Check out the latest video from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce regarding the 2017 legislative priority to reform health care. Bentley Graves, director, Health & Transportation Policy, gives a progress report on our 2017 Health Care Policy.
Column By: Doug Loon, President of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
The Minnesota Chamber continues to challenge workplace mandates at the Legislature and in the courts. A recent court ruling underscores the importance of our parallel efforts.
A Minneapolis ordinance is scheduled to take effect July 1, 2017, that requires businesses to provide paid sick time to employees. St. Paul has a similar ordinance scheduled to take effect the same date. Duluth is considering enacting its own set of workplace regulations. It’s only time before similar measures come to a city near you.
In October 2016, the Minnesota Chamber brought a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis asking the court to do two things: No. 1, issue a temporary injunction prohibiting the city from enforcing its “paid sick and safe time” ordinance on any businesses; No. 2, permanently rule the ordinance unlawful.
The Hennepin County District Court delivered a mixed ruling on January 19. Judge Mel I. Dickstein said Minneapolis may not enforce its ordinance on employers “resident outside the geographic boundaries of the city of Minneapolis.” He also ordered that, for now, the city could enforce the ordinance against employers within the city. We are appealing the decision.
The judge’s mixed ruling underscores the importance of our efforts at the Capitol to pass the Uniform State Labor Standards Act, which would prohibit local governments from passing their own mandates on wages, benefits and scheduling. The Act would keep Minnesota’s laws uniform, our communities open for business, and our economy thriving for all.
The legislation is being spearheaded by the United for Jobs Coalition, a broad-based coalition of local chambers of commerce and business associations led by the Minnesota Chamber.
We do not believe the state should dictate private-sector employee benefits. The only thing worse than state government dictating one-size-fits-all mandates on all employers is for local governments to do so, thus creating a patchwork of local laws for businesses to navigate across the state. Minnesota’s economic strength is due to a diverse business landscape. Distinctive operations and workplace needs require that employers have the flexibility to develop wages and salaries, benefits, policies and procedures that best serve the mutual needs of employer and employees.
Borrowing a sports phrase, the best defense is a strong offense. Minnesota employers consistently receive national recognition for providing tremendous workplace environments. We will continue to challenge workplace mandates. At the same time, legislators also need to hear about the voluntary wages and benefit plans employers use to attract and retain employees in this competitive marketplace. Minnesota businesses increasingly are offering leave plans that meet the needs of employees such as offer paid maternity and paternity leave, paid sick and safe leave, and other benefits– without state or local mandates. Please share your best practices by contacting Jennifer Byers at 651.292.4673 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voters Demand Progress at Legislature
By: Jennifer Gale, President, River Heights Chamber & Doug Loon, President Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
Change swept the nation in this year’s elections as America woke up to a President-Elect Donald Trump in his upset victory over Hillary Clinton. Change propelled the shakeup in Minnesota’s political landscape, too, as Minnesotans affirmed their support for divided government. The Legislature is now firmly Republican. The executive branch remains Democrat under Governor Mark Dayton.
Voters were also crystal clear about their expectations that the Governor and Legislature will govern – that they will work together to develop, debate and pass solutions to our state’s most pressing problems. No stalemates. No stagnation. Our policymakers must use the experience of the last two years to build a record of progress that all Minnesotans will be proud of. The River Heights Chamber, Minnesota Chamber and our local partners are ready to do our part.
The election offers some key takeaways:
- Personal economics were on Minnesotans minds – especially health care, but also economic growth and wage growth. Everyone wants to be part of a growing economy.
- Good candidates and hard work produce solid results.
- The House and Senate are mirroring each other in the state’s political landscape. Democrats are being elected primarily in the urban core and are increasingly liberal; Republicans hail in primarily the outer ring suburbs and regional centers.
- Republicans are making substantive gains in the suburbs that we have not seen for years.
The Senate now stands at 34 Republicans and 33 Democrats, according to unofficial results. Two races are within the vote totals that trigger automatic recounts. Margins in the House are larger with 76 Republicans and 57 Democrats elected. In addition, one House seat remains unresolved; a special election is scheduled for February 14 for District 32B.
We are ready to present, discuss and help pass solutions that will accelerate the development and growth of our local and statewide economy. The MN Chamber’s annual Minnesota Business Benchmarks provides an excellent springboard for our legislative agenda. The River Heights Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors will be reviewing these priorities for 2017:
- Reduce business taxes that undermine growth, entrepreneurship and expansion of Minnesota businesses.
- Pass long-term, comprehensive transportation package that increases investment in the state’s multimodal infrastructure.
- Allow flexibility in workplace regulations and oppose one-size-fits-all mandates; pass statewide pre-emption of local labor mandates.
- Provide employers with more options and greater flexibility in providing health care coverage for employees.
The election provides the political landscape for the 2017 Legislature. The budget forecast will set the financial parameters. The 2016 Legislature adjourned with a $729 million surplus for FY 2016/17 which will likely change in the December 2nd report. We are most effective at the Capitol when we build relationships and elect legislators who understand business issues.
The 2017 Legislature convenes January 4, and our work has already begun. The election results are shaping our 2017 proposals. Now, policymakers and business leaders must work collectively to adopt them. That way we will be ready for the future – ready for change and ready to grow.
