RAM In The News


July 18, 2016 - 5 minutes with Marshall Weston, CEO of the Restaurant Association of Maryland
Marshall Weston is never short on options when he wants to go out to eat. About 2,000 restaurants in the state would be willing to have him as their guest on any given night. Weston is CEO of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, a trade group that works on behalf of member restaurants in the state. The Restaurant Association is an advocate for the industry, and works with public officials to establish policies and laws that help restaurants.

June 16, 2016 - Tipped workers worry about impact of proposed Baltimore $15 minimum wage
Currently, Maryland law sets minimum wage for tipped workers at $3.63. While most employees make above the overall minimum state wage of $8.25 including tips, employers are required to make up the difference if any tipped employee’s wages do not reach that mandated level. But a new bill being considered by the Baltimore City Council would raise overall minimum wage rates to $15 per hour by 2020 and would eliminate separate wage brackets for tipped workers. All tipped workers would make the $15 minimum by July 2025.

June 15, 2016 - Baltimore activists, businesses speak out on $15 minimum wage proposal
A push by labor advocates Wednesday to persuade a City Council panel to approve a $15 an hour minimum wage was met with criticism from business leaders, who say such a law would drive companies from Baltimore. Council members planned to further study the proposal. Baltimore would become the latest city to adopt a minimum wage, amid a national push for better pay for low-skill workers. A $15 an hour wage won initial approval last week in Washington, joining San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. Under the proposal, which Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke introduced last month, the minimum wage in the city would gradually increase to $15 an hour by 2020.

June 06, 2016 - Another City Considers Warnings For Sugary Drinks
Baltimore could become the first major city in the United States to require health warning labels on sugar-sweetened beverages. The bill would also require labels on restaurant menus, advertisements and in stores that sell these products, according to a report by WBAL 1090. The bill is opposed by retailers and the beverage industry, who argue that it should be up to consumers to decide for themselves if they want to buy these beverages.The Restaurant Association of Maryland and the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Beverage Association also oppose the proposal.

June 06, 2016 - City Council To Consider Sweet Drink Warning Label Bill; Retailers Respond
On Tuesday, the Baltimore City Council's Health Committee holds a hearing on a bill that would require health warning labels be placed on sugar sweetened beverages sold in the city. The bill would also require labels on restaurant menus, advertisements and in stores that sell these products. Melvin Thompson, the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s senior vice president of government affairs and public policy, was equally critical saying: “We are concerned that this proposed legislation goes too far and will not only deter the formation of new businesses, such as restaurants, but send a negative message that will discourage people from eating, shopping and enjoying Baltimore City.”

April 11, 2016 - Maryland sick leave bill gains new momentum on final day of session
Senators began taking the final steps Monday to pass a law that would require bosses to grant sick leave to their employees, as the final hours wound down on the final day of the Maryland General Assembly session. The version of the bill backed by Middleton requires companies with at least 15 employees to allow workers to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, to a minimum total of 40 hours -- or five days -- per year. That's a change from 56 hours (seven days) in the original bill. The bill has been opposed by groups including the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Restaurant Association of Maryland.

April 05, 2016 - After 3 years of failure, Maryland House advances sick leave bill
Maryland is closer to requiring bosses to allow their employees to earn sick leave following a key vote in the House of Delegates Tuesday. For the past three years, lawmakers have killed bills requiring sick leave for workers, but the issue picked up momentum in Annapolis this year. The bill approved by the House requires companies with 15 or more employees to offer paid sick leave to workers at a rate of one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, totaling 56 hours — or seven days — per year. Companies with fewer than 15 employees would be required to offer the same amount of unpaid sick leave. The bill has exemptions for employees younger than 18 and seasonal employees who work fewer than 90 days a year.The bill has been opposed by small business groups, chambers of commerce and the Restaurant Association of Maryland.

