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Introduced Version Senate Bill 402 History

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Senate Bill No. 402

(By Senators Bowman, Guills, Prezioso, Unger, Foster, Chafin, Jenkins and Barnes)

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[Introduced February 27, 2009; referred to the Committee on Government Organization; and then to the Committee on Finance.]

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A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto six new sections, designated §7-18-2a, §7-18-16, §7-18-17, §7-18-18, §7-18-19 and §7-18-20; and to amend and reenact §7-18-3 and §7-18-14 of said code, all relating to the establishment of accredited convention and visitor bureaus; and standards for accreditation.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto six new sections, designated §7-18-2a, §7-18-16, §7-18-17, §7-18-18, §7-18-19 and §7-18-20; and that §7-18-3 and §7-18-14 of said code be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 18. HOTEL OCCUPANCY TAX.
§7-18-2a. Legislative findings.

(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that in order to attract new business and industry to this state and to retain existing business and industry, all to provide the citizens of the state with economic security, and to advance the business prosperity and economic welfare of this state, it is necessary to enhance recreational and tourism opportunities. Therefore, in order to promote recreation and tourism, the Legislature finds that public financial support should be provided for constructing, equipping, improving and maintaining projects, agencies and facilities that promote recreation and tourism.
(b) The Legislature also finds that the support of accredited convention and visitors bureaus and hotels is a public purpose for which funds may be expended. Local convention and visitors bureaus that meet the accreditation standards established by this article and hotels receiving funds under this article may expend such funds for the payment of administrative expenses, for the direct or indirect promotion of conventions and tourism, and for any other uses and purposes authorized by section fourteen of this article.
(c) The Legislature further finds that in order to ensure that the funds collected pursuant to this article are distributed and expended in a manner consistent with the intent expressed herein, all convention and visitors bureaus are required to meet the accreditation standards established by the West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau Accreditation Board prior to receiving any funds or disbursements authorized by this article.
§7-18-3. Definitions.
For the purposes of this article:
(a) "Accredited convention and visitors bureau," "accredited visitors and convention bureau" and "accredited bureau" are interchangeable terms, any of which means a nonstock, nonprofit corporation that: (1) Has received accreditation from the West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau Accreditation Board; and (2) has a full-time staff working exclusively to promote tourism and to attract conventions, conferences and visitors to the municipality, county or region in which the bureau is located or engaged in business.
(a) (b) "Consideration paid" or "consideration" means the amount received in money, credits, property or other consideration for or in exchange for the right to occupy a hotel room as herein defined.
(b) (c) "Consumer" means a person who pays the consideration for the use or occupancy of a hotel room. The term "consumer" shall not be construed to mean the government of the United States of America, its agencies or instrumentalities, or the government of the State of West Virginia or political subdivisions thereof.
(d) "Convention center" means a convention facility owned by the state, a county, a municipality or other public entity or instrumentality and includes all facilities, including armories, commercial, office, community service and parking facilities and publicly owned facilities, constructed or used for the accommodation and entertainment of tourists and visitors, constructed in conjunction with the convention center and forming reasonable appurtenances thereto.
(e) "Fiscal year" means the year beginning July 1 and ending June 13 of the next calendar year.
(f) "Historic site" means any site listed on the United States National Register of historic places, or listed by a local Historical Landmarks Commission, established under state law, when such sites are owned by a city, a county or a nonprofit historical association and are open, from time to time, to accommodate visitors.
(c) (g) "Hotel" means any facility, building or buildings, publicly or privately owned (including a facility located in a state, county or municipal park), in which the public may, for a consideration, obtain sleeping accommodations. The term shall include, but not be limited to, boarding houses, hotels, motels, inns, courts, condominiums, lodges, cabins and tourist homes. The term "hotel" shall include state, county and city parks offering accommodations as herein set forth. The term "hotel" shall not be construed to mean any hospital, sanitarium, extended care facility, nursing home or university or college housing unit, or any facility providing fewer than three rooms in private homes, not exceeding a total of ten days in a calendar year, nor any tent, trailer or camper campsites: Provided, That where a university or college housing unit provides sleeping accommodations for the general nonstudent public for a consideration, the term "hotel" shall, if otherwise applicable, apply to such accommodations for the purposes of this tax.
(d) (h) "Hotel operator" means the person who is proprietor of a hotel, whether in the capacity of owner, lessee, mortgagee in possession, licensee, trustee in possession, trustee in bankruptcy, receiver, executor or in any other capacity. Where the hotel operator performs his or her functions through a managing agent of any type or character other than an employee, the managing agent shall also be deemed a hotel operator for the purposes of this article and shall have the same duties and liabilities as his or her principal. Compliance with the provisions of this article by either the principal or the managing agent shall, however, be considered to be compliance by both.
(e) (i) "Hotel room" means any room or suite of rooms or other facility affording sleeping accommodations to the general public and situated within a hotel. The term "hotel room" shall not be construed to mean a banquet room, meeting room or any other room not primarily used for, or in conjunction with, sleeping accommodations.
(j) "Net proceeds" means the gross amount of tax collections received pursuant to this article less the amount of tax lawfully refunded.
(f) (k) "Person" means any individual, firm, partnership, joint venture, association, syndicate, social club, fraternal organization, joint stock company, receiver, corporation, guardian, trust, business trust, trustee, committee, estate, executor, administrator or any other group or combination acting as a unit.
(l) "Promotion of the arts" means activity to promote public appreciation and interest in one or more of the arts. It includes the promotion of music of all types, the dramatic arts, dancing, painting and the creative arts through shows, exhibits, festivals, concerts, musicals and plays.
(m) "Recreational facilities" means and includes any public park, parkway, playground, public recreation center, athletic field, sports arena, stadium, skating rink or arena, golf course, tennis courts and other park and recreation facilities, whether of a like or different nature, that are owned by a county or municipality.
(n) "Region" means an area consisting of one or more counties that have agreed by contract to fund a convention and visitor's bureau to promote those counties.
(g) (o) "State park" means any state-owned facility which is part of this state's park and recreation system established pursuant to this code. For purposes of this article, any recreational facility otherwise qualifying as a "hotel" and situated within a state park shall be deemed to be solely within the county in which the building or buildings comprising said facility are physically situated, notwithstanding the fact that the state park within which said facility is located may lie within the jurisdiction of more than one county.
(h) (p) "Tax," "taxes" or "this tax" means the hotel occupancy tax authorized by this article.
(i) (q) "Taxing authority" means a municipality or county levying or imposing the tax authorized by this article.
(j) (r) "Taxpayer" means any person liable for the tax authorized by this article.
(s) "West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau Accreditation Board" or "board" means the accreditation board established pursuant to this article for the purpose of establishing and enforcing standards for the accreditation of municipal and county convention and visitors bureaus.
§7-18-14. Proceeds of tax; application of proceeds.
(a) Application of proceeds. -- The net proceeds of the tax collected and remitted to the taxing authority pursuant to this article shall be deposited into the General Revenue Fund of such municipality or county commission and, after appropriation thereof, shall be expended only as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section.
(b) Required expenditures. -- At least fifty percent of the net revenue receivable during the fiscal year by a county or a municipality pursuant to this article shall be expended in the following manner for the promotion of conventions and tourism:
(1) Municipalities. -- If a an accredited convention and visitor's bureau is located within the municipality, county or region, the governing body of such municipality shall appropriate the percentage required by this subsection to that bureau. All disbursements are to be made on a monthly basis. If a an accredited convention and visitors bureau is not located within such municipality, county or region, then the percentage appropriation required by this subsection shall be appropriated as follows:
(i) (A) Any hotel located within such municipality, county or region may apply to such municipality for an appropriation to such hotel of a portion of the tax authorized by this article and collected by such hotel and remitted to such municipality, for uses directly related to the promotion of tourism and travel, including advertising, salaries, travel, office expenses, publications and similar expenses. The portion of such tax allocable to such hotel is to be distributed on a monthly basis and shall not exceed seventy-five percent of that portion of such tax collected and remitted by such hotel which is required to be expended pursuant to this subsection: Provided, That prior to appropriating any moneys to such hotel such municipality shall require the submission of, and give approval to, a budget setting forth the proposed uses of such moneys.
(ii) (B) If there is more than one accredited convention and visitors bureau located within a municipality, county or region, the city council may allocate the tax authorized by this article to one or more of such bureaus in such portion as the city council in its sole discretion determines. All allocations or distributions will be made on a monthly basis.
(iii) The balance of net revenue required to be expended by this subsection shall be appropriated to the regional travel council serving the area in which the municipality is located.
(2) Counties. -- If a an accredited convention and visitors bureau is located within a county or region, the county commission shall appropriate the percentage required by this subsection to that convention and visitor's bureau. All allocations or distributions will be made on a monthly basis. If a an accredited convention and visitors bureau is not located within such county or region, then the percentage appropriation required by this subsection shall be appropriated as follows:
(i) (A) Any hotel located within such county or region may apply to such county for an a monthly appropriation to such hotel of a portion of the tax authorized by this article and collected by such hotel and remitted to such county, for uses directly related to the promotion of tourism and travel, including advertising, salaries, travel, office expenses, publications and similar expenses. The portion of such tax allocable to such hotel shall not exceed seventy-five percent of that portion of such tax collected and remitted by such hotel which is required to be expended pursuant to this subsection: Provided, That prior to appropriating any moneys to such hotel such county shall require the submission of, and give approval to, a budget setting forth the proposed uses of such moneys.
(ii) (B) If there is more than one accredited convention and visitors bureau located within a county or region, the county commission may allocate the tax authorized by this article to one or more of such bureaus in such portion as the county commission in its sole discretion determines. All allocations or distributions will be made on a monthly basis.
(iii) The balance of net revenue required to be expended by this subsection shall be appropriated to the regional travel council serving the area in which the county is located.
(3) Legislative finding. -- The Legislature hereby finds and declares that in order to attract new business and industry to this state and to retain existing business and industry all to provide the citizens of the state with economic security, and to advance the business prosperity and economic welfare of this state, it is necessary to enhance recreational and tourism opportunities. Therefore, in order to promote recreation and tourism, the Legislature finds that public financial support should be provided for constructing, equipping, improving and maintaining projects, agencies and facilities which promote recreation and tourism. The Legislature also finds that the support of convention and visitor's bureaus, hotels and regional travel councils is a public purpose for which funds may be expended. Local convention and visitor's bureaus hotels and regional travel councils receiving funds under this subsection may expend such funds for the payment of administrative expenses, and for the direct or indirect promotion of conventions and tourism, and for any other uses and purposes authorized by subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection.
(c) Permissible expenditures. -- After making the appropriation required by subsection (b) of this section, the remaining portion of the net revenues receivable during the fiscal year by such county or municipality, pursuant to this article, may be expended for one or more of the purposes set forth in this subsection, but for no other purpose. The purposes for which expenditures may be made pursuant to this subsection are as follows:
(1) The planning, construction, reconstruction, establishment, acquisition, improvement, renovation, extension, enlargement, equipment, maintenance, repair and operation of publicly owned convention facilities, including, but not limited to, arenas, Auditoriums, civic centers and convention centers;
(2) The payment of principal or interest or both on revenue bonds issued to finance such convention facilities;
(3) The promotion of conventions;
(4) The construction, operation or maintenance of public parks, tourist information centers and recreation facilities (including land acquisition);
(5) The promotion of the arts;
(6) Historic sites;
(7) Beautification projects; or
(8) Passenger air service incentives and subsidies directly related to increasing passenger air service availability to tourism destinations in this state;
(9) Medical care and emergency services, in an amount not exceeding two hundred thousand dollars, in any county where:
(A) There is an urgent necessity to preserve the delivery of acute medical care and emergency services;
(B) There is an increase in need for acute medical care and emergency services directly related to tourism;
(C) Recurrent flooding in the county significantly disrupts, on a periodic basis, the delivery of acute medical care and emergency services;
(D) There is an inadequate economic base within the county from any source other than tourism to preserve the delivery of acute medical care and emergency services;
(E) There is an inadequate economic base directly related to low population in the county, specifically, a population of less than ten thousand persons according to the census of the year one thousand nine hundred ninety;
(F) There is one and only one hospital within the county; and
(G) The county commission makes specific findings, by resolution, that all of the foregoing conditions within the county exist; or
(10) Support and operation of the Hatfield-McCoy Recreation Area by the participating county commissions in the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreational Authority.
(d) Definitions. -- For purposes of this section, the following terms are defined:
(1) Convention and visitor's bureau and visitor's and convention bureau. -- "Convention and visitor's bureau" and "visitor's and convention bureau" are interchangeable and either shall mean a nonstock, nonprofit corporation with a full-time staff working exclusively to promote tourism and to attract conventions, conferences and visitors to the municipality, county or region in which such convention and visitor's bureau or visitor's and convention bureau is located or engaged in business within.
(2) Convention center. -- "Convention center" means a convention facility owned by the state, a county, a municipality or other public entity or instrumentality and shall include all facilities, including armories, commercial, office, community service and parking facilities and publicly owned facilities constructed or used for the accommodation and entertainment of tourists and visitors, constructed in conjunction with the convention center and forming reasonable appurtenances thereto.
(3) Fiscal year. -- "Fiscal year" means the year beginning the first day of July and ending the thirtieth day of June of the next calendar year.
(4) Net proceeds. -- "Net proceeds" means the gross amount of tax collections less the amount of tax lawfully refunded.
(5) Promotion of the arts. -- "Promotion of the arts" means activity to promote public appreciation and interest in one or more of the arts. It includes the promotion of music for all types, the dramatic arts, dancing, painting and the creative arts through shows, exhibits, festivals, concerts, musicals and plays.
(6) Recreational facilities. -- "Recreational facilities" means and includes any public park, parkway, playground, public recreation center, athletic field, sports arena, stadium, skating rink or arena, golf course, tennis courts and other park and recreation facilities, whether of a like or different nature, that are owned by a county or municipality.
(7) Region. -- "Region" means an area consisting of one or more counties that have agreed by contract to fund a convention and visitor's bureau to promote those counties.
(8) Regional travel council. -- "Regional travel council" means a nonstock, nonprofit corporation, with a full-time staff working exclusively to promote tourism and to attract conventions, conferences and visitors to the region of this state served by the regional travel council.
(9) Historic site. -- "Historic site" means any site listed on the United States national register of historic places, or listed by a local historical landmarks commission, established under state law, when such sites are owned by a city, a county or a nonprofit historical association and are open, from time to time, to accommodate visitors.
(e) (d) Any member of a governing body who willingly and knowingly votes to or causes to be expended moneys generated by the provisions of this section for purposes other than specifically set forth in this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $100.
§7-18-16. West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau Accreditation Board.

