approval by the Governor or becoming a law without such approval.

    Senate Bills:

    SB 88: Pre-Paid Debit Cards— Pre-paid debit card legislation is back. You may recall that similar legislation was introduced last year but did not gain any traction.  This bill seeks to allow employers the ability to pay their employees through pre-paid debit cards.  This payment option would be voluntary and requires employers to provide written explanation of any fees associated with this option at least 30 days prior to the availability date of the card.  

    Possible Protest Activity
    Specifics are vague, but in the past Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) have protested tableservice restaurants on both February 13 and Valentine’s Day, February 14. ROC is protesting for higher wages in the foodservice industry.

    The National Restaurant Association (NRA) is continuing to monitor the situation, however if you’ve experienced protest activity in the past from ROC or their affiliates, you may see it again this Friday or Saturday. View sample talking points on this matter.

    Furthermore, it is predicted that another round of protest activity targeting the quickservice sector will happen on April 15. This is similar to the protest activity that occurred around the same time last year. 

    Webinar: Tips vs. Service Charges

    The IRS is holding a “Tips vs. Service Charges: What Are They and How Are They Reported?” webinar on Wednesday, February 11 at 2:00 p.m. EST. They will cover some of the topics of confusion restaurant operators face including tax treatment of tips vs. service charges and the automatic gratuities some restaurants add to checks. Register Here.  

    Event Reminders

    Grassroots Advocacy Training Seminar: Wednesday, February 18 | 2 – 3 p.m. | GA Dept. of Agriculture – Horizon Room

    Learn more about advocacy and how to get involved with the GRA--members only seminar! RSVP to Katie Jones, katie@garestaurants.org or (404) 467-9000.

    Taste of Georgia Legislative ReceptionWednesday, February 18 | 5 – 7 p.m. | Georgia Railroad Freight Depot

    This annual event showcases Georgia’s restaurant industry to elected officials. Come out for food, fun and networking!

    Fun Fact: 

    Gov. Nathan Deal recently announced that the state experienced a record increase in both exports and imports for the fifth consecutive year, with a 4.9 percent increase in exports and 11.5 percent increase in imports over last fiscal year's numbers. Georgia is ranked the 11th largest exporting state for 2014


  • 04 Feb 2015 10:16 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin Week 4
    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


    Legislative Update: What’s New?

    Things are really picking up as we move through the legislative session. Last week, the GRA attended the 2015 Georgia Tourism, Hospitality and Arts Day at the Capitol. See the GRA pictured front and center! We were present for Georgia Trend’s “100 Most Influential Georgians” Luncheon, where Karen Bremer was honored as one of the 100 Most Notable Georgians, and the annual Savannah-Chatham Day. The GRA also attended the first regulated industries house committee meeting. This meeting set the rules for the committee.

    Today marks as Day 10 of the legislative session. The legislative calendar has been published through Thursday, February 12. View HR 19.  

    GRA Goes to Washington

    Representatives from the Georgia Restaurant Association flew up to Washington, D.C. today to prep for federal legislative activity in 2015. This day, devoted to government affairs in D.C., invites State Restaurant Association (SRA) representatives from all over the country to start off the day meeting with the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) government affairs team, attend the 2015 kick-off meeting with chain representatives, followed by the annual Welcome Reception for Members of Congress. NRA and SRA representatives look forward to welcoming the 114th Congress to Washington.

    On the Front-Burner:

    Transportation: A highly anticipated state transportation funding plan was filed by House Republicans last week.  Many of the highlights include $1 billion in revenue generation, annual dedicated transit funding, a 29.2 cents/gallon excise tax on gasoline (instead of a sales tax), and a $200 annual fee for electric/alternative fuel car drivers ($300 for commercial).

    House Bills:

    HB 92: Paid Sick Leave– This bill would require employers who currently provide paid sick leave to their employees to allow them to take up to five days to care for an immediate family member.

    HB 134: State Work Opportunity Tax Credit—This bill aims to provide a tax credit to employers for each employee hired out of a targeted group (examples: Qualified veterans, ex-felons, food stamp recipients, etc.).  

    Senate Bills:

    SB 63: Craft Brewers—The bill seeks to allow breweries and brewpubs the ability to taste up to 72 ounces and sell up to 144 ounces directly to consumers by way of cans, bottles or growlers.   

    America Works Here  

    The National Restaurant Association's America Works Here campaign wants to hear your story! This campaign highlights stories of America’s restaurant industry, which is the nation’s second-largest private sector employer and provides a huge economic impact in our country. Whether it’s about skills you learned on the job, owning your own restaurant, a positive impact that restaurants make in the community—everyone has a story to tell. Share what opportunities the restaurant industry has provided for you.

