The National Restaurant Association welcomed more than 600 restaurateurs and foodservice operators to Washington, D.C., Tuesday for its 31st annual Public Affairs Conference.
This year’s conference is themed “Restaurants Open Doors,” and is part of our ongoing campaign to highlight the many opportunities our industry provides. The restaurant industry is the country’s second largest private-sector employer, with more than 14.7 employees in more than 1 million locations nationwide.
Dawn Sweeney, our president and CEO, and Cicely Simpson, our executive vice president of policy and government affairs, discussed the three big issues currently affecting our industry and other small businesses: health care, tax reform and retaining debit card swipe-fee protections.
Here’s a rundown of those issues, which our members will address in depth when they meet with their congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill Wednesday:
Health care reform: We continue to support health care reform that addresses the problems created by the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. The ACA’s definition of full-time employment of 30 hours a week is forcing restaurants to change how they hire and staff their operations. The mandate’s definition of seasonal employment is also confusing, and employers face daunting paperwork rules with new requirements for tracking and reporting data to the IRS.
The Debit card tax: We strongly oppose Congress’s potential plan to repeal the debit card swipe-fee protections in place since 2010. A repeal of these protections would result in skyrocketing transaction fees for restaurateurs, which would hurt business and job growth.
Tax reform and 45B: We support legislative efforts to pursue comprehensive tax reform that lowers rates for individuals and corporations while retaining the 45B FICA reimbursement that is so important to many of America’s restaurants.
Sweeney also told attendees that sharing their experiences with legislators on Capitol Hill would help them understand how our industry works and how the legislation they pass affects business.
Pictured, top: Cicely Simpson addresses attendees at this year's Public Affairs Conference