State Capitol Update: Top three legislative trends for 2018

0

 Hoteliers should watch for these developments at their state capitols.

by KATI SICONOLFI

Forty-six state legislatures will convene in 2018, considering a wide variety of policies that impact hoteliers. Now more then ever, hotel owners must participate in state advocacy.

Today’s Hotelier asked AAHOA’s state partner hospitality associations and allies for their perspective on the upcoming legislative session. Not only do they share their insight, but they also share strategies for effective state level advocacy.

What are the top hospitality issues for 2018?

International Society of Hotel Association Executives

“The top state legislative trends that we expect to see this year include reining in commercial hosts running illegal hotels on short-term rental websites, tackling local minimum wage initiatives and promoting travel & tourism in areas that have been affected by natural disasters.”

California Hotel & Lodging Association

“Until session starts, it can be hard to gauge what major issues will be addressed, especially for the hospitality industry. Some of the bigger legislative issues affecting all employers that we expect to see addressed include single payer health care and predictable scheduling.”

Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association

“As Florida’s voice of the hospitality industry, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) will continue to advocate for fair, reasonable, and balanced legislation that encourages continued growth for our industry and the state.  FRLA will be focused on several items during the 2018 Legislative Session. Among our top priorities are regulations pertaining to short term rental properties, quick evictions under F.S. 509, human trafficking, use of Tourist Development Tax revenue, VISIT FLORIDA funding, coastal management, and labor issues. “

North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association

“Occupancy taxes and the use of occupancy tax revenues are the key issues facing hoteliers in North Carolina. Our state does not have a statewide occupancy tax. Rather, all our occupancy taxes are levied through local bills passed by the NC General Assembly.

The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association has adopted occupancy tax guidelines, which guide our legislative advocacy efforts on this topic. Under the guidelines, NCRLA will not oppose any new or amended local occupancy tax bill if the rate does not exceed 6 percent, if the revenues are administered by a local Tourism Development Authority with a majority of representatives from the hospitality industry, and if at least 2/3 of the revenue is spent on tourism promotion. The balance may be spent on our tourism-related expenditures, including capital projects.

While the great majority of local occupancy tax bills have been passed in compliance with these guidelines, we have seen greater resistance in recent years.  Local cities and counties increasingly look to occupancy tax revenues as a source of funding for all kinds of local services and projects, most of which are unrelated to the hospitality industry.”

Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association

“Some of the top hospitality issues in Pennsylvania in 2018 include statewide tourism funding, short-term rentals, closing the online travel company loophole, property taxes and minimum wage. Our state’s tourism marketing budget has been slashed in recent years so we are working hard to educate legislators on the importance of investing in our industry. Every $1 invested in statewide tourism marketing returns $3.43 in tax revenue, so statewide tourism funding benefits the hospitality industry as well as the state.

We are also working on legislation to level the playing field with short-term rentals and homesharing platforms. We want to make sure that all lodging operators are playing by the same rules when it comes to taxes and regulations. We continue to push the need for the online travel company loophole to be closed to ensure that online travel companies are remitting the correct amount of taxes.

Pennsylvania voters approved a referendum that would allow the complete elimination of property taxes, if the legislature moves forward with a proposal, PRLA wants to make sure that taxes are, in fact, eliminated and it isn’t on the back of our industry. It is possible that minimum wage will be a big issue next year so we continue to advocate for our members and educate legislators on the realities of the minimum wage and tipped wage.”

How can hotel owners get more involved in state level advocacy?

International Society of Hotel Association Executives

“The best way for hotel owners to get more involved in state level advocacy is to join their state or local hotel association. The state associations advocate on behalf of the hoteliers in the state and they rely on membership dues to fight important legislative battles and advocate on behalf of the industry. Associations keep their members up to date on their local issues. So hotel owners should try to stay engaged and also plan to attend their state’s lobby day. By supporting your state or local association you are supporting your industry.”

California Hotel & Lodging Association

“Hotel owners can get more involved by writing or calling their elected representatives and by attending CHLA’s Legislative Action Summit on March 7, 2018, in Sacramento.”

Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association

“On January 17, 2018 hoteliers and other members of the hospitality industry will have the unique experience of meeting with members of the Legislature during Florida Tourism Day. This activity is an opportunity to educate lawmakers on critical issues and advocate for our industry. In addition to actively participating in the legislative process, another great way to support state advocacy efforts is to contribute to FRLA’s Political Action Committee. To learn how to get involved and stay informed, visit the “Take Action” page on our website at www.frla.org where you can sign up for our advocacy campaigns, find officials, and search legislation.”

North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association

“Involvement. Involvement. Involvement. There is no better way to stop a bad occupancy tax bill, or any other bad legislative proposal for that matter, than for the Legislature or Governor to hear directly from those who collect the tax.  Our general state sales tax rate is 6 ¾ or 7% depending on the locality.  So a 6% occupancy tax rate means a 12 ¾ or 13% tax on top of the regular room rate. Hotel owners and general managers need to have their voices heard on how these revenues are used locally.  NCRLA maintains a Government Affairs Committee, which develops our positions on all legislation affecting hotels and restaurants, and a Lodging Issues Council, which advises on issues specifically affecting hotels. NCRLA welcomes hotelier participation on either committee.”

Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association

“It’s so important to establish relationships with your legislators. PRLA hosts an annual Legislative Day every year, which is a great opportunity for hotel owners to meet with their elected officials face-to-face and talk about the issues that are important to their businesses. Never be afraid to reach out to your representative and senator on an important issue. Here in Pennsylvania we recently dealt with a last-minute proposal to increase the state hotel tax. Hotel owners contacted their legislators immediately to voice their opposition. If not for the outpouring of phone calls and e-mails from constituents, the increase would have passed. It was a perfect example of the importance of advocacy and staying engaged with your industry.”

South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association

“It is essential that our industry speak with one consistent, ‎strong voice to lawmakers. AAHOA members can add significantly to the SCRLA advocacy work on their behalf by joining the SCRLA, using our talking points to speak to their lawmakers, and attending Hospitality Day at the State House on Wednesday, April 18, 2018.

AAHOA members may join the SCRLA by paying the special rate of only $100 per year. For assistance with this process, please contact Stephanie Owens at Stephanie@scrla.org or (803) 765-9000.”

Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association

“Folks can participate in the day on the hill, give to TnHTA’s PAC, react to call to actions and get to know their local and state politicians through luncheons that TnHTA and the local associations sponsor.”

Take Action in 2018

This year is a great opportunity for hotel owners to get involved in state advocacy. Join your state association, participate in AAAHOA’s State Capitol Lobby Days, and be part of the discussion. Your state lawmakers are waiting to hear from you. ■

About AAHOA’s State Partner Associations

To ensure that hoteliers’ interests are represented and their voice heard in state capitols throughout the country, AAHOA has formed strategic partnerships with state-level hotel associations across the country. Learn more at www.aahoa.com/advocacy.

State Capitol Lobby Days

During State Capitol Lobby Day, AAHOA members meet with their state elected officials to discuss important issues facing hoteliers. Don’t miss the State Capitol Lobby Day in your state.

For the latest on State Capitol Lobby Days, visit the AAHOA events calendar at www.aahoa.com/eventscalendar. 

Share.

Leave A Reply