TTIA Legislative Agenda Update
MAINTAIN THE SCHOOL START DATE LAW (4TH MONDAY IN AUGUST)
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).
SUPPORT REASONABLE TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE POLICIES
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.
PRESERVE STATE FUNDING FOR TRAVEL AND TOURISM PROGRAMS AT TPWD, THC, TxDOT, AND TCA
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%).
PRESERVE THE EVENTS TRUST FUNDS
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.
PREVENT UNREASONABLE REGULATIONS ON THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY
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.