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).
Things are moving quickly at the Minnesota Capitol, and here are the issues on deck this week. Look for the actions you can take to weigh:
This is a top priority on our legislative agenda this session and we’ve been advocating with the administration and legislators since last year. We continue to fight in DC for fully funding the RRF. You can help by contacting your federal elected officials. Take action today.
The National Restaurant Association is hosting its annual Public Affairs Conference in Washington DC. April 25-27. Hospitality Minnesota has been meeting with members of the Minnesota delegation on issues such as Restaurant Revitalization Fund replenishment, Employee Retention Tax Credit and workforce shortage, but this is another way to make your voice heard. Interested in going to DC? Hospitality Minnesota can help facilitate meeting requests with your elected officials and provide you with talking points. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In the opening weeks of session there has already been action on several key initiatives in our 2022 Legislative Agenda.
Unemployment Fund. This week, both the Minnesota House and Senate began to examine and discuss ways to address the massive $2.7 billion debt and shortfall in Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. On Monday, the Minnesota Senate heard SF2677, a bipartisan proposal authored by Senator Pratt. Using a combination of unspent federal COVID relief funds and a portion of the state’s $7.7 billion budget surplus, the bill would direct $2.7 billion to repay money borrowed from the federal government and replenish the state’s budget reserve.
Hospitality Minnesota played a prominent role in Monday’s hearing with member Troy Reding (Ally Restaurants) testifying in support of the Senate proposal. The bill passed out of committee with no opposition votes. Today, the Senate Finance Committee heard SF2677 and with a unanimous bipartisan roll-call vote sent the bill to the Senate Floor. It is likely the full Senate will hear the bill in the coming days.
In the House, the companion bill to SF2677 is also a bipartisan bill with DFL Representative Pelowski as the chief author. The House is considering HF1035, authored by Representative Noor. The bill will only partially repay the outstanding loan of $1.3 billion to the federal government and does not return the UI Fund to full solvency. It is likely the issue will head to a conference committee and negotiations between the House and Senate Leadership.
Commissioner Grove from DEED has suggested this legislation needs to be passed and signed into law by March 15th, to prevent any tax increases or surcharges from taking place. With Governor Walz including the full repayment of the fund in his supplemental budget and the UI issue one of our top legislative priorities, we are hopeful this can be resolved quickly.
Senate H2-B Visa Release Request On Tuesday, we sent a letter to Senator Klobuchar, requesting that she sign on to a letter being circulated in the senate asking the Department of Human Services to release the full number (44,617) H-2B visas and compel them to speed up H-2B processing. With the demand received by Department of Labor of over 100,000 positions beyond the cap, it is critical the H-2B visa program be fixed.
This morning, we were gratified to receive notification that Senator Klobuchar added her signature. Senator Smith had signed on to the letter earlier. H2-B visas are a critical tool to help address the labor shortage that faces seasonal businesses such as our hotels, resorts and restaurants in greater Minnesota. We appreciate our senators support of this important issue for our industry.
Liz provided a brief update on the industry and requested that in view of the economic impact to foodservice businesses and rapid decline of virus-related statistics, the vaccine/test mandate be lifted before the important Valentine’s Day holiday. David and Brent led the discussion with the operators who shared their concerns over the business conditions and the large difference between city store locations and those located in suburban areas.
While neither mayor would commit to metrics or a date for making a decision to lift the mandate, Mayor Carter indicated he would be in a better position to make a decision after reviewing updated health information by end of the week. Mayor Frey also noted that he would be looking at the data to make his decision but would not commit to a timeline. Since the time of this meeting, several news outlets (see In the News below) have been reporting increasing pressure for the two cities to lift the mandate as quickly as possible.
Legislative Deadlines Each year the leadership of the House and Senate agree on committee deadlines. This year they are:
Leadership and Key Committee Chairs In addition to contacting your own representative and senator, plan on reaching out the leadership and key committee chairs to urge their support on our issues. They are:
Earlier this week, the HM Board approved the 2022 State Legislative Agenda. While we track hundreds of bills per session, these are key issues we anticipate working on together this session at the State level.
Yesterday, we sent a letter to legislative leaders outlining our priorities. We also sent letters to the members of the tax committees and the jobs committees.
The HM Advocacy Group met this morning to discuss the state of the economic recovery and our grassroots member engagement strategy.
While there will be multiple opportunities for members to engage legislators this session, we ask that you consider reaching out to the legislators representing your home and business addresses NOW and ask them to support the hospitality industry’s economic recovery through economic stimulus and workforce development solutions.
Feel free to attach any of the letters or any of the materials therein. Also feel free to utilize any of the data in our December Economic Snapshot.
Need more information or have other specific advocacy issues on your mind? Please contact email@example.com
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.