Tourism Authority, Virginia

§ 2.2-2315. Short title; declaration of public purpose; Authority created

A. This article shall be known and may be cited as the Virginia Tourism Authority Act.

B. The General Assembly finds and declares that:

1. There exists in all geographical regions of the Commonwealth a plethora of tourist attractions, including cultural, historical, commercial, educational, and recreational activities, locations, and sources of entertainment;

2. Such tourist attractions are of potential interest to millions of people who reside both in and outside the Commonwealth;

3. Promotion of tourism in the Commonwealth is necessary to increase the prosperity of the people of the Commonwealth;

4. A state tourism development authority is therefore necessary to stimulate the tourism segment of the economy by promoting, advertising, and marketing the Commonwealth's many tourist attractions and by coordinating other private and public efforts to do the same; and

5. The film industry is a legitimate and important part of economic development in the Commonwealth.

The General Assembly determines that the creation of an authority for this purpose is in the public interest, serves a public purpose and will promote the health, safety, welfare, convenience or prosperity of the people of the Commonwealth.

C. The Virginia Tourism Authority is created, with the duties and powers set forth in this article, as a public body corporate and as a political subdivision of the Commonwealth. The Authority is constituted a public instrumentality exercising public and essential governmental functions, and the exercise by the Authority of the duties and powers conferred by this article shall be deemed and held to be the performance of an essential governmental function of the Commonwealth. The exercise of the powers granted by this article shall be in all respects for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Commonwealth and the increase of their commerce and prosperity. The Authority may do business as the "Virginia Tourism Corporation," and any references in the Code of Virginia or in any regulations adopted thereunder that refer to the Virginia Tourism Corporation shall, whenever necessary, be deemed to refer to the Authority.

1999, cc. 852, 881, §§ 2.1-548.53, 2.1-548.54, 2.1-548.56; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-2316. Executive Director; Board of Directors; members and officers

A. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 2.2-2318, all powers, rights and duties conferred by this article or other provisions of law upon the Authority shall be exercised by an Executive Director with the advice and comment of a Board of Directors. The Board of Directors shall be an advisory board within the meaning of § 2.2-2100.

B. The Board of Directors shall consist of the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Secretary of Finance, the Secretary of Natural Resources, the Lieutenant Governor, and 12 members appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. The members of the Board appointed by the Governor shall serve terms of six years. Any appointment to fill a vacancy on the Board shall be made for the unexpired term of the member whose death, resignation or removal created the vacancy. All members of the Board shall be residents of the Commonwealth. Members may be appointed to successive terms on the Board of Directors. The Governor shall make appointments in such a manner as to ensure the widest possible geographical representation of all parts of the Commonwealth.

Each member of the Board shall be reimbursed for his reasonable expenses incurred in attendance at meetings or when otherwise engaged in the business of the Authority and shall be compensated at the rate provided in § 2.2-2104 for each day or portion thereof in which the member is engaged in the business of the Authority.

C. The Governor shall designate one member of the Board as chairman. The Board may elect one member as vice-chairman, who shall exercise the powers of chairman in the absence of the chairman or as directed by the chairman. The Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Secretary of Finance, the Secretary of Natural Resources, and the Lieutenant Governor shall not be eligible to serve as chairman or vice-chairman.

D. Meetings of the Board shall be held at the call of the chairman or of any seven members. Nine members of the Board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of the business of the Authority. An act of the majority of the members of the Board present at any regular or special meeting at which a quorum is present shall be an act of the Board of Directors.

E. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, no officer or employee of the Commonwealth shall be deemed to have forfeited or shall have forfeited his office or employment by reason of acceptance of membership on the Board or by providing service to the Authority.

1999, cc. 852, 881, § 2.1-548.57; 2000, c. 899; 2001, c. 844; 2007, c. 779; 2010, c. 101; 2015, c. 280.

§ 2.2-2317. Appointment and duties of Executive Director

The Governor shall appoint an Executive Director of the Authority, who shall serve as President and chief executive officer of the Authority. The Executive Director shall not be a member of the Board. The Governor shall set the salary and other compensation of the Executive Director, and shall approve any changes in the Executive Director's salary or compensation. The Executive Director shall serve as the ex officio secretary of the Board and shall administer, manage and direct the affairs and activities of the Authority. He shall attend meetings of the Board, shall keep a record of the proceedings of the Board and shall maintain and be custodian of all books, documents and papers of the Authority, the minute book of the Authority and its official seal. He may cause copies to be made of all minutes and other records and documents of the Authority and may give certificates under seal of the Authority to the effect that the copies are true copies, and all persons dealing with the Authority may rely upon the certificates. He shall also perform other duties as is necessary to carry out the purposes of this article. The Executive Director shall employ or retain such agents or employees subordinate to him as may be necessary to fulfill the duties of the Authority as conferred upon the Executive Director. Employees of the Authority, including the Executive Director, shall be eligible for membership in the Virginia Retirement System and participation in all of the health and related insurance and other benefits, including premium conversion and flexible benefits, available to state employees as provided by law.

1999, cc. 852, 881, § 2.1-548.58; 2001, c. 844; 2007, c. 779.

§ 2.2-2318. Powers of Authority

The Authority, acting through the Executive Director, shall be granted all powers necessary or appropriate to carry out and to effectuate its purposes, including the following to:

1. Have perpetual succession as a public body corporate and as a political subdivision of the Commonwealth;

2. Adopt, amend and repeal bylaws, rules and regulations, not inconsistent with this article for the administration and regulation of its affairs, to carry into effect the powers and purposes of the Authority and the conduct of its business;

3. Sue and be sued in its own name;

4. Have an official seal and alter it at will although the failure to affix this seal shall not affect the validity of any instrument executed on behalf of the Authority;

5. Maintain an office at any place within or without the Commonwealth that it designates;

6. Make and execute contracts and all other instruments and agreements necessary or convenient for the performance of its duties and the exercise of its powers and functions under this article;

7. Acquire real or personal property, or any interest therein, by purchase, exchange, gift, assignment, transfer, foreclosure, lease or otherwise, including rights or easements, and hold, manage, operate or improve such property;

8. Sell, convey, mortgage, pledge, lease, exchange, transfer and otherwise dispose of all or any part of its properties and assets;

9. Employ officers, employees, agents, advisers and consultants, including without limitation, financial advisers and other technical advisers and public accountants and, the provisions of any other law to the contrary notwithstanding, to determine their duties and compensation without the approval of any other agency or instrumentality;

10. Procure insurance, in amounts and from insurers of its choice, or provide self-insurance, against any loss, cost, or expense in connection with its property, assets or activities, including insurance or self-insurance against liability for its acts or the acts of its directors, employees or agents and for the indemnification of the members of its Board and its employees and agents;

11. Receive and accept from any source aid, grants and contributions of money, property, labor or other things of value to be held, used and applied to carry out the purposes of this article subject to the conditions upon which the aid, grants or contributions are made;

12. Enter into agreements with any department, agency or instrumentality of the United States, the Commonwealth, the District of Columbia or any state for purposes consistent with its mission;

13. Establish and revise, amend and repeal, and charge and collect, fees and charges in connection with any activities or services of the Authority;

14. Make grants to local governments with any funds of the Authority available for this purpose;

15. Develop policies and procedures generally applicable to the procurement of goods, services, and construction based on competitive principles;

16. Issue periodicals and carry and charge for advertising therein;

17. Raise money in the corporate, nonprofit, and nonstate communities to finance the Authority's activities;

18. Support and encourage each locality to foster its own tourism development programs;

19. Enter into agreements with public or private entities that provide participating funding to establish and operate tourism centers, funded jointly by the entity and the Authority, as shall be determined by the Executive Director, and as approved by the Authority;

