Visit San Antonio: Government Relations, May 2021
We have entered the critical point at the end of the 140-day regular session where time to move bills out of both legislative bodies and prepared for the Governor’s signature or veto is running short. There are nine days until “Sine Die” (i.e., the end of the Regular Legislative Session).
Important Deadlines Approaching
- May 25 – Last day for the full House to consider Senate bills and Senate joint resolutions on second reading.
- May 26 – Last day for the full House to consider Senate bills and Senate joint resolutions on third reading.
- May 31 – Sine Die! The last day of the legislative session.
As previously reported, the House of Representatives and Senate budget patterns provide for full funding of travel-related programs. This means that $130 million is proposed for the next biennium (FY22-23), or $65 million each year. This amount includes approximately $35 million in direct appropriations and carry-over from the current budget cycle.
The general appropriations bill, SB 1 (by Nelson) as well as the supplemental budget, HB 2 (by G. Bonnen) both are awaiting final action by a conference committee to hammer out any differences between the bills.
Here is a high-level summary of hospitality-related bills:
Franchise Tax Forgiveness
- HB 1195 by Geren, Relating to the forgiveness of a loan made under the Paycheck Protection Program for franchise tax purposes, was signed by the Governor on May 8.
- HB 1024 by Geren; Relating to the pick-up and delivery of alcoholic beverages from certain premises for off-premises consumption, was signed by the Governor on May 12.
Business Liability Protections
- SB 6 by Hancock; Relating to the liability of or certain claims during a pandemic or other disaster or emergency, voted favorably out of the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee.
Business Preemption Protections
- SB 14 by Creighton; Relating to the regulation by a municipality or county of certain employment benefits and policies, has been referred to the House State Affairs Committee.
- HB 1268 by Ashby; Relating to the definition of amusement ride for purposes of amusement ride regulation. The bill amends the Occupations Code to exclude from the definition of “amusement ride” for purposes of provisions regulating those rides a waterslide, including one operated by a mechanical device, in which passengers are carried along a course that is less than 200 feet in length, is substantially constructed from vinyl or vinyl-coated polyester, and is not mechanically inflated using a continuous airflow device. HB 1268 was passed by the House on April 16 and referred to the Senate Business and Commerce Committee on May 6.
Major Events Reimbursement Program
- HB 1472 by Bucy relating to the eligibility of the Concacaf Gold Cup for funding under the Major Events Reimbursement Program. H.B.1472 amends the Government Code to make the Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Gold Cup eligible for funding under the Major Events Trust Fund program. HB 1472 was sent to the Governor on May 4 and awaits his signature.
Hotel Occupancy Tax
- HB 1048 by Anchia, Relating to the financing of certain sports and community venue projects. This bill was introduced for Fair Park in Dallas. It would only allow for funding to be used on this project that meets current statutory requirements. The author agreed to pull down the legislation if it is opened to any other community. The bill has been left pending in the House International Affairs and Economic Development Committee.
- HB 3223 by Zweiner, Relating to the use by certain municipalities of municipal hotel occupancy tax revenue for the enhancement and maintenance of public parks. HB 3223 has been referred to and remains in the House Ways & Means Committee.
- HB 4305 by Morales, Relating to the use of hotel occupancy tax revenue by certain counties and municipalities. A Central Texas bill related to funding for “dark skies” events and activities. On May 12, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Senate Natural Resources/Economic Development.
Small Business Disaster Recovery Loan Program
- SB 678 by Alvarado, Regarding to the creation of the small business disaster recovery loan program was set on the Senate Intent Calendar on April 20. This bill would amend Chapter 403 of the Government Code to establish the Small Business Disaster Recovery Loan Program and authorize the Comptroller to make loans to small businesses affected by a natural disaster declared by the Governor. The bill was voted favorably from committee on May 12 by the House International Relations and Economic Development.
