February 2015 MSSA Legislative Update

H.F 700 Repealing the Tobacco Escalator
House Tax Committee Chair Rep. Davids (R-Preston) is authoring a H.F. 700 that repeals the Cigarette/ Tobacco inflator or $.07 on going which was part of the tobacco tax increase of the original $16.50 per carton. MSSA member Brady Olson from Moorhead (see picture) testified this past week in favor of H.F 700 as MSSA member Dean Mielke shared his loss of sales information from his site in Taylors Falls, MN. The increase in Cigarette and tobacco tax increases hurt all of our retail members. However, stores on the border lost 80% of their tobacco sales not including what they also lost in gasoline and all other merch. Sales.

H.F 69 Vendor Collection Allowance
The MN Grocers Assoc., MN Retailers Assoc, MSSA, MPMA and Hospitality MN are pursuing legislation allowing MN. Retailers to receive a vendor allowance for the collection and remittance of the state sales tax. The collection allowance allows MN, retailers to keep 1% of the overall sales tax collected on a monthly basis. The bill has been heard in both bodies of the legislature and have been laid over to be added into the Governors Omnibus tax bill.

Minimum Wage
The business community, Associations is pursuing the elimination of the automatic inflationary increase provisions to the minimum wage adopted in 2014.

Governor’s Tax Bill
Governor Mark Dayton is trying to increase the metro sales tax by .005% and of course includes a 6.5 % Gross receipts tax on fuel. The MSSA along with other Associations and the MN Chamber of Commerce are working hard on ensuring this legislation goes nowhere during this legislative session.

Tobacco Smuggling Provisions
Proposal creates tobacco sales licensure and provides additional resources for the purpose of reducing smuggling of tobacco from out of state. MSSA and many other Associations have had a meeting with MN Dept. of Revenue explaining the smuggling of tobacco and other products. Currently working together to better understand where the problem(s) are coming from and the amounts of seizures of products.

Exempting MN Retailers From Paying Credit Card Fees on Taxes Collected
MSSA has asked several other Associations and organizations in support paying for a study conducted by UMD’s Economic Department. The study will include what MN retailers paid in the past year in total credit card fees just by collecting our state’s taxes. Industries involved in this study are, Petro/C-store/repair, Hospitality/Restaurant, Licensed beverages, Retail sales, and Grocery.
Study funded by MN. Retailers Assoc., MSSA, and two large C/store/petro retailers in MN/ WI. MSSA has been working with Doug Kantor of Steptoe & Johnson (NACS Counsel) in redrafting our bill. Bill has been sent to our lobbyist for House research to review and waiting for the study to come back from UMD. Once study comes back from UMD, we have some strong authors in the House and Senate that we can ask to carry our bill. Minnesota lawmakers have begun their recurring push to allow liquor stores to open on Sundays.

Sunday Liquor Bill/ Repeal of Blue Laws
Bills introduced Jan 22nd in the House and Senate would repeal the state’s ban on Sunday sales. Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, and Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie are the chief sponsors of the legislation.
Similar proposals have been tried in the past without success. But Loon and Reinert both said they believe 2015 is the session to pass a Sunday sales bill. Reinert said there’s more momentum this time because public support is growing.
The lawmakers were joined by several liquor store owners who support the legislation. Other business owners have raised concerns about the proposed change. The Minnesota Beer Wholesalers, the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association and the Teamsters are among the groups opposing Sunday sales. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has said he would sign a Sunday liquor measure if it reached his desk.

The bills have been referred to House and Senate commerce committees for potential hearings. MSSA only supports Sunday Sales if our members can sell full strength beer and discontinue 3.2 beer sales.