Thursday, May 06, 2010

Lawmakers Consider Other Tourism Bills

The IDEA bill for Marion isn't the only piece of legislation winding its way through the General Assembly today that will affect tourism in Southern Illinois.

Lawmakers in the House Executive Committee are reviewing a proposal tonight to revamp the Chicago trade show business at McCormick Place.

The dirty little secret downstate is that it's Chicago tourism dollars that fund our state's tourism program. When they hurting, the rest of us get to feel the pain.

I'm not sure what the bill number will be yet, but expect it to pass. Chicago's about to lose some long-time trade shows if they don't make changes.

While the focus this week has been on the IDEA bill there are other pieces of legislation that would have greatly benefited tourism that are stuck for now in the Rules Committees of either the House or Senate.

Senate Bill 2559 would have created the Historic Preservation Tax Credit Act. This would have offered a powerful tool that's been used with great success in Missouri. It would have provided an income tax credit equal to the amount of 25 percent of qualified expenditures for restoration and preservation of qualified historic structures. It passed the Senate 48-6 but has been stuck in Rules since April 23. HB 4823 is the House version of the bill. It too is stuck in Rules.

Senate Bill 3458 would have created the Tourism Task Force Act to figure out what direction the state should take in its tourism efforts. According to insiders, this really hasn't been done since serious efforts began in the early 1970s. State Sen. Bill Brady who's running for governor sponsored this bill last year which explains why it's not going anywhere in the Democratic-controlled House.

HB 2556 would allow conservancy districts to create TIF districts, as well as counties to create TIF districts for tourism-related projects located outside municipalities. Bradley introduced this last year on behalf of Rend Lake Conservancy District in an effort to attract developers to their land near Exit 77 on Interstate 57. This bill ended up in Rules last year and has never left.

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