After a tension-filled week in the House and 15 rounds of votes, California Representative Kevin McCarthy (R) was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives last Friday night. On Monday of this week, the House passed a Rules Package which included several procedural and operational changes, replacing those used by the previous Congress. One of the changes ended proxy voting and hybrid/virtual committee hearings.
With the Speaker approved and rules in place, the House is now moving forward and will address a large number of bills—two of which are particularly of note to retailers, including:
FTC Action regarding Mastercard
In December, the FTC issued a proposed order to end Mastercard’s illegal business tactics. The credit card company has been using these tactics to force merchants into routing debit card payments through its payment network. The order requires Mastercard to stop blocking the use of competing debit payment networks. Under a proposed FTC order, Mastercard must begin providing competing networks the customer account information necessary to process debit payments, reversing the company’s alleged practice of keeping them out of the ecommerce debit payment business. The FTC alleges Mastercard has been violating provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, known as the Durbin Amendment, and its implementing rule, Regulation II. This is a huge victory for consumers as well as merchants that rely on debit card payments to operate their businesses.
Proposed rule on non-compete agreements
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a proposed rule that would effectually prohibit employers from requiring employees to sign non-compete agreements. As written, the FTC’s proposed rule would forbid agreements “between an employer and a worker that prevents the worker from seeking or accepting employment with a person, or operating a business, after the conclusion of the worker’s employment with the employer.” The federal regulation would supersede any contradictory state law and would apply retroactively, nullifying all currently existing noncompete agreements. This proposed rule would affect all business types, including retailers.