H. B. 2955

(By Delegates Rowe, Mahan, Campbell,
Capito, Marshall, Hatfield and Laird)
[Introduced February 26, 1999; referred to the
Committee on Government Organization then Finance.]

A BILL to amend and reenact section nine, article two, chapter five-b of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to the powers and duties of the tourism commission; and adding heritage presentation tourism programs.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section nine, article two, chapter five-b of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
§5B-2-9. Powers and duties of tourism commission.

(a) The commission shall develop a comprehensive tourism promotion and development strategy for West Virginia. "Comprehensive tourism promotion and development strategy" means a plan that outlines strategies and activities designed to continue, diversify or expand the tourism base of the state as a whole; create tourism jobs; develop a highly skilled tourism work force; facilitate business access to capital for tourism; advertise and market the resources offered by the state with respect to tourism promotion and development; encourage communities and regions to develop heritage preservation tourism programs to promote historic homes, churches, schools, buildings, monuments, bridges, highways, waterways, battlefields, cemeteries, oil and gas wells and fields, factories, coal mines, railroads, early salt producing areas, notable educational, architectural and engineering achievements and all other landmark places, where the social and cultural contributions of West Virginians can be commemorated, preserved and promoted for tourism development; facilitate cooperation among local, regional and private tourism enterprises; improve infrastructure on a state, regional and community level in order to facilitate tourism development; improve the tourism business climate generally; and leverage funding from sources other than the state, including local, federal and private sources.
(b) In developing its strategies, the commission shall consider the following:
(1) Improvement and expansion of existing tourism marketing and promotion activities;
(2) Promotion of cooperation among municipalities, counties, and the West Virginia infrastructure and jobs development council in funding physical infrastructure to enhance the potential for tourism development.
(c) The tourism commission shall have the power and duty:
(1) To acquire for the state in the name of the commission by purchase, lease or agreement, or accept or reject for the state, in the name of the commission, gifts, donations, contributions, bequests or devises of money, security or property, both real and personal, and any interest in such property, to effectuate or support the purposes of this article;
(2) To make recommendations to the governor and the Legislature of any legislation deemed necessary to facilitate the carrying out of any of the foregoing powers and duties and to exercise any other power that may be necessary or proper for the orderly conduct of the business of the commission and the effective discharge of the duties of the commission;
(3) To cooperate and assist in the production of motion pictures and television and other communications;
(4) To purchase advertising time or space in or upon any medium generally engaged or employed for said purpose to advertise and market the resources of the state or to inform the public at large or any specifically targeted group or industry about the benefits of living in, investing in, producing in, buying from, contracting with, or in any other way related to, the state of West Virginia or any business, industry, agency, institution or other entity therein: Provided, That of any funds appropriated and allocated for purposes of advertising and marketing expenses for the promotion and development of tourism, not less than twenty percent of the funds shall be expended with the approval of the director of the division of natural resources to advertise, promote and market state parks, state forests, state recreation areas and wildlife recreational resources;
(5) To promote and disseminate information related to the attractions of the state through the operation of the state's telemarketing initiative, which telemarketing initiative shall include a centralized reservation and information system for state parks and recreational facilities; and
(6) To take such additional actions as may be necessary to carry out the duties and programs described in this article.
(d) The commission shall submit a report annually to the council for community and economic development about the development of the tourism industry in the state and the necessary funding required by the state to continue the development of the tourism industry.
(e) The executive director of the West Virginia development office shall assist the commission in the performance of its powers and duties and the executive director is hereby authorized in providing this assistance to employ necessary personnel, contract with professional or technical experts or consultants and to purchase or contract for the necessary equipment or supplies.
(f) The commission shall promulgate legislative rules pursuant to the provisions of chapter twenty-nine-a of this code to carry out its purposes and programs, to include generally the programs available, the procedure and eligibility of applications relating to assistance under such programs and the staff structure necessary to support such programs, which structure shall include the qualifications for a professional staff person qualified by reason of exceptional training and experience in the field of advertising to supervise the advertising and promotion functions of the commission, and shall further include provision for the management of West Virginia welcome centers. The commission is further authorized to promulgate procedural rules pursuant to said chapter to include instructions and forms for applications relating to assistance.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to require the Tourism Commission to promote heritage presentation tourism programs.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.