MRA Report: Strength in Numbers
It’s April, and just as the winter is changing to spring, Hospitality Minnesota is changing, too. We serve an industry that is constantly changing, so we need to reflect the world in which we operate. Change is good, but as you know, it is challenging! The key is to embrace what’s coming and not resist or look to what’s worked in the past. In order to be an effective partner, our organization has to anticipate what our industry needs to grow and thrive. Building value that supports our member organizations as they navigate change is at the core of everything we do.
We’ve long been known for our strong, exemplary work in policy and advocacy, and we’ll keep serving our membership in this way. In my February column, I introduced you to Ben Wogsland, our new director of government relations. Ben hit the ground running the week after session started and he is charting a new course for our advocacy work. Under Ben’s leadership, we’ve changed our approach to our Day at the Capitol this year, bringing smaller groups of members over several different days so we may be more strategic in engaging our legislators. We think it will deliver greater impact and give our members a better experience that will extend well beyond the event.
In addition to organizing our members and grassroots efforts, Ben is tracking a wide range of issues that impact our industry, including:
Credit Card Processing Fees
There is legislation that would prohibit restaurants from passing credit card processing fees on tips onto the tipped employees that benefit from credit card tips. Hospitality Minnesota has weighed in to oppose the bill and propose that instead businesses disclose their practices to their customers, rather than a one-size-fits-all ban.
Mandated Paid Leave
Two bills have gained significant traction in the House this session that would dramatically change workplace paid leave requirements in Minnesota. Hospitality Minnesota has testified on both bills, expressing concerns about the impact on small businesses and suggesting an opt-in system instead.
Immigrant Driver’s License Credentials
Hospitality Minnesota, which is a member of the Business Immigration Coalition, has consistently supported comprehensive immigration reform which provides for immigrant driving credentials. Successful reform will modify immigration policies without creating more obstacles for workers to connect with employers and vice versa.
Recycling and Foodservice Packaging Regulation
Action on foodservice packaging regulation and waste management programs has been hot at the local level. Hospitality Minnesota supports recycling and sustainable waste management programs that work and are fair, but has expressed concerns about mandates coming from St. Paul and Minneapolis that singles out and will negatively impact small businesses.
By the time you read this, we hope to have gotten some traction on state grant funding to provide matching funds so more high schools across Minnesota can set up ProStart and the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program. The grants would provide 50 high schools up to $5,000 to cover the costs associated with curriculum and equipment purchases and teacher training. This is a big deal for workforce development and creating a pipeline of future hospitality-trained employees.
As a member of the Minnesota Restaurant Association, you can receive frequent updates on the status of any legislation, alerts and calls to action, and support throughout the year to understand the impact of new laws and regulations on your business. You can learn more about our advocacy priorities at www.hospitalitymn.org under the Government Relations section.
All for three
With things well underway at the Capitol, we are turning our attention to how we can work better together with our partners in the lodging and resort and campground sectors. Earlier in the year we brought together for the first time all the boards of the associations we represent—the Minnesota Restaurant Association, the Minnesota Lodging Association, and the Minnesota Resorts and Campgrounds Association—for a day-long retreat, or as we’d rather call it, an “advance.” The discussion focused on the ways we can be more deliberate to integrate our work together, since all three associations share a lot of the same issues and interests. As one board member put it, “It was great to get to know the ‘cousins’ better.” Our strength comes in our numbers and in the fact that we bring different perspectives to issues affecting the Minnesota hospitality industry. This offers a great opportunity to better leverage our collective insights to meaningful ends. We’re excited by the conversations that are unfolding and look forward to sharing where they take us in the years ahead.
To quote British writer and philosopher Alan Watt: “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.” It’s printed at the bottom of all our staff meeting agendas. As this winter moves into spring and a new season of hospitality begins, we’re plunging in and moving with the dance of change! I hope you’ll join us.
About Hospitality Minnesota:
Hospitality Minnesota is the voice for hospitality in Minnesota, serving more than 2,000 hospitality businesses across the state. Formed in 1958 to serve as the management company for the Minnesota Restaurant Association, the Minnesota Lodging Association and the Minnesota Resort and Campground Association, Hospitality Minnesota advocates for the interests of business owners and their employees and provides opportunities for education and training to strengthen the hospitality industry in Minnesota. www.hospitalitymn.org
Liz Rammer is the president & CEO of Hospitality Minnesota, which includes The Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations.