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April 19, 2013

Tourism bureau to urge legislators to keep commission

JEFFERSONVILLE —

A commission started at the behest of the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention and Tourism Bureau may end because it was included in a series of cuts outlined in the state’s proposed budget.

Tourism Bureau Executive Director Jim Keith reported to the Board of Managers at its regular meeting Wednesday that the Lewis and Clark Commission may cease to exist because of a provision in Indiana’s biannual budget. He said the commission was created through legislation in 2001, which planned to use the funding raised to highlight the Lewis and Clark expedition bicentennial events between 2003-06. As part of the legislation, the commission created a license plate for the state of Indiana that marked the Lewis and Clark bicentennial, and for each license plate sold the commission received a portion of the cost. The license plate sales are the only source of funding for the commission, which collects less than $20,000 annually, Keith said.

When the commission — made up of six state senators and six members of the House of Representatives — was created, the Indiana General Assembly outlined its goals as: Educate Indiana residents and the nation about Indiana’s important role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, assist with the bicentennial events and projects and perform other duties necessary to highlight Indiana’s role in the expedition.

Though the bicentennial has passed, the tourism bureau said it wants the committee to continue.

“They want to shut down the Lewis and Clark Commission and they also want to take the funds that the foundation has,” said Tourism Bureau Board Member Carlene Bottorff. “It was set up by legislation ... to create a foundation where that amount of money from the license plates would continue to come in even after the bicentennial was over. That’s what we have been spending our monies on — the education piece — and trying to make this a destination for people to come to this area.

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