A new bill to exempt certain fast food restaurants from the AB 1228 $20 minimum wage law was introduced in the Assembly on Wednesday.
According to Assembly Bill 610, authored by Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), additional restaurants would be exempted from the definition of “fast food restaurant” under the AB 1228 law, which is due to take effect in April. This includes all fast food locations in the following places:
- Those inside Airports, but excluding all military and federally operated facilities
- Those connected to or operating inside hotels
- Those inside event centers of more than 20,000 square feet or 1,000 seats, including concert halls, stadiums, sports arenas, racetracks, coliseums, and convention centers.
- Those inside theme parks
- Those inside public or private museums
- Those inside casinos and other gambling establishments
- Those located in and operated in conjunction with a building, group of buildings, or campus used for office purposes primarily or exclusively by a single, for-profit corporation and its affiliates.
- Those located on land owned by the state, a city or county, or other political subdivision of the state, that is part of a port district or land managed by a port authority or port commission, a public beach, public pier, state park, municipal or regional park, or historic district.
In addition, AB 610 would go into effect immediately if passed.
A new exemption bill
While Holden did not disclose his reasonings for bringing forward AB 610 on Wednesday, the fact that the exempted restaurants would be in either commercial areas or in areas where food is generally needed, such as airports, points to the bill wanting to make sure these restaurants keep operating in these areas. Should AB 610 pass, it would add onto the exemptions already listed within AB 1228, including some restaurants in grocery stores and those with on-site bakeries, such as Panera Bread.
While there is currently no set opposition against or support for the bill, it is expected to come soon. Experts told the Globe on Wednesday that there had been pressure from many commercial businesses for months who were worried about higher food costs and possibly losing franchise locations within their establishments, and that, while not confirmed by Holden or any other supporters, they had wanted exemptions against the $20 minimum wage law to help keep them inside.
“Holden was the one who wrote AB 1228 don’t forget,” said fast food restaurant consultant Linda Medina to the Globe on Wednesday. “Since it was passed, so many places have said they were worried about this minimum wage jump. I mean, imagine an airport McDonalds or Burger King jacking up food prices or leaving altogether. There is no quick fix kiosk screen solutions to many of these areas too remember. They have to have cashiers and other expensive overheard. And now, with AB 1228, that means really high wages.
“AB 1228 is a disaster within its own right, as many locations are preparing to let a ton of workers go, prices are going up, and in many cases, we’ve already seen both happen in preparation for the law to take effect on April 1st. For Holden to come out with this bill so quickly, well, it shows just how bad it was going to get. A lot of fast food companies are taking a second look at these expensive in-complex locations, and it made a lot of people nervous. You lose these restaurants, these places lose a lot of money. Especially with those in public areas.
“Holden hasn’t said why he wrote this bill just yet, but it should be pretty obvious. He was so short-sighted on crafting AB 1228 he forget to even consider places like this. Now, with reality closing in, he doesn’t want to admit that AB 1228 is a mistake, so he is fixing some of the worst parts of it through other bills.
“If this passes, you know, I won’t say it won’t help, but it will only help those locations. Everywhere else not exempted is still pretty screwed. But it won’t be as obvious. After all, Holden doesn’t want to be known as the guy who made LAX and SFO devoid of all restaurants. The best thing would just be to repeal AB 1228, but as this bill shows, he’s still in ‘band-aid’ mode.”
More on AB 610 is due out soon.
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