This afternoon, Ben Wogsland and HM members Erik Forsberg (Devil’s Advocate) and Tony Boen (Grandma’s) testified before the House Tax Committee in support of House File 921, a bill authored by Rep. Dave Baker to exempt restaurant equipment from the sales tax and to provide tax relief on certain equipment purchased in 2020-2021 in response to COVID-19.
Ben Wogsland testified in defense of the appropriate use of the lodging tax in the House Property Tax Division and in opposition to House File 551.
The City of Plymouth is seeking to make permanent an additional 3% lodging tax, in part to use to fund capital projects, which is outside of the scope of intended use -- marketing and promotion that attracts visitors.
We oppose this on its own, and because it sets bad precedent for others seeking to redirect lodging tax funds away from marketing and promotion. We were joined in opposing by the Minnesota Association of Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus. Hospitality Minnesota has followed up with a meeting with the committee chair, Rep. Youakim to reiterate our opposition, and we will be watching this closely in the Senate.
Watch the debate and testimony [Ben Wogsland at 56:30].
Rep. Baker is working to build bipartisan support for this effort. We have asked Commissioner Grove to address such a “phased” strategic framework on the Hospitality Roundtable in hopes of moving this conversation forward. This is a work in progress, and we will be continuing to seek the governor’s engagement on helping this industry to recover and expand capacity as swiftly as safely possible. Stay tuned.
Re-Opening and Expanding Capacity
Our other immediate priorities include increasing restaurant table size to 10, opening bar seating in Minneapolis, extending hours of operation, expanding dining capacity beyond 50%, and expanding pool capacity to 50%. We are advancing work to allow resorts, campgrounds, houseboats and outfitters to be as open as possible for our upcoming tourism season, so we do not repeat the closures of last spring.
Senate Jobs Committee. Hospitality Minnesota member Terri Huml (Gianni’s Steakhouse) testified before the Senate Jobs Committee on SF1, (Sen. Mathews) a bill that would remove the current capacity restrictions in the Executive Orders and allow businesses to utilize safety plans, social distancing and enhanced sanitation instead.
Ms. Huml has been a strong leader on the Hospitality Roundtable, advocating for our industry with the Governor and the Department of Employment and Economic Development. Watch her testimony. Thank you to Jobs Chair, Senator Eric Pratt for working to move this issue forward.
House of Representatives. Bipartisan conversations—led by Rep. Baker—are ongoing in the House of Representatives about how to best convince the governor and the Minnesota Department of Health to move forward in a phased approach, given the improved state of the public health data. Expect more on this in the coming days.
Follow as we advocate for the hospitality industry at the local, state and federal levels. This work has been a hallmark of the Association for decades, and will continue to be a core benefit of membership.