National Restaurant Association Welcomes 700+ Restaurateurs to Washington D.C. for 2007 Public Affairs Conference

Immigration, food safety, and restaurant depreciation are among top issues impacting the restaurant industry

(Washington, DC) – The National Restaurant Association today kicks off its 2007 Public Affairs Conference, held September 25-26 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.  More than 700 restaurateurs are expected to attend the conference to learn about public policy issues and meet with members of Congress to voice their concerns and support of key legislation impacting the restaurant industry. 
“Restaurateurs attending the Association’s premier lobbying event have a unique opportunity to visit Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers to discuss the public policy issues that impact the $537 billion restaurant industry, each of the nation’s 935,000 restaurant-and-foodservice outlets and the industry’s 12.8 million employees,” said John Gay, senior vice president of Government Affairs and Public Policy for the Association.  “It is important that decision makers on Capitol Hill know the issues that are essential to the restaurant industry’s continued success.”

One of the top policy priorities for this year’s conference is comprehensive immigration reform.  Restaurateurs will be advocating for the House and Senate to work together to enact comprehensive immigration reform, and urge the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider the complex, confusing “no-match” regulations.

Another important issue impacting the restaurant industry is the safety of the food supply, both imported and domestically produced.  As Congress and the Administration take a close look at the nation’s federal systems to protect food safety, restaurant operators remain engaged in the debate.  Restaurateurs are committed to food safety at every step of the food chain, from ensuring the safety of the food coming into their operations to adhering to excellent food-safety standards in food preparation. 

Attendees will also work to encourage support for H.R. 3622, a bill introduced in the House last week that would make permanent the accelerated depreciation schedule of 15 years for both new building construction and improvements for America’s restaurants.  The current 39 ?-year depreciation schedule is onerous for restaurateurs because it doesn’t account for the daily wear and tear restaurants experience due to heavy customer traffic.

Included in this year’s agenda is an exciting list of speakers, including:  U.S. Representatives John Boehner (R-OH-8), House Minority Leader; James Clyburn (D-SC-6), House Majority Whip; Adam Putnam (R-FL-12), Chairman, House Republican Conference; and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-6), Chairman, House Health Subcommittee; along with Ari Fleischer, former spokesperson for President George W. Bush; Mike McCurry, former press secretary for President Bill Clinton; and Dr. Richard Raymond, Under Secretary for Food Safety for the Food Safety and Inspection Service with USDA.

Also at the 2007 Public Affairs Conference, the Association will announce the winners of its 2007 Restaurant Neighbor Award, which celebrates the philanthropic spirit of the restaurant industry and serves to inspire others to actively get involved in their communities, at the conference. Four winners (small business, mid-size business, large business, and Cornerstone Humanitarian categories) will each receive a $5,000 prize to expand their community outreach. American Express is the founding partner of the program.

Reporters who want to attend the conference or accompany restaurateurs on their Capitol Hill visits should register onsite at the Grand Hyatt during the conference (Tuesday 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday 7:15 a.m. to 9 a.m.) – please bring proper credentials.  For more details, visit .