Nevada’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives has introduced legislation to stop federal agencies from canceling or avoiding meetings and conferences at resorts and casinos.
The Protecting Resort Cities From Discrimination Act would outlaw policies that blacklist such properties from hosting legitimate federal government business. H.R. 1880 was assigned to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which will consider it before possibly sending it to the House or Senate. According to www.govtrack.us, it has a 12 percent chance of getting out of committee and a 2 percent chance of being enacted. Track its progress HERE.
The issue can be tracked to 2010, when the federal government uncovered details of a lavish, less-than-businesslike General Services Administration’s conference in Las Vegas that cost taxpayers $823,000. Congress cracked down and Nevada cities have been among those paying for it ever since, with mounting cancellations from federal clients and far fewer bookings.
According to the AH&LA, seven federal agencies formally limit business travel to “resort” destinations: the departments of Agriculture, Justice and Homeland Security; the FBI; the GSA; the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and the Social Security Administration. Several Defense Department branches informally prohibit conferences anywhere gambling is permitted. The Justice Department policy specifically names Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe.
“In the wake of the scandal involving the wasting of taxpayer funds on lavish conferences and trips by government bureaucrats at the GSA, it is entirely appropriate that we scrutinize what defines an acceptable use of taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Joe Heck, one of the new bill’s sponsors.
“However, after the GSA issue was exposed, the city of Las Vegas was unfairly targeted as somehow being the cause of the wasteful spending,” Heck said. “Anyone who has ever traveled to Las Vegas can tell you that it is often cheaper to rent rooms and conference space there because of the competition for business and abundance of space. Resort cities like Las Vegas are not the problem here. Irresponsible federal workers are.”