Hearing held on tourism improvement districts that could assess businesses; no vote taken

The Senate Tourism Committee conducted a public hearing on giving cities and counties throughout Alabama the legislative authority to create tourism improvement districts but took no vote on the bill.

Under SB290 by Sen. J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, the governing body of a city or county could have passed a resolution to create a tourism improvement district once they received a petition from 55% of the class of business to be assessed to fund improvements. A tourism improvement district association would have been able to assess any business within it to promote public events, tourism, marketing, sales, economic development and other benefits. A public hearing would be conducted by the governing body before a district could be fully adopted. If implemented, all businesses within the class would be assessed.

The city of Mobile adopted a tourism improvement district ordinance in May of 2020, becoming the state’s first TID. The structure for Montgomery and Florence improvement districts became law during the Alabama Legislature’s 2023 regular session.

Representatives from the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Florence Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau and Visit Mobile testified in favor of a statewide bill, while the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association as well as several of its member hotels and restaurants asked the legislation be amended to protect the interests of the businesses and allow businesses, not local governments, to set the ground rules.

Sen. Randy Price, R-Opelika, the committee’s chairman, asked all involved to come back to the committee with a compromise “to keep tourism going in our state.”

The Senate Tourism Committee never took a vote on SB290.

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