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The Minnesota Legislature adjourned on June 30, 2021, after passing a $52B budget in special session. As projected last week, our members direct advocacy and HM’s work on your behalf this session yielded important results, including these four key accomplishments:

Roadmap to Recovery

In February, we worked with a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Rep. Baker to set forth a phased re-opening plan based on data to re-open hospitality businesses at 100% in May. Our media and policy push put pressure on the State to do the right thing and acknowledge that we could re-open safely, culminating in the governor’s announcements in March and May. The impact of these policy shifts is undeniable as evidenced by our May Federal Reserve survey results.

Workforce Development

Expanding the ProStart and Hospitality Tourism and Management programs at the current 100 high schools and beyond is a top priority in helping to build the workforce of the future. This session, for the first time, we secured state funding through a Department of Employment and Economic Development grant to incentive growth and expansion of these critical workforce programs. Given that it's one of the biggest issues facing our industry, this was an important step forward.

PPP Tax Free

Ensuring that PPP proceeds are free from state tax and expensable was a major priority this session. Minnesota hospitality businesses received a projected $1.5B in PPP relief in 2020-21 with overnight accommodations receiving nearly $300M and restaurants over $1B. This was a critical victory for operators in our industry. As an example, one  resort member indicated their tax bill would have been over $50,000.

New Regulations Blocked

Success is sometimes measured by what does not happen. We were able to stop untimely and costly new regulations that would slow recovery including:

  • Paid leave mandates with increased taxes

  • Statewide Right to Recall in hotels/events

  • Carbon Monoxide detectors mandate

  • New city licensure mandates for hotels

  • A ban on sharing credit card processing fees on tips with employees who benefit

  • Property tax increases via Street Improvement Districts

Additional Wins

  • $150M in small business relief (including $70M in grants to businesses impacted by COVID-19 and $80M in economic redevelopment loans);

  • Property tax relief: Commercial payers will see the first $150,000 of market value exempted from the state levy tax, up from $100,000. This is on top of our win from last biennium lowering the total state property tax levy;

  • Protected the lodging tax from several cities attempting to redirect funds to capital projects and blocked the attempts of one municipality to permanently redirect funds for any project;

  • $5M in funding for forgivable loans to hospitality businesses in the Northwest Angle;

  • Blocked efforts to gut the usage of Electronic Pull-Tabs to generate revenue for hospitality businesses and charities;

  • $45M investment in preventing, combating and mitigating the spread of invasive species in MN, a key priority for Hospitality Minnesota;

  • $70M investment in the expansion of Broadband to all four corners of Minnesota, critical to meet customer and business needs in the 21st century;

  • $1M funding to Explore Minnesota Tourism for recovery grants and the promotion of events, meetings and travel in Minnesota; and

  • Blocked increases to boat fees in Minnesota.

Next Steps

Governor Walz was allotted $500M in discretionary spending via the budget agreement and Minnesota counties and cities have been allotted $2B in in American Rescue Plan funds from the federal government. We will continue to make the case (and provide opportunities for members to engage their policy makers to support) that additional investment in our critical industry will increase the speed and depth of economic recovery for our operators and the one-in-ten jobs they provide. Stay tuned engagement opportunities soon.

Want to Get More Involved in Advocacy?

The Hospitality Minnesota Advocacy Group is a diverse group of hospitality operators from around the state and across sectors that helps inform the decisions of our Board of Directors and shapes the advocacy agenda and strategy of the Association. If you would like to get involved in this critical work contact ben@hospitalityminnesota.com