State Comptroller Announces New Website Focused on Texas Economy
Texas Comptroller's Office launched a new web site featuring state revenue and spending data plus other economic indicators. The Comptroller indicated the site uses info-graphics and video to present key data on a variety of issues and how they impact the Texas economy and business community. Topics include drought, obesity and education. Read more at www.thetexaseconomy.org.
Texas Attorney General's Child Support Division-Employee Garnishment Policies
The Child Support Division's contract for the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) is nearing its end. The initial term expired August 2011 and we're in the first of two 2-year renewals that we may execute at our option. The contract will end no later than August 2015. While that's three years from now, there's significant planning that goes into the procurement for this contract.
We are interested in your perspective about SDU capabilities that impact you directly as an employer -- the Employer Call Center, employer payment options, and the Texas Debit Card (as a merchant).
Both TRA and HEB are members of the AG's Employer Task Force and will be asked to discuss these areas where the SDU touches you and your employee's. Any feedback on these processes implemented over the last few years would be very helpful.
Please send any comments or suggestions to Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Department of Labor Issues Fines for Child Labor Violations |
The Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division has embarked upon a multiyear enforcement initiative on the supermarket industry, focusing primarily on child labor violations by grocery stores. The Wage and Hour Division has found noncompliance in a number of independent grocery stores with the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping and child labor provisions in Alabama & Mississippi. As a result, employers have been assessed civil money penalties in excess of $65,000. Good advice is to make sure you get all your paperwork in order as this latest enforcement emphasis by DOL seems to focus in on minor inadvertent violations but with very significant fines.
According to a Wage and Hour Division press release, common child labor violations included minors being allowed to perform prohibited hazardous tasks, such as loading and/or operating power-driven scrap paper balers and paper box compactors. Other violations include employers making illegal deductions for uniforms and other items that caused workers' wages to fall below the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour; failing to pay for all compensable hours, such as rest breaks; and improperly classifying employees as exempt from the FLSA, which resulted in overtime violations.
The Wage and Hour Division is also conducting outreach with various stakeholders and state level grocery trade associations in an effort to encourage compliance with the FLSA.
|Hiring Surges, Jobless Rate Down to 8.3% |
WASHINGTON (AP) - In a long-awaited surge of hiring, companies added 243,000 jobs in January - across the economy, up and down the pay scale and far more than just about anyone expected. Unemployment fell to 8.3 percent, the lowest in three years.
The job growth was the fastest since last March and April. Before that, the last month with stronger hiring, excluding months skewed by temporary census jobs, was March 2006.
The unemployment rate came down by two notches from December. It has fallen five months in a row, the first time that has happened since 1994, two economic booms and two recessions ago.
|USDA Announces Latest Actions to Combat Fraud and Enhance SNAP Program Integrity|
USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon announced results for first quarter of fiscal year 2012 in the effort to identify and eliminate fraudulent retailers from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). From October 1 through December 31, 2011, USDA staff took final actions to:
1.Sanction, through fines or temporary disqualifications, more than 225 stores found violating program rules; and
2. Permanently disqualify over 350 stores for trafficking in SNAP benefits (i.e. exchanging SNAP benefits for cash).
Minutes from February FMI State Association/Federal Issues Call
FMI provides a State Association conference call on a monthly basis to connect state associations and keep everyone up to date on Federal lobbying efforts.
Click here to read minutes.
|Please let us know if you are aware of another subject or item that may see some type of legislative activity in near future.
Incomes Up But Consumer Spending Flat
HOUSTON CHRONICLE -
Americans' income rose in December by the most in nine months, a hopeful sign for the economy after a year of weak wage gains. But consumers didn't spend any more than they had in November.
Americans ended up saving all their additional income.
Economists noted that income rose last month largely because of strong hiring. The economy added 200,000 jobs in December. More jobs mean more income available to spend.
|Texas Department of Agriculture Announces New Egg Guidelines
The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) conducted a comprehensive review of the department's administrative penalty matrices during 2011. The intent of the reviews was to ensure that each penalty matrix was updated to provide better information about TDA's regulatory goals in enforcing statutory requirements and regulations, as well as to update penalty amounts to appropriate levels that serve as an effective deterrence to noncompliance.
in the Texas Register.
The matrix and guidelines will be published for public reference in the February 3, 2012 edition of Texas Register and are effective immediately upon publication.
|New Labeling Guidelines Effective March 1st on Ground Meat and Poultry and Single Ingredient
Effective March 1, the USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service will begin enforcement of the Nutritional Labeling Act on ground or chopped meat and poultry and single ingredient products, with or without seasonings. The covered ground products include single ingredient raw hamburger, ground beef, ground beef patties, ground chicken, ground turkey, ground chicken patties, ground pork, and ground lamb. are coming to the meat and poultry aisle at your nearby grocery store.
Click here to read additional information from FMI bulletin on the requirements.
Ronnie Volkening, President
Joe WIlliams, Vice President Regulatory and Member Services and Texas Food Council Main Contact
Stephanie Gibson, Vice President of Governmental Affairs
Anissa Kocian, Director of Operations and Events
Carrie Blanda, Director of Communications