When you hear city leaders and state legislators talk about Springfield’s lodging tax and “enabling legislation," don't assume a tax increase is in the immediate future. 

What they're talking about is asking state legislators to pass HB 1663 sponsored by Rep. Craig Fishel. If passed, the law would allow Springfield voters to decide the amount of tax charged for hotel rooms in the city. That’s currently determined by state law, not the people who live in Springfield. 

Per the current law, the maximum amount that can be charged on a hotel room in Springfield is 5 percent, yet Kansas City, St. Louis and some other cities are allowed to charge higher rates. That's because state laws, often referred to as “enabling legislation,” were passed that allow voters in certain communities to increase the tax rate above 5 percent.

City leaders want people who live in Springfield to have the same option.

Once enabling legislation for Springfield is passed, the city would then be able to ask voters for a tax increase for tourism-related capital improvements — when the time is right. It’s important to note that the enabling legislation proposed for Springfield requires any increase in the hotel tax to be used for tourism-related capital improvements that can be demonstrated to increase overnight travel.

The staff at the Convention & Visitors Bureau hope that will be soon so the city can work toward regaining its competitive edge for hosting groups, such as conventions, conferences and amateur sporting events. 

Compared to other cities, Springfield’s convention facilities and sporting venues are too small, lack desired amenities or simply don’t exist. The result is Springfield is losing group business to other communities with bigger and better facilities.

That’s a concern city leaders will take to Jefferson City once the 2022 legislative session begins on Jan. 5.

If you have questions about the proposed legislation, feel free to reach out to me at tkimberlin@springfieldmo.org.