(a) There is hereby established the West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau Accreditation Board, consisting of the following members:
(1) The president, ex officio, of the Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, or his or her designee, will serve as the chairperson of the board;
(2) The chairperson of the Hospitality and Travel Association, or his or her designee;
(3) The chairperson of the West Virginia Tourism Commission, or his or her designee;
(4) A county commissioner, appointed by the Governor from a list of three persons nominated by the county commissioners' Association of West Virginia;
(5) An elected official of a municipality in West Virginia, appointed by the Governor from a list of three persons nominated by the West Virginia Municipal League;
(6) An attorney, appointed by the Governor; and
(7) A lay citizen of the State of West Virginia, appointed by the Governor.
(b) The members of the West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau Accreditation Board will serve for three-year terms: Provided, That the initial term of the attorney member will be for two years and the initial term of the lay citizen will be for two years. Board members may serve for only two successive terms.
(c) Board members serve without compensation and without reimbursement for any travel or lodging expenses from the State of West Virginia.
§7-18-17. Duties of the board.
(a) The West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau Accreditation Board has the following duties and responsibilities:
(1) Establishing, amending or modifying accreditation standards for county or municipal convention and visitors bureaus in this state;
(2) Evaluating applications for accreditation by county or municipal convention and visitors bureaus and determining whether the bureau meets all accreditation standards;
(3) Granting accreditation to bureaus that meet the established standards;
(4) Renewing accreditation to bureaus that continue to meet the established standards;
(5) Ensuring that all accredited bureaus receiving funds pursuant to this article remain accredited;
(6) Ensuring that all expenditures made by an accredited bureau are consistent with the intent and purposes of this article; and
(7) Performing all functions necessary to carry out the intent and purpose of this article.
(b) The board will meet at least twice a year, the time and location of which will be determined in the discretion of the chair or a majority of the members.
(c) There will be no appropriation of state funds for compensation, costs or expenses incurred by the board in the exercise of its duties. The board may accept contributions from individuals or entities to cover the costs of reviewing applications, awarding accreditation and other such activities.
§7-18-18. Standards for accreditation.
(a) The board will establish accreditation standards that provide for full and provisional accreditation periods. Full accreditation will be for a three-year period. Accreditation may be renewed for additional three-year periods if the bureau continues to meet the accreditation standards.
(b) The accreditation standards developed by the board are to include, but not be limited to, requirements for the following areas:
(1) Organizational structure and function;
(2) Budget;
(3) Staffing;
(4) Board development;
(5) Reporting and accountability;
(6) Planning;
(7) Communication;
(8) Marketing and advertising; and
(9) Such other standards as the board deems reasonable.
§7-18-19. Accreditation required for receipt of funds.
(a) Any convention and visitors bureau operating or seeking to operate in this state must apply for accreditation with the board. Any convention and visitors bureau operating in this state as of July 1, 2009, must submit an application for accreditation prior to December 31, 2009. Any convention and visitors bureau formed in this state after July 1, 2009 must submit an application for accreditation to the board by December 31, 2009, or by December 31 of each calendar year thereafter as applicable.
(b) Upon satisfaction of all accreditation standards, the West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau Accreditation Board will grant to a county, municipal or regional convention and visitors bureau a full or provisional accreditation as provided by section twenty of this article. The board will advise all applicants for accreditation of its decision to grant or deny full or provisional accreditation in writing by May, 31 of the next calendar year. Any county, municipal or regional convention and visitors bureau that is denied a full or provisional accreditation may protest the decision pursuant to the administrative procedures set forth in chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
(c) No convention and visitors bureau may receive any funds or other distributions as provided by this article until such time as it receives full or provisional accreditation from the board.
§7-18-20. Requirements for accreditation, operation and receipt of funds.

