Labor Department Proposes New Overtime Threshold: The U.S. Labor Department late Thursday announced its long-awaited proposed update of overtime thresholds, raising the minimum salary for employees to qualify for Fair Labor Standards Act white-collar exemptions to $35,308 per year. Under current law, employees with a salary below $455 a week (or $23,660 annually) must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week.
U.S. Lawmakers Look to Rollout New Cannabis Laws: U.S. lawmakers from both parties want to change the country’s marijuana laws during the 116th Congress, an idea that has gained popularity as public support for legalized cannabis grows, according to RollCall.com. Proponents believe that now is the time to fix the banking, tax and legal gray areas that have emerged as states set up marijuana dispensaries in open defiance of federal law.
Cannabis Bills Proliferate In U.S. Congress: So much competing cannabis legislation is floating around Congress these days it can be hard to keep it all straight. Last week, Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act to the House. The bill, which boasts over 100 sponsors, would prevent federal banking regulators from penalizing banks for “providing financial services to a cannabis-related legitimate business provider” or state agencies presiding over such activity.
Trump Wants E-Cigarette Companies to Pay User Fees: The Trump administration wants the e-cigarette industry to pay $100 million a year in user fees to underwrite regulatory oversight by the Food and Drug Administration, the Washington Post reports. While several other types of tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars and snuff, are subject to similar fees, e-cigarettes are not. This fiscal year, the agency is expected to collect an estimated $712 million in user fees, with cigarettes providing more than 86% of the total.
FDA Restricts Sales of Flavored E-Cigarettes, Cigars at Retail: On March 13, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) effectively banned gas stations and convenience stores from selling most flavored electronic cigarettes under its new draft guidance, “Modifications to Compliance Policy for Certain Deemed Tobacco Products,” the Wall Street Journal reports. First set forth by the agency in November, the directives restrict access to flavored e-cigs that have been popular among minors.
Report: U.S. Wine Exports Down in 2018: U.S. wine exports have declined over the last year through December by 12 percent in volume and 5 percent in value, according to a recent report by bw166, a wine industry consulting group. Almost 35 percent of the packaged U.S. wine by value went to Canada. The U.S. bulk wine market — wine shipped in containers to be later repackaged— was different as exports in that sector grew by 12 percent in volume and 10 percent in value.
BUSINESS AND LIFESTYLE NEWS
Aluminum Bottles Gaining Traction in Winemaking: After increasing traction for premium U.S. wine in aluminum cans, the light-weight metal is coming to another increasingly popular way consumers can enjoy the fruit of the vine on the go: aluminum bottles. “Aluminum cans are getting broad acceptance by consumers — mostly younger consumers — and that has upped the incentive for aluminum container manufacturers to finally make aluminum bottles in the correct approved volumes for wine,” said Paul Tincknell, a principal of design firm Tincknell & Tincknell.
Coors Will Give You Free Beer Every Time It Gets Trolled by Bud Light:The Great Corn Syrup War rages on. I've been conscripted simply because I drink beer. I have grown tired, yet, the war proceeds onward even after Bud Light released a sort of apology about its Super Bowl ads. You remember, dear, the ones about corn syrup that most people thought were a little misleading.
Increasing Transparency in Beer Packaging: The world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, has become the first company to print facts and ingredients labels on its case packaging to increase the transparency of its products, with Bud Light being the first product to feature the new information. The shake-up in its packaging strategy is a result of increasing consumer demand for transparency in packaging.
Cannabis Drinks Confront a Serious Buzz Kill - They Taste Terrible: Cannabis drinks are hitting the global market, promising anxiety reduction, pain relief and better sleep. One thing none of them tout is taste. "Like a barnyard," Ron Silver, owner of Bubby's restaurant in New York, says of the cannabis oil used to make weed-infused drinks. The self-described cannabis advocate says he started cooking with hemp oil about five years ago and was initially dismayed by the results.
Consumers Love Food Delivery. Restaurants and Grocers Hate It.: Consumers expect to order books, toys, shoes and anything else they want online and have it show up at their doors quickly and inexpensively. Restaurants and grocers are rushing to satisfy the exact same demand. They're having a hard time. A hungry customer in Denver might order a $9.99 Cuban sandwich from Panera Bread Co., which can arrive at her door in about 30 minutes.
The Wine Industry Can and Should Be Doing More to Market to Gen X (And Everyone): As an agricultural product, wine is dependent on a somewhat certain set of natural conditions in order for the grapes it is made from to reach maturity and ripeness prior to being harvested. In recent years, the wine industry around the world has been faced with a series of challenges that includes wildfires, hail, frost, flooding, and abnormal weather cycles.
Bartenders Tell Us How to Have a Fun, Hangover-Free St. Patrick’s Day: Let’s face it, you’re going to drink on St. Patrick’s Day. And you’re probably going to drink quite heavily. Probably a lot more than you usually booze on Sundays. But since the holiday falls on a weekend day, you’re more likely to tie one on this year. It makes sense. Everywhere you look there’ll be green beer, Irish stouts and whiskeys, and all the cabbage and corned beef you can stuff into your gaping maw.
Budweiser-Branded Meats Are Coming to Stores This Summer: Beer is a classic beverage for barbecues. But this summer, one of America’s best-known beers, Budweiser, is cozying up with Coleman Natural Meats to offer pulled pork, smoked ribs and bratwurst accented with the familiar taste of Bud. “Introducing classic Coleman Natural Budweiser products to a new younger audience will bring generations of consumers from the beer aisle to the prepared meat case,” Mel Coleman Jr., founding family rancher of Coleman Natural Meats, said in a statement.