House Committee Approves Bailey's Tourist Promotion Bill

Measure allows chambers of commerce continued use of 'hotel-motel' tax. The House Community, Economic Development and Trade Committee has approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Barbara Bailey that would clarify that chambers of commerce may continue the practice of using "hotel-motel" taxes for tourism promotion. House Bill 1254 cleared the committee today on a vote of 8-1. "Various chambers of commerce in the 10th District have previously received monies to help finance their tourism enterprises. Those efforts included production and mailing of tourism brochures, phone inquiries and other expenses of running a tourist information center," said Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. "After the attorney general's opinion, some municipalities were unclear whether they could provide those funds and have subsequently put those monies on hold until the law is clarified." Some local governments, said Bailey, are not set up to promote tourism. So those governments have provided funding from the "hotel-motel" tax to their local chambers of commerce for tourism promotion and activities. Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kristen Whitener said the measure is needed to ensure chambers of commerce may continue to use those funds. "Representative Bailey's bill just clarifies the law to say that the municipality does not have to have ownership of visitor centers to provide operational expenses which keep those front doors to the communities open," said Whitener, who had previously testified in favor of the bill during a Feb. 1 hearing. The measure would authorize local lodging tax revenues to be used for tourism-related facilities owned by a public entity or a nonprofit 501 (c)(6) organization. In addition, it authorizes municipalities using local lodging tax revenues for tourism promotion to contract with nonprofit organizations for tourism promotion activities. Bailey noted that her bill would address the use of the funds for chambers of commerce, but it would not broaden the scope of the law to allow other uses. The measure now goes to the House Rules Committee which will decide when the legislation will be sent to the House floor for a vote.

by Colleen Laneby Colleen Lane
The Lane Real Estate Team
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