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County eyes state bills

By Kimberly Jordan kjordan@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:56 PM

The Legislative Ad Hoc Committee discussed several bills pending in the state legislature Thursday to determine which of those had an effect on Wilson County.

Committee Chair Wendell Marlowe asked Mayor Randall Hutto is there were any items he knew of that are “urgent that we need to consider voicing our opinion on.”

Two bills that were discussed in greater detail by the committee centered on the hotel/motel tax and reimbursement for housing state inmates by counties.

Committee member Eugene Murray asked about a bill referencing hotel/motel taxes and their use.

“What it says is, the money you levy under that private act has to be used for the promotion of tourism or tourism related activities - would that exclude an expo center?”

Hutto answered saying, “I think what they want, most people want, is that tourism dollars, [hotel owners] consider as theirs, like we consider sales tax as our dollars.

Hotel folks consider hotel/motel taxes their dollars; they don’t want it to go in the general fund and just go to clean up streets; they want it to promote something that is going to enhance their business. I would say on that account, if you took it and put the expo center in, yes, that’s bringing people in possibly for a two-day event and they would get something out of it.”

The commissioners are currently waiting to see if the private act that was sent to the legislature concerning raising the county’s hotel tax will get to the floor for a vote.

A second bill of interest concerned raising the amount of money paid to counties that house state inmates. The current rate is $37 per day. If the bill is passed, the rate would increase to $42 per day in 2018.

“I remember Sheriff Ashe was always supportive of this,” committee member Clint Thomas said.

Hutto also said Sheriff Robert Bryan supports the measure.

The meeting concluded with Hutto giving the committee a recommendation.

“If you see something that you think is important enough for [the commission] to hear and vote up or down on, we want to send a letter of support to our legislature to make sure they know we stand in favor of it,” said Hutto.

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