Tax Reform Legislator Meetings - Organizer's Guidance and Resources


Background

The upcoming special legislative session could have a devastating impact on the KY tourism industry if one or more of the 3 tourism taxes are adversely affected by tax reform. With “everything on the table,” the industry must do everything possible to avert a negative outcome. It is imperative that industry representatives hold meetings with their legislators. 


Meeting Objectives

The following are the key points that should get communicated during a meeting:

  • Tourism is a premier economic driver for KY and damage to tourism will damage KY’s economy.
  • Tourism has an enormous return on investment.
  • Description of the three tourism taxes and how they are used.
  • Value of tourism and tourism marketing to local businesses.

Preferred Meeting Organizer & Participants

In most cases, the local tourism director is the best person to organize a meeting. The number of participants should be kept to a small number – no more than 4- 6, excluding the legislator. Suggested composition: 

  • CVB organizer.  If a legislator’s district covers multiple CVBs, the directors should coordinate planning including who will take the lead on organizing the meeting.
  • 2-3 private business people who can discuss the value of tourism to their businesses and the value of marketing done by the CVB. If possible, the business people should also be able to speak to the value derived from KY Department of Tourism’s (KDT) marketing.  (If it is not practical for a local businessperson to cover the KDT information, then the organizer needs to address this.)

Location & Venue

  • The meeting should be in the district unless the only option for the legislator is to meet in Frankfort.
  • The best local venue would be a tourism business – hotel, restaurant frequented by out of town visitors, attraction, etc. The legislator needs to see the impact of tourism on these types of places, including the employees whose jobs are supported by tourism.

Planning and Scheduling the Meeting

  1. Identify and confirm the meeting participants. Be very clear with the participants about the purpose of the meeting and the role you would like them to play.
  2. Select a venue. Explain to the participants and venue that plans are tentative, depending on the legislator’s willingness and available dates.
  3. Contact the legislator and request a meeting.  Contacts may be made by phone locally or with the legislator’s Frankfort office. If calling Frankfort, the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) number is 502.564.8100. Ask for the legislator’s office. Email to legislators can be accessed at http://lrc.ky.gov/. Although it is more effective that a meeting request come from a constituent, KTIA or MML&K can assist in scheduling.
  4. In requesting the meeting, identify yourself and your organization, other likely participants and the tentative location. Explain that you would like to meet to provide information about tourism’s importance locally and to the state, and to share some thoughts about tax reform as it relates to tourism. It is ok to provide possible dates and times, but make it clear that you will accommodate the legislator’s schedule. Indicate that you would expect the meeting to last approximately 30 minutes.

Preparing for the Meeting

  • If at all possible it is preferable to hold a meeting or conference call with participants prior to the meeting to discuss objectives, talking points, and generally who will cover what points. 
  • Send participants leave behind information (see below) prior to this discussion.
  • If there are other counties in the legislator’s district, generally acquaint yourself with tourism information from those counties (for example, basic economic impact information). 

The Meeting

  • As with any business meeting, casual chit chat is good prior to settling in for the discussion.
  • Once the formal part of the meeting commences, thank the legislator for his time and willingness to meet. Introduce yourself and ask the other participants to introduce themselves. (Use your judgment here. If the legislator is already familiar with the participants, no need to go through formal introductions.)
  • Offer a very brief overview of what the group would like to discuss with the legislator. Hand him the material that you will be leaving with him (see below.)
  • Transition to information about tourism’s economic importance to your community/county in economic impact, jobs and tax revenue.
  • Describe the CVB’s role and some specific examples.
  • Review the 3 taxes in KY that support tourism in KY
  1. 1% statewide transient room tax – only source of marketing funds for KDT.
  2. Local transient room tax – key funding source of the CVB.
  3. Restaurant tax - even if this tax is not relevant to your destination, include it in the discussion, explaining that it is for small communities that don’t have as much hotel tax. If it is relevant, describe its importance to you. 
  • Invite the business participants to discuss their businesses and the importance of tourism to them and to explain how the CVB’s work benefits them. (They should feel comfortable in inserting their thoughts as you are discussing the CVB.)
  • Explain that you and the rest of the industry are very concerned if any one of the taxes is adversely affected by tax reform, because that will reduce tourism’s economic benefits.
  • Throughout the discussion, be an extremely active listener. If the legislator has a question, be responsive to that. If a question or comment takes you away from your message points, don’t resist that. Go with the flow, but attempt before the conclusion of the meeting to bridge back to any important points that had not been made.
  • Keep an eye on the time and be mindful of when it is apparent that the legislator is ready for the meeting to end.
  • Ask if there is any other information you can provide and thank him again for the meeting.

Leave Behind Information

The following is a link to a document you should leave with the legislator

Legislator Leave Behind

Also, consider providing some of the collateral used in promoting your destination, but take care to not overload the legislator with material.


After the Meeting

  1. Send a note or email thanking the legislator for the meeting.
  2. If he/she asked for any follow up information, provide that absolutely as quickly as you can.
  3. Email Hank Phillips at hank.phillips@ktia.com with a recap of the discussion.