March 5, 2018


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Congressman Jason Lewis talks federal issues at last week's Public Affairs Breakfast.
Local Update            
Judge Upholds Minneapolis' $15 Minimum Wage Ordinance
 
From the Star Tribune, David Chanen, February 28, 2018  
 
"A Hennepin County district judge ruled that the city of Minneapolis' $15 minimum wage ordinance is valid, ending the first major legal challenge of the plan since it passed in June.

Graco Inc. was the only remaining plaintiff in the lawsuit, which was filed in November and sought a temporary injunction to stop the ordinance from going into effect. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce pulled out of the suit in late December.

On Tuesday, Judge Susan Burke ruled that the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act, the state minimum wage law, doesn't preclude municipalities from passing local wage ordinances to meet the needs of their communities.

Besides denying the injunction, Burke ordered Graco to pay the city's legal fees."
 

Legislative Session        
Last Week At The Legislature: $329 Budget Surplus Announced; Legislature Hears Opioid And Gun Bills As Well As $10 Million Emergency Request For MNLARS

Week two of the Minnesota legislative session was marked by the announcement of a state budget surplus of $329 million.  While this might seem like a fairly large surplus to the average Minnesotan, for some legislators it is less of a surplus than expected, likely reducing funds available for one time projects and tax relief in an election year. Legislators will likely spend the next 10 weeks determining what to do with the surplus.

In addition to the surplus announcement, opioids took center stage on Thursday at the Capitol.  A House healthcare committee heard a bill to tax opioid pills in an effort to fund prevention and recovery programs. There seems to be a fair amount of consensus among lawmakers that state government has a role to play in combating opioid addiction. Less consensus exists surrounding the funding mechanism to pay for related programs.  The House bill was held at the committee level for further conversation.  We expect to see a similar Senate hearing soon.

Using a rule infrequently invoked, a legislator was able to get two gun control-related bills heard in a House committee also on Thursday, surprising both supporters and opponents.  The House committee voted to table both bills.  Further conversations related to gun control are uncertain in the House and Senate.

Finally last week, legislators appeared to be divided along party lines on a $10 million emergency funding request to keep contractors working on the state's struggling driver and vehicle services system, MNLARS.  MN.IT, the state agency with the lead role in building the system, requested $10 million in emergency funds to keep contractors working on the system.  Both the House and Senate declined to act on that request this week.

MnRA members receive a legislative update every Friday during the legislative session. If you are non-member and would like to receive the update or are a member not receiving it, please contact us at info@mnretail.org. 
Holiday Update            
St. Patrick's Day Spending To Reach A Record $5.9 Billion
 
From the National Retail Federation, February 28, 2018  
 
"Americans plan to spend a record $5.9 billion to celebrate St. Patrick's Day this year, according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. That's the highest level in the survey's 14-year history, up from last year's previous record of $5.3 billion.

"With winter hopefully winding down over the next few weeks, consumers are ready to start celebrating spring with St. Patrick's Day," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. "The holiday falls on a Saturday this year, so Americans will have more time to splurge a little as they get together with friends and loved ones for a day of festivities."

The survey found over 149 million U.S. adults plan to celebrate the March 17 Irish holiday, up from last year's approximate 139 million. Consumers are expected to spend an average of $39.65 per person, up from last year's previous record of $37.92. The holiday is most popular among individuals 18-24 years old, with 77 percent celebrating, but those 35-44 will be the biggest spenders at an average of $45.76.

According to the survey, 83 percent of those celebrating will wear green, 31 percent plan to make a special dinner and 27 percent will head to a party at a bar or restaurant. Twenty-seven percent will also decorate their homes or offices in an Irish theme and 16 percent will attend a private party. In addition, 15 percent plan to attend a St. Patrick's Day parade and 9 percent will host a party."
 

Your Voice
Retail Day At The Capitol Scheduled For March 27: Registration Open!

Your story meets your legislators at the Minnesota Retailers Association's I am RETAIL Day at the Capitol March 27!

Our half-day begins with a breakfast reception featuring legislative leaders followed by conversations with legislators at the State Capitol.

With one in four jobs in Minnesota directly connected to retail, our elected officials now more than ever need to understand the impact of their decisions on retail businesses.

No cost to attend. Continental breakfast served. RSVP requested by March 13. This is a members and invited guests only event and is not open to the public. Pre-registration required.

Beginning location:
Minnesota National Guard St. Paul Armory - in the State Capitol complex area

Ending location:
Minnesota State Capitol

Breakfast-Only Option:
Interested in attending the breakfast only? Great! Just mark the "breakfast-only" option when registering. Breakfast concludes at 9:00 a.m.

 

Merchant Processing             
Supreme Court Case Seeks Disclosure Of Credit Card Fees To Benefit Consumers
 
From Fox News, Deborah White (opinion piece), February 25, 2018  
 
"Every time a consumer swipes his or her credit card, the credit card company collects a fee. Do most consumers know this? Probably not. That's because American Express rules prohibit retailers from educating consumers about these fees or giving consumers benefits for using lower-cost cards.

Although retailers are fighting for the right to disclose these fees, credit card companies are determined to keep consumers in the dark.

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To change these rules, retailers support a lawsuit that will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. The case, Ohio et al. v. American Express, began when the federal government and 11 states sued American Express, claiming that its rules violate U.S. antitrust laws.

After weeks of testimony and extensive briefing, a federal district court agreed. An appellate court later reversed the decision. Now the final determination will be made by the Supreme Court.

Retailers have been fighting the credit card networks' unfair rules and anti-competitive practices for decades. The rules the Supreme Court will consider are but one example. They prevent consumers from getting basic information about the true costs of their payment choices, and prevent retailers from offering their own incentives or rewards to consumers who choose lower fee payment options."
 

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Minnesota Retailers Associaiton
400 Robert Street North, suite 1540
St. Paul, MN 55101
Tel. (651) 227-6631 - mnretail.org - mnra@mnretail.org