This afternoon, we provided testimony before the House Tax Committee on stand-alone legislation authored by Rep. Baker (Willmar) to conform MN to the federal standard and make RRF tax free. This is the third hearing on this issue between the House and Senate. We urged the committee to act swiftly to pass this measure as a stand-alone (like Wisconsin did last week), rather than waiting for an Omnibus Tax bill negotiation that likely won’t be completed till session’s end, missing the next tax filing deadline. We will continue to keep the pressure on and encourage members to contact their legislators and demand they pass RRF tax conformity now.
Yesterday, the House Higher Education Committee heard our bill to create a free online hospitality training program. We have worked hard to build a strong coalition of supporters to address the workforce shortage, and our strategy of partnering with the U of M Tourism Center and Explore Minnesota Tourism seems to be resonating with policymakers, as the bill was passed 17-0 and sent to the Workforce Committee. With this action, the bill has now made deadline. Testifying were (l to r): Jason Subbert (TPI Hospitality), Xinyi Qian (U of M Tourism Center), and Ben Wogsland (Hospitality Minnesota).
On Tuesday’s Hospitality Roundtable call, Ben Wogsland briefed Steve Grove, commissioner at DEED, and Lauren Bennett-McGinty, director at Explore Minnesota Tourism, and others on the current Economic Snapshot. Thank you to members Terri Huml (Gianni’s) and Pete Mihajlov (Parasole), who shared their insights on the state of the industry.
Ben also highlighted our workforce efforts, including the NE Minnesota Gathering held in Duluth on Tuesday, which welcomed hospitality leaders from across the region for lunch and a conversation on the workforce issues facing hospitality business in the region.
On seeing ProStart teams in action recently, state leaders on the call had this to say:
Two years ago today, foodservice and other hospitality businesses were shut down as the state grappled with uncertainties around the developing COVID-19 pandemic. No industry has been hit harder by the following economic conditions, including shutdowns and limitations that reduced revenue by an equivalent of up to 249 days. Experts project that Minnesota’s hospitality and tourism industry lost over $15 billion in revenue. At the same time, operators’ bills for rent, mortgage, insurance, utilities, taxes, and other costs continued unabated, leaving a many in debt as they work to emerge from the crisis. Today, over half of restaurants and hotels project that revenue won’t return to “normal” until 2023 or later. The situation is made worse by the fact that the industry now has 32,000 less workers than pre-pandemic levels. This report and the data within helps drive our legislative engagement and communications strategy as an industry and is important information for our members and allies to understand and be conversant in.
Yesterday, we had a very positive hearing on our bill to create a free online hospitality training program modeled after South Dakota (see our Issue Brief). Thanks to member Jason Subbert (TPI Hospitality) and Xinyi Qian (U of M Tourism Center Director) for their testimony in addition to our presentation from EVP Ben Wogsland. Watch our testimony. Thank you to our Senate author Carrie Ruud for leading on this critical workforce solution. Thank Senator Ruud by contacting her here.
We are testifying before the Senate Tax Committee this morning in favor of SF3090, a bill to ensure Restaurant Revitalization Funds are not taxed in Minnesota. The bill is authored by Sen. Bigham (Cottage Grove) and the companion in the House is authored by Rep. Baker (Willmar). A similar provision is included in the governor’s tax bill HF3669, which we testified on previously in the House Tax Committee. While we are pushing for swift passage, it is becoming increasingly likely that these bills may not make it to the Floor for final votes until later in the session. Let your legislators know this is a priority.
On Monday, our bipartisan online hospitality training bill HF3550 advanced out of the House Workforce Division on a 12-0 vote and was sent to the Higher Ed Committee. The senate version SF3771 was also introduced on Monday. We met with the author Sen. Carrie Ruud (Breezy Point) on Tuesday and are pushing for a swift hearing in the Jobs Committee.
CALL TO ACTION Reach out by phone or email, using our brief, to ask the House Higher Ed Committee members to co-author and support HF3550, a bill to create an online hospitality training program modeled after South Dakota’s successful program.
We advanced our positions on: ProStart/HTMP, Expansion, Online Hospitality Training, RRF Tax Conformity, UI Trust Fund Replenishment, Direct, Grant Relief, Open Wholesale Liquor, Sales Tax Exemption on Restaurant Equipment, and Relief for BWCA/Border.
Our work this week has been focused on providing testimony on key issues and meetings with leadership. Here's what we've been up to.
Online Hospitality Training Bill Heard in House Workforce Committee Yesterday, the House Workforce Committee heard our bipartisan legislation to create a free online hospitality training program modeled after South Dakota’s successful program. Thank you to our lead author Rep. Baker (Willmar) and all of you who participated in our call-to-action earlier this week. Testifying on the bill were Ben Wogsland (HM, EVP), Xinyi Qian (UM Tourism, Director), and HM member Jason Subbert (TPI Hospitality, GM). Watch the hearing. Read more about the initiative in our Issue Brief.
HM Meets with House Minority Leader Daudt This morning, representatives for Hospitality Minnesota met with House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (Crown) to discuss our legislative priorities. We are meeting next week with House Speaker Hortman (Brooklyn Park) and Majority Leader Miller (Winona).
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.