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National Restaurant Association - Restaurant advocacy heats up

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Restaurant advocacy heats up

As the dog days of summer set in, restaurateurs around the country are meeting with federal legislators, who are spending more time in their home states during election season. Two recent roundtable meetings in Florida and Rhode Island gave NRA members the opportunity to share their thoughts with federal legislators on issues, both local and national. 

In Florida, a group of restaurant operators met at Cody’s Roadside Grill with Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), who supported the Save American Workers Act to change the health care law’s definition of “full-time” from 30 to 40 hours. The legislation passed the House of Representatives in April. While the Senate has yet to take up the bill, Bilirakis said during the meeting that senators would be wise to pass it. He added that the House could negotiate on a deal to change the full-time definition in 2015.

In Rhode Island, about 40 members of the Rhode Island Hospitality Association met recently with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse to discuss issues affecting the hotel and restaurant industries. The association stresses keeping lines of communication open, even when there may be disagreements.

“I have a saying: You win some, you lose some, but you dress for them all,” said RIHA President and CEO Dale Venturini.  “How can you expect them to understand our issues if we’re not in front of them?” The Affordable Care Act remains a leading concern among restaurateurs in the Ocean State, along with patent trolls, highway funding and energy costs, Venturini said. The state association keeps in close contact with all of its representatives in Congress. She advises restaurateurs to ask the tough questions.

“Be visible,” Venturini said. “Invite them to your restaurant. It’s about keeping the conversation going and letting them know how something affects you.”

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