Legislative Update – July 2018

The Minnesota summer tourism season is alive and well in Minnesota!  It’s been a mix of heat, storms and beautiful summer days – in Minnesota, we know how to adapt our day to any kind of weather.  Parades, festivals, concerts, and activities are happening across the state from the X-Games coming to Minneapolis this week, to Paul Bunyan Days in Akeley, Turtle Races in Perham, Sinclair Lewis Days in Sauk Centre, the Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove, the Blueberry/Arts Festival in Ely, Heritage Days in East Grand Forks, the Boats & Bluegrass Festival in Winona and more!

The 2018 legislative session ended with several vetoes and very little passing into law.  Since it was not a budget year, there was no threat of a possible government shut-down and most legislators left to hit the campaign trail.  The MTGC testified in several committee hearings, educating legislators about the economic impact of tourism and sharing success stories from the first few rounds of major events funding grants.  These real-life stories hit home with legislators when they can see how the state’s investments are put to work.

One of the few bills which passed was the capital projects or bonding bill.  This bill provided funding for projects across the state, and many will benefit tourism.  Some of the projects which received funding include: Glensheen Mansion, Minnesota Zoo, Historic Fort Snelling, Children’s Theatre Company, Litchfield Opera House, Wabasha Eagle Center, as well as several state parks, and state, regional, and local trails.   A full list of funded projects can be found at this link: bonding bill spreadsheet.

Another bill of interest becomes law on August 1, 2018, which makes it a crime for a person to directly or indirectly intentionally misrepresent an animal as a service animal in any place of public accommodation in order to obtain rights or privileges available to a person who qualifies for a service animal.  The full text of the bill can be found at this link: service animal law.

As you are hosting events in your community or attending an event, you likely will run into a legislator (or two!) or a candidate running for office.  Please take the time to tell your tourism story – the economic impact of tourism to your community, the benefits of a strong tourism industry, the impact on jobs and hospitality, etc.  Making these personal connections will be so important as we head into the 2019 legislative session and the next tourism state budget is appropriated.

Watch your e-mail later this summer for tips and talking points to share with local and state leaders relating to tourism as the election season heats up.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for your support of tourism in Minnesota!

Sincerely,

Sarah Psick, Lobbyist
Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition
spsick@psickcapitolsolutions.com
info@mntourism.net

Legislative Update – May 3, 2018

The 2018 Legislature has entered the final weeks of session and the focus has been narrowed down to the supplemental budget, taxes and capital investment (bonding).  Legislative action must be completed by the constitutional deadline of Monday, May 21, 2018.

As the supplemental budget bills have been assembled, several state agencies were hit with budget cuts across a variety of funding areas.  Thankfully, Explore Minnesota Tourism was not asked to cut its budget or reduce any of its programs. Earlier this session, the Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition (MTGC) awarded the 2017 MTGC “Tourism Leadership Award” to Senator Carrie Ruud and Representative Dan Fabian.  These legislators were recognized for their steadfast commitment to tourism and leadership in securing funding for EMT and the tourism events grant program.

Also this session, the MTGC, EMT, Community of Minnesota Resorts, MACVB and community leaders from the tourism industry appeared before the House and Senate Environment Committees.  Testifiers presented information about the economic benefits from tourism funding and the first rounds of the EMT tourism events grant program.  Click here to watch the House Environment Committee hearing video or the Senate Environment Committee hearing video.

I have had the pleasure of seeing many of you in St. Paul over the past few months and throughout the legislative session, as you have been at the Capitol representing your community, attending “Day at the Capitol” events, and meeting with legislators.

Thank you for your support of tourism in Minnesota!

If you have any questions regarding legislative issues, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Sarah Psick, Lobbyist
Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition
spsick@psickcapitolsolutions.com
info@mntourism.net

Legislative Update – March 13, 2018

The 2018 Legislature is back in session and they have hit the ground running! The main goal of the legislative session will be adoption of a bonding or capital improvements budget bill. The Governor has recommended a $1.5 billion set of projects which the legislature will examine when putting together their own bill. Additional priorities for this legislative session will include a focus on the sweeping tax changes passed by the federal government. The Minnesota legislature is looking to pass a tax bill this session to adopt conforming changes and avoid tax increases for Minnesotans. The updated February budget forecast predicts a $329 million budget surplus. The Governor and legislature will debate how to spend these funds. Among the items vying for funding are the motor vehicle registration system (MNLARS) which became a complete mess and requires an additional investment to fix, legislation to tackle the growing opioid addiction epidemic and ways to address the recent reports of elder abuse and neglect.

