Legislature passes bill supporting the creation of Culture, Recreation And Tourism Foundation

The Legislature approved a bill that will support the establishment of the Louisiana Culture, Recreation and Tourism Foundation. The Foundation will support the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism under Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser.

“This is a big step in the right direction for the future of our parks and state properties,” said state Sen. Norby Chabert.

Senate Bill 143, authored by Chabert and co-sponsored by state Rep. Julie Stokes, authorizes the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism to grant leases, subleases and concession leases, enter into naming rights, as well as enter into contracts of agreements on any portion of immovable property under DCRT’s supervision. This authority will allow for DCRT to use underutilized portions of Louisiana State Parks along with certain buildings to generate additional revenue and the ability to improve amenities and structures on site.

“This legislation will allow us to begin the long term process of providing much needed revenue for the various assets in my department,” said Lt. Gov. Nungesser. “While we are still struggling with our current and proposed budgets, this is the first step in much needed reforms.”

The Foundation will advocate for other means of generating revenue to sustain self-sufficiency including the potential for a possible hotel or conference center at Fontainebleau State Park on 500 acres. Other options for the Foundation are ziplines, which is an idea the state of Alabama has in place, horse stables at parks like Bogue Chitto in Washington Parish and canoe rentals at various parks across the state.

“With the establishment of this Foundation, we can move toward our state parks and museums being self-sufficient,” said Nungesser. “In the future, it will allow the state taxpayers to pay for one less thing. I want to thank the Legislature for their continued support and for entrusting us through this legislation. The types of public-private partnerships allowed by this legislation are exactly the kinds of solutions needed throughout our state.”

SB 143 passed the Senate by a vote of 36-2 on May 8. It then went on to the House where it received final passage on May 31 by a vote of 92-0. The bill will now go to Gov. John Bel Edwards for his signature.

“We will now have the authority to enter into public-private partnerships to raise much needed revenue for improvements and enhancements that will shine a positive light on all of our cultural attractions,” said Chabert.

Public-private partnerships are allowed in 37 other states, including Louisiana, in arrangements such as the LSU Foundation.