20. Encourage, stimulate, and support tourism in the Commonwealth by promoting, marketing, and advertising the Commonwealth's many tourist attractions and locations;

21. Encourage, stimulate, and support the film industry in the Commonwealth;

22. Do all things necessary or proper to administer and manage the Cooperative Tourism Advertising Fund and the Governor's Motion Picture Opportunity Fund;

23. Update a travel guide for the disabled in the first year of every biennium beginning in fiscal year 2003;

24. Develop a comprehensive plan to promote destinations of historical and other significance located throughout the Commonwealth in anticipation of the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement; and

25. Do any act necessary or convenient to the exercise of the powers granted or reasonably implied by this article and not otherwise inconsistent with state law.

1999, cc. 852, 881, § 2.1-548.59; 2001, cc. 67, 844; 2005, c. 360; 2007, c. 779.

§ 2.2-2319. Cooperative Marketing Fund

A. There is established the Cooperative Marketing Fund (Marketing Fund) for the purpose of encouraging, stimulating, and supporting the tourism segment of the economy of the Commonwealth and the direct and indirect benefits that flow from the success of such industry. To create the public-private partnership envisioned by such Marketing Fund, the Marketing Fund shall be established out of the sums appropriated by the General Assembly for the purpose of matching eligible funds to be used for the promotion, marketing, and advertising of the Commonwealth's many tourist attractions and locations. Proposals for new programs as well as existing programs with measurable return on investment shall be eligible for matching grant funds under this section only if they promote, benefit, market and advertise locations or destinations that are (i) solely within the territorial limits of the Commonwealth or (ii) in both the Commonwealth and any adjoining state, in which instance the matching grant funds should be used to promote locations and destinations located within the territorial limits of the Commonwealth. The funds made available in the appropriations act for the Marketing Fund shall be administered and managed by the Authority.

B. In the event more than one person seeks to take advantage of the benefits conferred by this section and the Marketing Fund is insufficient to accommodate all such requests, the matching formula shall be adjusted, to the extent practicable, to afford each request for which there is a valid public purpose an equitable share.

C. All persons seeking to receive or qualify for such matching funds shall apply to the Authority in January of the year preceding the fiscal year for which funds are sought, and to the extent the Governor concurs in such funding request, it shall be reflected in the Governor's Budget Bill filed pursuant to § 2.2-1509. The application shall set forth the applicant's proposals in detail. The Authority shall develop guidelines setting forth the criteria it will weigh in considering such applications; such guidelines may indicate a preference for proposals submitted by nonprofit organizations or state agencies. The guidelines may require that as a condition of receiving any grant or other incentive that is based on employment goals, a recipient company must provide copies of employer quarterly payroll reports provided to the Virginia Employment Commission to verify the employment status of any position included in the employment goal.

1999, cc. 852, 881, § 2.1-548.60; 2001, c. 844; 2002, c. 442; 2013, c. 547; 2017, cc. 69, 267.

§ 2.2-2320. Governor's Motion Picture Opportunity Fund

There is created a Governor's Motion Picture Opportunity Fund (the Fund) to be used, in the sole discretion of the Governor, to support the film and video industries in Virginia by providing the means for attracting production companies and producers who make their projects in the Commonwealth using Virginia employees, goods and services. The Fund shall consist of any moneys appropriated to it in the general appropriation act or revenue from any other source. The Fund shall be established on the books of the Comptroller and any moneys remaining in the Fund at the end of a biennium shall not revert to the general fund but shall remain in the Fund. Interest earned on the Fund shall be credited to the Fund.

