In late April, the White House requested Fiscal Year 2022 emergency supplemental funding for critical security and economic assistance to Ukraine and $22.5 billion in additional COVID-19 funding. A bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress sought a smaller $10 billion funding package. Currently, additional COVID-19 funding has stalled due to immigration politics.
The U.S. Travel Association (USTA) called on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to delay the implementation of the REAL ID Act, which is set to take full effect on May 3, 2023. USTA indicated that many Americans will not be fully ready for implementation of the REAL ID Act. USTA called for a delayed implementation or the development of an alternative screening process for travelers with a legacy ID to ensure that air travelers and the industry’s recovery are not impeded. USTA seeks a delay until measures are in place to prevent a scenario in which travelers are turned away at airport security checkpoints.
The 87th State Legislative Interim Session began quietly with several Senate and House Committees conducting hearings on various interim charges. The Visit San Antonio Government Relations Team (GR Team) is monitoring the interim activity. Specifically, the GR Team is monitoring the following House Committee on Culture, Recreation, & Tourism’s interim charges:
- 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; and
- 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; and
- 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 GR Team is working with the committee’s Vice-Chair, Representative Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, to host an interim hearing in San Antonio in the coming weeks. As the GR Team receives more details about this hearing, we will provide additional information.
In addition, the GR Team is monitoring the Senate Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee’s interim charge concerning the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT). The GR Team is monitoring the committee’s interim charge:
- Hotel Occupancy Taxes: Study the collection and use of hotel occupancy taxes. Evaluate and make recommendations related to the effectiveness, costs of rebates, incentives, and other taxes applied to qualified hotel and convention center projects. Investigate and determine whether the creation of a standard Hotel Occupancy Tax legislative template is feasible, and whether it would enable the legislature to more efficiently evaluate proposed Hotel Occupancy Tax bills during the legislative session.
As additional information becomes available on the Senate committee’s actions, the GR Team will provide additional updates.
The Visit San Antonio GR Team continues to monitor the City of San Antonio’s actions related to the Noise Ordinance review and the SA Climate Ready’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) initiative. As additional meeting information and developments unfold, the GR Team will provide additional information on these two issues.