Minnesota Chamber Releases Minnesota Business Benchmarks
Annual report reaffirms innovative, skilled talent; workforce shortage a growing concern
A talented workforce remains a backbone of a growing Minnesota economy, according to the Minnesota Business Benchmarks. But the second annual report produced by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and its local Chamber Federation partners cautions that Minnesota could be losing its advantage.
“Our members regularly cite shortage of workers and high taxes as the two biggest impediments to growing and investing in Minnesota. The difficulty of finding workers at all skill levels across all industries is a huge issue for Minnesota businesses,” Chamber President Doug Loon said. “The problem already is exacerbated by a slowing growth in the working-age population coupled with the retiring baby boomers. Plus, we struggle with the persistent achievement gap among students of color.”
The report highlights an additional strain on the workforce. Minnesota is losing more people to other states than it is gaining. This trend is hindering growth opportunities for many companies, Loon said.
Business Benchmarks is a collection of key economic indicators that measure Minnesota’s competitiveness and the health of the state’s economy compared with the rest of the country. Comprehensive, objective data was compiled from sources such as state and federal agencies.
Minnesota continues to lead in many categories, the report shows. But it is slipping in key areas, too.
On the positive front, innovation remains a trademark with Minnesota ranking fourth highest among states in patents per capita. The state ranks second in the nation for residents with at least a two-year degree. It is 10th best in concentration of STEM jobs – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The good news/bad news dynamics, however, are reflected in economic growth, Loon said. Minnesota ranked 13th among states for GDP growth in 2015, up from 27th the previous year and tied at the national average of 2.4-percent growth. That improvement, however, was largely on the strength of the first quarter. Minnesota ranked 41st when viewing GDP growth for the final three quarters of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016.
Minnesota improved in job growth and personal income growth but still lags the national averages – ranking 29th and 30th, respectively, Loon noted. And its standing in key tax categories was largely unchanged from 2014. The state is still third highest in the nation for its corporate and income tax rates, and second highest for some business property taxes.
The Business Benchmarks provides an excellent springboard for priorities to focus on at the 2017 Legislature, Loon said. Policymakers and business leaders must work collectively to build on the state’s strengths and minimize its weaknesses.
“We cannot rest on our past successes. We must continue to adapt to changing competitive pressures,” Loon said. “Our work at the Minnesota Chamber is to make Minnesota ready for the future – ready for change and ready to grow.”
For the full report, click here.
Annual River Heights Chamber Golf Classic Open to Business Community
New Times, New Auctions, Same Great Fundraiser
Inver Grove Heights/South Saint Paul – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce invites the community to golf in the Chamber’s Annual Golf Classic fundraiser presented by AirTech Heating & Cooling, on Monday, June 20, 2016 at Southview Country Club at 239 E. Mendota Road in West St. Paul.
Southview Country Club is a premier 18-hole course whose sheer aesthetic beauty lies in stark contrast to the challenge it provides to golfers of every skill level. It is the kind of course you never grow tired of playing, and are always proud to bring your guests to. Today, Southview is noted for its immaculate rolling fairways, mature trees, numerous water hazards featuring fountains and magnificent landscaping. And of course, the finest greens in this part of the country.
June 20th is promised to be filled with fun including a Bloody Mary/Mimosa bar while you get checked-in and practice your swings, contests on the course, and a ball drop contest and awards BBQ following the day’s play. Registration begins at 10 a.m., with a shot gun start for teams at 11:00 a.m. For more event times of the day, visit our event page here. An online auction will be sure to please with great items starting June 1st running through the tournament on June 20th (watch for the link coming soon).
One lucky winner of the Chamber’s May online auction (May 16 – May 27 ) will get to add a celebrity to their foursome at this year’s tournament. Adam Thielen, wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings will be joining a team to play in the River Heights Chamber’s Golf Classic. Adam was a local college standout at Mankato State University and signed with the Vikings in 2013 as an undrafted free agent. “We’re excited to have Adam with us on June 20th and see his talents on the golf course vs. the football field,” says Travis Jensen of Home Federal Savings Bank and Golf Task Force Chair.
Special thanks to these businesses for being major sponsors of the tournament: AirTech Heating & Cooling, Antonsen Construction, Home Federal Savings Bank, Quality Auto Care Center and Sanimax.
Golf is $175/golfer (after May 16th) or a discounted rate of $600 per foursome. Guests may attend the BBQ dinner only for $35/person to network and socialize. For more information on the golf tournament or to register to attend, visit us online at www.riverheights.com/golf or call the River Heights Chamber of Commerce at 651.451.2266.
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce and the Inver Grove Heights Convention and Visitor’s Bureau welcome Tracy Shimek as the new Tourism Director.
“We are excited to have Tracy become part of our team on April 11, 2016,” says Jennifer Gale, President of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce.
With over 10 years of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry, Tracy brings a great breadth of experience, knowledge and established relationships to the position. She has vast experience in creating and implementing marketing material to engage and communicate to current and future clients including direct mail, email, and sales sheet profiles, as well as engaging customer outreach by exhibiting at trade shows and conferences.
In her previous experience with Padelford Riverboats and as a board member for Tour Minnesota Association, she has developed a strong understanding of marketing within the tourism community of the Twin Cities and has experience leveraging relationships to collaboratively promote the region.
Tracy has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science from Gustavus Adolphus College St. Peter, MN where she graduated magna cum laude in June, 2003. She was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.
You can reach Tracy at email@example.com.