Signed into Law: Tourism Entity Clarified

On March 30, Governor Walker signed Assembly Bill 714 into law as 2015 Wisconsin Act 301, clarifying the definition of a tourism entity that collects room tax. The bill recently passed the Assembly and Senate with no opposition.

The legislation, authored by Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) and Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton), makes technical changes to the room tax provisions that were passed as part of the 2015-2017 state budget (2015 Wisconsin Act 55) last summer. The changes in the budget would have inadvertently left several convention and visitors bureaus and chambers of commerce across the state out of statutory compliance. However, the technical changes under Act 301 prevented any compliance issues.

Act 301 adjusts the creation date for a tourism entity to 2015, allowing for entities to exist that were created after 1992 but before 2016. In addition, the legislation includes alternatives to the requirement that a tourism entity must spend 51 percent of their overall revenues on tourism promotion and tourism development. It also removes the condition that a tourism entity must exist in the municipality for which they provide destination marketing and services. Lastly, Act 301 modifies a provision that requires one lodging owner or operator per municipality to sit on the entity’s governing body to a minimum of four owners or operators.

The legislation was supported by a coalition including the Wisconsin Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, League of Wisconsin Municipalities and Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association.