MLBA Testifies in the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee
On February 3rd, 2021, I, Tony Chesak, MLBA Executive Director, testified in the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee. Committee Chair, Senator Eric Pratt, is offering a bill, SF 1, that would allow our industry to get back to work. Yes, the PPP loans and other grants have helped some but not all. The only way to get back on the Road to Recovery is to allow our businesses to open safely.
The public is feeling safer as the numbers of positive cases and hospitalization rates continue to consistently go down. What we and Chair Pratt are suggesting is that you allow us to open. The amount of dollars given and loaned to businesses pale in comparison to what our industry has actually lost. An estimated 115,000 jobs have been lost in our industry. We cannot wait. The public will dictate the pace. The public will determine how much confidence they have in us. I have said this dozens of times over the past 11 months. We are in the hospitality business. We keep our patrons and staff safe as it is a critically significant part of what we do. Trust us Governor and we will deliver!
Press Conference to Support a Phased in Approach to Opening
Our good friend, Representative Dave Baker from Wilmar, MN set up a press conference that rolled out February 8th at 10am. Representative Baker has been in constant contact over the past 11 months on what we can do to get our hospitality industry back open 100% again. As you all know, the MLBA has been a part of the Hospitality Roundtable group from the beginning of the pandemic. We met weekly for many months and most recently have pivoted to bi-weekly Zoom calls. This Hospitality Roundtable group allows industry leaders to work with DEED, MDH, Dept of Revenue and Labor and the Governor’s staff to offer suggestions, solutions and be the “go between” for the administration and you, the hospitality industry.
Too often we have been listened to but not heard. As this is and can be extremely frustrating, we are a part of this think tank to offer expert guidance to the Governor and other departments. Representative Baker, Senator Howe and Representative Haley have collected input from the MLBA and others to put together a Minnesota’s Road to Recovery bill. As this is not fully supported by the DFL in the House of Representatives, we are hoping that this becomes a bipartisan bill that can move safely and quickly. Also, this is not in final draft as we are asking for complete buy in from both sides of the aisle. Please look at the Minnesota’s Comeback Plan and provide input and support. Several media outlets were part of the press conference and we will update you all as things progress.
The Governor and his administration have shown support for statewide paid leave mandates in Minnesota and bills have been introduced on earned sick and safe time, much like those already in place in Minneapolis and St. Paul. As of today, we do not see the Senate advancing this initiative but will continue to monitor the situation and update you all if things look like they may be moving. We have emphatically expressed our deep concerns about such legislation as this puts a major strain on independently owned businesses and especially during this timeframe. Much like minimum wage hikes, we cannot take this on as it does not make economic sense. Simple math shows that this does not work. As we know the Biden administration is looking at this on the Federal level, we will continue to be strong advocates to not have this one size fits all approach go unchecked.
I again testified on Monday February 8th in the State Government Finance & Policy & Elections Committee in support of SF 1. Reminder, I testified last week Wednesday, Feb. 3rd in the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy on SF 1 (see above).
The MLBA supports our On Premise industry and is pushing bills that would allow our small business owners to open safely. Opponents state that the MLBA does not support their workers as they claim that we are supporting penalties and compliance to go away. This cannot be further from the truth! Our businesses are complying. Our businesses are taking this pandemic seriously. Outbreaks are and have been devastating to small businesses. Without staff, we cannot function. Without customers, we cannot pay our staff. As a reminder, we are in the hospitality industry. We HAVE to keep our staff and patrons safe and healthy. Both are critical for the success and survival of our small businesses.
Please contact your legislators in support of SF 1! Minnesota, we are ready to be open for business!!! If you don’t know your representatives, click this link to look them up!