2019 Session Recap
The Minnesota Legislature completed the Special Session after passing a $48.4 million budget that includes a range of policy changes. Hospitality Minnesota had a very successful Session and worked to secure a number of victories for our industry:
Statewide Property Tax Levy
We support a phase-out of the statewide property tax levy. This Session we defeated proposals that would have increased the property tax levy and instead were able to obtain an actual reduction in the statewide property levy tax for 2020.
Statewide Paid Leave Mandates
We do not support one-size-fits-all paid leave mandates and instead favors policies encouraging the State to support small-businesses’ ability to offer the most advantageous benefit packages by creating incentives, tax credits, etc. Despite holding over a dozen hearings and passing two paid leave proposals to the House Floor (one of which would have been funded by a $900 million payroll tax), the Legislature did not ultimately pass such mandates this year.
Credit Card Processing Fees on Tips
We support allowing businesses to maintain the flexibility to share the cost of credit card processing fees on tips with the tipped employees who benefit from these tips. This Session, we were able to defeat legislation that would have prohibited this practice, maintaining the flexibility for business who choose to share the cost rather than absorbing it as another “cost of doing business.”
Post Labor Day School Start
We support the law that requires schools to start after Labor Day, an important policy to support greater Minnesota resort, lodging and restaurant businesses that benefit from enhanced tourism during the end of summer. Legislation to allow schools to start prior to Labor Day was defeated on the House floor and did not pass.
We are a part of a business coalition working to grow broadband in greater Minnesota in order to meet customer demand for connectivity in all four corners of our state, as well as improving business efficiency and marketing capabilities. The budget includes $40 million dedicated to expanding broadband in Minnesota.
J-1 Student Visa Workers and the Unemployment Insurance Tax
We have worked for several years to exempt employers from having to pay unemployment insurance tax on J-1 student workers, since these students are ineligible to collect unemployment. This Session, the Legislature passed the exemption, giving these employers tax relief beginning in the fall of 2020.
We support an aggressive and comprehensive approach to dealing with invasive species in Minnesota. Combating invasive species was a bipartisan priority this Session as lawmakers ultimately put together a funding package of $25 million to address the significant threat that invasive species pose to our natural resources and tourism industry.
Local Option Lodging Taxes
We support the protection and appropriate use of the local option lodging tax. This Session, we were able to protect the appropriate marketing use of these revenues as changes were made that affect local option lodging taxes in Minneapolis, St. Paul, La Crescent, and Lake County (including the Ely-area). Plymouth is an outlier in that the Legislature will allow it to use some revenue out of its 6% lodging tax for capital projects if approved by the city council.
We are a part of a broad coalition of businesses, law enforcement, survivors and others that support hands-free driving in Minnesota, which will make our roads safer and is good for Minnesota. This Session, bipartisan legislation was passed that will make Minnesota the seventeenth state to enact such a law. The law goes into effect on August 1, 2019.