Legislation that would allow the City of Superior to create an exposition district to help improve downtown has moved through with the Wisconsin Legislature than ever before.

The Senate Committee on Economic Development, Commerce and Trade unanimously approved Senate Bill 157 on Wednesday, March 11 after taking testimony from local leaders in Madison.

The bill would allow Superior to impose and collect taxes on prepared foods and beverages and impose room taxes at a maximum rate of 2%, with voter approval. The taxes would create a public source of funding to leverage private investment in facilities that would enhance tourism and improve quality of life in Superior. The taxes would sunset once the district meets its financial obligations.

It is the first time since 2016 that legislation concerning Superior’s efforts to develop an exposition district have been approved by committees in both chambers of the Legislature, said Bruce Thompson, president of Better City Superior.

The senate bill goes for a vote on Tuesday, March 24, the last day of the session.

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In October, the Committee on Ways and Means also approved a companion bill in an 8-2 vote to move the legislation on to the Assembly. The Assembly adjourned its 2019 biennial session without a vote on the bill. Even if adopted by the Senate, the legislation is unlikely to head to the governor’s desk this session.

Still, local officials with Better City Superior, a group of citizens and businesses working since 2013 to grow and enhance the city, were buoyed by the progress the legislation made.

“We will need to carry out another referendum on Nov. 3, and then package all these results together for our next effort when they reconvene in January to go about the budget process,” Thompson said. “We think we can get somewhere then.”