Latest State & Federal Issues Update
October 24, 2014 
 

 

Dear WH&LA Lodging Member:

If you have not yet registered for the Wisconsin Lodging Conference & Trade Show, where you will hear more on key industry and legislative issues, beginning at the WH&LA Annual Meeting at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 3 at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, go to www.WisconsinLodging.org/conference.

We also want to remind you to be sure to vote on November 3, as the results of the elections will in one way or another have a considerable impact on your business.

The following are only a few of the issues being addressed by WH&LA at the state level, and AH&LA at the federal level.

State Level
  • Bed Heights and Bed frames in Accessible Rooms. Yesterday WH&LA was asked to speak before the Governor's Council on Physical Disabilities relating to increased concerns with the floor to mattress top height of beds in accessible rooms and with certain bed frames that cannot accommodate many persons with disabilities. The primary challenges involve individuals in wheelchairs who are unable to transfer onto higher bed tops, and those utilizing lifts who are unable to use their lift because of either a box frame, or insufficient space under the bed frame for the lift to be placed. WH&LA is advocating for an educational approach, providing helpful suggestions and resources to our industry, in lieu of pursuing new state regulations, which when fully outlined, was well received by the Council. This collaboration will begin in the coming months.
  • Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Lodging Properties. New national standards for CO detectors that include lodging properties were released in 2014. While Wisconsin was one of the early states to implement regulatory requirements for CO detectors, which were negotiated with WH&LA to be based on proximity to fuel combustion units instead of required to be in every room, there are some differences between our state regulations and the new national standards. WH&LA has been contacted by a group interested in pursuing new revisions to our state regulations that would more closely mirror the new national standards. It is important to note that national standards are suggestions that state legislatures and Congress should consider in regulations - they are not adopted regulations. If any member would be interested in being a sounding board on the changes as we work through this process, please email Trisha Pugal.
  • State Tourism Marketing Funding. Until the elections are concluded on Nov. 3, and the new or continuing leadership is set, along with committee appointments for the 2015/16 session, WH&LA has been focusing on mentioning the need for increased state funding for State Tourism Marketing at numerous campaign fundraisers, to make sure candidates of all kinds are aware that the need exists and that we will be seeking their support, along with our other Tourism Federation partners.
  • Room Tax Reform. As previously mentioned, WH&LA's leadership has outlined a new, more streamlined plan and strategy for Room Tax Reform that will be outlined in detail when the timing for more public knowledge is right. In the interim, rest assured that this has been and will continue to be a priority for the coming legislative session and that our membership will be informed before it becomes public. In the interim, it is helpful for as many members as possible to speak up about the need for Room Tax Reform in general, to help grow local tourism, along with state tourism marketing and the marketing done by individual tourism businesses. It is only when all three levels of marketing investments are sufficient that tourism grows more abundantly around the state.
  • State Lodging Per Diem Rate. Another important effort that WH&LA will be pursuing now that the market is improving, will be an increase in the state lodging per diem rate, for state employees traveling for work. This does not follow the usual legislation process and is more slow and deliberate; however, we are in early stages of setting the stage for demonstrating the need for an increase state-wide. The WH&LA Board has approved a plan for this pursuit as well, and we will keep members informed in the months ahead.
Federal Level
  • Unlicensed Rentals. A brand new website was just launched today from a coalition called "Neighbors for Overnight Oversight" with a tagline "Protecting Communities. Promoting Safety." The coalition unites the interests of neighbors of unlicensed lodging rentals with consumer safety groups, tourism businesses, and more, with AH&LA a part of the founding members. You will be hearing more about this coalition in coming weeks and months, but please visit this new website for an advance peek on their important unified messages, valuable resources, and tips for working with media and legislators to share concerns on this topic. You may wish to sign up either individually or for your property online, and let others in your community who share concerns with unlicensed rentals know that this is available and they are not alone in their concerns ranging from damaging neighborhoods to guest and property safety and liability to bypassing the system to compete without any obligations to the public or government (including the payment of needed tax revenues ranging from sales tax to room tax, and more!). Visit: www.OvernightOversight.com.
  • If your property is not a member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), you are missing out on the many federal issue updates they send to their members, along with numerous free webinars. If your property is a brand, you would need to join AH&LA through your brand. If your property is not a brand, contact the WH&LA office to join (262/782-2851 or service@wisconsinlodging.org).
Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you at the Wisconsin Lodging Conference & Trade Show in just over a week!  

Contact: Trisha Pugal
Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association
pugal@wisconsinlodging.org
262/782-2851