Visit San Antonio News: Legislative Updates, August 2017

Winding down from the 85th Special Session, I’m pleased to let you know that Texas is open for business! It was a hard-won fight, but a strong group effort once again successfully defeated bathroom bills that were filed in both the Senate and the House.

This was by no means a Visit San Antonio-only victory. Our friends, partners and colleagues from nearly every industry came out in force to reiterate the message that this legislation was contrary to Texas values.

I especially want to thank our partners at the City of San Antonio, Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA), Texas Hotel & Lodging Association (THLA), San Antonio Hotel & Lodging Association (SAHLA), San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Centro San Antonio and Texas Association of Business.

Our CVB/DMO friends across the state — including Dallas, Houston, Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, Arlington and many others — were also instrumental in keeping up the pressure on their local legislators.

Before Session began, we participated in a statewide conference with the Texas Association of Business and CEOs from cities across Texas. We asked David Heard of Tech Bloc to join us and share the devastating effects this would have on IT, Cyber and recruitment. Our very sincere thanks to David for stepping up when contacted.

Our team also worked with the three major Chambers and Centro San Antonio to garner signatures from top CEOs across the community. Our letter spoke out in direct opposition to the bathroom legislation and was sent directly to the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker Straus. The San Antonio letter featured 47 signatures from companies such as Zachry Corporation, IBC Bank, Rackspace, Becton Dickinson, CPS Energy, Broadway Bank, Guido & Companies and Zachry Interests. You can read a copy of the letter here.

Visit San Antonio partnered with these organizations to build a comprehensive, loud and unified voice in opposition to the bill. We, and our many partners and colleagues, held press conferences, had meetings with various chairmen of committees that would hear the legislation and with Calendar Committee members. Of course, we also met directly with Speaker Straus and his staff.

I would be remiss if I did not single out the Speaker and his staff for their tremendous work on this effort. They recommended avenues of engagement, supported our efforts and held firm against bad policy.

Our efforts were not just focused on State politics however. Our team held one-on-one meetings with all of our councilmembers. We are entering City budget season, and Visit San Antonio is speaking to our city leaders about the importance of our industry to emphasize the need for full funding as outlined in our five-year management contract.

With the defunding of the Texas Office of Tourism, the DOI exemption allowing many school districts to start early and the impact of the sanctuary cities ban, our city – and our industry – is facing significant challenges. Visit San Antonio and our CVB/DMO partners from around the state will need to work harder than ever to counter that messaging and highlight that San Antonio has always been – and will always be – warm, welcoming, diverse and open for business!