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Legislative Update January 16, 2019January 16, 2019

The 2019 Legislative Session will prove to be a busy session for the CRA. Many of the bills that have failed in recent years will likely be seen again and the outcome could be very different. The CRA has put together an aggressive strategy for this session in order to ensure that restaurants in Colorado are well represented and protected as much as possible. Our agenda will allow us to gain some good will with elected officials, get ahead of some trending issues from other states that will likely be introduced in Colorado, and get some wins for restaurants at the same time. Here is a summary of bills the CRA is running or will be working to pass in the 2019 Legislative Session:

  1. Tip Signage – Currently, if a restaurant includes non-tipped positions (cooks, dishwashers, etc.) in a tip pool they are required to post a very large sign with specific language. The required language makes it sound like the restaurant is keeping the tips, even though that is against federal law and is not the case. The bill we are running this year would remove the signage requirement, but still require a restaurant to provide customers a notification in another effective written means. It would allow the restaurant to place a notification on their menu, a table tent, or receipt, in their own words explaining that tips are shared with all employees who participate in creating the customer’s dining experience. Additionally, we are putting federal law in to state law making it clear that owners, managers, and supervisors cannot participate in a tip pool.
  1. Dogs on Patios – Currently, if a restaurant wants to allow dogs to be on their patios, outside of Denver, they need to get a variance from the food code. This is one of the most frequent phone calls the CRA receives from members. We are working to change Colorado law to allow restaurants to choose if they want to have dogs on their patio. We are modeling the legislation off of Denver’s allowance for dogs on patios. If passed, every restaurant in Colorado could choose if they will allow customers to bring their dogs onto the restaurants patio.
  1. Straws on Request – One of the issues that is moving around the country right now is packaging bans. Knowing that this is likely going to come to Colorado, the CRA is proactively running legislation that would set a statewide standard when it comes to the use of straws in restaurants. It would require restaurants to only provide a straw when requested by the customer. Restaurants would still be able to use plastic straws and the bill would exclude specific situations like drive-thrus, delivery, and a few others. It would also prohibit a local government from requiring restaurants to use compostable straws or banning them outright.
  1. Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act – We are working with a coalition to change the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act to ban the smoking of electronic cigarettes indoors where cigarettes are already banned. It doesn’t change other provisions effecting restaurants like patios and distance restrictions from doors other than the main entrance. If a municipality has a law that goes further than state law, the restaurant would still need to follow the local ordinance.
  1. House Bill 19-1014 Changes State Food Code Civil Penalties – We are working with a coalition to make changes to how civil penalties are assessed under the Colorado Food Code (does not change civil penalties in Denver). The changes will allow local health departments to focus on the businesses that need support instead of requiring them to run every single violation to the ground. It will make the best use of local health department resources and will reduce the number of required re-inspections while still ensuring food safety. This legislation has been negotiated for almost 8 months with stakeholders that included restaurants, grocery stores, the state health department and local health departments.

 

Additional bills that we expect to be introduced in 2019 include:

  1. Family and Medical Leave Insurance
  2. Elimination of the Local Minimum Wage Preemption
  3. To Go Packaging Restrictions
  4. Liquor Law Changes

 

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