No override attempt on restaurant wage bill, compromise sought

Hartford

(WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont notches a minor victory with the General Assembly as legislative leaders back off from a veto override attempt. Democratic and Republican leaders in the House had been united in their push to override the Governor’s veto of that restaurant wages bill but Senate leaders said no to the override attempt.

Saying that compromise was always better than confrontation, Speaker of the House Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin) announced that there would be no attempt to override the Governor’s veto.

“Why come in and override a veto when you can reach an agreement that may have the same affect,” said Aresimowicz. House Minority Leader Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby), who had previously endorsed the override attempt saying, “The goal here is to make sure that this bill that was vetoed is changed in a way that helps everybody.”

The vetoed bill required the Department of Labor to clarify a rule for wages for bartenders and wait staff in restaurants. State law allows wait staff to be paid $6.38 and bartenders $8.23 because they get tips. Non-serving restaurant employees must be paid the full minimum wage. The issue is over those that do both jobs – serving the public and duties like filling salt shakers and clearing tables. Restaurants generally have said if 80% of a workers duties is serving the customers then the lower wage prevails.

The Senate President Pro temp, Sen. Martin Looney/(D-New Haven) saying, “An agreement was reached late Friday or over the weekend to not attempt an override and instead try to find a path to compromise on the issues contained in that bill that could then be taken up in a separate ‘Special Session.”

The 8,200 member Connecticut Restaurant Association says all they want is clarity on that 80-20 rule. More than a half dozen restaurants and restaurant groups have been sued in court for allegedly violating the rule. “There’s potential for litigation if they do that and I think that’s the conversation we’re trying to have up here today with legislators. We are looking for clarity and compromise to the rule,” said Scott Dolch, the Executive Director of the association.

So the Governor not only avoids the embarrassment of of a veto override but gets to make his point about the last minute legislation that some lawmakers admit they may not have understood when it passed on the final day. Governor Lamont saying, “I think they’re going to come up with a deal
that takes care of the restaurant workers, some of whom felt like they were being short changed.”

The Speaker of the House said today he hopes to get this compromise worked out in a week or so and bring lawmakers back to vote on it. Others say it may not get done until September.

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