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TTIA Legislative Update 
March 19, 2015







TTIA hosted the 25th Annual Texas Travel Industry Unity Dinner at which TTIA honored our friends in the Legislature who, together, have helped make Life Better in the State of Travel. A large number of elected officials (35 Representatives & 10 Senators) and hundreds of travel industry professionals attended the event, where they heard TTIA emphasize the association's key legislative priorities. Various elected officials participated in the program including Senator Kelly Hancock, Chair of the Senate Administration Committee and incoming Legislative Tourism Caucus Chairman; Representative Todd Hunter, Chair of the House Calendars Committee and former Legislative Tourism Caucus Chairman; Senator Larry Taylor, Chair of the Senate Education Committee; Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., Vice Chair of Senate Education Committee; and Representative Doug Miller, Chair of House Special Purposes committee. Attendees also viewed a video tribute to the travel industry from Governor Abbott.


The Converge on the Capitol was held the following day with an impressive number of participants (approximately 700). During the Converge, Texas travel industry representatives met with their respective Senators and Representatives. In the course of those meetings, elected officials were briefed on the travel industry's top priorities for the 2015 legislative session: 1) full funding for Texas tourism; 2) preserving the events trust funds; and, 3) maintaining the current school start date law.  Elected officials were also given a packet of information noting these priorities and an application to join the Texas Legislative Tourism Caucus.  


Lastly, the 84th Legislature bill filing deadline was March 13, 2015. The tempo and number of bills filed last week, as expected, accelerated greatly. A total of 5,940 bills were filed. Of these, TTIA is actively monitoring more than 50, including seven addressing the school start date issue, eight addressing the events trust funds, 13 on transportation infrastructure spending, 12 addressing changes to the hotel occupancy tax, six addressing diversion of dedicated funding and two addressing full funding for state tourism as well as travel related funding for our partner agencies. 
TTIA Legislative Agenda Update



TTIA leaders met with Lieutenant Governor Patrick and Speaker Straus to discuss several issue, including the uniform school start date. Both the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker shared changing the uniform start date is not an issue they will be pursuing.


A number of school start date bills have been filed and TTIA and coalition members have met with various Senators and Representatives to express opposition to the efforts to change current law to the 3rd Wednesday in August (SB 266 by Senator Seliger, Amarillo), repealing the 4th Monday in August provision altogether (SB 296 by Senator V. Taylor, Friendswood/HB 1067 by Representative Koop, Dallas) or provide for rural school districts with either 2nd or 3rd Monday in August (HB 238 by Representative Springer, Muenster and SB 395, by Senator Perry, Lubbock). 



The Move Texas Forward Coalition, which includes TTIA, publically endorsed SB 5 which was heard in the Senate Transportation committee and favorably voted out as substituted.


Provisions of the committee substitute include:

  • Dedicating the first $2.5 billion of the existing vehicle sales, use and rental taxes to General Revenue (GR).
  • Constitutionally dedicating the next $2.5 billion each year to the State Highway Fund (SHF).
  • Split 50 / 50 between GR and the SHF all additional revenue in excess of $5 billion each fiscal year.
  • Provides that use of these dedicated funds in the SHF would be limited to the acquisition of right of way, construction and maintenance of non-tolled roads and bridges, and to pay off general revenue Proposition 12 transportation debt (estimated at approximately $300 million per year).
  • Provides that this dedication would not begin until the 2018-2019 biennium, if approved by the voters in November 2016.

SB 5 was voted out of the Senate and referred to the House, where it awaits referral to the House Transportation Committee.



The TTIA Executive Committee adopted a resolution in support of ceasing the diversion of the sales tax collection on sporting goods away from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Historical Commission (THC).


Currently, TPWD and THC do not receive the full amount of sales taxes generated by sporting goods purchases, the agencies only receive what the legislature appropriates. HB 82 by Rep. Guillen (and 75 co-sponsors) and SB 248 by Senator Estes would amend current law by ending the diversion and requiring the full amount of sales taxes generated by sporting goods purchases be dedicated as they were intended for Texas Parks and Wildlife (94%) and the Texas Historical Commission (6%). 



Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced a joint proposal to transfer the state's four events trust fund programs to the Governor's Economic Development and Tourism Division in an effort to strengthen the state's economic development strategy, SB 633 by Senator Fraser would move oversight of these critical economic development tools to the Governor's office effect September 1, 2015.


TTIA has met with the Governor's Economic Development and Tourism Division, the Chair of the House Committee on Economic & Small Business Development, the Speaker's office, the Lieutenant Governor's office, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Economic Development to share TTIA's support for transparency and accountability related to the oversight of the funds.


TTIA also provided support for the committee substitute for SB 293 by Senator Nelson which clarifies that the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, ESPN and the Ultimate Fighting Championship are eligible site selection committees for purposes of funding under the Major Events trust fund. TTIA also provided support for SB 541 by Senator Van Taylor which proposes adding presidential general election debates to the list of events currently eligible for use of the fund. 



A number of bills have been filed to establish a state minimum wage requiring employers to pay a wage level higher than the federally required minimum wage; however, TTIA will work with other state-wide associations who will be opposing these measures as well.

TTIA Bill Monitoring Reports
Periodically, TTIA will provide an update on the filed Bills of interest to the Texas Travel Industry.  Below are the first two Bill Monitoring Reports:
If you have questions about any of the information contained in this TTIA Legislative Update, please contact Homero Lucero, Sr. VP, Government Relations at or 512-328-8842 x104