2015 Legislative Update- Bills That Were Defeated This Session

The following bills were considered by the Legislature this session and would have impacted the hotel and tourism industry, but did not pass:

Facility Requirements Applicable to Residential Short Term Rentals (STRs):  Defeated

THLA supported efforts by certain hotel ownership groups to require that state and local government provisions that apply to traditional hotels should also apply to residential short term rentals.  However, there was strong resistance at the Legislature to certain original provisions in the bill that would have imposed commercial building standards to short term rental structures that were built originally for limited residential use.  The final committee substitute version of HB 1792 was limited to requiring STR owners to register their state and local hotel tax ID numbers with the listing service prior to the listing service posting the property online.  HB 1792 was voted out of committee, but failed to be placed on the House calendar before the deadline.

 

Employment Bills: Defeated

Burdensome Wage and Hour Provisions Were Defeated

A number of bills were filed this session that would raise the minimum wage, eliminate the tip credit, and/or allow a city to set a higher minimum wage or other hourly standards for employees.  In other States, many cities have set artificially high mandated wage levels for the private sector.  For example, cities in California and Washington have raised their minimum wage to at least $15/hour, and other cities around the nation have recently increased their own minimum wage or are preparing to do so.

In Texas, THLA helped pass an important statewide bill over a decade ago that preempts a local government such as a city or a county from mandating a higher minimum wage or eliminating the tip credit. Texas Hotel & Lodging Association remains committed to adherence to the federal minimum wage and letting the free market control and area businesses decide when paying over that rate is necessary.  We worked with our industry partners on a broad-based coalition to oppose proposed repeals of this important preemption law.

As filed:

  • HB 41, HB 42, SB 67, HB 2413, and HJR 26: 
  1. Would have allowed local cities to set higher minimum wage requirements for the private sector.  
  2. Also would have allowed minimum wage raise to at least $10.10/hour.  
  3. Would have eliminated the tip credit.
  • HB 1590, SB 68, and SB 123:  Would have removed minimum wage preemption and would have removed the tip credit.
  • HB 1215:  Would have prohibited an employer from receiving any portion of a gratuity paid to or left for a tipped employee employed at a restaurant (including a restaurant in a hotel).  This would include prohibiting retaining a portion of the tip for credit card processing fees.

We are pleased to report that we worked with the Texas Restaurant Association and other industry partners to successfully defeat each of these measures.

 

Making Workers’ Comp Mandatory: Defeated

Several bills were filed that would have mandated an employer to provide workers’ comp insurance coverage.  THLA works with our industry partners to oppose these measures that mandate such coverage.  Bills filed include HB 689, HB 690, HB 4118, SB 155, and SB 263. We are pleased to report that we successfully defeated each of these measures.

 

Restriction on Hotel Bed Height in ADA Accessible Guest Rooms:  Defeated

Representative Longoria filed HB 1377, mandating that all beds in ADA accessible hotel rooms in Texas be no higher than 19.5 inches, as measured from the top of the mattress to the finished floor surface.  Upon filing of the bill, THLA immediately contacted Representative Longoria's office and expressed our opposition to the bill.  Our points included:  having the federal ADA governs accessible rooms standard, and a different and separate state standard would not be beneficial to either guests or the lodging industry.  In the past, the federal government had given a great deal of consideration as to whether there should be a mandatory mattress height, but the federal government declined to regulate in this area because it would be extremely costly for hotels, and not all disabled guests would benefit from a lowered mattress.  Furthermore, it is likely that non-disabled guests would prefer standard height mattresses, meaning our staff would have to adjust the height of the beds between guests.  THLA opposed this bill since filing, and it was never scheduled for a hearing.

 

Liability If Fail to Use AED:  Defeated

HB 2333 would have required all businesses that “advertise” having an Automated Electronic Defibrillator (AED) to use that AED if a person has a cardiac arrest at the business.  Failure to do so would make the business civilly liable for negligence.  The bill did not define the term “advertise,” and provided for no exceptions to the liability.  We visited with the bill's author, Representative Raymond, and noted that the bill would likely lead to expensive litigation for businesses that have AED equipment onsite.  Representative Raymond's office informed us the impetus for the bill are monthly membership “pop-up” gyms that advertise having an AED, but then do not respond sufficiently to assist their members when a cardiac arrest occurs. His office promised to work with us if the bill moved forward.  This bill was never scheduled for a hearing.

 

Mandatory CPR Training for All Food Service Workers:  Defeated

HB 1858 would have required every food service worker to receive CPR training.  THLA opposed the bill from its filing, and it was never scheduled for a hearing.

 

Burdensome Payment Transactions Bills:  Defeated

Several bills were filed that would have affected point-of-sale transactions between merchants and customers.

  • HB 3526 and HB 146 would have required a merchant to obtain a photo ID from an individual making a purchase with a debit card or credit card in an amount over $200.  THLA partnered with the Texas Retailers Association in opposing these bills. 
  • HB 3522 would have required a merchant to obtain photo ID from an individual using a credit or debit to add value to a stored value card (i.e. a “gift card”). 
  • HB 149 / SB 1778 would gave required a merchant to check a customer’s photo ID when the customer purchases or adds value to a gift card, unless the merchant verifies the customer’s zip code.

 

Lifeguard Certification Requirement:  Defeated

HB 3679 by would have required all public pools, including all lodging property pools, to be staffed by a certified lifeguard.  THLA, along with our industry partners, opposed this bill, and it did not pass.

 

Smoking in Public Places:  Defeated

SB 87 would have prohibited smoking in all public areas in Texas, including bars, restaurants, and certain areas of hotels.  The bill included an exception for smoking in hotel rooms if the following four conditions were met:  1) not more than 20% of rooms rented to guests in a hotel or motel are designated as smoking rooms; 2) all smoking rooms in the hotel or motel on the same floor are contiguous; 3) smoke from smoking rooms did not enter an area in which smoking is prohibited; and 4) nonsmoking rooms are not converted to smoking rooms.  This bill failed to receive a committee hearing.

 

View the Entire THLA 2015 Legislative Update

 

For an update on national legislative issues, visit AHLA.com.

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