2019-2020 Legislative Priorities
The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA) represents the food service and lodging industries on a variety of issues, including liquor license fees, food safety, minimum wage, the tip credit and other issues that may hinder tourism in our state.
On many issues – those specific to our industry and those that are not– the MRLA is the only group representing the food service and lodging industries.
As we embark on another legislative session, with a new Executive administration and leadership in the state House and Senate, the MRLA offers the following legislative priorities for the 2019-2020 session
Industry -Specific Issues
Oppose any changes to the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act
Following our successful efforts last session with the amendment of the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act, the MRLA will continue fighting for the preservation of the tip credit this term and beyond. The MRLA stands firm in its opposition to any legislation that would make the current law even more burdensome on employers.
The tip credit is vitally important to the foodservice industry for both owners and employees. Last year, when the citizen-initiated law was initially introduced, foodservice workers across the state overwhelmingly voiced their opposition to the $12/hr. minimum wage. Due to the fact that the average worker earns more from the tip credit than a $12/hr. minimum wage.
Oppose any changes to the Paid Medical Leave Law
An onerous mandatory paid medical leave law would be disastrous to Michigan’s hospitality industries. The restaurant industry would be especially hard hit by this mandate given its razor-thin profit margins of just 4 percent and predominant makeup of small businesses.
Similar to previously introduced legislation, The MRLA opposes any bills that would mandate businesses with less than 10 employees to provide a minimum of 40 paid sick leave hours per worker; and businesses with more than 10 employees provide a minimum of 72 paid sick leave hours to per worker. Leave could be taken by the hour and used for personal health reasons or for any health-related care of family members and loved ones. An employee would not be required to show any documentation of illness unless he or she has failed to show up for work for more than three consecutive days.
The MRLA also opposes mandatory paid leave efforts at the local level as they pose an additional burden of forcing multiple location owners to create separate policies for locations within an affected region from the rest of the state.
Continued Support for “Pure Michigan”
The MRLA will continue to support the “Pure Michigan” campaign and fight for steady funding.
In 2015, 4.6 million trips were made to Michigan due to the Pure Michigan campaign. These out-of-state visitors spent nearly $1.4 billion on communities and local businesses across the state. For every dollar spent on the Pure Michigan campaign last year, the state made $7.67 — up from $6.87 in 2014.
In 2016, Pure Michigan generated 5 million trips to Michigan, resulting in $1.5 billion in additional visitor spending. This supported total business sales in the state of $2.4 billion including additional sales to suppliers (indirect) and purchases by workers (induced).
In addition, the success of restaurants is closely tied to the travel and tourism industry. Across all dining segments, about $1.00 of every $4.00 dollars spent at restaurants is a direct result of travel and tourism. However, in recent years, there have been efforts to reduce or even eliminate the “Pure Michigan” campaign due to the inaccurate and misleading perception that it is a form of corporate welfare.
Since Pure Michigan launched in 2006, the campaign inspired 27 million total trips to the state, generated roughly $557 million in state-tax revenue, and returned $5.15 for every dollar spent.
Support Regulation of Short-Term Rentals
Last year, the MRLA worked to defeat efforts that called for the restriction of regulating Short-Term rentals (Airbnb, VRBO) from local units of government.
The MRLA firmly believes Short-Term Rentals can benefit tourism as long as they are playing by the same rules and are regulated like other lodging entities.
While MRLA has been successful in defeating this proposal, we are expecting a similar fight to occur this term and will continue working toward a comprehensive solution.
Continue Support for Post Labor Day School Start (PLDS)
Since 2005, the MRLA has supported and continued to protect Michigan’s Post Labor Day School (PLDS) start. After all, tourism is our state’s second largest industry with $12+ billion in sales and over 240,000 direct jobs.
The Post Labor Day School Start not only benefits the tourism and hospitality industries, but also families, schools and the state’s economy as a whole. Michigan’s standing four-day Labor Day holiday has proven successful, resulting in increased revenues and travel throughout the state.
The MRLA will continue to support efforts to protect the integrity of the 2005 law until there is a larger discussion of a “Full-Balanced” calendar.
Partner with the State to Foster Workforce Development for the Hospitality Industry (AHLEI)
The MRLA aims to improve the hospitality industry’s talent gap through a successful partnership with the state. MRLA hopes to receive funding from the state for the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) program.
The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) is a training and education program for all segments of hospitality industry for more than 65 years. AHLEI has worked to provide organizations and schools with quality resources to train, educate, and certify hospitality professionals.
Maintain funding for MRLA ProStart Program
ProStart is a nationwide, two-year high school program that unites classrooms with industries. It develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice industry leaders. In Michigan, 69 high schools and career centers use the ProStart curriculum with more than 5,000 students participating.
Last year, the MRLA was successful in securing a modest level of state funding towards the expansion of the ProStart Program. This funding aimed to diminish any potential “barriers-of-entry” and allow for the next generation of culinary entrepreneurs to continue to thier culinary education and training. In 2019, the MRLA seeks to continue state funding to further our investment and expansion of the ProStart Program.
Oppose Additional Liquor Fees and Tax Increases
Over the past few years, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) has attempted to increase fees associated with the license required to sell beer, wine, and liquor in the state. The MRLA will continue to oppose all efforts made by the MLCC and the legislature to increase any fees on the business community.
After all, the Liquor Control Commission (LCC) already generates more than $170 million in excess revenue from fees and taxes every year that inevitably gets transferred back to the General Fund for other budget priorities.
Non-Industry Specific Issues
Oppose “Big Brother” Approach to Governmental Oversight
Legislation was introduced last term that would have given the Department of Treasury carte blanche authority to install anti-sales suppression software in businesses with point of sale systems (including restaurants). That software is designed to monitor potential “skimming” of cash-based sales using a tool commonly referred to as a “zapper.”
While the MRLA would never tolerate, let alone defend tax evasion by its members, the implementation of such legislation would be a gross intrusion on private enterprise. The mere introduction of such legislation infers an implicit assumption of guilt by all business to justify a heavy-handed “Big Brother” approach to tax compliance.
Oppose the Collection of City Income Tax
In years past, the MRLA has been successful in defeating a legislative proposal that would mandate an employer whose employees are residents of a city with an income tax, be responsible for the collection of the tax. Even if the employer was not doing business in the city or did not maintain an establishment there.
With over 20 cities imposing a city income tax, this particular legislation would have forced employers to be subject to enforcement and audit by each one of the cities and would be liable for any and all taxes that the employee owed.
While MRLA has been successful in defeating this proposal, the MRLA is expecting a similar fight to occur with the new legislature.