Visit San Antonio: Government Relations, October 2021
On October 15th, the White House announced that the United States will lift the COVID-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated international visitors beginning on November 8, 2021. This announcement will end a 21-month-long travel restriction for much of the world from entering the United States.
The Visit San Antonio Government Relations team continues to monitor activity closely as intense negotiations over the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) and the Build Back Better (BBB) budget reconciliation bill continue.
We continue to work with the U.S. Travel Association on advocating for these two issues. Listed below are summaries of each of these legislative issues.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF)
The BIF invests more than $1 trillion in all modes of travel infrastructure and includes several industry priorities. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that Congress will aim to pass this bill by the end of October.
We encourage you to urge your member of Congress to support the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework.
Build Back Better (BBB) Budget Reconciliation Bill
This legislation will now likely cost between $1.8-$2.2 trillion. Negotiations between progressive and moderate Democrats will determine which social, family and climate-related provisions will be included. However, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) recently stated that she would not support President Biden’s spending bill until the bipartisan infrastructure bill passes.
The Visit San Antonio Government Relations Team continues working with the U.S. Travel Association to secure support and encourage members of Congress to cosponsor the bipartisan Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act (S. 477/H.R. 1346). The bill would help generate $227 billion in economic activity that would not otherwise occur, aid in restoring the 2.8 million hospitality jobs that remain lost to the pandemic and contribute to the overall acceleration of travel’s recovery.
Please take a few minutes to let your Member of Congress know of your support for the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act. You can do this simply and quickly by clicking on the hyperlink, provided by the US Travel Association, below:
The Government Relations Team will continue to monitor these activities and provide additional updates.
As the 3rd Called Special Session came to a close Tuesday, October 19, Governor Greg Abbott has indicated he may call a 4th Called Special Session. However, we do not know at this time if another Special Session is called, when it will begin.
During the 3rd Called Special Session, Marc Anderson, President & CEO of Visit San Antonio provided testimony against HB 25, by Swanson; Relating to requiring public school students to compete in interscholastic athletic competitions based on biological sex. On October 6, Marc provided remarks against HB 25 to the Select Committee on Constitutional Rights & Remedies. Unfortunately, HB 25 is headed to the Governor Greg Abbott’s Office for his signature.
There has been considerable activity concerning various pandemic-related measures by the state and local governments. In accordance with the Governor’s Executive Orders GA-24, GA-36, and GA-40 and a recent Texas Supreme Court’s temporary stay, Bexar County and the City of San Antonio are not requiring face coverings and neither the county nor the city have a vaccine mandate in place. Below is a summary of the Governor’s orders:
- On March 2, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-34, with an effective date of March 10th. GA-34, in summary, states that “no person may be required by any jurisdiction to wear or mandate the wearing of a face covering.”
- On May 18, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-36, with an immediate effective date of May 18th. GA-36, in summary, states that “No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear or mandate the wearing of a face covering.”
- On October 11, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-40, with an immediate effective date of October 11th. GA-40 in summary, states that “No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19. I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition.”
Bexar County and the City of San Antonio are contesting some of the Governor’s orders and these legal actions are continuing their due process. As this issue moves through the courts, the Government Relations Team will continue to monitor these activities and provide additional updates.
Secondly, we have received queries on whether the current Texas vaccine-ban mandate is enforceable on businesses located outside of Texas’ jurisdiction who may require vaccines to participate in a conference located in San Antonio. The Government Relations team has reached out to the City of San Antonio and the Texas Travel Alliance for guidance. As we get feedback from these entities, we will provide you with additional information.
The Government Relations Team will continue to monitor activities by the Governor’s Office and the State Legislature providing additional updates, as needed.
2022 Bonds Program
Recently, City staff provided its initial list of projects under the following categories with total funding amounts:
- Streets, Bridges, Sidewalks – $450M
- Parks – $300M
- Drainage – $150M
- Housing – $150M
- Facilities – $150M
City staff also recommended:
- Utilizing TIRZ funds to provide other capital projects, such as Broadway redevelopment, Market Square, and Houston Street
- 1.5% for public art, an increase from prior bonds
- ARPA funds allocated to projects that are not funded by bonds. Additional discussions may take place in the coming weeks.
The full staff 2022 Bond Program presentation is available here.
The Government Relations Team will continue to monitor the activities of the City of San Antonio and provide additional updates, as appropriate.