Hospitality Zone bill LA SB 573 rises from the ashes as LA SB 767

The substituted and amended bill, as approved by the Louisiana Legislature’s Local and Municipal Affairs Committee, is now available: “SPECIAL DISTRICTS: Creates the New Orleans Hospitality Zone.”

(Digest Version for enhanced readability: http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=803540)

Its current status on the Louisiana Legislature’s website is listed as follows: Status: PENDING SENATE FLOOR ACTIONUpdated: 5/21/2012

This new version of the bill accomplishes the following:

– adds a 10 year “sunset” provision;

– abolishes the advisory board (which was dominated by tourism interests);

– removes the Faubourg Marigny from the Taxing Zone;

– reallocates the new tax revenues in the following manner:

French Quarter Management District – 10% (infrastructure)
Multicultural Tourism Network – 10% (tourism/marketing)
New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation – 20% (tourism/marketing)
New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau – 20%
(tourism/marketing)
City of New Orleans via “Hospitality Zone Dedicated Fund” – 40%
(infrastructure);

– makes all receiving agencies and organizations subject to public records requests for these funds (but not necessarily for the rest of their operations);

– requires that a written report be submitted to city council annually accounting for the use of these funds by all non-City Council agencies (as the city already has its own budgeting and reporting requirements);

– no longer permits the expansion of the zone via the creation of “special districts”; and

– no longer permits the acquisition of property necessary or desirable for carrying out the objects and purposes of the district.

While these courageous actions by Senator Peterson, Senator Morrell, and Representative Moreno are to be applauded, we, as citizens, must also continue to be active and vigilant.

There are only two weeks left in the legislative session this year – so stay engaged! Your emails, phone calls, and presence in Baton Rouge have already made a real and measurable difference in this matter! THANK YOU!

The creation of the Hospitality Zone is unfortunately a given at this point; it is unlikely that this will go away. The only real question remaining is, “How will this be implemented?” This may be our best shot at a version that provides enhanced accountability and transparency.

It’s as if Senator Peterson, Senator Morrell, and Representative Moreno addressed the specific concerns of the constituents with the addition of each of these amendments; they cannot be lost in the shuffle of whatever happens next. As was evidenced on Thursday, 5/17/12, everything can change in a just a few moments’ time, including when this goes before the House for further consideration.

It is presently understood that the addition of a “sunset clause” is considered to be problematic, as it may be perceived as making the pursuit of bond revenues in the future challenging. It is unlikely that the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation are particularly pleased with the revised allocation of funds and there may be push-back on this issue. It is also possible that revisions could occur prior to this bill’s consideration by the House, including stripping off all of these amendments and their intent to address constituent concerns. And it also remains possible that Governor Jindal could simply veto the bill if it makes it through the House intact in its present form.

(To be very clear: I, personally, am in support of LA SB 767 only if it moves forward unmodified in its present form. Following Senator Peterson’s lead, if the amendments are altered in any way or stripped off, then I’m off — rescinding my support — too.)

Please continue to communicate with our state legislators. Thank them, but let them know we are still paying attention — please take the time to write or call again and let them know that we DO NOT want these amendments weakened.

For your convenience, here’s a list for convenient cutting and pasting into the “To” field of your email in support of the new bill, LA SB 767:

murraye@legis.state.la.us, morrelljp@legis.state.la.us, morenoh@legis.state.la.us, petersonk@legis.state.la.us, legerw@legis.state.la.us, brossettj@legis.la.gov, info@vcpora.org, kgpalmer@nola.gov, shead@nola.gov, jbclarkson@nola.gov

If you prefer to phone, the Baton Rouge switchboard number is (225) 342-2040. To local district office locations can be found at: http://senate.la.gov/Senators/Offices.asp

Thank you to everyone who has become active and invested in this process. Without you, this new bill would likely never have come into play.

We are a community — NOT a commodity!

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2 thoughts on “Hospitality Zone bill LA SB 573 rises from the ashes as LA SB 767

  1. Pingback: Hospitality Zone bill not passed; can we now work together and move forward? « NOLAFemmes

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