April 05, 2022

PAFC attendees take policy issues straight to lawmakers

Industry advocates will focus on workforce development, tip credit, and the ERTC in face-to-face meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill.

Operators, state restaurant association leads, and restaurant industry advocates will return to Capitol Hill for the first time since 2019.

More than 400 restaurant operators, state restaurant association representatives and National Restaurant Association policy experts will descend on Capitol Hill this month at the Association’s annual public Affairs Conference, April 25–27. 

In addition to updates on the state of the industry and key policy issues Association experts are addressing, the conference gives attendees the opportunity to meet face-to-face with their states’ representatives and other legislators to advocate for the industry. If you haven’t already registered, please join the Association in taking part in this important event.

For the conference, the Association has picked three key priorities for the U.S. House and Senate: The Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act; preservation of the tip credit; and reinstatement of the Employee Retention Tax Credit for the fourth quarter of 2021. The Association’s public affairs experts chose these three issues because the timing of the conference is ideal for influencing a positive outcome for the industry in each area.

Here’s what conference attendees hope to accomplish:

Essential Workers for Economic Advancement (EWEA) Act. The EWEA program focuses on a major issue slowing industry growth: workforce. The program creates a pathway for workers to come to the U.S. on market-driven, non-immigrant, three-year visas. It’s intended for small businesses in industries with comparatively low sales per employee and would be available for non-agricultural jobs with lower education thresholds that have been unfilled for extended periods. The proposed legislation would create 65,000 jobs in the first year, allotting 25% participants to businesses like restaurants. Conference attendees will be working hard to convince members of Congress to pass the EWEA Act.

Tip Credit. Many people choose to work in the restaurant industry—the nation’s second-largest private sector employer—because of the earning potential they experience from tips. According to new research by the National Restaurant Association, waitstaff at fullservice restaurants earn a median of $27.00 an hour, with the highest paid group making $41.50 an hour. In addition to greater earning potential for workers, maintaining the tip credit helps operators attract and retain employees and gives restaurant owners the ability to reinvest in non-tipped employees and their businesses. Plus, three out of four customers prefer the established tipping structure, according to a recent Association survey. Attempts to eliminate the tip credit in both states and municipalities have been defeated by employees who prefer the established system. Industry advocates attending the conference will strongly urge Congress to preserve the existing tip credit and tipping system.

Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC). A life-saver to many restaurants during the pandemic, the ERTC provided thousands of restaurants much-needed cash flow to continue operating. Unfortunately, the tax credit was cut short last fall and the IRS has been slow to process nearly 440,000 amended Form 941 paper applications, forcing restaurants to wait as long as nine months for the funds provided by the credit. Because of this, during the 2021 tax season, many restaurants that budgeted for the tax credit but didn’t receive the funds now face an unexpected federal tax liability. One family-owned operation in Texas, for example, owes an unexpected tax bill of $1.14 million. The ERTC Reinstatement Act will help restaurants that experienced losses in the fourth quarter of 2021.

These and other issues, such as arbitration, supply chain delays and tax policy for restaurants, are on the table during the Public Affairs Conference. To find out more about them, Sean Kennedy, executive vice president for Public Affairs, and Mike Whatley, vice president of State Affairs, provide a great overview of legislation likely to have the most impact on restaurants in 2022 in Episode 54 of the “Order Up” podcast.

Register or get more information on the 36th annual Public Affairs Conference at Restaurants Act.