March 04, 2016 - MGM casino bill would allow indoor smoking area
This bill would let gamblers smoke inside the soon-to-open MGM casino at National Harbor. Anti-smoking advocates are objecting to legislation that would let gamblers smoke inside the new MGM casino complex at National Harbor — something that is illegal in every other Maryland casino.
Meanwhile, businesses that include restaurants and liquor dealers are opposing the provision for their own reasons. Melvin Thompson, senior vice president of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, said the proposed MGM smoking exemption is unfair. "If we're going to make this exemption for a cigar lounge in a casino, we should also broaden it to other businesses who also might be interested in such an exemption," he said.

March 01, 2016 - Maryland lawmakers again consider paid sick leave legislation
Advocates for paid sick leave think the legislation might be successful this year — their fourth attempt in Annapolis — not only because of the pint-sized lobbyists they have on their side, but because the bill's co-sponsors represent a majority of both the House of Delegates and state Senate. More than 100 groups that are part of the Working Matters coalition, which is pushing for the bill. The legislation is opposed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Restaurant Association of Maryland and other business groups.The proposal would require an employer with 10 or more employees to allow the workers to earn at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked — up to seven days per year.

February 19, 2016 - Md. restaurants could cut sugary drinks from pre-set kids' meals
The bill resurfaced after dying in a Senate hearing last year. Pulliam said that was because the Maryland Restaurant Association had some problems with the amendments; Rawl said the “political timing was not right. Because restaurants must charge extra for beverages other than low-fat milk, bottled water or fruit juice that may be included in the price of a children’s meal, this legislation seeks to punish parents by charging them more for what proponents believe to be a bad decision,” the Maryland Restaurant Association’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Melvin Thompson said during the Thursday hearing.

February 18, 2016 - Bill would ban soda from restaurant kids meals
Maryland lawmakers are looking to ban soda, sports drinks and other sugary beverages from among the choices in restaurants’ pre-set kids meal packages. Parents can still order soda, but it will be like ordering a side dish, and won’t be part of the kids’ deal packages. The bill resurfaced after dying in a Senate hearing last year.  "Because restaurants must charge extra for beverages other than low-fat milk, bottled water or fruit juice that may be included in the price of a children’s meal, this legislation seeks to punish parents by charging them more for what proponents believe to be a bad decision,” the Maryland Restaurant Association’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Melvin Thompson said during the Thursday hearing.

February 15, 2016 - Imported fish must bring their papers

The Obama administration has proposed new rules that would require seafood importers to better record the who, what, when, where and how of the fish they bring into the country. Del. Eric Luedtke has sponsored a bill in the last two General Assembly sessions that would require restaurants to list the country of origin of seafood on the menu. But the legislation, which is opposed by the Restaurant Association of Maryland, has not advanced.

February 11, 2016 - Maryland food trucks look to streamline licensing process
Food truck operators say the change would let them compete equally with restaurants that provide catering — restaurants are licensed at their brick-and-mortar locations but allowed to cater across the state. But the Restaurant Association of Maryland argued it would have the opposite effect. "Under the way this bill has been proposed, there is no local registration with the county health department," Melvin Thompson, the restaurant association's senior vice president of government affairs and public policy, said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday. "It's unclear to us how a local authority could shut down a food truck that is operating in violation while in their jurisdiction."

February 08, 2016 - Restaurant Association Endorses 'End The Monopoly' DLC Bill
The Restaurant Association of Maryland says its members want Montgomery County’s monopoly on the distribution of alcohol to end. In a letter sent Wednesday to the county’s state legislative delegation, the association’s senior vice president, Melvin Thompson, wrote that, “Many county business owners in our industry believe that alcohol distribution reforms are long overdue.” Dozens of local restaurants are members of the association, which lobbies for and offers legal assistance to members in addition to other resources.

January 11, 2016 - Maryland retail, beverage industries decry city effort to put warning labels on sugary drinks
A push to put a warning label on sugar-sweetened juices, sodas, sports drinks, coffee and teas in Baltimore City is being opposed by the state's retail and beverage industry, claiming the move could keep more businesses from locating here. The Maryland Retailers Association, Restaurant Association of Maryland and the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Beverage Association say they're opposed to a bill that would put warning labels on such drinks.