Jesse Lara knows all about rising costs.

His family-owned franchise owns 34 El Pollo Loco restaurants throughout Southern California, and in recent months they’ve all been hammered by inflationary price hikes. But now he has something new to worry about — Assembly Bill 257.

The legislation would create a state-run council to negotiate wages, hours and working conditions for California’s fast-food workers. And a new report suggests those changes could push higher prices onto consumers by as much as 20%.

The analysis — compiled by the UC Riverside Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development and paid for by the International Franchise Association — comes as nearly 100 fast-food franchisees traveled Wednesday, Aug. 17 to Sacramento to speak out against the impacts of the bill, also known as the FAST Recovery Act. . . .

Christopher Thornberg, the Riverside center’s director, said the bill would hit low-income consumers the hardest.

“If the FAST Act passes, we can expect a very sharp increase in food costs from the affected restaurants, and that could push these families to the breaking point, given the financial pressures working families already feel from rising rents, gas and other necessities,” he said.

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