Because 2018 is not a budget-setting session, we are taking the time to educate legislators about the value of tourism investments. Many of you have already been at the Capitol for various “Day on the Hill” activities or you will be over the next few weeks. When you meet with legislators, please take the time to say thank you for their support of tourism funding. In addition, feel free to share this handout with important tourism information and facts. Remember, tourism is the “front door” to economic development.

On Wednesday, March 14th the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over tourism will hold legislative hearings regarding tourism in Minnesota. Presenting at these hearings will be:

  • John Edman, Explore Minnesota Tourism
  • Nick Leonard, Otter Tail Tourism and Economic Development
  • Darin Rahm, Marshall Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Joe Henry, Lake of the Woods Tourism and Minnesota Convention and Visitors Bureau Association.

Included in the presentations will be examples of how the first rounds of major events funding grants have been put to use. Over the past few sessions, the Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition (MTGC) successfully advocated for funding of this grant program. These hearings are a great opportunity to update the legislators on the value of these grant programs.

If you are at the Capitol, please plan to attend one or both of these hearings:

House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance
8:15 a.m., State Office Building Room 5

Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance
10:30 a.m., Minnesota Senate Building Room 1150

The hearings may also be broadcast on the House and Senate webcast, you can access the schedule at this link: https://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/multimedia

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for your support of tourism in Minnesota!

Sincerely,

Sarah Psick, Lobbyist
Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition
spsick@psickcapitolsolutions.com
info@mntourism.net

For a printable version of this information click here.

MTGC Summer Update – July 2017

Summer in Minnesota is well underway and the tourism season is in full force! We have seen a successful Summer X Games in Minneapolis, Preston Trout Days, Ely Blueberry Festival, Lake City Water Ski Days, St. Cloud’s Granite City Days, Pipestone Watertower Festival and, still to come – the New London Antique Car Run, Heritage Days in East Grand Forks, the Minnesota State Fair and much more! Tourism is alive and thriving in Minnesota!

As you are out and about in Minnesota attending a parade or festival, you may run into a State Representative or Senator – or even the Governor, visiting in your area. If you do, take a minute to thank them for their support of tourism funding in the past legislative session. The Legislature and Governor increased tourism funding by approving $900,000 to continue the major events funding grant program; these funds will be available until 2019. They also approved a small operating budget increase for Explore Minnesota Tourism and $500,000 for updating the EMT web site, developing digital content, and making system upgrades. The Governor and Legislature recognize the value and economic impact of tourism across the state.

It is a pleasure to represent the Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition and our partners at the State Capitol. I invite you to attend the Minnesota State Capitol Grand Opening Celebration August 11-13 in St. Paul. There will be three days of events, activities, and entertainment, plus tours of the beautifully renovated Capitol! Here is a link to information about the weekend: https://mn.gov/admin/capitol-grand-opening/

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Thank you for your support of tourism in Minnesota!

Sincerely,

Sarah Psick, Lobbyist
Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition
spsick@psickcapitolsolutions.com
info@mntourism.net

Legislative Update – March 14, 2017

As you heard at the EMT conference a little over a month ago, the Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition (MTGC) is working hard to increase EMT’s budget for the next biennium.   Over the past four years, we have all benefitted as EMT funding has increased (due to MTGC’s legislative efforts).  We know that increased funding will benefit tourism organizations and businesses all across the state through increased tourism marketing, co-op grants, major events funding grants, and more.

Today, we are asking for your help with this legislative effort.  You can help in one or more ways:

  1. Financial Support: Contributions of all sizes are greatly appreciated and make a difference in our lobbying activities.  Contributing even on hotel room night of around $100 will be sincerely appreciated and help us fund this critical initiative.  Click here for a MTGC contribution form, or reply to this email and we will send you an invoice.
  1. Resolution of Support: Legislators look at who is supporting the MTGC, your support makes a difference.  You can submit a resolution of support through the MTGC website:  mntourism.net
  1. Contact Your Legislator: Legislative committees will be setting the budget very soon, please contact your local legislator and ask them to support HF 1161 and SF 215 to provide increased funding for Explore Minnesota Tourism.  Click here to find your legislator:  Legislator Contacts and click here for the MTGC Talking Points:

Please join the 30+ CVBs, resorts, attractions and other tourism businesses who have already contributed financially or adopted supporting resolutions to help grow EMT’s budget in this legislative session.

Let’s all step- up and support increased EMT funding that will have a positive ripple effect across the state and consider making this a regular part of your annual budget planning.

