Restaurateurs from across America arrived in the nation’s capital to attend our 32nd annual Public Affairs Conference this week.

More than 400 restaurateurs, representing large and small businesses, came to Washington, D.C., April 17 to 18, to meet their Senators and Representatives and discuss important policy issues affecting the industry. The goal: inform federal lawmakers how the decisions made on Capitol Hill impact their local communities and restaurants back home.

Among the issues discussed were restaurant depreciation, immigration, healthcare and reform of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Restaurateurs had the opportunity to meet with several U.S. Senators, including Angus King, I-ME; Ted Cruz, R-TX, Jon Tester, D-MT; Tim Scott, R-SC; and Bill Cassidy, R-LA, and discuss their concerns, such as:

  • Repealing the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate
  • Improving the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to prevent frivolous lawsuits
  • Restoring the 15-year restaurant deprecation period that defaulted back to 39 years due to an unintentional drafting error in the 2017 tax bill, and
  • Expansion of the number of H-2B visas for temporary, seasonal employees

Peter Sclafani, co-owner and executive chef of Ruffino’s on the River in Baton Rouge, LA., said his group’s meeting with Sen. Cassidy was informative and productive.

“One of the things we were here to talk about were issues with the ADA,” he said. “It was interesting because when we met with Sen. Cassidy, he was unaware that this was going on. So, by us coming here and talking to him, we were able to educate him on something affecting our industry.”

Sclafani added that he thought the meeting was a positive one and that the Senator was favorable to the restaurateurs’ position. “He thought what we were asking for was very reasonable,” the chef said.

Here’s a snapshot of our day on Capitol Hill:

Above: Members of the Maine Restaurant Association met with Sen. Angus King to discuss the need for more H2B visas so that restaurateurs can hire more temporary, seasonal employees

Above: Louisiana restaurateur Peter Sclafani, second from right,  talked to Sen. Bill Cassidy, left, and Sen. John Kennedy, center, about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Above: Restaurant operators from South Carolina met with Sen. Tim Scott about repealing the ACA's employer mandate

Above: The group from Texas met with Sen. John Cornyn about restoring the 15-year restaurant deprecation period that defaulted back to 39 years because of an unintentional drafting error in the 2017 tax bill