Georgia lawmaker wants to give restaurant franchisees more protection against franchisors

Working Lunch: The proposal is part of what's emerging as a wave of bills aiming to curb franchisors' power. That alone makes it worth tracking.

A prominent lawmaker in Georgia has introduced a bill that would strengthen restaurant franchisees’ defenses against arbitrary moves by their franchisors.  

But the import extends beyond the Peach State, according to this week’s Working Lunch podcast. Co-hosts Joe Kefauver and Franklin Coley, both veteran industry lobbyists, note that the measure is the latest in a wave of state legislation aiming to provide more protections to restaurant franchisees. The bills are usually packaged as a franchising bill of rights.

“We’ve seen it in Alabama, we’ve seen it in Arkansas, and now we’re seeing it in Georgia,” said Coley.

“It’s the biggest franchise bill we’ve see in a while,” said Kefauver.

The proposals address such matters as the conditions under which a franchise agreement can be terminated by the franchisor. They’re patterned over the protective measure that’s already law in California.

They attributed the Georgia bill less to a groundswell of complaints from restaurant franchisees in the state than to one disgruntled franchisee having the ear of Randy Robertson, the second-ranking Republican within the GOP-dominated Georgia Senate. Robertson serves as majority Senate whip, the individual who tallies votes and pressures fellow members to vote in line with the party’s preferences.

Kefauver noted that Georgia is home to several of the biggest restaurant franchisees and licensors in the business, including Inspire Brands, Focus Brands and Chick-fil-A. Papa John's is also now headquartered there.

To learn more about the measure, why it’s worth monitoring, and what other restaurant-related measures are arising on the legislative and regulatory front, press Play.

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