2007 Regular Session
To: Tourism; Appropriations
By: Representative McCoy, Burnett, Hines, Mayo, Perkins
AN ACT RELATING TO CULTURAL TOURISM IN THE DELTA REGION; TO REQUIRE THE LEGISLATURE AND GOVERNOR TO TAKE SUCH ACTIONS AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO PROCURE FROM CONGRESS DESIGNATION OF THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA REGION AS A "DELTA NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA"; TO AMEND SECTION 39-27-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT THE LEGISLATURE SHALL APPROPRIATE FUNDING TO THE MISSISSIPPI DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, DIVISION OF TOURISM, FOR THE PURPOSE OF PURCHASING MISSISSIPPI BLUES TRAIL MARKERS, AND TO CREATE A POSITION IN THE DIVISION OF TOURISM DEDICATED TO THE BLUES TRAIL MARKERS PROJECT; TO REQUIRE FUNDING TO BE APPROPRIATED TO CERTAIN UNIVERSITIES FOR THE SUPPORT OF THE HERITAGE TRAILS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM; TO CREATE THE "CULTURAL HERITAGE DEVELOPMENT FUND" IN THE STATE TREASURY TO PROVIDE MATCHING FUNDS FOR FEDERAL GRANTS IN SUPPORT OF CULTURAL ARTS AND HERITAGE TOURISM; TO AMEND SECTION 57-1-59, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THE MISSISSIPPI DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY TO DEVELOP MECHANISMS TO ENHANCE CULTURAL HERITAGE TOURISM ATTRACTIONS, TO SUPPORT THE CREATION OF EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN THE CULTURAL ARTS AND TOURISM INDUSTRY, AND TO SUPPORT THE CREATION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE BUSINESS INCUBATORS IN THE DELTA REGION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) The Legislature finds that the Mississippi Delta region is a national cultural treasure. The Legislature further finds that cultural heritage tourism is a rapidly growing national and international industry that represents a significant opportunity within the Delta; however, the absence of sufficient dedicated resources to support the growth of cultural heritage tourism has been a significant barrier to the Mississippi Delta’s ability to realize the full potential of its cultural heritage.
(2) It is the intent of the Legislature that this act establish a cultural tourism initiative for the Delta region.
SECTION 2. For purposes of this act, the terms "Mississippi Delta region," "Delta region" and "region" are defined as the western section of the State of Mississippi that lies between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers, encompassing in part or whole the Counties of Bolivar, Carroll, Claiborne, Coahoma, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Jefferson, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo.
SECTION 3. The Legislature and the Governor shall take such actions as may be necessary to procure from the United States Congress the designation of the Mississippi Delta region as the "Delta National Heritage Area." Actions to assist in the procurement of the National Heritage Area designation may include, but are not necessarily limited to: working with the Mississippi congressional delegation to secure the passage of designation legislation; aiding in the collaboration of interested local government officials, organizations and individual citizens groups in the Delta; and fostering a cooperative spirit among the
different communities within the region.
SECTION 4. Section 39-27-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
39-27-3. (1) The commission shall designate specific sites for erection of appropriate "Mississippi Blues Trail" markers to offer to tourists and targeted groups a structured tour of Mississippi blues historical sites and performance venues. The commission shall be authorized to purchase appropriate Mississippi Blues Trail markers and related interpretive materials. The Legislature shall appropriate annually to the Division of Tourism of the Mississippi Development Authority no less than Two Million Dollars ($2,000,000.00) in fiscal years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 for purchasing the markers and related materials. The texts for the Mississippi Blues Trail markers shall be approved by the commission. The Mississippi Department of Transportation shall cooperate with the commission by erecting and maintaining the markers that have been approved by the commission.
(2) There is created within the Division of Tourism of the Mississippi Development Authority a full-time staff position to be dedicated to the creation of the Mississippi Blues Trail markers. The staff person employed in this position must devote his entire attention to researching and writing the texts for the Mississippi Blues Trail markers and the creation of interpretive materials.
SECTION 5. The Legislature shall provide sufficient funding to support and expand the functions of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Tougaloo College and Alcorn State University. Any funding provided by the Legislature for such purposes must be allocated to employ dedicated staff and to provide for graduate assistants who will provide support to the Mississippi Development Authority in its efforts to establish the Heritage Trails Development Program and to the Mississippi Delta Tourism Association.
SECTION 6. There is created in the State Treasury a special fund to be designated the "Cultural Heritage Development Fund." The fund shall consist of monies designated for deposit therein from any source, public or private, including, but not limited to, appropriations, grants, gifts or donations. Monies in the fund may be used as matching funds to procure federal grants that may be used in support of the development and expansion of cultural arts and heritage tourism. The Division of Tourism of the Mississippi Development Authority shall be responsible for the administration of the fund.
SECTION 7. Section 57-1-59, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
57-1-59. The Mississippi Development Authority shall have the following general powers and duties with respect to tourism:
(a) To promote and advertise the image of Mississippi both within and without the boundaries of this state;
(b) To promote and advertise fairs and similar activities of interest to tourists and the traveling public;
(c) To promote and advertise the use of wildlife and natural areas by tourists and the traveling public;
(d) To promote and advertise the use of state recreational and park facilities by tourists and the traveling public;
(e) To promote and advertise all resources of the State of Mississippi as attractions to tourists and the traveling public;
(f) To develop for all agencies of state government the necessary promotional and advertising materials needed to promote all facilities and programs which may be of interest to travelers and tourists;
(g) To maintain an educational awareness program for the citizens of the state to constantly encourage increased development of activities of interest to tourists and the traveling public;
(h) To develop and maintain an information services system to adequately guide tourists and the traveling public within the boundaries of the state;
(i) To develop and maintain an extensive media program to adequately inform the national and international consumer about Mississippi; * * *
(j) To enter into contracts and other agreements with local tourism commissions or similar entities for the purpose of developing regional strategies for tourism promotion. The Mississippi Development Authority, in conjunction with the formulation of regional strategies for tourism promotion, may require that local tourism commissions or similar entities enter into agreements with the authority as a condition for receiving any state grants to promote tourism;
(k) To develop mechanisms to enhance existing cultural heritage tourism attractions and attractors and to support programs that create employment opportunities in the cultural arts and related tourism industry. The Mississippi Development Authority shall pursue existing federal programs and grants that will enhance workforce training and create job opportunities as well as enhance cultural heritage tourism in the Mississippi Delta region; and
(l) To encourage and support the creation of cultural heritage business incubators in communities in the Delta region and aid in creation of a "made in the Mississippi Delta" branding initiative.
SECTION 8. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.