Billionaire Seemingly Buys Exemption From New Law

( – California’s ultra-liberal state government has dismayed business owners by raising the minimum wage for fast food workers, threatening to make many restaurants uneconomical. There’s just one exemption from the state’s new high wage — and it’s raised a few eyebrows. Coincidentally, it benefits a major donor to Governor Gavin Newsom (D).

Last year, California’s state government passed a law that raises the minimum wage for any fast food chain with over 60 branches nationwide from $16 to $20 per hour. The move was strongly opposed by restaurant owners, who pointed out that their profit margins couldn’t swallow that increase and the outcome would be higher prices for consumers. McDonald’s and Chipotle have already said they’ll need to put up prices in the state, and other chains are likely to follow.

There’s only one exemption from the new wage law, and that’s for restaurants that bake their own bread and sell it as a standalone item. The biggest beneficiary from this exemption is Panera Bread, which has 188 branches in California alone. That surprised many people, as Panera is part of Flynn Restaurant Group, and CEO Greg Flynn was one of the loudest critics of the law.

Actually, though, it might not be all that surprising. Flynn — who coincidentally went to the same high school as Newsom, although not at the same time — started out lobbying the governor over the law, then when that didn’t work, he changed tactics. Instead of complaining about Newsom’s politics, he donated at least $164,800 to his political campaigns — and it seems to have paid off for him big time.

National Restaurant Association chief Michelle Korsmo says “everyone’s scratching their heads” about why breadmakers are exempt from the law, but Newsom described it as “part of the sausage-making” involved in writing legislation. It seems these sausages are seasoned with campaign funding.

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