Earlier in the month, CRA Board members participated in the annual Regulatory Lobby Day. This is an event similar to the CRA legislative Lobby Day that occurs each April, except that the focus of this event is on the state regulators that have purview over the restaurant community. In many cases, laws are passed by the legislature and then thrown to regulators to implement.
While the legislature is out of session, the CRA uses this time to "put a face" on the industry for state regulators and help them understand how their proposals would impact day-to-day operations for a restaurant.
The CRA interacts with these regulators all year round, but this event allows for operators and owners to directly interact with the state's leading agencies and share with them information about their operations as well as learn from the varying agencies about their mission and priorities.
This year's event was particularly timely as a number of issues that will impact the restaurant community are at critical junctures in the regulatory process. Those include: 1) new regulations on transfer and renewal of alcohol licenses as well as streamlining the protest process; 2) draft regulations to overhaul the state's chemical warning signs (Proposition 65); 3) ongoing efforts by the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to return the state unemployment insurance fund to solvency; 4) continued efforts at the state Board of Equalization (BOE) to improve the sales tax audit process and work toward ways to end the Board's practice of applying sales tax to gratuities that the Board presumes are "mandatory gratuities"; and 5) impending regulations regarding the disposal of organic food waste.
CRA Board members provided tremendous insight to the regulators throughout this day and the feedback was very well received the regulatory community. In fact, they have come to welcome and expect this outreach day as they do not see this with other industries.