In September, the Michigan Legislature held its last remaining session days before the November election. During this time, the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) was successful in advancing multiple legislative priorities during a shortened legislative calendar. Due to the election and a November in-district work period, the Michigan House and Senate will not return to a regular session schedule until early December. Here is a summary of the following legislative initiatives that MRLA will focus on during the remainder of the 101st legislative session:
Adopt and Amend Lawsuit
In short, the Adopt and Amend Lawsuit covers elimination of the tip credit, mandatory paid sick leave and raising the minimum wage.
In July 2022, a Court of Claims Judge ruled restoration of minimum wage and paid sick laws from 2018. A motion for stay was filed to delay implementation and was granted until February 19, 2023.
The MRLA continues to monitor the pending court case on the constitutionality of the legislature adopting and amending a ballot initiative in the same legislative session. A loss in court would transform this industry at a time when it can least afford it. The MRLA has filed an Amicus brief in the Court of Appeals and will exhaust every option possible to protect the tip credit and find common ground on minimum wage.
Short-Term Rental Reform
In previous sessions, the MRLA has worked to bring parity to Short-Term Rentals (STR) and has never sought to ban these types of properties. A legislative compromise was a priority before the pandemic and has remained on the association’s priority list.
The MRLA hopes to reach a legislative compromise that ensures much-needed parity between STRs and traditional lodging facilities. The MRLA believes STRs should be taxed and expected to contribute the same amount as hotels to support the tourism industry that creates the business they profit from.
At the end of last year, the MRLA secured $409 million in relief funding for those businesses most impacted by government-mandated shutdowns. Unfortunately, due to an interpretation of Federal Law, approximately $300 million was not awarded to small businesses in desperate need of relief. The MRLA continues to work with Governor Whitmer and other legislative leaders to repurpose these funds and ensure they can be awarded to the intended recipients.
One of the greatest losses the industry suffered during the pandemic was the loss of a resolute and enthusiastic workforce. After the first shutdown, most employees returned and were excited to do so. However, after the second shutdown, staff members moved on to other industries to find stability. As the world continues to crawl of out the pandemic, Michigan’s hospitality industry is still 40,000 employees short. A new generation of employees who will become industry leaders is going to need to be cultivated and the most viable path forward is through workforce development programs.
Programs like ProStart, Hospitality Tourism Management, HOPES, and the Hospitality Training Institute of Michigan have been established to cultivate the next generation of industry leaders and provide a career pathway with an upward trajectory.
Michigan still has billions of dollars in relief funds that need to be appropriated by 2024 and spent by 2026. After that, any funds will lapse back to the Federal Government and eventually end up going to other states. The MRLA will continue to advocate for a $30 million investment into Michigan’s hospitality workforce.
Preventing and Removing Burdensome Regulations
There is a delicate balance between regulations that protect the greater good and those that stifle economic advancement. Finding that balance is a constant moving target. Here are the main legislative proposals that MRLA will be supporting in the remaining sessions days: