August 16, 2017
The Texas Legislature adjourned the special legislative session “sine die,” which means the first called legislative session of 2017 is officially over.
Importantly, the special session ended without the passage of an economically damaging “bathroom bill,” and without the passage of legislation that interferes with Texas local governments’ authority to take appropriate measures to regulate short-term rentals in residential areas.
The Bathroom Bill
We want to thank the leadership of many who helped ensure that a bathroom bill did not pass during this past special legislative session. First, THLA actively participated in two coalitions that were singularly established to fight the bathroom bill.
The first coalition, “Keep Texas Open for Business,” was instituted through the courageous leadership of the Texas Association of Business (TAB) that coalesced the chambers of commerce throughout the State of Texas along with major corporate entities and trade associations to oppose the proposed bathroom bill.
This was not an easy position for TAB or its membership to take, and THLA is proud to have been one of the founding participants in this first of its kind coalition.
Second, THLA is very grateful for the tremendous engagement and partnership provided by the major Texas Convention and Visitor Bureaus throughout the state, which formed “Texas Welcomes All” to oppose the bathroom bill.
Countless hours were spent by the our wonderful CVB executives, including but not limited to Phillip Jones (VisitDallas), Bob Jameson (Fort Worth CVB), Casandra Matej (Visit San Antonio), Mike Waterman (Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau), Tom Noonan (Visit Austin), Ronnie Price (Arlington CVB), and Bryan Crowe (Destination El Paso).
Our work and partnership with these two coalitions were transformative in ensuring that the members of the Texas Senate and the Texas House were fully apprised of the draconian economic impact of this proposed legislation. And, we thank the many THLA members who made calls and sent messages in opposition to the bathroom bill.
During the Special Session, it was truly a collective effort that overwhelmingly opposed the bathroom bill. Our message was clear and direct:
- Texas hotels are already experiencing millions of dollars in cancellations because the Legislature took up consideration of the bathroom bill.
- The passage of this type of legislation in North Carolina resulted in the loss of over $500 million in convention, sporting and entertainment events, and other economic activity in that state.
- If the Texas Legislature were to pass a “bathroom” bill, the State of Texas will face the loss of over $5 billion in lost conferences, conventions, sporting events, business expansions and other related economic activity.
- The effects of a bathroom bill will hit all corners of our state and impact lodging properties of all sizes, and countless related businesses.
This chapter on the bathroom bill is completed, but please know that there may be additional battles to come.
There is currently pressure being exerted on the Governor to call legislators back to another special session to once again take up property tax reform, the bathroom legislation, and possibly congressional redistricting.
Whether such a session will be called, and when, are issues that have yet to be resolved. We will keep you apprised and engaged as these issues arise.
Final Outcome of the Special Session
By the end of the day on August 16th, the Legislature passed 12 bills, representing 9 of the 20 items on Governor Abbott’s list of subject matters up for consideration.
Subject matters with legislation that passed:
- State agency sunset renewal: SB 20 and SB 60.
- Public school finance: HB 21 and HB 30.
- Requiring a voter approval before areas may be annexed by certain cities: SB 6.
- Increasing penalties for fraud in elections: SB 5.
- Limiting local government’s ability to impose regulations on the removal of trees from private property: HB 7.
- Prohibiting private health plans from covering abortion procedures: HB 214.
- Requiring stricter reporting requirements for abortion providers: HB 13 and HB 215.
- Changing the procedure to implement a do-not-resuscitate order in health care: SB 11.
- Reducing maternal mortality: SB 17.
Subject matters from the Governor’s call that did not pass:
- Legislation regarding the use of multi-occupancy showers, locker rooms, restrooms, and changing rooms (the “bathroom bill”).
- Legislation reforming the laws governing ad valorem property taxes.
- Legislation to increase the average salary and benefits of Texas teachers; and legislation to provide a more flexible and rewarding salary and benefits system for Texas teachers.
- Legislation to empower parents of children with special needs or educational disadvantages to choosing an educational provider that is best for their child.
- Legislation using population growth and inflation to establish a spending limit for state government.
- Legislation using population growth and inflation to establish a spending limit for political subdivisions.
- Legislation protecting the private property rights of landowners from political subdivision rules, regulations, or ordinances that interfere with, delay, or restrict private property owners’ ability to use or enjoy their property.
- Legislation expediting the issuance of permits by political subdivisions and reforming the laws governing the issuance of permits by political subdivisions.
- Legislation preventing political subdivisions from imposing on private property additional or enhanced regulations that did not exist at the time the property was acquired.
- Legislation preempting local regulation of the use of hand-held mobile communication devices while driving.
- Legislation prohibiting state or local government entities from deducting labor union or employee organization membership fees or dues from the wages of public employees.
Thank you again for your support.
President & CEO