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Echo Press Editorial: Proposals from resorts make sense

Several members of the Congress of Minnesota Resorts went to the state Capitol last week to lobby for legislation that would help their industry. An Alexandria resort owner, Tim Aarsvold from Geneva Beach Resort, was among them.

We hope the Legislature heeds their advice.

The first proposal has to do with plumbing licenses. Current law states that resort owners must obtain a restricted plumber’s license to maintain water-related fixtures on their property, such as faucets, water heaters, toilets, water pipes, etc.

As the resort owners pointed out, there are several problems with this law. New resort owners who have purchased their resort in the past six years, and new owners going forward, can’t obtain the license because the narrow window of time to obtain it is now closed.

Another problem is that it’s not practical from a guest service standpoint. 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.

The resort owners noted that guests want and expect excellent service, and the owners certainly want to provide that level of service.

Also, continuing education at the level of commercial plumbers is required to maintain the license, but resort owners are not in the business of plumbing. They just want to maintain their own property.

The resort owners introduced a bill this session that would exempt resort owners from requiring this restricted plumber’s license. It makes clear that resort owners can maintain their property without a restricted license from the state and without fear of non-compliance.

Another issue that has been of keen interest to resorts in the past is making sure that the new school year starts after Labor Day weekend.

A bill has been introduced asking for a September 1 start date for the 2015-2016 school year. The resort owners and other tourism interests are again defending a simple requirement that schools begin after Labor Day statewide.

This issue is critical to small resorts because many families plan vacations for Labor Day weekend. If school was already under way, some would scrap those end-of-summer getaways.

The resort owners noted 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.

In our view, the resort owners’ call to drop the restricted plumbing licensing requirement and preserve the after Labor Day school start are commonsense initiatives that deserve full support from legislators.