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Restaurants Issues Are Mixed in With 1,500 Bills



School start dates, paid family leave and invasive species are among the wide range of issues Minnesota foodservice and hospitality businesses are following at the capitol. The 2019 Minnesota legislature is more than a month into the session, and the foodservice and hospitality industries are watching dozens of bills that could affect their bottom lines.

With more than 1,500 bills introduced so far, and Gov. Tim Walz’s budget announcement February 19, many issues are on the line that affect the day-to-day operations of businesses.

One huge issue is that of retaining and hiring workers, and how that is affected by various proposed laws. In recent legislative updates, Hospitality Minnesota has indicated that workforce issues are foremost on members’ minds.

Hospitality Minnesota is backing legislation to add J-1 International Student Work Travel participants to the list of non-covered wages and to exempt their wages from the Unemployment Insurance Tax. Although these students are prohibited from collecting unemployment benefits when they are in the U.S., Minnesota employers are currently required to pay unemployment insurance on J-1 wages. This was also a focus in 2018 but it met the governor’s veto as part of a larger omnibus bill. A new bill is in the committee process.

Three bills have been introduced to allow school starts before Labor Day. Hospitality MN is opposed as it affects the summer workforce. Agricultural and other groups also oppose the change. Currently schools have to make a special case to move up start dates.

Mandatory paid leave is also a focus for the statewide small business group Main Street Alliance’s restaurant and foodservice members. Ideas in the hopper include a state-run program funded by a 0.31 percent payroll tax on both employers and employees. As of now, this bill is only in the House and doesn’t have a Senate companion.

Longstanding environmental concerns are also on the radar, including efforts to ban plastic bags and changes to carryout container regulations.

Hospitality Minnesota prepares regular legislative updates for its members. Go to the association website to learn more. Or to track all bills, go to www.leg.state.mn.us/ 

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