The Fund shall be used by the Governor to assist production companies or producers that meet the eligibility requirements set forth in the guidelines. The Authority shall assist the Governor in the development of guidelines for the use of the Fund. The guidelines may require that as a condition of receiving any grant or loan incentive that is based on employment goals, a recipient company must provide copies of employer quarterly payroll reports provided to the Virginia Employment Commission to verify the employment status of any position included in the employment goal. The guidelines should include provisions for geographic diversity and a cap on the amount of money available for a certain project. The types of projects eligible for consideration will be feature films, children's programs, documentaries, television series or other television programs designed to fit a thirty-minute or longer format slot. Projects not eligible are industrial, corporate or commercial projects, education programs not intended for rebroadcast, adult films, music videos and news shows or reports.

1999, cc. 852, 881, § 2.1-548.61; 2001, c. 844; 2013, c. 547.

§ 2.2-2321. Grants from Commonwealth

The Commonwealth may make grants of money or property to the Authority for the purpose of enabling it to carry out its corporate purposes and for the exercise of its powers. This section shall not be construed to limit any other power the Commonwealth may have to make grants to the Authority.

1999, cc. 852, 881, § 2.1-548.62; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-2322. Deposit of money; expenditures; security for deposits

A. All money of the Authority, except as otherwise authorized by law or this article, shall be deposited in accounts in banks or trust companies organized under the laws of the Commonwealth or in national banking associations located in Virginia or in savings institutions located in Virginia organized under the laws of the Commonwealth or the United States. The money in these accounts shall be paid by check signed by the Executive Director or any other officer or employee designated by the Authority. All deposits of money shall, if required by the Authority, be secured in a manner determined by the Authority to be prudent, and all banks, trust companies and savings institutions are authorized to give security for the deposits.

B. Funds of the Authority not needed for immediate use or disbursement, including any funds held in reserve, may be invested in (i) obligations or securities that are considered lawful investments for fiduciaries, both individual and corporate, as set forth in § 2.2-4519, (ii) bankers' acceptances, or (iii) repurchase agreements, reverse repurchase agreements, rate guarantee or investment agreements or other similar banking arrangements.

1999, cc. 852, 881, § 2.1-548.65; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-2323. Forms of accounts and records; annual reports; audit

The Authority shall maintain accounts and records showing the receipt and disbursement of funds from whatever source derived in a form as prescribed by the Auditor of Public Accounts. Such accounts and records shall correspond as nearly as possible to accounts and records maintained by corporate enterprises.

The accounts of the Authority shall be audited by the Auditor of Public Accounts, or his legally authorized representatives, as determined necessary by the Auditor of Public Accounts, and the costs of such audits shall be borne by the Authority. The Authority shall, following the close of each fiscal year, submit an annual report of its activities for the preceding year to the Governor. Each report shall set forth a complete operating and financial statement for the Authority during the fiscal year it covers.

1999, cc. 852, 881, § 2.1-548.66; 2001, c. 844; 2018, cc. 57, 307.

§ 2.2-2324. Exemption from taxation

As set forth in subsection C of § 2.2-2315, the Authority shall be performing an essential governmental function in the exercise of the powers conferred upon it by this article. Accordingly, the Authority shall not be required to pay any taxes or assessments upon any project or any property or upon any operations of the Authority or the income therefrom. Agents, lessees, sublessees, or users of tangible personal property owned by or leased to the Authority also shall not be required to pay any sales or use tax upon such property or the revenue derived therefrom.

1999, cc. 852, 881, § 2.1-548.64; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-2325. Exemptions from personnel and procurement procedures

The provisions of the Virginia Public Procurement Act (§ 2.2-4300 et seq.) and the Virginia Personnel Act (§ 2.2-2900 et seq.) shall not apply to the Authority.

1999, cc. 852, 881, § 2.1-548.63; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-2326. Sovereign immunity

No provisions of this article nor act of the Authority, including the procurement of insurance or self-insurance, shall be deemed a waiver of any sovereign immunity to which the Authority or its directors, officers, employees, or agents are otherwise entitled.

1999, cc. 852, 881, § 2.1-548.67; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-2327. Liberal construction of article

The provisions of this article shall be liberally construed to the end that its beneficial purposes may be effectuated.

2002, c. 491.