2023 End of Session Report
Overview of the 2023 Texas Legislative Session
The 2023 Legislative Session produced very important results for the Texas lodging industry.
Among our top issues was THLA-offered and passed hotel occupancy tax legislation that corrected and clarified confusing and problematic provisions in the local hotel tax laws. This legislation will be instrumental in preventing ineffective expenditures of local hotel tax revenue by local governments and will provide much greater transparency in the use of local hotel occupancy tax revenue by all Texas cities and Texas counties.
THLA once again successfully advocated for not only full state funding for tourism promotion but record funding levels (approximately $127.4 million for the biennium). We also secured passage of qualified hotel project legislation that will allow 22 additional Texas cities to pursue qualified hotel projects for their convention centers or project financing zones and other related projects for their areas. Further, THLA negotiated and secured important amendments to the 48 hotel occupancy tax bills filed.
Our amendments served to ensure that proposed uses of local hotel tax revenue were very likely to positively affect tourism and hotel activity and, wherever possible, provided protection for DMO funding at historic or heightened levels. As we have done every session, THLA also successfully opposed and killed proposed bills that would have placed costly or burdensome regulations on hotel operations.
THLA’s legislative advocacy team is proud to report that once again, every legislative item THLA offered this session passed the Legislature, and every item that we opposed was defeated or was amended to remove its negative effect. We note in the session report a summary of the major items that we worked on, followed by more in-depth coverage of the issues addressed within each of these areas.
Special legislative session(s) forthcoming
Rumors had been circulating for months that Governor Greg Abbott would likely call the Texas Legislature back into session later this year for at least one special legislative session. The House and the Senate had been gridlocked for most of the session on several priority bills; namely on issues such as the budget, school choice/private school vouchers, and property tax relief.
After a dramatic close to the 88th legislative session, a special legislative session has been called to consider two issues:
1. Property tax relief through additional school district property tax compression
(reduction of the school district property tax); and
2. Enhancement of the penalties regarding trafficking of people across the Texas/Mexico border.
A bill to lower the total school district property tax rate by up to a third has already been announced. Property tax remains a top priority of THLA and is one of the Legislature’s top priorities, and lawmakers in both chambers are eager to deliver property tax relief to their constituents.
Prior to the end of session, Governor Abbott also floated the idea of a September special session on the school choice/private school voucher issue. Creating a program for school vouchers to allow the use of funds to cover a portion of the cost of private school tuition has been one of Governor Abbott’s top legislative priorities this session.
After the House refused to allocate funding for this initiative in the budget earlier this session, Governor Abbott began threatening a special session—vowing to bring lawmakers back to Austin if they failed to pass meaningful school choice legislation. Clearly, the story of the 2023 Regular Session will continue into the upcoming special legislative sessions.
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