Governor Cuomo Unveils 2020 Budget Proposal

Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo unveiled his 2020 budget proposal, hitting on many of the same issues he talked about during his State of the State address. Paid sick leave and the statewide polystyrene ban are the issues that are sure to be most important to restaurateurs in Upstate New York as both could potentially impact the bottom line.

Details remain unknown about the paid sick leave proposal, as the language provided in the budget book did little to clear up some of the questions we have surrounding the legislation. We still do not know if this proposal will be solely funded by the employer or if it will look more like the Paid Family Leave Act which is funded through employee deductions. We also do not know if existing paid time off plans that restaurants currently have in place would suffice under the statewide proposal. We hope to gain clarity on these and other questions soon.

The proposed polystyrene ban seems clearer. The language provided following the Governor’s presentation outlines that all restaurants and stores will be prohibited from using or selling polystyrene containers or loose packing peanuts. Promisingly though, the language seems to include a hardship provision for businesses that would see costs increase over a certain threshold and would allow them to continue using these materials. What that threshold is or what the application process for this waiver would look like has not been outlined to date. 

NYSRA Hosts First Regional Lobby Day
Yesterday, members from the Rochester Chapter of the NYS Restaurant Association came to Albany and met with several of their local representatives to talk about important issues that are taking center stage this year. Discussions focused on how the proposed paid sick leave mandate would dramatically increase costs and how a statewide polystyrene ban would affect the marketplace for alternatives. These restaurant owners were able to provide valuable context to officials and their staff, providing real world examples to the problems these bills would create. We encourage our members in Westchester (January 28), Western New York (February 11) and New York City (February 26) to join us for their upcoming lobby days to continue the discussion on these and many other important restaurant issues. 

New York City to Pass Cashless Ban

Today, the New York City Council is expected to pass legislation that would mandate all restaurants and retail stores accept cash. The bill from Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) would require all businesses that sell any articles, goods, merchandise or commodities to take cash or risk civil penalties up to $1,500. The “cashless ban,” which is expected to go into effect in about nine months, also prohibits stores from charging customers higher prices for paying in cash. Stores would still be able to refuse bills above $20. They would also be able to ban cash for transactions that take place online, by phone or mail.

The reasoning behind this legislation is that 25% of all New York City residents are either unbanked or underbanked. By not allowing cash, these individuals are being disenfranchised through no fault of their own. Following the bill’s passage, the Department of Consumer Affairs will need to issue regulations and that is where we will get more information on how this law will be enforced. We will certainly share that information when it becomes available. 
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