As the House and Senate increase the tempo of their actions, the following update is provided for the TTIA Legislative Agenda as it relates to the bills TTIA is tracking on behalf of our members.
Full Funding for Tourism Office
TTIA recently met with the Governor's Office of Economic Development and Tourism. The division is positioned to receive full statutory funding for the tourism office; this was confirmed to the Governor's office by the Comptroller of Public Accounts.
The Comptroller's Office confirmed Appropriations Rider 12 gives the Governor's office the authority to appropriate any and all revenue received above the HB 1 line item totals.
Rider 12 appears in both the Senate and House bill patterns and relates specifically to "Appropriation of Unexpended Balances, Revenue, and Interest Earnings."
The Comptroller's Budget Revenue estimate for the hotel occupancy tax was approximately $1.1 billion for the 2016-2017 biennium, meaning $93 million for the full funding total (estimate provided by Governor's office) divided as $46 mil for FY 2016 and $47 million for FY 2017.
This is despite the line item totals in both the Senate and House bill pattern to be identical at $70 million for the biennium:
CSHB 1 Senate Version
C.1.2. Strategy: TOURISM Promote Texas to Attract Tourism and Generate Economic Growth
FY 2016 $35,283,357 FY 2017 $34,770,883
HB 1 House Version
C.1.2. Strategy: TOURISM Promote Texas to Attract Tourism and Generate Economic Growth.
FY 2016 $35,283,357 FY 2017 $34,770,883
Lastly, the Governor's Office of Economic Development and Tourism acknowledged the need to change the suggested $4 million cap on non-advertising expenditures to a percentage thus allowing for the full use of the higher amount.
The House and Senate appointed the HB 1 Conference Committee conferees to negotiate a compromise on the state budget. The conferees appointed include:
Rep. Otto (Chair) | Rep. Ashby | Rep. S. Davis | Rep. L. Gonzales | Rep. S. Turner (Houston)
Sen. Nelson (Chair) | Sen. Hinojosa | Sen. Huffman | Sen. Kolkhorst | Sen. Schwertner
The House passed a $209.8 billion budget; the Senate passed its own version of the budget, which totals $211.4 billion.
Both chambers support boosting the Texas Department of Transportation's 2016-17 funding, including giving the agency $1.3 billion in gas tax revenue that currently goes to other agencies. They disagree on where additional funding should come from.
The House budget would put $1.5 billion in extra funds toward TxDOT's budget from general revenue funds for "non-tolled roadway projects." The House's total proposed transportation funding equals $24.8 billion.
The Senate budget would make a one-time allocation of $1.2 billion in motor vehicle sales tax revenue to the state highway fund. The Senate also favors permanently dedicating some future motor vehicle sales tax revenue to the state highway fund. The Senate's total proposed transportation funding equals $24.5 billion.
Proposed Tax Cuts
The Senate wants to cut property taxes, while the House prefers a cut in the sales tax rate. Both chambers agree on cutting business franchise taxes but differ on how to do it.
The House has proposed cutting the state sales tax rate from 6.25 percent to 5.95 percent, reducing state revenue by $2.3 billion. The lower chamber has also proposed more than $2 billion in cuts to the franchise tax, including a 25 percent across-the-board rate cut. The House's total proposed tax cuts equal $4.9 billion.
The Senate wants to spend more than $2 billion to cover the costs of a local property tax cut, as well as cutting the franchise tax by 15 percent and exempting businesses that make less than $4 million annually from the franchise tax altogether. The Senate's total proposed tax cuts equal $4.4 billion.
HB 2736 by Capriglione would prohibit the temporary closure of segments of the state highway system on days that certain scheduled events are being held. C.S.H.B. 2736 prohibits a contractor from temporarily closing a highway, including temporarily relocating or changing an entrance or exit ramp to or from the highway, on the date that an event is scheduled if a municipality notifies the Texas Department of Transportation and the contractor of the date not later than 180 days before the date that the event is scheduled to be held
TTIA is working with Rep. Capriglione to secure a Senate sponsor; TTIA has approached Sen. Nelson and Sen. Hancock both for possible sponsorship.
HB 3679 by Muņoz, Jr. would require additional certification requirements of lifeguards and swimming instructors in drowning recognition. HB 3679 would amend the Health and Safety Code to require swimming instructors and lifeguards at public swimming pools to be certified by the American Red Cross, the Y.M.C.A., or other training program.
TTIA is working with Six Flags, Schlitterbahn, SeaWorld San Antonio and the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association to oppose this bill.
CSHB 2968 by Guillen would establish the Alamo preservation fund and the Alamo preservation fund advisory committee. CSHB 2968 authorizes the General Land Office to create an Alamo Preservation Advisory Board to provide advice, proposals, and recommendations to promote the development of the Alamo, the Alamo complex, and the area immediately surrounding the complex.
TTIA worked with Phillips Entertainment, the San Antonio Hotel & Lodging Association, and the San Antonio Area Tourism Council to amend the bill to remove language to require the Advisory Board to take action on the surrounding property.
TTIA is meeting with Commissioner Bush to seek the inclusion of both a state and local representative of the travel and tourism industry in order to better enhance the success of renovation efforts.
HCR 94 by Springer urges the U.S. Congress to designate the Chisholm Trail and the Great Western Trail as National Historic Trails. TTIA supported this bill in the House Culture, Recreation and Tourism committee.
HR 1443 by Galindo endorses the nomination of San Antonio's Spanish colonial missions as a World Heritage site. TTIA worked with the San Antonio Area Tourism Council to support this bill in the House Culture, Recreation and Tourism committee.