The 2014 legislative session was about more than just minimum wage.
The 2014 legislative session was about more than just minimum wage. Curious what passed that will impact your retail operation? The Minnesota Retailers Association has released it's session outcomes report., highlighting nearly three dozen issues that passed or failed.
Here is a quick preview from the report introduction by Board Chair Mike Hiltner and Legislative Policy Committee Chair Jeff Lindoo:
Under a challenging legislative environment, MnRA is pleased to announce:
- The repeal of business-to-business taxes enacted last year, including the concerning storage and warehouse tax that was set to take effect April 1;
- Positive main street retailer changes to the threshold and percentage of June accelerated tax payments;
- Passage of industry-supported changes to Minnesota's Pharmacy Practices Act;
- Protection for responsible retailers operating mobile device trade-in programs;
- A year delay in the introduction of a dime deposit-refund beverage container recycling program bill;
- Successful opposition to a 48-hour consumer notification mandate when a data breach occurs;
- Removal of a duplicative tobacco excise tax originally passed in 2013;
- Defeat of a proposal that would have required retailers to pay an hour of "sick and safe" leave for every 30 hours an employee worked.
To received a copy of the 2014 State Legislative Outcomes report, follow the appropriate link below.
Bipartisan effort would allow for a three-year delay in implementation of "belly button" tax
Minnesota Senator Al Franken, in bipartisan action with Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, on April 11 introduced legislation (S. 2253) for a three-year delay in implementation of an employer-paid $63 per-person tax provided for under federal healthcare reform. The tax funds a temporary "reinsurance" program that not all businesses are eligible to participate in, creating a situation where some retailers pay in to the program but receive no benefit.
In introducing his Health Care Fairness and Stability Act of 2014, Senator Franken said, "My number one concern is to make sure the Affordable Care Act works for the people of Minnesota. We need to keep moving forward and fix the things that aren't working. Businesses and workers all over Minnesota are concerned about this. Our bipartisan bill would provide relief to employers and workers, and it helps keep costs down for businesses across the country."
"At a time when retailers are digesting the impact of federal healthcare reform on their operations, we appreciate Senator Franken's leadership on an effort to delay the collection of the transitional reinsurance tax. We are hopeful that the Senator's effort will allow the time needed to find a better, fairer funding mechanism for this program," commented Minnesota Retailers Association president Bruce Nustad.
Retailers and employers of all size are negatively impacted by this tax, sometimes referred to as the "belly button" tax because it is assessed for each employee, spouse, dependent and retiree covered by a fully-insured or employer-sponsored, self-insured group health plan. In addition to delaying implementation of the tax, the Health Care Fairness and Stability Act of 2014 proposes to reduce the amount collected for the program by aligning the tax with the actual financial need of the program. Also, in the U.S. House, bipartisan legislation (H.R. 3489) was introduced last November to repeal the fee.
The Minnesota Retailers Association thanks Senator Franken and co-sponsor Senator Amy Klobuchar, as well as the International Franchise Association, National Retail Federation, and Retail Industry Leaders Association for leadership on this issue.
Retailers Remain Cautious About Holiday Spending
National reports from Thanksgiving weekend concluded traffic was up at retailers across the country, however there was a slight dip in spending--largely attributed to strong retail competition including deals and "doorbusters". The National Retail Federation reported consumers spent $407.02 from Thanksgiving through the weekend, down from $423.55 a year ago.
In an unscientific survey of members, the Minnesota Retailers Association (MnRA) found that 55 percent of retailers saw more customers walking through their doors than anticipated, with another 30 percent seeing the level of traffic they expected.
Also in good news for Minnesota's economy, 45 percent of retailers reported more sales Thanksgiving weekend over the same period last year, along with 22 percent saying the two years were about equal.
Despite reports of strong traffic and sales, retailers in Minnesota are cautious when it comes to the economy and consumer spending around the holidays. Fifty-five percent of retail respondents anticipate this year's holiday season sales to match last year's, and 20 percent said they anticipate sales to be less. Only 20 percent of retailers expect sales to be above the 2012 holiday season level.