We’re in the final stretch of the 2019 Texas Legislative Session, with only four short weeks to adjournment on May 27.  This is also the busiest time of the Session, with legislators, lobbyists, and interested constituents scrambling to pass, block, or amend bills they care about.  

Legislative deadlines will begin taking effect in the coming weeks, affecting the viability of various bills.

On the major issues, here is where things stand right now:

Budget

The House and the Senate have each passed their own version of the state budget.  Now, a small delegation of House members and Senate members, known as “conferees,” have been dispatched to hammer out the differences between each Chamber’s version of the budget.  

Every legislative session, the hotel and travel industry advocate to protect the 1/12th dedicated portion of the state hotel occupancy tax that is used to promote Texas as a travel destination as part of the state appropriations bill. The full 1/12th of the state hotel occupancy tax revenue remains dedicated to promoting tourism under state law and cannot be spent for any other purpose.  Currently, the state budget bill allocates the full 1/12th dedicated portion of the state hotel tax in the state budget for tourism promotion. We are asking members of the Legislature to keep this full funding in place as the budget bill moves through the conference committee process.

School Start Date

State law has traditionally required School districts required to begin classes no earlier than the fourth Monday in August. This ensures a full summer travel period for families, allows students the opportunity to have seasonal summer jobs, attend summer camps, and allows teachers the opportunity to take summer coursework or have a seasonal job. However, beginning with the 2018/2019 school year, a state statutory exemption from the uniform school start date requirement through the Districts of Innovation (DOI) program has led to more than two-thirds of Texas school districts opting for their own unique start dates.

THLA is supporting the Texas Travel Industry Association in passing HB 233 that would fix the DOI issue.  HB 233 was voted out of committee, and now we are pushing for that bill to be scheduled for the House floor.

Short Term Rentals

In late March, the House Urban Affairs Committee held a public hearing on the STR issue.  THLA worked closely with the author of the bill, HB 3778, to amend the language so that it provided a level playing field for the lodging industry.  However, due to intense opposition from various parties, HB 3778 has not shown signs of progressing.

Other issues:  We continue to work on many other important issues, such as local hotel occupancy taxes, convention center hotel projects, tourism public improvement districts, labor law issues, and more.  You can view our full summary of tracked legislation here.

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