More than 30 Texas restaurateurs headed to our nation’s Capitol on March 27 and 28 to broaden legislative horizons and advocate for the industry at the 33rd annual National Restaurant Association Public Affairs Conference.
Texas joined 600 industry leaders from 42 state restaurant associations for two full, whirlwind days of seminars, legislative insights and lobbying on Capitol Hill.
Participants heard a thoughtful and insightful keynote address from former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and Fox News contributor, Donna Brazile, along with policy updates from Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Representatives Kevin Hern (R-OK) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA).
The stage heated up with a political talk-show-style panel, moderated by Margaret Brennan, host of CBS’s Face the Nation. Panelists included Democrat Stephanie Cutter, senior advisor to former President Barack Obama and current ABC News commentator, and Alex Castellanos, consultant to former President George W. Bush, and frequent guest on NBC’s Meet the Press and ABC News. Panelists offered their predictions for the upcoming presidential race, as well as thoughts on policy and the current administration.
As the Texas delegation walked the Hill on the second day, legislative priorities for 2019 included three top asks of lawmakers:
- a fix for the restaurant depreciation provision in the 2017 tax bill to make sure that restaurants maintain the 15-year depreciation schedule,
- oppose the “Raise the Wage Act” in the House and Senate that would increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour by 2024; index it to median wage growth thereafter; and eliminate the tip credit,
- support legislative proposals that would provide a clear path to legalization for Dreamers; improve border security while facilitating travel and tourism; implement a viable essential worker program; and create a reliable federal employment verification system.
In addition to meeting with Texas Representatives, the Texas delegation also heard from, and visited with Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. Top priorities were discussed along with a variety of other key issues including healthcare, worker shortages, and taxes.
Finally, TRA members cheered on fellow Texan Paco Vargas (Vargas Cut and Catch by Paco, Rudy and Paco Restaurant & Bar), one of three winners selected for the 2019 NRA Faces of Diversity Award. A $2,500 scholarship will be presented in Vargas’ name to a promising culinary/hospitality student. Watch Paco's story here.