U of M graduate excited to experience life at the State Capitol
Meet Daniel Lightfoot, MnRA's government affairs assistant/intern for the 2014 legislative session.
My name is Daniel Lightfoot and I am a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in Political Science and History. I grew up in Plymouth, Minnesota where my passion for public service motivated me to secure internships with both the Office of Senator Al Franken as the economic policy intern and the White House working with the Office of Management and Administration.
It is my pleasure to be working with the Minnesota Retailers Association during this upcoming legislative session. I am eager to apply my skills and knowledge of congressional politics for the benefit of MnRA’s members with the hope of actively communicating with members to provide updates on all public policy issues that are of interest to retailers across the state of Minnesota.
Although this session is rather short, it is sure to be a fast-paced session packed with a number of controversial issues many of which will directly impact retailers both big and small. Therefore it is my goal to be a resource to each and every one of our members as the session progresses to effectively manage and communicate our policy positions.
I have always prided myself as being a quick learner and one who works best under pressure and what better way to showcase those skills than hitting the ground running this session? I look forward to meeting as many of our members as possible and I am proud to be a part of MnRA’s mission in making Minnesota a strong place for retailers to do business and continuing to support such a vital industry.
Retailers Remain Cautious About Holiday Spending
National reports from Thanksgiving weekend concluded traffic was up at retailers across the country, however there was a slight dip in spending--largely attributed to strong retail competition including deals and "doorbusters". The National Retail Federation reported consumers spent $407.02 from Thanksgiving through the weekend, down from $423.55 a year ago.
In an unscientific survey of members, the Minnesota Retailers Association (MnRA) found that 55 percent of retailers saw more customers walking through their doors than anticipated, with another 30 percent seeing the level of traffic they expected.
Also in good news for Minnesota's economy, 45 percent of retailers reported more sales Thanksgiving weekend over the same period last year, along with 22 percent saying the two years were about equal.
Despite reports of strong traffic and sales, retailers in Minnesota are cautious when it comes to the economy and consumer spending around the holidays. Fifty-five percent of retail respondents anticipate this year's holiday season sales to match last year's, and 20 percent said they anticipate sales to be less. Only 20 percent of retailers expect sales to be above the 2012 holiday season level.
This holiday season, small business owners in Minnesota and across the country are sending a single wish list to members of Congress
This holiday season, small business owners in Minnesota and across the country are sending a single wish list to members of Congress: close the online sales tax loophole, giving all retailers the chance to compete on a level playing field. Local employers are at a severe disadvantage to out of state online-only retailers, especially at this time of year--the busiest and most important season for small retailers.
Today, all local businesses are required to collect and remit sales taxes from customers, while many online retailers without some type of physical presence in Minnesota like Overstock and eBay are not required to do so. While the Minnesota Legislature passed e-fairness earlier this year, out of state retailers without a presence in the state have a substantial pricing advantage against local small businesses, who cannot compete when the government essentially gives their competitors at least a 6.875 percent pricing advantage.
In September, retailers were encouraged when U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, released 'Basic Principles on Remote Sales Tax,' which will serve as a framework for a conservative solution to finally close the online sales tax loophole. The release of these principles shows Chairman Goodlatte's strong commitment to ending the preferential tax treatment for online-only retailers at the expense of main street retailers. While this is a positive step in the right direction, business owners are calling on Congress to take swift action by drafting legislation based on these principles and passing the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"This needs to be the last holiday shopping season local retailers operate under this disadvantage in Minnesota and across the country," says Minnesota Retailers Association President Bruce Nustad. "At the state level, we have done our job to address this serious issue for retailers, now Congress needs to get e-fairness passed."
The U.S. Senate, with leadership from Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, acted on e-fairness legislation earlier this year, when it passed the Marketplace Fairness Act by a wide, bipartisan vote, and a companion bill in the House already enjoys the support of over 60 bipartisan co-sponsors. A recent study conducted by President Ronald Reagan's economist, Art Laffer, showed that e-fairness legislation coupled with state tax cuts would increase our nation's prosperity and employment-resulting in 1.5 million jobs in the next 10 years and creating an additional $563.2 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Governors, small business owners, and free market conservatives across the country have expressed their support for e-fairness legislation and agree that Congress needs to pass e-fairness legislation to give states the ability to collect these taxes online, as soon as possible.