State Legislative Alert
  April 19, 2017  
Your VOICE is NEEDED TODAY!!
 
We are racing through what looks to be the FINAL 48 HOURS of the 2017 legislative session, and legislative action is occurring at a furious pace. As we foretold in the last update, the appropriations bills have come out largely agreed to beforehand. There are some devastating cuts across all parts of State government. Please take a moment to read through this and weigh in with legislators about your issues!
 
Economic Development Budget 
The IEDA Administration budget, which funds the Tourism Office and the Tourism Regions, will be cut by another $1.085 M (to about $13.4M) in FY2018.  This is on top of earlier cuts in current FY 2017 of $1.031 M.  For comparison, in FY 2016 (which ended June 30, 2016), IEDA's Administration budget was $15.5 M. Also, the Legislature's budget bill lowers the cap on the Tourism Gaming funds to $900,000 in FY 2018.  That was up at $1.178M in FY 2016.
 
Infrastructure Budget 
- Great Places - $1 M (level-funded)
- CAT - $5 M (level)
- Regional Sports Authorities - $500K (level)
- Lake Restoration - $9.6M (increase of $1M)
- Water Trails and Low Head Dams - Zeroed out (from $1M)
- State Park Infrastructure - $2M (a cut from $3M)
- Recreational Trails - $1.5M ***(a cut from the $2.5M the Gov wanted)
***The House amended Recreational Trails late last night to cut the trail funding another $500K! It is now at ONLY $1 MILLION
 
Agriculture & Natural Resources Budget 
- Resource Enhancement And Protection (REAP) gets cut by 25% down to $12 million. 
- Loess Hills Alliance was initially ZEROED out, but restored to $40,000 (a cut of $110,000)
- The Leopold Center is ELIMINATED
 
Water Quality 
Water Quality is still a very live round. TFI supports the IWILL proposal to increase the sales tax by 3/8 cent to fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund because it is the ONLY water quality proposal that also addresses quality of life issues like parks and trails. The sales tax increase is definitely off the table for this year (look to its inclusion in possible tax reform next year), but the POLICY discussion of how the water quality dollars would be spent is very much alive.

The Senate/Governor's bill (SF 512) relies on the grant program currently in use while the House bill focuses on a watershed approach to addressing water quality.  The House bill (HF 612) sets up a program into which the IWILL funding mechanism can be combined should is pass in the future. The entire IWILL Coalition is pushing hard for the House approach. 
 
Other Bills 
Several other bills are in a holding pattern, and may or may not have a chance at this point. Some of those are:
- The Amana Hotel/Motel bill (HF609) is ready for Senate Floor action, but is opposed by the county supervisors.
- The Hotel/Motel bill (HF477) that would extend the tax collected on a stay from 30 days to 90 days is stalled in the House.
- The bill (HF631) that would allow DNR to set their own hunting and license fees has passed the House, but may be dead in the Senate.

Please call YOUR LEGISLATORS about YOUR priorities today!  TALK TOURISM!!  And then, recruit a couple or your friends and neighbors to also reach out to their legislators! Time is running out!!
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