3 Spending Bill Surprises: Baseball, Gratuity, Privacy

The $1.3 trillion beast of an omnibus spending bill was way too thick for anyone’s staff on Capitol Hill to properly read before voting on it. Nevertheless, Congress passed it, less than 24 hours after setting eyes on the 2,232-page stack of papers, thus keeping the government’s lights on through September. And now we’ve got a big box of surprises to go through, don’t we?

The President went on to ink the deal before he could read it, but the military must be paid and domestic expenses must be met so…
“They created a series of documents that nobody was able to read,” President Trump complained. “As a matter of national security, I’ll sign this omnibus budget bill.”

But the President went on to promise never do to any such thing again, which lends itself well to creating an anti-omnibus law, but that’s another story.

The smaller appropriations related laws that were tossed in with the spending bill slipped right past us like pilot fish on a great white shark. And some of those small fish come with big names, like Major League Baseball.

Major League Baseball… and minimum wage.

A friend of mine plays baseball – he gets paid to do so. He’s a lucky guy. Except when he is faced with pulling in less than a minimum wage for the hours he spends working in the minor leagues while enduring the months-long training, the weeks on the road and endless practice and game schedules. Major League Baseball pays minor league salaries which are very, very low. MLB wants them permanently treated like seasonal workers instead of full-time employees protected by Federal minimum wage laws. So how surprised was my friend to find that his league-wide paycheck dispute was tucked up inside the spending bill? Right around page 1,900, they snuck it right in:

“[A]ny employee employed to play baseball who is compensated pursuant to a contract that provides for a weekly salary for services performed during the league’s championship season (but not on spring training or the offseason) at a rate that is not less than a weekly salary equal to the minimum wage under section 6(a) for a workweek of 40 hours, irrespective of the number of hours the employee devotes to baseball related activities.”

There it is! The MLB gets to pay guys less than minimum wage as they sweat through their 20’s and 30’s, raising families and working honest hours to make it into the big leagues. As this wage controversy has raged on for years, this puts a pretty effective lid on the issue… for now. MLB might not want to hold it’s breath.

You can read more here.

Your Server Likes The Spending Bill

Ever had a waiter you just loved? Maybe you decided to attach an especially large gratuity to your check because the service was so great? Maybe that bartender handled a round of 7 complicated cocktail orders like a champ. Well, both of those people may have been forced to pool their tips in the very near future if the Trump administration had its way. It was set to roll back regulations protecting those tips from being pooled then skimmed by bosses. Thanks to a little sneaky maneuvering on Capitol Hill, the spending bill means waitstaff across America can now say goodbye to all that business. Get the backstory here.

Watching the Clouds… Watching You

Also in case you missed it, The Cloud Act passed. It gives the government easier access to user data held overseas. The Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act was introduced to the Senate and House in early February, but it got to skip an open debate and a stand-alone vote and instead hitched a ride on the spending bill.  Now law enforcement agencies, at nearly any level, have a simplified legal mechanism to enforce a data turnover from tech companies regardless of the server location. Formerly if foreign intelligence needed to track someone through an American tech company’s servers they had to draw up a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) that had to be ratified by Congress. That provision is removed and allows the Department of Justice to ink those MLATs with greater ease. But that’s just the beginning. Apple does a good job explaining its stance hereElectronic Frontier Foundation does the same from its perspective too.

 

For your viewing pleasure: The 2018 Spending Bill
http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20180319/BILLS-115SAHR1625-RCP115-66.pdf