Legislative Priorities for 2017/2018
The Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA) represents food and beverage service industry operators in the state government on a wide variety of issues that directly impact our specific industry. Examples include liquor license fees, food safety, and tipped minimum wage.
Additionally, the MRA is actively engaged as a leader in legislative efforts not specific to the industry. These include economic and general business issues, such as taxes and workplace regulations.
On many issues – those specific to our industry and those that are not industry-specific – the MRA is the only group representing the food and beverage service industry involved in the effort.
The last two years provided an unprecedented realization of many long held Association legislative priorities, but there is still work to be done! With that said, the following is a rundown of several legislative priorities for the MRA for the 2017-2018 legislative session in Lansing.
Continued Support for Tourism in Michigan
The MRA continues to support the “Pure Michigan” campaign and will work to ensure a full and stable funding source for the program that does not increase taxes or fees on any industry. Due to the Pure Michigan campaign, out-of-state visitors spent nearly $1.4 billion on communities and local businesses across the state. For every dollar spent on the Pure Michigan campaign last year - data shows - the state made $7.67 — up from $6.87 in 2014. With the hospitality and foodservice industry directly benefiting from increased tourism throughout the state, the MRA will continue to advocate for continual support for the Pure Michigan campaign at the state level.
Maintain Funding for MRA ProStart Program
ProStart is a nationwide, two-year high school program that unites the classroom and the industry. It develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice industry leaders. In Michigan, 68 high schools and career centers use the ProStart curriculum with more than 5,000 students participating.
The MRA was successful in securing a modest level of state funding aimed towards expanding the ProStart Program to diminish “barriers-of-entry” and allow for the next generation of culinary entrepreneurs the opportunity to continue to additional culinary education and training. MRA seeks to continue state funding to further our investment and expansion of the ProStart Program.
Mandatory Paid Leave
An onerous mandatory paid leave law would be disastrous to Michigan’s tenuous economic recovery, and especially devastating to the restaurant industry. It would increase operating costs, resulting in lower wages and fewer total jobs. The restaurant industry would be especially hard hit by this mandate given its razor-thin profit margins of just 4 percent and predominant makeup of small businesses.
The MRA will oppose any legislation similar to a previously introduced bill that mandated a business with less than 10 employees provide a minimum of 40 paid sick leave hours to each employee. Businesses with more than 10 employees must provide a minimum of 72 paid sick leave hours to each employee. Leave could be taken by the hour and used for personal health or the health of any family member or loved one. An employee would not be required to show any documentation of illness unless he or she has failed to show up for work for more than three consecutive days.
The MRA also opposes mandatory paid leave efforts at the local level as they pose the additional burden of forcing multiple location owners to create separate policies for different locations.
Oppose Additional Liquor Fees and Tax Increases
The MRA has been successful in preventing various efforts aimed at increasing or imposing additional fees on the foodservice industry associated with the license required to sell beer, wine and liquor in the state. The MRA remains committed to opposing any and all efforts made to increase any fees on the foodservice industry.
Oppose “Big Brother” Approach to Governmental Oversight
Over the past six years, the Michigan legislature has taken a proactive approach to enact policies that promote additional investment across the state. With over 421,000 jobs supported by the foodservice industry with over 16,000 eating and drinking locations across the state, the MRA continues to advocate and engage in policy discussions that remove “red-tape” and allow businesses the opportunity to grow and expand without ridiculous mandates and burdensome regulations.
Oppose The Collection of City Income Tax
The MRA was successful in defeating a legislative proposal that would have mandated that an employer whose employee are a resident of a city that imposed an income tax would now be responsible for the collection of the tax - even if the employer was not doing business in the city or did not maintain an establishment there. The MRA will continue to fight to prevent this and similar legislation that places additional burdens on the business community.
Support Amending Michigan’s 500 Foot Rule
Currently, Michigan’s liquor code prevents a liquor license from being approved if it is within 500 feet of a church or school. As the restaurant and foodservice industry continues to expand, the MRA is working with industry partners to allow for greater flexibility (with appropriate oversight) for owners and operators that seek to expand their operations within the 500-foot mark without penalty.
Attempts to Amend the Smoking Ban Law
The MRA acknowledges and has adapted to the Ron Davis Smoke Free Air Law, embodied in Public Act 188 of 2009. The MRA will continue to oppose any legislative efforts to create exemptions to the law, arguing that if a ban exists, it must exist as uniformly as possible to allow for competition on a level playing field for all operators.
The MRA will oppose any attempts in Michigan to implement a ban of sugar-sweetened beverages. Considering that only 1.5% of total caloric intake at restaurants comes from sugar-sweetened beverages, the ban is arbitrary and capricious and will not affect the change it desires. The MRA will continue its strong partnership with public health officials to help educate the public on healthy dining options, but opposes rigid government mandates that harm the industry and don’t get results.