National Restaurant Association Kicks Off Public Affairs Conference

The National Restaurant Association began its 31st annual two-day Public Affairs Conference on Tuesday, welcoming over 600 restaurateurs and foodservice operators to Washington, D.C. The 2017 theme, “Restaurants Open Doors,” is part of the Association’s ongoing campaign to highlight the numerous opportunities the industry provides. With more than one million locations nationwide, the restaurant industry is the country’s second-largest private sector employer of more than 14.7 million individuals. One in three Americans got their first job experience in a restaurant. During the conference, attendees will participate in Capitol Hill meetings where they will provide members of Congress and their staff with first-hand experiences articulating the need for policies supporting the industry.

“As the new Administration and Congress begin to lay the legislative groundwork for the coming years, having our restaurateurs on the Hill meeting with Congress is a crucial advocacy tool. Our 600 restaurateurs will share their experiences and educate and advocate on behalf of our industry,” says Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

This year’s conference will focus on three legislative topics of interest to the industry: health care reform, debit swipe-fee protections, and tax reform.

Health Care: The National Restaurant Association supports moving forward with health care reform to address needed employer-mandate reforms.  The ACA’s definition of full-time employment at 30 hours a week is forcing restaurants to change how they hire and staff their operations, a consequence no one intended. The mandate’s definitions of seasonal employment are confusing and employers face daunting paperwork rules with new requirements to track and report voluminous data to the IRS each year.

Debit Card Tax: The National Restaurant Association strongly supported stopping the debit card tax, which was protected through legislation in 2010.  The industry opposes any efforts to repeal these protections that saved consumers an estimated $5.8 billion in the first year alone in lower costs, according to a study by noted economist Robert Shapiro.

Tax Reform and 45B: The National Restaurant Association supports legislative efforts to pursue comprehensive tax reform that retains the 45B FICA reimbursement and lowers rates for individuals and corporations.

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