Eateries and Election Day - SmartBrief

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Eateries and Election Day

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This post is by SmartBlog on Restaurants and Restaurant SmartBrief contributor Janet Forgrieve.

Restaurants from rural Florida to California’s coast have once again become popular places for this season’s political candidates to spread their messages to captive audiences — at least until the check comes. But for many restaurateurs, there’s much more at stake than just packing the house for politicians’ speeches. States and cities across the country have some key questions on the ballot, including a measure to repeal a tax on liquor in Massachusetts to an obscure measure in California that would reclassify fees as taxes, which require a two-thirds majority of legislators or voters to pass. But for the restaurant industry, today’s election may be less about ballot issues and more about the direction the country’s laws will take during the next two years.

Several issues of importance to restaurateurs may hang in the balance as voters across the nation collectively decide whether Democrats retain or lose their majorities in one or both houses of Congress, and operators hoping for relief from provisions contained in this year’s revamped health care legislation are among those most eager to hear the outcomes. The congressional composition is likely to frame debate on several issues of importance to restaurant owners, including immigration reform and the fate of Bush-era tax cuts, but by far the most vital is likely to be whether lawmakers will move to revise provisions in the health care law.

The health care legislation not only has the potential to directly impact restaurants with its ramped-up requirements aimed at insuring all Americans. The bill also contained some additional provisions, from mandatory nutritional labeling on menus — which restaurant companies have already been adapting to — to greatly expanded IRS reporting requirements that threaten to snow small-business owners under a mound of paperwork. The second provision, which will require companies to file 1099 forms on any vendor to whom they pay $600 or more in a year, is one that restaurateurs and other small-business owners are gearing up to fight.

Elections often bring out a smattering of lighter tales to balance out the serious issues at stake. The Associated Press reported Monday morning that a restaurant in St. Paul, Minn., was forced to alter an Election Day promotion offering a discount to anyone wearing an “I voted” sticker, after state officials warned that the deal could violate federal laws. Now anyone wishing fellow patrons and staffers at Highland Grill a “Happy Election Day” today will win the 25% discount.

How will your business concerns color the way you vote today? Tell us about it.