MN Hospitality Advocate

Star Tribune Columnist Highlights Vacation Homes

Posted in Lodging Issues, Resort Issues, State Laws, State Rules, Tourism Issues, Uncategorized, Vacation Home Rentals by hospitalityminnesota on July 4, 2010

In today’s Star Tribune Metro Section, columnist John Ewoldt touts vacation homes as an opportunity to enjoy the lake without the mortgage. He mentions http://www.VRBO.com, http://www.homeaway.com, http://www.greatrentals.com, http://www.vacationrentals.com and http://www.vacationrentals411.com.

I have seen several other recent references to vacation home rentals. Here’s what Ewoldt suggests: “Thanks to the recession, more second home owners have discovered that renting our their cabins, lake homes, condos and townhouses can make a second mortgage pay for itself.”

We argue the same and it is for this reason that the Minnesota Resort & Campground Association and Minnesota Lodging Association have for several years now pushed to have these properties regulated in the same manner as resorts, hotels and other licensed lodging facilities. The Minnesota Department of Health does have basic authority to license such facilities, but clarity in language would be helpful.

In the meantime, if you know of a vacation home being rented to the general public on a fairly consistent basis, please tell Gary Edwards, Minnesota Department of Health, (651) 201-4513, gary.edwards@state.mn.us.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations and Hospitality Minnesota

Advertisements

Industry Scores Major Victories; Labor Day and Adult Entertainment

Over the past two days, the hospitality industry scored two major victories at the legislature. The first was defeat of a government operations bill that stepped deeply into the business practices of our industry. Wednesday morning, we defeated H.F. 3287 in the House State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections Committee that would prevent state workers from booking rooms or meetings in Minnesota hotels that offer pay-per-view adult movies that link sex with violence. I was the sole testifier against the bill authored by Rep. Haws (DFL-St. Cloud), which has a companion Senate bill, SF 2861, authored by Sen. Taryl Clark (DFL-St. Cloud).

In my testimony, I chastised the advocacy community for turning immediately to legislation to solve this problem. I offered to sit with the advocates (groups seeking to combat sexual violence) to have a discussion about the issue and allow industry to gain a better understanding. I further suggested that the vast majority of this material is not viewed in hotel rooms, but rather on the Internet. We will continue to monitor this issue, but certainly believe this legislation simply went way to far in dictating business practices for our industry.

In the second victory, a house Education Committee stripped a Post Labor Day school start repealer from a Committee Bill by a vote of 11-9. This narrow victory in an Education Committee is a significant victory for the industry. While Labor Day school start opponents will likely try and amend bills on the floor of the House or  Senate to continue a repeal effort, we stand in a strong position given that the committee has spoken. In part, committee members suggested that we ought to give the 25 districts in the Southwest corner of the state time to work their experiment before we make other changes in the Labor Day statute. In particular, we thank Rep. John Ward (DFL-Brainerd) for his work on the Labor Day issue.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations and Hospitality Minnesota

Vacation Home Rentals May See Solution

Posted in Lodging Issues, Resort Issues, State Laws, State Rules, Tourism Issues, Vacation Home Rentals by hospitalityminnesota on February 13, 2010

Over the past several years, the practice of renting out ones cabin to bring in revenue and offset property taxes and general maintenance expenses has become common. We call this vacation home rentals. In addition, websites have sprung up in significant numbers making it very easy for vacation homeowners to rent out their units (and many vacation homeowners have built their own sites.

For a good example, check out www.vrbo.com (vacation rental by owner). So why does our industry care? Because these vacation homes are now in the marketplace competing against private resorts and lodging properties, yet they do not have to meet the same regulatory requirements. They often do not collect sales tax, lodging tax, get inspected by the Department of  Health or meet DNR Shoreland Management standards.

The Minnesota Department of Health has the authority under current statute to inspect these properties, but has only recently begun to do so. In part it’s a manpower issue – they simply don’t have enough folks to chase down every private homeowner.  And in part, it’s because the problem has only become evident as the Internet has grown and the cost of entry into the marketplace has declined.

The Minnesota Resort and Campground Association and Minnesota Lodging Association care a great deal about this issue. Level playing field and public safety are key elements of the discussion. The Department of Health is preparing to move forward with some technical corrections to existing statute that will clarify their existing authority to inspect. It’s a great first step in ensuring that Minnesota’s vacationers are in safe facilities.

We’ll keep you posted as the initiative progresses.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations and Hospitality Minnesota

Taxes and Fees Anticipated in Coming Session

Posted in General Advocacy, Lodging Issues, Restaurant Issues, State Laws, State Rules by hospitalityminnesota on November 9, 2009

I just finished a meeting with several Minnesota trade association executive directors earlier today. As we went around the table to discuss issues of key significance we anticipate in the coming session, it is clear that taxes are at the forefront.

It could be property taxes; expansion of the sales tax; a tax on restaurants and lodging to fund the Vikings Stadium; protection of local option lodging tax or a liquor tax. If not a tax, then an increase in fees is anticipated. It is the consensus of the trade associations’ chief staff officers that business will face an onslaught of revenue raisers that could amount to job killers.

Equally as sobering, many industries anticipate additional regulatory burdens, at precisely the time when regulatory oversight needs to be reasonable to allow for growth and job creation. “It amazes me how legislators can talk about job growth and its importance one instant and then immediately talk about taxes, fees and regulations that kill jobs,” said one Association executive.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations

Associations Provide 2009-10 Annual Law Review

Posted in General Advocacy, Lodging Issues, Resort Issues, Restaurant Issues, State Laws, State Rules by hospitalityminnesota on September 7, 2009

Wow, the 2009-2010 Annual Law Review is now complete and has been sent to all Association members. This 148-page reference is the bible of laws and regulations affecting Minnesota’s hospitality industry. Topics covered include:

  • OSHA requirements
  • Minimum wage and tip credit
  • Proper employee termination
  • Lodging tax law
  • Health laws and codes
  • Sales tax fact sheets
  • State versus Federal statutes
  • Overtime
  • Much more

As a hospitality operator, this review can literally save you thousands of dollars in fines and headaches. There is no more comprehensive overview of both the federal and state laws that impact you every day.

You can access the law review with your member login. If you can’t remember your login, please contact Carrie Burinda at (651) 925-4016.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Assocations