PANDEMIC DRIVES ISSUE AGENDA AND REPUTATIONAL CONCERNS
When we began the 2020 state legislative sessions back in January, we thought we were going to be in for the usual, steady diet of restrictive scheduling mandates, single-use plastic bans, data privacy bills, AB-5 copycats, paid family leave mandates and a handful of municipal minimum wage increases. On balance, it looked like it was going to be a rather average year (maybe a little heavier than normal on paid leave, maybe a little lighter than normal on minimum wage but relatively average). Well, the pandemic changed everything.
As our world turned upside down late last winter, so too did our legislative and political space, and with it came a new legislative and regulatory agenda predicated not on the usual protection of margins and models but on the survival of the industry itself. Literally. So, our agenda, particularly at the state and local level, shifted almost overnight from business model protection to sales and operational support. Now we debate items like “reopening,” liability shields, capacity requirements, hours of operation, outdoor dining, to-go cocktails, home delivery of alcohol, delivery platform commission fee caps and the list goes on. The industry’s legislative and political teams are leaving no stone unturned to help their enterprises stay afloat. But, how much of that issue list stays around for the long haul? Will we still be debating these issues in 2021?To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
2020 ELECTION OUTLOOK
With the 2020 elections just a few weeks away and all eyes on the presidential contest, the outcome of a handful of U.S. Senate races and a few state-level contests could greatly impact operators whether big or small. As always, most of the press attention and focus is on the White House and several marquee federal races; however, a few states may see a significant (and in some cases, historic) shift in the balance of power of their legislatures. We will be paying particular attention to:To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
2021 LEGISLATIVE ISSUES
Upcoming legislative sessions will be dominated by COVID-19-related issues. Chief among them will be cash-strapped states and municipalities searching for new revenue. Expect revenue conversations to color every issue in 2021 legislative sessions. Lobbying and advocacy campaigns for federal and state relief will need to pivot in 2021 to also make the case that the industry can’t afford new taxes or fees. Assuming that states are able to work through the myriad of items (in addition to new taxes) that are outlined in Pandemic Drives Issue Agenda and Reputational Concerns, plenty of other items that directly impact the restaurant business model are “on deck.”To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
IRC: PASSING FAD OR FUNDAMENTAL REALIGNMENT?
The successful launch and immediate impact of Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) kicked off a spirited intra-industry debate (at least in our office) over this question: Will the IRC disappear as quickly as it emerged or will it become a new voice for the industry?
The argument that the IRC will simply fade away is pretty concise – When this pandemic passes and the celebrity chefs return to their kitchens or other vanity projects, this little effort will fall by the wayside. Another strong argument for the IRC’s demise is the coalition is held together by a totally unprecedented event (the pandemic) and when that external force is no longer galvanizing the coalition, it will simply fall apart. These are certainly possible outcomes but increasingly the IRC looks like it may be around for a while. And, there are a few dynamics that could help ensure that the IRC is a long term player not only in D.C. but also in state capitols across the country.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
BROKEN WINDOWS: RETAIL LOCATIONS BECOME THE BACKDROP OF NATIONAL TRAGEDIES
The American Revolution was plotted in a tavern. The civil rights movement galvanized at a lunch counter. Countless Rotary club meetings, book clubs, open mics and political events have been held in the back of restaurants and coffee houses. There are few places where the pulse of America can be felt more strongly than in a local restaurant, coffee shop or bar. We are the backdrop of the American story. And, that’s never been more apparent than in the era of COVID-19, and this moment of social unrest. To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe