Ahead of the President’s State of the Union address this evening, the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) president and CEO Dawn Sweeney says economic stability and progress in key policy areas is critical to the restaurant industry’s continued growth and success. 

“While the restaurant industry is expected to grow in 2013, operators continue to face a wide range of challenges, chief among them concerns about consumer confidence and the economy,” Sweeney says. “On behalf of our members, the National Restaurant Association urges policymakers to provide long-term, sustainable solutions necessary to keep our economy moving.”

As an industry of more than 13 million individuals, nearly one million locations, and more than $660 billion in sales, restaurants are affected by policy and regulatory decisions on a wide range of issues, Sweeney says.

She points to federal immigration reform, comprehensive tax reform, and reforms to the 2010 health care law as key to continued job growth in the restaurant industry.

As the nation’s second-largest private sector employer, the NRA continues to support federal immigration reforms that include an accurate and reliable employment verification system.

But it’s only a first step; eventually, worksite enforcement must be accompanied by provisions that give employers who have made every reasonable effort to hire Americans a way to hire legal foreign workers to keep their businesses open and contributing to the U.S. economy.

The NRA has advocated for fair tax reforms that take the restaurant industry’s organizational diversity into account. The NRA believes Congress should examine corporate and individual tax reform simultaneously, due to the variety of smaller partnership arrangements that make up a majority of restaurant businesses.

The NRA also has called on Congress to enact a permanent 15-year depreciation schedule for restaurant buildings and improvements, and make permanent the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

In addition, the pace of health care regulations has picked up, and policymakers realize there are challenges with the health care law that require reform. The NRA has worked for more than two years to highlight the industry’s challenges in complying with the health care law, filing volumes of comments with regulatory agencies to get the answers operators need, and to ensure they have maximum flexibility as the rules are written so they can meet the goals of the legislation and continue to grow jobs. 

“Restaurants provide quality jobs in every state and every Congressional district, and the National Restaurant Association will continue our efforts advocating for policies that create an environment conducive to job creation and growth for our industry,” Sweeney says.

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