    Things To Know

    Fun Fact: 

    What is the difference between advocacy and lobbying? Advocacy is seeking to create awareness about certain laws or policy. The GRA works to build and sustain a positive public opinion and favorable political environment for the restaurant industry. Lobbying refers to seeking influence, from either a political or public official, on an issue. The GRA lobbies key decision makers so they understand the effects of legislation on the restaurant industry. 


  • 28 Jan 2015 8:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin Week 3
    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


    Georgia Tourism & Hospitality Day under the Gold Dome

    Representatives from the tourism & hospitality industries, including the Georgia Restaurant Association, gathered at the Capitol today to present Governor Nathan Deal with a check representing the state tax revenue generated from tourism-related expenditures. The tourism industry has a total economic impact of more than $53 billion, supporting more than 411,000 jobs. All of the organizations that attended today’s event share the common goal to help expand the presence of the larger travel and tourism community during the legislative session. Investing in the travel and tourism industries can improve the quality of life for all Georgia residents.

    Pictured Above: GRA's Chris Hardman, Katie Jones with Gov. Deal, GRA Board Member, Chef Dave Snyder and GRA's Rachel Bell standing with the 2015 Georgia Travel Guide at the 2015 GA Tourism, Hospitality & Arts Day at the Capitol. Photo Credit.

    GRA Position Statements

    Now that session is underway, click here to state up-to-date on all of our current position statements on various topics. 

    Mark Your Calendar

    Grassroots Advocacy Training Seminar

    Wednesday, February 18 | Georgia Department of Agriculture | 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

    The GRA is hosting a complimentary seminar for our members that are interested in learning more about advocacy and expanding you or your staff’s knowledge on legislation pertaining to your business. Please RSVP to Katie Jones, katie@garestaurants.org or (404) 467-9000.

    7th Annual Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception

    Wednesday, February 18 | Georgia Railroad Freight Depot | 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

    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. For more details and to register for the event, please visit www.garestaurants.org/TasteofGeorgia.

    2015 NRA Public Affairs Conference

    April 14-15 | Washington, D.C.  

    The National Restaurant Association Public Affairs Conference is the most important week for restaurant operators to have their voices heard in Washington, D.C. Join hundreds of industry professionals to talk 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?Contact Katie@garestaurants.org.

    4th Annual GRA Golf Tournament

    Monday, June 15 | Atlanta Athletic Club

    The GRA Golf Invitational raises 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 foodservice industry, fight legislation that can hurt your business and organize grassroots campaigns to advocate for our industry. For more details and to register for the event, please visit www.garestaurants.org/golf.

    Fun Fact: 

    The National Restaurant Association projects that restaurant industry employment will reach 15.7 million by 2025, an increase of 1.7 million positions during the 10-year period. Over that decade, the top five states for restaurant employment growth are Arizona, Florida, Texas, Georgia, and Utah. View more facts about the 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast from the NRA.


  • 21 Jan 2015 10:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Advocacy Bulletin Week 2
    A Service Provided by the Georgia Restaurant Association Weekly During Legislative Session 


    Inaugural Gala

    GRA's Member Development Executive Chris Hardman, Executive Director Karen Bremer and Director of Membership Ryan Costigan (pictured left) attended Gov. Nathan Deal’s Inaugural Gala on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 at The Arena at Gwinnett Center. Gov. Deal took office as Georgia’s 82nd governor in January 2011 and in November 2014, Deal was re-elected to a second term in office.

    2015 State of the Union

    President Obama will be delivering his State of the Union address tonight, Jan. 20, 2015 at 9 p.m. ET. The President is set to address his announcement about free community college, broadband Internet, paid leave policies, action on immigration and more in tonight's address. Get full details and watch the exclusive enhanced speech live at WH.gov/SOTU.

    Session Joint Budget Hearings
    The General Assembly is currently in Session Joint Budget Hearings for the FY2015 Amended and the FY2016 General Budgets, which started today, Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 10 a.m. The House will reconvene on Monday, Jan. 26.

    Take Action
    Support 40 Hour Work Week: The House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation to change the health care law’s definition of “full time” from 30 hours to 40 hours a week. Now, the focus shifts to the Senate. The National Restaurant Association and More Time for Full Time initiative urge restaurateurs to write to their senators and ask them to support the bill. Write to your senator.

    GRA-PAC: The GRA is successful in fighting against legislation that will hurt your business through the support of our members, including support of the GRA-PAC, the only Political Action Committee dedicated to serving the restaurant industry in Georgia. Through your support, the GRA can continue to serve as the strongest supporter and largest advocate for Georgia’s restaurant industry. 

    RSVP: Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception

    When: Wednesday, Feb.18, 2015, 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

    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 – RSVP Today.


    Fun Fact: 

    Georgia has had five capitals: Savannah (1777-1785), Augusta (1786-1789), Louisville (1789-1807), Milledgeville (1807-1867), Atlanta (1868-present).

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