The Washington Restaurant Association's 2007 legislative agenda just arrived in my e-mail inbox. Here's some of what the WRA wants to accomplish in Olympia this year:
Lower minimum wage for teenage workers. The WRA wants a teen wage equal to 85 percent of the state's minimum wage rate. The WRA cites state Employment Security Department figures saying teen employment in the restaurant industry is down nearly 16 percent since 2002. The WRA says employers can't afford to hire teens at today's wages.
Tax equity for employers who must pay taxes on employee tips. The WRA wants to create what it calls "tax fairness" by reversing policies that require the restaurant industry to pay payroll taxes on the tipped income received by their employees. The state does not recognize tipped income as wages; the WRA says paying payroll taxes on this portion of a worker's income penalizes the employer.
Health care. The WRA says employers should not be required to purchase health insurance for employees. It says those decisions should be made on an individual basis between the employer and the worker. It says the state should focus on implementing measures to reduce the cost of providing health insurance and encouraging more competition from insurers.
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UPDATED: Here's an interview my colleague C.R. Roberts did with Anthony Anton, the head of the Washington Restaurant Association.