The 88th State Legislative Session began on January 10, 2023. Visit San Antonio (VSA) is working closely with Andrade-Van de Putte & Associates (AVDP) to monitor legislative activity, including any and all bills that may impact tourism, the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) and other initiatives in furtherance of VSA’s legislative agenda. 

As the 88th Legislative Session convened at noon, this opening day was unlike the 2021 Session, which restricted public crowds due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Speaker Dade Phelan of Beaumont was resoundingly elected Speaker of the Texas House by a vote of 147-3. The 86 Republicans and 64 Democrats and their families, friends and constituents gathered to celebrate. The Senate with 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats, elected Senator Kelly Hancock (R) of Richland Hills as President Pro-Tem. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will preside over the Chamber and make all committee assignments. 

On Wednesday, Jan 11th, the Senators drew lots to determine which Senators will run in 2 years and which will run in 4 years and the House took up rules and procedures for internal governance of the Chamber. Although there was much discussion against continuing the tradition of selecting Chairs of House Committees from both parties, the amendment that would have the majority party head all committees was defeated. On January 23, 2023, Senate Committee assignments came out with House Committee Assignments coming out a few weeks later on February 8, 2023. 

Governor Abbott gave his biennial State of the State address and disclosed his top priorities including reducing property taxes, expanding school choice (vouchers), ending COVID restrictions (forever), securing the state’s border, ending “revolving door” bail policies and dealing with the fentanyl crisis. Gov. Abbott also emphasized building a power grid that will endure for years to come. The Governor also recognized the need for local communities to possess new economic development tools this session as the current popular tax incentives program expired at the end of the year. 

Lt. Gov. Patrick announced his top 30 legislative priorities which include SB1-the State Budget, SB3-Increasing the Homestead Exemption, SB4-Adding Additional Property Tax Relief, SB19-Creating a New Higher Education Endowment Fund, SB- 28 Addressing Texas' Future Water Needs, SB29-Banning Local COVID-19  Mandates, and SB30-Supplemental Budget. 

Speaker Phelan also announced his legislative priorities including HB5 by Rep. Todd Hunter (R) of Corpus Christi-- “The Texas Jobs and Security Act”, local communities' economic development tool, HB8 by Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R) of New Boston, creates a new funding model for community colleges, a new the scholarship program, and higher education opportunities. 

Legislative Bill Filing 

The 88th Legislature broke all records in bill filing by authoring 6,185 House Bills, House Joint Resolutions (HJRs), and House Resolutions (HRs) and the Senate filing 3,018 Senate Bills, Senate Joint Resolutions (SJRs), and Senate Resolutions (SRs). With less than 50 days remaining in the session, only local bills and bills that require four-fifths vote of the members may be introduced. Each chamber exceeded their records. Of these bills, about 150 bills are related to HOT and tourism. We are also tracking legislation for school start date, paid sick leave, resort casinos, convention center projects, and other important bills concerning the continuation of 22 state agencies or authorities like the very important Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC), The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), the Texas Economic and Tourism Office, several river authorities, and other agencies and local authorities. We are also monitoring top-priority issues including border safety, school safety, mental health, and the new finance system for our community colleges, which will be some of the first bills to pass either Chamber. 

All committees are currently working through the legislation assigned under their purview. Major consideration and hundreds of hours have been dedicated to HB1/ SB1, the biennial budget, which was debated last week in both the House and Senate. AVDP has monitored the differences in HB1 and SB1; the Senate version includes $100 million in film incentives whereas HB1 does not. AVDP dropped cards of support on the following filed bills: HB 3112 by State Representative Steve Allison and SB 627 which supports the Hemisfair project with hotel occupancy tax and sales and use tax. AVDP monitored HB 2546 by Will Metcalf which proposes no school start dates before the fourth Monday in August, barring for certain exemptions. On behalf of VSA, we have also advocated for the continuation of the Texas Economic and Tourism Office through the Sunset process. 

Dates of Interest 

  • Saturday, April 15, 2023: First day that a senator may place up to five bills or resolutions on the Senate Notice of Intent Calendar 
  • Monday, May 8, 2023: Last day for House Committees to report House bills and HJRs 
  • Tuesday, May 9, 2023: Deadline for the House to distribute its last House daily calendar with House bills and HJRs 
  • Wednesday, May 10, 2023: Deadline for the House to distribute its last House local and consent calendar with consent House bills 
  • Thursday, May 11, 2023: Last day for the House to consider 2nd reading House bills and HJRs on the daily or supplemental calendar 
  • Friday, May 12, 2023: Last day for the House to consider consent House bills on the local and consent calendar on 2nd and 3rd reading and all 3rd reading House bills and HJRs on the supplemental calendar 
  • Wednesday, May 17, 2023: Deadline for the House to distribute its last House local and consent calendar with local House bills 
  • Friday, May 19, 2023: Last day for the House to consider local House bills on the local and consent calendar on 2nd and 3rd reading 
  • Saturday, May 20, 2023: Last day for House committees to report Senate bills and SJRs 
  • Sunday, May 21, 2023: Deadline for the House to distribute its last House daily calendar with Senate bills and SJRs 
  • Monday, May 22, 2023: Deadline for the House to distribute its last House local and consent calendar with Senate bills 
  • Tuesday, May 23, 2023: Last day for the House to consider 2nd reading Senate bills and SJRs on the daily or supplemental calendar 
  • Wednesday, May 24, 2023: Last day for the House to consider local and consent Senate bills on 2nd and 3rd reading and all 3rd reading Senate bills and SJRs on the supplemental calendar 
  • Thursday, May 25, 2023: Deadline for the House to distribute Senate amendments (before midnight) 
  • Friday, May 26, 2023: Last day for the House to act on Senate amendments (concur or request a conference committee) 
  • Saturday, May 27, 2023: Deadline for the House to print and distribute House copies of all conference committee reports on joint resolutions and on bills other than the general appropriations bill (before midnight) 
  • Sunday, May 28, 2023: Last day for the House to adopt conference committee reports or discharge House conferees and concur in Senate amendments 
  • Monday, May 29, 2023: Last day of 88th Regular Session (sine die); only corrections may be considered in the House and Senate 
  • Sunday, June 18, 2023: Last day the governor can sign or veto bills passed during the regular session 
  • Monday, August 28, 2023: Date that bills without specific effective dates, other than bills with immediate effect, become law