On March 15, President Joe Biden signed the $1.5 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2022, also known as the omnibus spending bill. The bill includes the Restoring Brand USA Act, which provides $250 million in relief funding to the nation’s destination marketing organization.
The omnibus also includes a number of other key travel-related provisions that U.S. Travel has been advocating for and Visit San Antonio has supported:
- Allowing the Department of Homeland Security to exempt returning H-2B workers from the statuary cap on H-2B visas.
- Requiring the State Department to create an action plan to address visa application wait times.
- Authorizing the State Department to use certain fee income and unspent funds from previous years to restore consular services and more.
On March 10, the Texas House of Representatives Speaker of the House, Dade Phelan issued the interim committee charges for the 87th Legislature. The interim charges provide members of the House of Representatives the opportunity to review and analyze legislative and regulatory issues before the 88th Legislative Session commences.
Visit San Antonio was contacted late last year by Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, Vice Chair of the House Culture, Recreation & Tourism Committee, seeking the organization’s input concerning hospitality-related issues for the committee to consider through the rest of 2022. What Visit San Antonio submitted, while not verbatim, is contained on the very broad language contained in the Culture, Recreation & Tourism Committee Charges:
Committee on Culture, Recreation, & Tourism
- Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure the intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following:
- HB 1728, relating to partnerships between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and nonprofit entities to promote hunting and fishing by certain veterans.
- HB 3081, which relates to the issuance of digital tags for the taking of certain animals.
- Review the overall state of Texas' travel, tourism and hospitality industry. Make recommendations for statutory and regulatory changes to ensure industry resiliency and vitality. Consider the following:
- Access to federal recovery programs and efforts that enable the draw-down of federal funding.
- Improvement of workforce reliability.
- Use of the supplemental money appropriated to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism through SB 8 (87S3).
- Review state efforts to preserve and develop Texas state parks and open spaces to ensure affordable public access to outdoor recreational and educational opportunities.
The Government Relations Team is awaiting the release of the Senate “Interim Charges.” When the Senate Interim Charges are released, the GR Team will review them and share them with our partners and stakeholders.
With the March Primary Elections completed, several seats are still undecided, including the Democratic candidate for Bexar County Judge. The focus now will be on the May 24 run-off election, which means that in races with more than two candidates, one candidate failed to win more than 50 percent of the vote and the top two contenders have advanced to a runoff. The winner of that run-off will advance to the Nov. 8 General Election.
As information related to the May 24 run-off election becomes known, Visit San Antonio will provide additional information including, but not limited to:
- Voter Registration.
- Early voting dates, site locations, and hours set to cast votes.