By Yvette Tavares
Although the Connecticut Restaurant Association (CRA) works to support its restaurant members through grassroots advocacy throughout the year, there is certainly no time where it is more front and center than during legislative session.
With the 2019 Connecticut General Assembly in session through June 5, the CRA works tirelessly not only in the fight to protect the interests of the industry, but also to be accessible to its members, who don’t always have the time or access to stay current on issues that stand to impact their business.
Over the last several weeks, and in the weeks to come, the CRA has mobilized across multiple fronts. From the legislative buildings in Hartford to the steps of Capitol Hill, the work continues. Below are some highlights from recent weeks.
Public Hearing Testimony in Hartford
On February 28, CRA Chairman of the Board Dan Meiser, testified before the General Law Committee on SB 647, in support of clarifying and streamlining the Liquor Control Act, particularly in regard to the number and types of available permits.
On March 7, CRA Board Member Keith Beaulieu testified before the Labor and Public Employees Committee in reference to SB 2, HB 5004 and HB7191, an act increasing the minimum fair wage, with a particular concern to the speed and intensity in the rate of increase of these proposals.
In addition to concerns expressed by Beaulieu, testimony by CRA Executive Director Scott Dolch highlighted concerns over the server tip credit, suggesting the decoupling (from the act) or freezing the tip credit percentage “to allow restaurant operators the flexibility to provide wage increases to those in the industry that need it the most.” Public testimony is available for those wishing to view it in full.
National Restaurant Association, Public Affairs Conference
In March, CRA Executive Director Scott Dolch and three members of the CRA Legislative Committee traveled to Washington, D.C., for the National Restaurant Association’s Annual Public Affairs Conference on March 27 and 28.
Primary federal-level issues discussed at the conference included the Restaurant Depreciation Tax, Raise the Wage Act and Immigration Reform.
Connecticut Restaurants Legislative Roundtables
Throughout the month of April, the CRA hosted legislative roundtables in Mystic, Newington, New Haven and Stamford to discuss proposed legislation facing restaurant owners in the state.
Laser-focused on a growing and united voice across the state, the CRA offered the events free to both CRA members and non-members.
Topics for discussion included $15 minimum wage and server tip credit, on-call scheduling, FMLA, soda tax, restaurant tax and more. For questions regarding proposed legislation facing the restaurant industry in Connecticut and ways to take action, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe DaCosta Memorial Scholarship
The Connecticut Hospitality Educational Foundation (CHEF), the philanthropic arm of the CRA, awards scholarships each year to students pursuing a career in Culinary Arts, Restaurant Management or an affiliated degree.
The scholarship is named in honor of former CRA Board Member Joe DaCosta, who dedicated more than 35 years to the food industry, including more than seven years as the Vice President of Sales for Sysco Connecticut. Joe had a passion for giving back to future leaders in the industry, which is the goal of this fund.
Students in high school or postsecondary school may apply for the scholarship online at www.ctrestaurant.org/scholarships. The deadline for applications is May 15, 2019.
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