For the past two months I have been working with the Independent Restaurant Coalition and Senator Wicker’s office to develop further relief for restaurants. We have drafted and secured sponsorship for a bipartisan bill in the House and the Senate.
The Senate bill is called the RESTAURANTS Act and will be a lifesaver for all independent restaurants and small franchisees if passed. Senator Wicker introduced the bill, so we don’t need to solicit his support. I am confident that Senator Hyde-Smith will hop on board, too. The bill has bipartisan support in the Senate, and we continue to solicit co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.
Where I need your immediate help is with the House bill (HR 7197). Congressman Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, introduced the bill on the House side, and it is just as beneficial to us— if not more so— than the Senate bill. The House bill also has bipartisan support and we continue to add co-sponsors daily.
WE NEED OUR ENTIRE MISSISSIPPI DELEGATION TO SIGN ON AS CO-SPONSORS.
I know you are extremely busy right now, but we only have two weeks to make this happen so time is of the essence. I need everyone who receives this correspondence to take five minutes out of their day to contact their Representative— via telephone, AND email— and ask them to co-sponsor HR 7197. It will also be helpful to contact those Representatives outside of your district. This is vital to the existence of our industry.
I encourage each of you to read the House and Senate bills to see how beneficial they will be to each of us if signed into law.
ADDRESS TO: Dear ______________, Thank you and your team for the opportunity to share information about the impact that the RESTAURANTS Act will make for the independent restaurant community. We appreciate your recognition of the role restaurants play in knitting together the fabric of our community and state. The independent restaurant community, representing over 500,000 restaurants and 11 million employees nationally, has been drastically impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. The restaurant sector is currently the #1 contributor to America’s record unemployment. At present, four in 10 restaurants are closed and the remaining 60% are operating at severely depressed revenue levels. In Mississippi, restaurant employees represent nearly nine percent of our workforce. That is why we are encouraged that you and your office are considering taking a lead role in advancing the RESTAURANTS Act of 2020. Independent restaurants anchor neighborhoods and communities and drive travel and tourism to every part of our state. Independent restaurants indirectly contribute to the success of every business large and small that relies on a healthy travel industry, from airlines and hotels to parking garages and the retailers who depend on the foot traffic that restaurants attract. Further, independent restaurants directly support hundreds of thousands of jobs and small businesses, including farmers, fishermen, distributors and the service sector. Independent restaurants also drive community development and investment, and are a key tenant for commercial real estate developers. According to the US Dept of Agriculture, there are over 31,320 small farms in our state. Within one week of dining rooms closing in Mississippi, perishable goods were left sitting in the stagnant supply chain. Nationally, sales of premium products, such as seafood and steaks, decreased as much as 80%. Wine sales decreased by 67% and sales of spirits dropped by 75%. Within weeks, meat processors were forced to euthanize animals for lack of market demand for processed goods. Without this bill, our state will not only permanently lose restaurant jobs, but we will lose many of the farms and purveyors that depend on us. Related industries - from bookkeeping services to linen companies to the small businesses that provide us with everything from grease removal to landscaping, will be negatively impacted. We strongly encourage you to support the RESTAURANTS Act of 2020. This bill is a vital step to restart our state and national economic engine. We need restaurants to survive so we can help the millions of Americans working alongside us in our restaurants, and in our extensive supply chain.