Dominic Pino writes for National Review Online about an interesting exemption from California’s latest minimum wage law.

California’s minimum wage for fast-food restaurants is about to go to $20 per hour — except for “chains that bake bread and sell it as a standalone item.”

That’s according to a report from Bloomberg. There aren’t very many major restaurant chains that fit that description.

Except Panera Bread, which has a franchisee in California who is close with Governor Gavin Newsom. Greg Flynn is “the largest restaurant franchisee in the US, if not the world,” Bloomberg reports, and he went to high school with Newsom. He gave $100,000 to Newsom during his 2021 recall election and $64,800 in the 2022 general election. “Flynn has been known to tout his relationship with Newsom, according to people familiar with the matter, with one saying the fast-food entrepreneur has said he can reach the governor via text,” the story says.

It’s not just political support. “A business connection goes back to 2014, when Flynn acquired a Napa Valley resort managed by Newsom’s hospitality company,” Bloomberg reports.

The bread exemption is so narrowly tailored that it doesn’t even include bagels or croissants. “Panera appears to be the largest chain by number of locations in California and countrywide to benefit from the exemption,” the story says. And restaurants can’t start making bread now; only restaurants making bread by September 15, 2023, qualify.

Want some transparency on how this exemption came about? Good luck finding any. …

… The most troubling part of the story, though, is a quote from Michelle Korsmo, the president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “She described the provision as an example of why her organization’s members should develop political connections to seek better legislative outcomes,” the story says. “You may be celebrating or you may be lamenting the bakery exemption,” Korsmo said. “But remember, all of that comes through relationships.”

Korsmo is responding to incentives here, and she’s probably giving the correct advice to her California members. But the fact that such advice is necessary is the troubling part.