Bill that would increase Columbus' hotel/motel tax passes House

The city of Columbus is one step closer to getting one of its legislative wish list items.

The Georgia House passed last week a bill that, if enacted, would give Columbus the power to impose a $2 hotel/motel destination fee. Requested during a December luncheon with state legislators and city leaders, the new fee is expected to pay for maintenance and the construction of facilities that would draw tourism to the city.

"We were just trying to be helpful as a legislative council to get that passed," said Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus. "It was a big deal for the city and the sports council."

The Columbus Hospitality Association, another proponent of the tax, says in a November letter that it wants the fee split equally with Columbus Parks and Recreation and the Columbus Sports Council.

The bill passed on "Crossover Day" — one of the session's busiest days and the last day a bill can pass and reach the other chamber for consideration before the session ends. The Senate has assigned the bill to a committee, and it hasn't reached discussion in that chamber.