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Senate OKs bill tightening Virginia tourism spending rules

The Virginia Senate on Jan. 31 passed a bill that would tighten the purchasing rules the state’s tourism agency must follow.

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Jeremy McPike, has said he filed the measure in response to a controversy last year involving the Virginia Tourism Corp.’s use of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s political ad-maker to produce a video that featured the governor.

The state’s government watchdog agency looked into the contract with Poolhouse after Democrats raised objections. The watchdog found that while Virginia Tourism CEO Rita McClenny bypassed standard procurement guidance, exemptions in state law allowed her to do so.

McPike said in a committee hearing that Virginia Tourism should face the same rules as any other public entity.

No one in the committee testified for or against the measure, which repeals the exemption of the Virginia Tourism Authority from the provisions of the Virginia Public Procurement Act and the Virginia Personnel Act.

“It’s time to add a little bit more transparency and pump the brakes on this type of spending and no-bid contracts,” McPike said Jan. 31.

The bill passed on a 29-10 vote and now advances to the Republican controlled-House.

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