Tourism Industry, Others Want Legislative Action

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Advocates of more funding for the state's Pure Michigan tourism advertising campaign are among those calling for action from the Michigan Legislature during what likely will be its final week of the 2009-10 session.

Tourism business leaders want $25 million added to the Pure Michigan campaign for the current budget year. Some of the cash would be used almost immediately to advertise Michigan's skiing, snowmobiling and other winter attractions in out-of-state markets.

If the Legislature doesn't approve a funding boost before adjourning for the year, action would be delayed until at least January. That would be too late to promote Michigan's winter attractions to much of the nation, likely hurting the state's tourism business.

Bills that don't pass this month during the Legislature's so-called "lame duck" session would have to be reintroduced next year by returning or new lawmakers.

Pure Michigan's television and radio ads promote the state's lakes, ski resorts, golf courses, cities and other tourist attractions. The popular advertising campaign is credited with boosting out-of-state traffic in northern Michigan, the Detroit region and other parts of the state.

Lawmakers generally support the Pure Michigan campaign but haven't agreed on ways to boost its funding. The state's tourism promotion campaign has only about $5 million designated for the current budget year, down from about $30 million in 2009.

"The campaign enhances the image of Michigan around the country," Ken Hayward, vice president of sales and marketing for the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, said Monday at the state Capitol in Lansing. "Not only that, when you hear those ads and see those ads it makes you feel better about your state and who you are. And we could all use that."

There is a chance Michigan lawmakers will agree on some sort of short-term funding boost for Pure Michigan before adjourning for the year. But it doesn't appear likely this week's action would provide the campaign with the entire $25 million it seeks, or a long-term solution that would prevent future scrambles for cash.

Matt Marsden, spokesman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, said the Senate expects to wrap up its lame duck session this week.

Lawmakers likely will complete a plan that calls for distributing more than $300 million in federal money to schools. They also might complete a plan that would allow organizations such as the Detroit Zoo and Detroit Institute of Arts to ask voters for more property taxes.

Many other groups are making late attempts to capture the Legislature's attention as the 2009-10 session winds down.

Rep. Brian Calley, a Republican from Portland and the incoming lieutenant governor, joins those pushing for improved insurance coverage for certain autism treatments. Calley is the father of an autistic child.

Rep. Kevin Green, R-Wyoming, continues to push for legislation that would require doctors to inform patients about the risks of stillbirth -- including preventive measures and possible warning signs. Green, who lost a daughter to stillbirth in 2007, has fought for funding to provide education about counting kicks and other methods for pregnant women.

Both the autism and stillbirth legislation has passed the Democratic-run House, but the bills have not been acted on in the Republican-led Senate.

Advocates of requiring schools to adopt anti-bullying policies also are seeking action in the Senate, but they aren't likely to get it. Republican leaders say they plan to stick to time-sensitive, budget-related issues in the lame duck session and clear the decks for the GOP-led Legislature and Gov.-elect Rick Snyder taking power in January.

"These issues being pushed by the lobbying community and others right now are not on our list," Marsden said.

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