This week marks the mid-point of Minnesota's 2013 legislative session.
This week marks the mid-point of Minnesota's 2013 legislative session. Legislators returned to their districts for conversations with constituents, town hall meetings, vacations, and in some cases ice fishing. At MnRA we take the opportunity to inventory retail issues at the Capitol and provide you this update.
Click here to view MnRA's mid-session report.
Senators Klobuchar & Franken Lead on Marketplace Fairness Act
In what has been called a test vote on the federal Marketplace Fairness Act (S. 336), the U.S. Senate produced a powerful statement for e-fairness on Friday when it added the Act to a federal budget proposal that ultimately passed around 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning.
The Marketplace Fairness Act Amendment was adopted with bipartisan support on a 75 to 25 vote. The vote margin indicates enough support for the bill that legislative champions will begin to seek an avenue for its passage. Since the U.S. Senate and House have different approaches to the 2014 federal budget, the Marketplace Fairness Act as amended to the budget proposal does not have a chance to work through the federal budget process.
"The vote clearly shows it is time for the Marketplace Fairness Act to move forward in the U.S. Senate, and also work its way through the U.S. House of Representatives," said MnRA president Bruce Nustad in reaction to the vote Friday. "Retailers in Minnesota thank Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken for their leadership and yes votes on this important retail fairness issue. The hard work of both Senators is reflected in the overwhelming support demonstrated in the U.S. Senate."
Both Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken are among a group of 28 co-sponsors of the Marketplace Fairness Act.
Retailers across the country as well as business trade associations, including the Minnesota Retailers Association (MnRA), applauded the action of the U.S. Senate on the Marketplace Fairness Act amendment. A simple tweet from the Retail Industry Leaders Association said it all as the vote threshold for passing the amendment was hit during the roll call vote: "WooHoo #efairness".
In a speech a day before the vote, Senator Klobuchar named several MnRA members on the floor of the U.S. Senate including Creative Kidstuff, the Uff-Da Shop, Target, Best Buy, and Thrifty White Pharmacy, saying, "Businesses in Minnesota can't compete if they don't have a level playing field to compete on. The Marketplace Fairness Act would help get rid of the loopholes in our tax code that hurt brick-and-mortar businesses and cost our state money."
Senator Franken also addressed fellow Senators that same day: "In Minnesota, the retail industry includes nearly half a million workers - about one in five jobs in the state. And those retailers need to compete on price - and on service - every single day. But the current sales tax system makes it impossible for them to compete. Requiring online retailers to collect the sales tax at the time of purchase - just like main-street retailers do - is just common sense. It's more fair. It will be better for state budgets."
MnRA supports efforts to move the Marketplace Fairness Act forward.
Marketplace Fairness Test Vote Today on Senate Floor
Yesterday the U.S. Senate began discussing amending the Marketplace Fairness Act (e-fairness) to a federal budget bill. Both Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken spoke in favor of the amendment, mentioning several Minnesota Retailers Association (MnRA) members including Creative Kidstuff, the Uff-Da Shop, Target, Best Buy, and Thrifty White Pharmacy.
As of the time of this post, the U.S. Senate had just begun voting on various amendments, and the status of the Marketplace Fairness Act amendment was not yet determined. It is anticipated that amendments would be voted on until as late as midnight Friday.
The effort to add the Marketplace Fairness Act to the federal budget proposal is important because it provides a look at the status of potential votes on the measure. If enough Senators vote in favor on the amendment, it signals there may be sufficient support to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act.
Click here to read Senator Klobuchar's press release highlighting comments on the Marketplace Fairness Act.
Click here to read a press release from Senator Franken's office relative to yesterday's comments.
Click here to read a National Retail Federation article on today's vote.
Thank you to the many MnRA members who responded to Thursday's Retail Action Alert requesting outreach to Senators Klobuchar and Franken. Your voice makes a difference!.
MnRA supports the federal Marketplace Fairness Act.