2019 GACVB Priorities & State Legislative Agenda 

(approved by the GACVB Board of Directors on August 8, 2018)

1.  Oppose legislation that allows discrimination

  • In Georgia, we do not discriminate for any reason, at any time, in any place. Period. 
  • Our history proves it. One of the reasons that Georgia’s economy outpaces our neighbors Alabama and Mississippi is because in the 50s and 60s we left the old ways of discrimination behind and through leadership found our way to new prosperity for our state.
  • There are some in our state that have promoted the concept of protecting our freedom of religion through what they call a religious freedom restoration act – also known as RFRA. In 2016 a bill was passed but Governor Deal vetoed it over complaints from many Republican office holders.
  • Don’t be confused by the rhetoric. It’s not necessary because our freedom to practice our religion is already protected and some promote RFRA because they want to use it as grounds for discrimination. We have not had one example within our state of anyone’s religious freedoms being violated, but we see many examples of other states having lost out on real economic investment due to their legislatures passing laws that were perceived as discriminatory. North Carolina and Indiana are the best examples of the immediate and significant negative impact that comes to the states that pass anything that allows for discrimination.
  • We want to keep that from happening here in the state named the best state in which to do business for the 5th year in a row. We want to support the Governor and others that have helped us avoid the same fate as North Carolina. 

2.  Protect Georgia's lodging taxes from redirection

  • Some communities have tried to stretch the definition of acceptable uses for those taxes and some have advocated for legislation to allow for its use for a wide variety of city services that have little or nothing to do with tourism. So far, we have defeated those, but they come up again every year, so we have to play whack-a-mole. We cannot allow the erosion of that revenue stream for the convention and visitors bureaus in this state and that is why this is one of our top legislative priorities and always has been. One of the reasons we were founded. Accomplishing this goal includes working with our friends at the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association and the Georgia Travel Association, among other allies, on issues like having Air B&B and VRBO pay their required hotel-motel taxes. We believe in a level playing field across all visitor accommodations.

3.  Increase investment in Georgia's tourism marketing

  • Our state’s tourism marketing budget sits dead last in the whole southeast and has been there for over 15 years. This is a missed economic opportunity that would benefit all communities throughout Georgia. 
  • We continue to advocate that our state increases their investment in Georgia’s tourism marketing. When you consider the money spent by tourists in Georgia, especially those from out-of-state, the return on investment in the form of hotel motel taxes and sales taxes is tremendous from the State’s perspective. Revenues are up in Georgia, so we think that this could be a good year to advocate for more revenues being dedicated to tourism marketing.

4.  Establish new school-start and school-end date policies

  • Research shows there is no academic reason to begin the school year in the middle of summer, but there are numerous drawbacks. Most of the states that are consistently ranked in the top 10 for student performance on the SAT, ACT and Advanced Placement tests begin the school year in late-August or early September. 
  • Regardless of when schools begin, all Georgia public schools are required to offer students 180 instructional days, or the hourly equivalent. Getting started earlier doesn’t increase academic performance. However, it does reduce time for students to gain valuable work experience, earn much-needed money for college, makes formal summer learning difficult, creates childcare nightmares for parents, and reduces the length of time summer feeding programs are available.
  • Early August school start dates also reduce time high school students have for meaningful work opportunities, to experience an internship in a field of interest, or to pursue academic studies over the summer. Many students work during summers to save for college, but the value doesn’t stop there. University admissions officers say students who show a strong work history stand out in the selection process. Summer work shows dedication, maturity, and good time management skills. Research shows summer work experience also translates to the classroom. Summer work increases the likelihood a student will graduate from high school and increases non-cognitive skills such as responsibility, positive work habits, motivation, and self-confidence.