Here is a high-level summary of general interest-related bills:
- HB 1927 by Schaefer; Relating to provisions governing the carrying of a firearm by a person who is 21 years of age or older and not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law from possessing the firearm and to other provisions related to the carrying, possessing, transporting, or storing of a firearm or other weapon; creating criminal offenses. The legislation would eliminate the requirement for Texas residents to obtain a license to carry handguns if they are not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a gun. This bill will need to go to a “Conference” committee (made up of five Senators and five House members) to hammer out the differences in the original House version and the changes made by the Senate. House conferees include: Schaefer-chair, White, Canales, Guillen and Burrows, while Senate conferees include: Schwertner, Birdwell, Hughes, Campbell and Creighton. The date is still unknown about when the Conference committee will meet.
- SB 7 by Hughes; Relating to election integrity and security, including by preventing fraud in the conduct of elections in this state; increasing criminal penalties; creating criminal offenses. This bill was passed by the House on Friday, May 7, and was amended in several ways that differ from the original Senate language. So, this bill will need to go to a “Conference” committee (also made up of five Senators and five House members) to hammer out the differences in the original Senate version and the changes made by the House. The date is still unknown about when the Conference committee will be named and/or meet.
- SB 29 by Perry; Relating to requiring public school students to compete in interscholastic athletic competitions based on biological sex. This bill would require the University Interscholastic League to force students to play on the sports teams based on their biological sex instead of their gender identity. The bill passed the House Public Education Committee, as substituted, and the bill must still be approved by the full House before it can be sent to Governor Greg Abbott for his signature. This bill will need to go to a “Conference” committee (made up of five Senators and five House members) to hammer out the differences in the original House version and the changes made by the Senate. The date is still unknown about when the Conference committee will be named and/or meet.
- HB 390 by S. Thompson; Relating to requirements for human trafficking awareness and prevention in commercial lodging establishments; authorizing a civil penalty. The bill would amend the Business & Commerce Code to require commercial lodging establishments to require that employees complete a state-approved annual training program in human trafficking awareness, as well as assign a civil penalty to commercial lodging establishments that violate the provisions laid out in Chapter 114 of the Business & Commerce Code. HB 390 has been sent to the Governor on May 6 and awaits his signature.
- HB 19 by Leach; Relating to civil liability of a commercial motor vehicle owner or operator, including the effect that changes to that liability have on commercial automobile insurance. HB 19 was passed by the House on April 30th and was reported from committee as substituted Senate Transportation on May 13th.
- HB 5 by Ashby; Relating to the expansion of broadband services to certain areas. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, more than ever, the critical importance of a robust broadband infrastructure network to maintaining basic quality of life. Hundreds of thousands of Texans are currently without access to quality broadband and this bill seeks to move Texas forward to bridge the digital divide. HB 5 was passed out of the Senate with amendments on April 29. The bill will now go back to the House for concurrence or a request from the author to go to conference.
- HB 2070 by Huberty; Regarding to the regulation of sports wagering. The bill would require the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) to regulate the state’s sports wagering program, including issuing permits to interactive sports wagering operators. HB 2070 would require TDLR to certify sports wagering revenues and expenses to the Comptroller of Public Accounts on a monthly basis. This bill was left pending in the House State Affairs Committee on April 14.
- HJR 97 by Huberty; Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to legalize sports wagering in this state. The resolution would amend Article III of the Texas Constitution to allow the legislature by law to authorize and regulate the placing of wagers on sports events. The proposed constitutional amendment would be submitted to the voters at an election to be held Nov. 2. This joint resolution was left pending in the House State Affairs Committee on April 14.
- While there is bipartisan support for this issue, it does not seem likely that the 87th Regular State Legislature will pass any bill related to the expansion of Medicaid.
- SB 8 by Hughes, Relating to abortion, including abortions after detection of an unborn child’s heartbeat; authorizing a private civil right of action. The Senate concurred with House amendments on May 13. The bill is now headed to Governor Abbott’s Office for his signature.
The City of San Antonio will conduct a run-off election for the May General Election. Run-off elections voting information is provided below:
- Run-off election: Thursday, June 5.
- Early voting period: Through Tuesday, June 1.