May 15, 2017

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Swipe Fees  
Retailers Launch National Ad Campaign Urging Congress to Uphold Debit Swipe Fee Reform    

From the Retail Industry Leaders Association, May 9, 2017

"Retailers Launch National Ad Campaign Urging Congress to Uphold Debit Swipe Fee Reform
RILA Ads Tell Congress to Hold Wall Street Accountable and Protect Reform Vital to Industry

Arlington, VA - Today, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), the trade association for America's largest retailers, launched a national ad campaign urging Congress to protect debit swipe fee reform as the House is set to vote on the Financial CHOICE Act. As it stands, the legislation would eliminate hard-fought swipe fee reform that has saved retailers and American consumers billions.

"We launched these ads to remind Congress that America cannot afford to bailout Wall Street and the big banks once again," said Austen Jensen, vice president of government affairs and financial services for RILA. "As it stands this legislation is a poison pill for any bipartisan effort to enact meaningful financial reform. Congress must act to uphold debit swipe fee reform or it will give Wall Street and card companies license to raise costs on America's retailers and our consumers."

RILA launched a series of ads in key Congressional districts across the country. The 60 second ad features some of Wall Street's most egregious actions against American consumers reminding Congress just who they'll be supporting should they choose to repeal debit swipe fee reform."

Legislative Update   
Dayton Calls On Republican Lawmakers To Take Policy Out Of Budget Debate     

From the Star Tribune, Erin Golden, May 15, 2017

"With one week remaining in this year's legislative session, Gov. Mark Dayton is pushing Republican lawmakers to remove controversial policy provisions from budget bills - or risk sending the session into overtime.

The DFL governor has already vetoed five Republican budget plans and is poised to veto five more later today, after votes in the House and Senate. He told the Star Tribune on Monday morning that negotiations with House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, and other GOP leaders would likely resume later Monday or early Tuesday. When they do, Dayton said he'll be pushing hard for his top priorities, like more funding for schools - and for getting the negotiations focused squarely on the numbers that shape the approximately $46 billion spending plan for the next two years.

"If we focus this last week on our budget differences, we'll resolve those differences and the legislature can end on time next Monday," Dayton said. "If they are going to insist on some or all of the 609 policy provisions they have inserted into these budget bills, we'll be negotiating until January."

Among the governor's top concerns: Republican plans to dismantle the prekindergarten program he launched last year and hopes to expand with an additional $175 million in the new budget. He's also taken issue with a number of provisions in Republicans' health and human services spending bill, saying it does not provide enough money for essential services like upgrades to the Minnesota Security Hospital, the child welfare and foster care system, and state oversight of child care facilities."

Retail Imports to Keep Growing Through the Summer         
From the National Retail Federation, May  9, 2017

"Imports at the nation's major retail container ports should see steady increases through the summer and into the fall, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

"Regardless of whether the sales come in their stores or through their websites, retailers see that consumers are buying more this year and they're importing the goods needed to meet the demand," NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. "With unemployment at its lowest level in a decade and the economy adding jobs, retailers expect shoppers to continue to increase their spending."
"In the United States, the economy continues to slowly grow," Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. "Gross domestic product was lower than expected in the first quarter but unemployment has dropped to levels not seen since before the Great Recession and, best of all, labor employment has increased dramatically. Our view, therefore, remains unchanged: There is nothing to worry about in the first half of the year, and growth is expected to continue in the second half even if it comes at a slower rate."

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.53 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in March, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 6.8 percent from February, when many Asian factories closed for Lunar New Year, and up 15.8 percent from unusually low numbers the same month a year ago, when Lunar New Year came a week later than this year. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent."

The Economy  
Minnesota's Economy Grew Slower Than U.S. In 2016       

From the Star Tribune, Jim Spencer, May 11, 2017

"Minnesota's economy grew slower than the nation as a whole in 2016, as growth rates in the Upper Midwest lagged most other regions of the country.

Data released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) showed that the state's gross domestic product (GDP) rose 1.3 percent in 2016, while the U.S. GDP was up 1.5 percent for the same period. Minnesota enjoyed a reasonably strong fourth quarter of growth in 2016, up 1.7 percent.

While the annual growth rate was below the country, the state did boast one of the country's best growth rates for professional, scientific and technical services. GDP is the market value of goods and services produced in a state.

Russell Price, a senior economist with Ameriprise Financial, said the state's performance was solid. "The state is still creating jobs and not inflation," he said.

The diversity of the state's economy, spread across many sectors, including medical technology, retail, food processing, agriculture, insurance and financial services, has provided "stability," Price said.

Minnesota showed some growth in its health care, government, agricultural, transportation and retail sectors in 2016. The largest declines came in real estate rental and leasing, mining, and insurance.

"States that are No. 1 tend to [be] riding a wave of some kind," said state economist Laura Kalambokidis. "We tend to be in the middle of the pack because of our diverse economic base. It gives us steady growth and makes the economy more resilient in downturns."

Report: US Retail Sales Rose 0.4% In April      

From the Retail Dive, Daphne Howland, May 12, 2017

"U.S. retail sales rose 0.4% in April from March and 4.5% from the year-ago period to $474.9 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau of the Commerce Department reported Friday. Excluding auto sales, April's retail sales increase was 0.3% including food sales and 0.4% not including food sales. The agency also revised its March report for retail and food sales from a 0.2% decline to a 0.1% rise.

E-commerce sales rose 1.4% in April and 11.9% year over year, according to the report, suggesting that, while growing, online sales results don't put much of a dent into overall retail sales.

Sales fell in April for department stores by 0.2%, furniture by 0.5%, clothing and accessories by 0.5%, and grocery by 0.4%. Store sales rose for electronics and appliances by 1.3%, sporting goods, hobby, book and music by 0.6%, and health and personal care by 0.8%."

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Minnesota Retailers Associaiton
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St. Paul, MN 55101
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