February 13, 2017 - GACVB General Assembly Update

The Georgia General Assembly agreed to an adjournment resolution that sets the schedule through sine die on the 40th legislative day on March 30th.  Other dates of note include March 3rd which is Crossover Day and March 17th, which is a recess day that coincides with St.Patrick's Day.  The legislature is in recess today, February 13th, in observance of President's Day and will reconvene for the 17th legislative day tomorrowFebruary 14th.

Legislation we're watching:

House Legislation:

HB 60 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), is pending in the House Regulated Industries Committee. It will allow licensed distillers to apply to the Commissioner of the Department of Revenue for a retail package liquor store license with several limitations on how much could be sold and where the sales could take place. If passed it will also allow a distiller to have a restaurant on the premises.  The legislation can be found here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/HB/60

HB 96 appears to be a "placeholder" bill in the excise tax on lodging code section.  We will continue to monitor it, but this is probably not a bill to be concerned about. The legislation can be found here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/HB/96

HB 107 by Jay Powell (R-Camilla) seeks to refine the definition of "Innkeeper" to include "any person who is subject to taxation under this article for the furnishing for value to the public any rooms, lodgings, or accommodations." The bill was sent to the Ways and Means Committee and Powell is the Chair of that committee. The legislation can be found here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-S/Display/20172018/HB/107

HB 141 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) was written for his constituents in Richmond Hill.  The City recently purchased a building from the Ford Foundation that they are interested in converting into a visitor center, and this bill seeks to expand the list of permitted expenditures for revenues from excise taxes on lodging.  The bill has not yet been heard in the house Ways and Means Committee.  Concerns have been raised by GACVB and others that the bill could open up the statute for misuse.  It is also believed that the legislation may not be necessary.  Thanks are due to the multiple members of GACVB that gave immediate feedback about this legislation.  The legislation can be found here:  http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/HB/141

HB 158 is one of the two almost identical "Destination Resort" (casino) bills.  The "Destination Resort Act" intends to authorize the licensing destination resorts in the state with location and development criteria.  The legislation can be found here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/HB/158

Senate Legislation:

SB 17 by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford)is related to Sunday Sales of alcohol in restaurants and is commonly referred to as the Brunch Bill or "Mimosa Mandate."  It will allow a local government to authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises on Sundays beginning as early as 10:30 a.m. (moved back from 12:30 P.M.)  The bill also includes language related to  sales for consumption or closed package sales on the premises in tasting rooms of Georgia farm wineries on Sundays.  The legislation can be found here:  http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/SB/17

SB 51 by Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) creates the "Georgia Film & Television Trail" recognizing and placing signage at film and television production sites along the Georgia Film and Television Trail.  The bill is assigned to Senate Economic Development & Tourism Committee.  The legislation can be found here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20172018/SB/51

SB 58 seeks to repeal the $5 hotel fee, but there is absolutely no appetite for this legislation from Senate or House leadership and the bill is not expected to move. The legislation can be found here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/SB/58

SB 79 is one of the two almost identical "Destination Resort" (casino) bills.  The "Destination Resort Act" intends to authorize the licensing destination resorts in the state with location and development criteria.  SB 79 was sent back to legislative council after the county population approach was deemed unconstitutional. The legislation can be found here:http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/SB/79

SB 85 by Sen. Rick Jeffares (R-McDonough) will allow breweries to sell a limited amount of their product (3000 barrels annually) directly to customers on site, remove the restrictions and requirements of brewery tours, and allow brewpubs and breweries to sell packaged products with some limitations for off-site consumption.  It has passed the Senate and has been assigned to the House Regulated Industries Committee.  The legislation can be found here:http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/SB/85

SR 105 by Bill Heath (R-Bremen) is perhaps the closest thing to a religious freedom bill that we have seen. It is a proposed constitutional amendment to prevent discrimination in the public funding of social services by allowing religious or faith based organizations to receive public aid, directly or indirectly, for the provision of such services.  It is in the Senate Government Oversight Committee and has not yet has a hearing.  The legislation can be found here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/SR/105

Federal News:

From the desk of Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association

Dear U.S. Travel Colleague:

I would like to give you an update on travel measures included in the recent executive order regarding immigrants and refugees.

Executive Order Remains Suspended

Last Thursday, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the stay on the executive order imposed by the Federal District Court in Seattle. This means that the executive order remains suspended, and nationals of the seven countries identified in the order who hold valid U.S. visas may travel to and from the United States.

The court ruled unanimously that "the government has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its appeal." The court determined that plaintiffs made a sufficient showing of irreparable injury to their interests-public universities, in particular-if the stay were denied.

Notably, the court stated that "the public has an interest in free flow of travel."

What Happens Next?

This is not, of course, a final decision. The administration can appeal to the full 9th Circuit or to the U.S. Supreme Court on the stay itself. Cases are also pending in other legal jurisdictions on the federal government's order. Expect further proceedings on this matter later in February. We are closely monitoring the progress of these cases.

What U.S. Travel Is Doing

While the legal proceedings continue, we have mounted vigorous, multi-faceted outreach to both the administration and Congress, including outreach to White House officials; the Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Commerce; and dozens of members and staff in the U.S. House and Senate.

We are making the case for travel's importance to the U.S. economy and reinforcing the view that security and travel are not opposing goals but, in fact, work together.

Additionally, we are highlighting the potential effect on inbound legitimate travel, gathering information about the executive order's impact on intent to travel to the U.S. from various international markets, and compiling data from our members on the impact to their destinations and properties.

You can read our media statement on the ruling here. We will continue to keep you informed as circumstances warrant.


Roger J. Dow
President and CEO