(a) Full accreditation. -- Full accreditation will be granted for a three-year period and may be renewed for additional three-year periods upon application by a convention and visitors bureau and verification by the board that the bureau has met or continues to meet all accreditation standards established by the board. Full accreditation will be granted:
(1) To any convention and visitors bureau that meets the standards established by the board; or
(2) To any county, municipal or regional convention and visitors bureau that, prior to July 1, 2009:
(A) Was created and operational;
(B) Was in receipt of funds or disbursements from a county; or municipal taxing authority pursuant to this article; and
(C) Received a three-year accreditation from the West Virginia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus: Provided, That any bureau granted full accreditation pursuant to this subdivision will receive its initial full accreditation for a period not to exceed the remainder of the accreditation previously received from the West Virginia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus.
(b) Provisional accreditation. -- Provisional accreditation may be granted to a bureau that has not met all of the standards required by the board for full accreditation. A provisional accreditation will last no longer than one year, and will automatically terminate when the bureau has become fully accredited. Upon application, the board may grant a one-year provisional accreditation to:
(1) Any convention and visitors bureau operating in this state prior to July 1, 2009, that did not have a valid accreditation from the West Virginia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau and that is attempting to meet the requirements for full accreditation; or
(2) Any new bureau seeking to operate in this state after July 1, 2009, and is attempting to meet the requirements for full accreditation.
(c) Receipt of funds. -- A convention and visitors bureau that receives full accreditation from the board will receive its proportionate share of the funds and distributions from the taxing authority pursuant to this article immediately upon receipt of such accreditation. A bureau that is granted a provisional accreditation will receive funds and distributions from the taxing authority pursuant to this article for no longer than one year after receipt of the provisional accreditation. If, at the expiration of the one-year provisional accreditation period, the bureau has not received full accreditation and becomes qualified for continued funding thereunder, the taxing authority will cease payment of all funds or disbursements provided by this article.
(d) New bureaus. -- Any convention and visitors bureau created or made operational after July 1, 2009, will prior to commencing operation:
(1) Notify the county or municipal taxing authority of the county or municipality in which the bureau is or will be located of the formation of the new convention and visitors bureau;
(2) Apply for accreditation from the West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau Accreditation Board;
(3) Receive full or provisional accreditation; and
(4) Forward a copy of the accreditation to the appropriate taxing authority.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish the West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau Accreditation Board, establish its duties and responsibilities, and require accreditation standards for convention and visitors bureaus operating in this state.

§7-18-2a, §7-18-16, §7-18-17, §7-18-18, §7-18-19 and §7-18-20 are new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.

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