By Kevin Bogardus - 01/27/14 02:16 PM EST
The hotel industry says it plans to fight state-by-state this year to defeat “extreme” minimum wage legislation.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), which includes hotel chains such as Best Western International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts and Marriott International, placed wage legislation near the top of its lobbying agenda for 2014.
President Obama and several Democratic lawmakers are pushing a federal minimum wage increase, which has been opposed by Republicans and many business groups. Obama is expected to highlight income inequality in Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
Much of the action on raising the minimum wage has not been in Washington, however, but at the state level.
In 2013, a spate of fast-food restaurant strikes, endorsed by unions, drew attention to the wage issue. In addition, legislation to raise the minimum wage was introduced in Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and 34 states last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Labor and liberal-leaning groups have pushed for a wage increase, saying it can boost the economy by giving workers more spending power. But trade associations have argued that raising the minimum wage will lead to businesses hiring fewer workers.
The AH&LA takes a similar position, and said it plans to educate “Congress and the public on the job-killing effects of living wage hikes and the proven track record of upward mobility in the lodging industry,” according to the agenda document.
The minimum wage is one of several policy fights where the hotel industry plans to be active.
The hoteliers’ association also plans to lobby for changing “the Affordable Care Act’s definition of a full-time employee definition from 30 to 40 hours” of work per week, a definition that will decide which businesses are subject to the employer mandate under ObamaCare.
The group also plans to advocate for immigration reform and legislation that cracks down on “patent trolls.”
In addition the AH&LA will “encourage continued government travel and conferences while ensuring responsible stewardship of public funds,” according to the document.
“For generations, lodging has given men and women in cities and towns across the country an environment to enter, grow, and build a long-lasting career, generating success through dedication and hard work. Our policy agenda provides them with an important tool to take to Washington and, with a unified voice, advocate for policies allowing for a continuation of this success and growth,” said Katherine Lugar, the AH&LA’s president and CEO, in a statement.
Lugar has sought to revamp the trade group into a more aggressive lobbying force since taking over in 2013.
The AH&LA has upped its K Street spending slightly, spending more than $1.3 million on lobbying in 2013, according to disclosure records. In 2012, the trade group spent more than $1.2 million.
The trade group also shook up its lobby team in November 2013. Among the changes, Vanessa Sinders, former chief of staff for Campaign to Fix the Debt and ex-Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), is now helping to lead its government affairs division.