IFA’s 2014 State Legislative Forecast
You don’t need a crystal ball to see it’s going to be a busy year.
According to the 2003 “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Psychology,” it is an established “psychological fact of life” that, “when it comes to human beings, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” The same can be said about legislation.
The International Franchise Association is committed to protecting, enhancing and promoting the interests of franchisees and franchisors year-round. Last year, the association witnessed what could be charitably called “unartful drafting” of legislation and ordinances at the state and local levels which would harm franchisees, franchisors and consumers. A major focus of our work at IFA is directed at stopping bad ideas as early as possible that threaten the nearly 8,000,000 people employed through franchising.
Although we successfully beat back all legislative and regulatory threats to franchising in 2013, the New Year brings with it a threat of a new host of challenges. To draw from the “Game of Thrones” series, “winter is coming!”
Dangers to Franchising
Franchise relationship bills are the most serious danger to franchising in 2014. State legislatures have universally rejected attempts of having government intervene between franchisees and franchisors. The message, “contracts should mean something,” has resonated with legislators from coast to coast.
IFA continues to pursue its proactive advocacy program clarifying that franchisees are not employees. Georgia and Delaware unanimously passed legislation that did just that. We plan to build upon this foundation and will pursue similar legislation in New Jersey, Oregon and continue our efforts in Massachusetts.
There was a legislative attempt last year in Washington state to create a presumption of employment and establish a worker classification standard, which would cloud the independent contractor status of franchisees. Although defeated, proponents of this proposal remain undeterred and have publicly stated this will be their No. 1 priority. IFA and other pro-business groups have formed a coalition to once again fight this legislation.
The association also expects to see more ill-advised efforts by cities to unfairly discriminate against franchise businesses through draconian and arbitrary zoning ordinances. Despite scientific fact, local governments continue to seek bans and restrictions on everything from sodas to polystyrene.
IFA has no intention of resting on our 2013 victories. This new year will have its own set of opportunities and obstacles. That said, we will be reaching out to franchisees, franchisors, and suppliers as they are franchising’s best ambassadors.
For example, in California, the association will be hosting a “Franchising Day” on March 4 of this year to remind legislators of the positive economic impact the franchise industry has on the state.
As mentioned above, California is not the only state that demands close monitoring. We urge your attention to the state legislative session dates on the following page.
Dean Heyl is IFA’s senior director of state government relations, public policy & tax counsel and Sam Higginbotham is the association’s government relations assistant. Find them at fransocial.franchise.org via the directory.