Thank you to those who have already supported MTGC and for your future support!  Please contact us with any questions.

Anna Tanski, MTGC President
Visit Duluth
anna@visitduluth.com

Terry Mattson, MTGC Vice President
Visit Saint Paul
tmattson@visitsaintpaul.com

Doug Killian, MTGC Treasurer
Mall of America
douglas.killian@moa.net

Megan Christiansen, MTGC Secretarty
Visit Duluth
megan@visitgrandrapids.com

For a printable version of this information click here.

Legislative Update – February 27, 2017

The Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition (MTGC) has been busy meeting with legislators and advocating for increased tourism funding at the State Capitol!  MTGC sponsored legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to provide increased funding to Explore Minnesota Tourism.  SF 215 (Ruud) and HF 1161 (Layman) propose increasing the EMT marketing budget by $5 million each year for the next two years, funding EMT technology improvements, and providing an additional $750,000 to continue the major events funding grant program across the state.

To date the bill has been heard in two committees in the Senate.  At the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance committee Senator Carrie Ruud (R, Breezy Point) presented the bill and testimony was presented by members of the tourism industry.  The committee hearing took place on the Monday before the annual EMT conference and many conference attendees were present in the audience to show support.  The bill was passed on to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance committee where it was given a bill hearing on laid over for possible funding in the omnibus budget bill.

Testifying for the bill at one or both of the committees were:

  • Sarah Psick, Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition lobbyist
  • Terry Mattson, Visit Saint Paul
  • Anna Tanski, Visit Duluth
  • Megan Christiansen, Visit Grand Rapids,
  • Christy Riley, Southern Minnesota Tourism
  • Karen Sanger, Cedar Point Resort, Marcell
  • Doug Killian, Mall of America
  • Anna Thill, Visit Mankato
  • Joe Henry, Lake of the Woods Tourism
  • Tim Aarsvold, Geneva Beach Resort, Alexandria

Thank you to everyone who testified and attended the committee meetings to show support for increased EMT funding.  The bill will be scheduled for a hearing in the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance committee in the next few weeks.

The committee hearing, testimony and committee discussion can be viewed online.

Senate Environment Policy Committee Hearing Video

Senate Environment Finance Committee Hearing Video

The next step will be for a committee hearing in the House Environment & Natural Resources Policy and Finance committee.  Stay tuned!

Thank you for your continued support of the MTGC, please contact us with any questions.

For a printable version of this information click here.

Legislative Update – January 27, 2017

The 2017 Legislative session is underway, new and returning legislators are finding their way around the renovated Capitol building and have moved into their offices. The committees have begun working and will soon begin the process of putting together a budget for the next biennium.

Created in 2013, the Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition (MTGC) is again actively representing the tourism industry at the Minnesota Capitol. The MTGC works to increase the awareness of the importance of the tourism industry in Minnesota and advocates for needed funding growth for Explore Minnesota Tourism (EMT) marketing budget. We also work for continued funding of the major events funding grant pilot program, and funding for technology investments at EMT.

MTGC has worked with Sen. Carrie Ruud (Breezy Point), Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (Alexandria), Sen. Tom Bakk (Cook), Sen. David Tomassoni (Chisholm) and Sen. Justin Eichorn (Grand Rapids) to sponsor SF 215. The bill provides increased funding of $10 million to EMT for marketing, $730,000 to continue the major events funding grant program and $2 million for EMT technology improvements.

This important legislation has been scheduled for a committee hearing on Monday, January 30th.

Senate Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee
Monday, January 30, 2017
1:00 – 2:30 p.m. (SF 215 will be heard at approximately 2:00 p.m.)
Room 1200 Minnesota Senate Building
SF 215 (Ruud) Explore Minnesota Tourism Funding

Many of you will be in St. Paul on Monday for the Explore Minnesota Tourism conference. We encourage you to attend the Senate committee hearing….we want to show a high level of tourism industry support for EMT!

Click here for talking points related to the MTGC tourism funding request. Please feel free to use this when talking to your local legislators and others.

The EMT Excellence in Tourism awards dinner in on Tuesday and the MTGC will be recognizing Rep. Dave Baker (Willmar) with the 2016 MTGC “Tourism Leadership Award”. Rep. Baker’s leadership and support led to the funding and creation of the major events funding pilot project passed last session. If you have the opportunity, please thank Rep. Baker for his support.

Thank you for your support of the MTGC and contact us if you have any questions.

For a printable version of this information click here.