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Resort organization introduces 'common sense' bill

Area Congress of Minnesota Resorts members who attended Day on the Hill were, from left, Jennifer Bateman, Two Inlets Resort, Park Rapids; Dave and Mary Jane Keller, Brookside Resort, Park Rapids; and Ed Becker, In-We-Go-Resort, Nevis. (Submitted photo)

Several members of the Congress of Minnesota Resorts attended their annual Day on the Hill in St. Paul March 18 and 19, lobbying for common sense legislation that is important to resort owners and the resort industry.

Hot topics this year included a couple bills that are currently in the House and Senate, dealing with the restricted plumber’s license and preserving post Labor Day school start.

Current law states that resort owners must obtain a restricted plumber’s license to maintain water related fixtures on their property, such as faucets, hot water heaters, toilets, water pipes, etc. If they don’t have the license, by law, they must call a licensed plumber in to do the work.

There are several problems with this law, Congress of Minnesota Resorts members say.

New resort owners who have purchased their resort in the past six years, and new owners going forward, cannot obtain the license because the narrow window of time to obtain it is now closed. Another problem is that it’s not at all practical from a guest service standpoint, resorters say. If the plumbing breaks in a guest cabin at an inconvenient time, a nuisance that can certainly occur, a resort owner is qualified and able to make the repair on their own property without waiting to call out a licensed plumber, which could take hours or days. Guests want and expect excellent service, and resort owners certainly want to provide excellent service to their guests. Lastly, continuing education at the level of commercial plumbers is required to maintain the license, but resorters are not in the business of plumbing. They just want to maintain their own property, the Congress of Minnesota Resorts said.

The CMR, with help from their lobbyist Joel Carlson, introduced a bill this session that would exempt resort owners from requiring this restricted plumber’s license. This legislation makes clear that resort owners can maintain their property without a restricted license from the state, and without fear of non-compliance, CMR said.

Preserving post Labor Day school start is threatened again this year. A bill has been introduced to lawmakers asking for a September 1 start date for the 2015-16 school year. The CMR and other tourism interests are again defending the simple requirement that schools begin after Labor Day statewide. This issue is critical to small resorts, CMR says, and the legislature has been willing to stand up for Minnesota’s tradition of summer. There is no information that indicates that starting school before Labor Day has a measurable positive impact on learning outcomes, and making the change for just one year makes little sense, according to CMR.