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Local legislation beats buzzer at Gold Dome
Bills to create Gainesville visitors bureau, Hall election board passed in time
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Rep. Carl Rogers came through for Gainesville and Hall County officials before the buzzer sounded Thursday night on the 2014 session of the Georgia General Assembly.

Following the House’s lead, the Senate adopted two pieces of local legislation sponsored by Rogers that will create the Gainesville Convention and Visitors Bureau Authority and a new Board of Elections and Registrations of Hall County. All legislators from Hall County supported the bills.

The new CVB will replace the existing tourism and trade office as the official marketing arm for conventions and tourism in the city. City officials have said they will fund the authority with hotel/motel tax revenue in the 2015 fiscal year.

The original bill would have given the CVB power to issue bonds, purchase property and hire personnel, but that language was stripped before passage.

Rogers, a Gainesville Republican, said that he made a late amendment to the bill that requires any expenditure by the CVB to receive approval from the Gainesville City Council.

“We appreciate the support from the Georgia legislature for the creation of the Gainesville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau,” Gainesville spokeswoman Catiel Felts said. “Our next step will be to organize a board of directors representing our hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions. We believe the input by the people who are dealing daily with the tourists will be an added bonus for our office and look forward to making this happen very soon.”

The new elections board becomes effective Jan. 1, and will remove supervision of the chief registrar from the Hall County Superior Court and put it into the hands of the county administrator.

The board will consist of two Republicans and two Democrats, with the chief registrar serving as the chairman. Each board member would serve a four-year term.

County officials praised the bill, hoping it would provide more resources and oversight to the county elections office.

“I think the general consensus is that this new concept or arrangement is something that will serve the county well for years to come,” County Administrator Randy Knighton said. “We’re pleased that it has moved forward.”

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