Tourism commission restructure amended, advanced

A bill that would revamp the Nebraska Tourism Commission received second-round approval April 4.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist48' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. John Stinner'>Sen. John Stinner</a>
Sen. John Stinner

LB222, introduced by Gering Sen. John Stinner, would expand the commission’s membership from nine to 11 governor-appointed members. Four would be required to have professional, volunteer or public service experience related to the governance duties of the commission and seven would be affiliated with the tourism industry.

Thirty days after its effective date, the bill would dissolve the current commission membership and create 11 districts based on geography and tax lodging revenues to ensure statewide representation. Members would serve four-year terms and be limited to two successive terms.

The bill also would clarify grant guidelines, require the commission to adopt written policies governing expenditure of appropriated funds and stipulate that contracts awarded by the commission follow rules established by the state Department of Administrative Services.

Bellevue Sen. Carol Blood offered an amendment, adopted 36-0, that would require the commission to review its strategic plan annually and update as necessary. Stinner, who had opposed a similar amendment on general file, supported the addition. Language in the new amendment was agreed upon by all parties, he said.

Stinner then offered an amendment, adopted 36-0, that removed the emergency clause from the bill. He said the executive branch would need additional time to select new board members and put the new commission in place.

The bill also would redefine what must be contained in the commission’s strategic plan to include:
• marketing strategies for promoting tourism;
• methods to expand existing tourism capacity;
• an examination of best management practices for the tourism industry;
• a review of revenue in the State Visitors Promotion Cash Fund available for tourism development at the state level; and
• recommended strategies to provide technical assistance, marketing services and state aid to local governments and the tourism industry in Nebraska.

Following adoption of the amendments, LB222 advanced to final reading by voice vote.

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