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2013 Legislative Wrap Up

Posted By John Hausladen, Saturday, June 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, July 12, 2013

With the 2013 Session of the Minnesota Legislature wrapped up, it is time to take stock of how the trucking industry fared. The answer is always a matter of perspective. We beat back many onerous provisions, but also lost on some important items.

 
To be honest, I can't remember a session where so many real threats were leveled at our industry. It has also been over two decades since we had the kind of one-party rule we experienced in 2013. This was a very challenging environment for trucking and business in general.


Your involvement made a huge difference. I will say it again. Your involvement DID have an impact. We could easily have had many more losses had it not been for an engaged and active membership. You should take pride in the fact that your e-mails, letters, calls and visits changed votes. You put faces and people behind the data and arguments being used by our lobbying team at the Capitol. Thank you!


Wins

  • The sales tax was NOT extended to trucking services
  • The sales tax was NOT extended to motor vehicle repair labor
  • The motor vehicle sales tax was NOT increased to 6. 85 percent
  • The independent contractor definition was NOT changed
  • Street utility fees were NOT approved 
  • New tolling was NOT allowed under proposed public private partnership pilots
  • A gross receipts tax was NOT applied to motor vehicle fuel


Losses

  • The 6. 5 percent sales tax was extended to warehousing services
  • A fourth tier was added to the state's personal income tax
  • Wheelage taxes were allowed in all Minnesota counties


Now, we are in the interim, which in legislative speak means half-time of this biennial session. Policy items introduced are technically still alive and can be taken up when the legislature reconvenes in February.  During this interim, we will be working to strengthen relationships with legislators and work hard to make our case on some lingering problems. 

 

The warehouse tax is one example. Some good news is that we were able to push the effective date back to April 1, 2014. This gives us one session to repeal the tax. Fortunately, legislative leaders began backtracking on the tax the day after the session ended and pledged to reexamine it. With some prompting from the MTA, the Star Tribune took an editorial position on June 4 urging the legislature to do just that.

 

So … keep your head up and in the game. We are going to play hard until the final buzzer next May.

Tags:  Legislative 

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Do Legislators Really Listen?

Posted By John Hausladen, Monday, April 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, July 12, 2013

During the recent MTA Truck to the Capitol, Rep. Tim Kelly of Red Wing was posed the question: How can I get my legislator to pay attention when I contact them? Implied in the question is a cynicism that politicians don’t really listen. His response was candid and encouraging. Yes, they do listen. However, some methods work better than others to get their attention.

 

Personalization is the Key – Legislators tune out messages that come in the form of mass e-mails or blast faxes. While volume is meaningful, personalization is the key. The same exact message received from a large number of constituents is noticed, but not given the same weight.

 

I Am a Constituent – In any form of communication, it is very important to note that you are a constituent. Declare your special status in the subject line (e.g. Subject: Constituent from Your District Opposes HF 1234). Repeat it in the first line of the message. Making it clear you are a constituent – and a voter in his or her district – moves your message to the top of the pile. Elected officials hear from lots of folks, so they need your help flagging those they represent.

 

Area Code, Please – Phone calls really do work. You are not likely to reach a legislator when you call, but your message will be noted. Most legislators review all of their messages and try to return them, especially from constituents. If they cannot call, they will ask staff to call you back. The same rules apply when you call. Identify yourself as a constituent, state what bill or issue you are calling about, and leave information on how you can be contacted. One little-known secret is that legislators are very willing to set up telephone appointments. You can work with his or her staff to set up a time and have a meaningful conversation.

 

Old School Really Works, Too – In an electronic age, a handwritten note really stands out. Legislators view these as gems, works of personal effort and commitment. Sending a personal note almost guarantees it will be read by the legislator. The legislative world operates at a fast pace, with sound bites and bits of information. A letter allows you to both personalize your story and develop your argument. Legislators value a real-life story about how a policy or law impacts you. The personal letter is still one of the most powerful lobbying tools you have.

 

Don’t Blast ‘Em – Think what you may about legislators, they are people just like you and me. A courteous, professional tone elicits a much more positive response. You can be firm and disagree, without being disagreeable. While legislators may not share your views, they are not enemies. Use them for the voice and resource they are.

 

Get to Know Them Back Home – Legislators, by the very nature of what they do, rise from the ranks of your friends, neighbors and business acquaintances. They come from your communities. They understand the unique aspects of where you live, from the price of corn in Marshall to the walleye limit on Lake Mille Lacs. Meet them were they live. Say hi at church. Invite them for coffee. Attend one of their local meetings. They want to help their neighbors and friends. Again, you don’t have to give up your principles to be a respected constituent.

 

Best Truck to the Capitol Ever – With over 80 attendees, this year’s Truck to the Capitol was the best ever. Our members did a fantastic job delivering the message with facts, honesty and real-life stories. I have never been more proud to be a trucker!

Tags:  Legislative 

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A Call to Action

Posted By John Hausladen, Friday, March 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, July 12, 2013

Fellow truckers, this is a time to be heard. Minnesota’s family-owned trucking companies and the communities they serve will be hit especially hard by Governor Dayton’s proposed budget.

 

Our best reading of the Governor’s proposed budget tells us that trucking services will be assessed the sales tax. Eighty five percent of Minnesota’s manufactured tonnage moves on a truck. These manufactured goods are moved multiple times, either as raw commodities or components, before they achieve their finished state.

 

Governor Dayton’s plan will add 5.5 percent to the cost of each of those moves, creating a negative multiplier effect. Trucking companies simply don’t have the margin to absorb those costs.

 

They also don’t have the margin to cover the additional sales taxes they will pay for obtaining critical accounting, legal and consulting services. Those costs will have to be passed on to the consumer as well.

 

This proposal will impact pass-through business as well. There is no question a truck driver needing repair work will avoid getting the work done in Minnesota if he can avoid it.

 

We believe the Governor’s income tax proposal will negatively impact the ability of our family-owned businesses to grow and remain competitive. Since most Minnesota trucking companies are organized as Subchapter S corporations (S Corps), they will see their personal state income tax rate increase by over 25 percent.

 

These higher taxes will directly impact the ability of these family-owned businesses to upgrade or add to their fleets, effectively stifling job creation. Furthermore, increasing the state’s per capita income tax ranking from eighth to fourth highest in the nation will not attract trucking companies to do business in Minnesota.

 

When you add this state income tax increase to the new federal taxes on Medicare mandated under the Affordable Care Act, S Corps would effectively pay 11.61 percent more than C corporations (C Corps) in Minnesota. Projected revenues under the Dayton plan would drop dramatically if S Corps convert to C Corps to avoid those taxes.

 

It is time to remind legislators that 68 percent of Minnesota communities rely exclusively on truck transportation for everything transported in and out of those communities. Those communities are going to feel the reverberations of a bigger freight bill with no value added.

 

Truckers, the threat is very real. The governor is serious, so it is critical to make your voice heard. Send e-mails, place calls and join us in Saint Paul on March 14 for our annual Truck to the Capitol.

Tags:  Legislative 

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