Feature: HRA 2018 Legislative Outlook

The eyes of the Hawaii Restaurant Association are wide open and watchful as the 2018 session of the Hawaii State Legislature undertakes its business for the year.

Victor Lim, HRA Government Relations Committee Chair

“We are in the last year of the minimum wage provision, and I think the minimum wage bills will continue to be something that we can look forward to having,” said Victor Lim, HRA Legislative Chairman. Having all the major banks in the state increasing their starting minimum wage to $15 an hour really will put pressure on the restaurant and retail sectors in a big way, he said.

Another cost of doing business likely also will be revived during the session, Lim predicted. “There is a big camp in the legislature that continues to look for more liberal paid leave and sick leave provisions, and until the bills get filed and language gets written, we don’t know what the proposals will be,” but we have fought similar issues over the past few years and I think we will continue to face those issues.”

This is an election year and as such, lawmakers generally do not get overly aggressive in introducing tough legislation, said Lim, who also is a six-unit McDonald’s franchisee.

In other news …

The statewide scare of an official ballistic missile warning that turned out to be a false alarm, was a “fiasco that brings to light the need for contingency plans,” he said. Questions arose, even among businesses that have emergency plans for natural disasters: Do we close the business, or do we stay open? Do we chase people out, like some people did?

As state and county officials conduct their investigations, as an industry, “we’ve got to have an orderly plan,” Lim said. “It behooves all of us to look realistically at our facilities” and to create a plan for what to do, in the event of an actual emergency. “I think everybody needs to come up with their own plan … having a clear emergency plan to address different possibilities is important for all businesses.”

What a difference a word makes

Not all battles are fought at the state level, and on behalf of members and nonmembers in Kauai County, the HRA, via Lim, scored one in the “W” column.

An issue arose with the requirement that the words “Reusable” and “Recyclable” be printed on recyclable paper bags, biodegradable bags and/or reusable bags. This caused a health and safety concern given the single-service, single-use nature of most take-out restaurant bags.

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