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Visit San Antonio: Legislative Affairs, February 2019

The 41st Annual SA to DC trip took place from Feb. 4-7. The trip provided an opportunity to network with more than 180 business and community leaders from across the community, including the Mayor and councilmembers Robert Trevino, Rebecca Viagran, Ana Sandoval, John Courage and Clayton Perry. Presenters at the annual event included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the Bexar County delegation. In a surprise comment, Pelosi expressed her support for a direct flight from San Antonio to Reagan International.

We are pleased that Visit San Antonio board members Jeff Arndt, Denise Rodriguez-Hernandez, Major General Juan Ayala, Russ Handy, Liza Barratachea, Jenna Saucedo-Herrera and Robert Thrailkill were able to attend this important event as well.

Every year, we also utilize this time to host our most important clients for an event, and connect them with leaders from our community. This year, we welcomed more than 50 individuals for this event.

Additionally, as a result of the outstanding Visit SA board member attendance, we were able to place a “host” at each client table. This allowed us to share that famous San Antonio hospitality with our clients and potential clients.

In addition to client visits, the Hospitality and Tourism Issues team visited with many of our officials to discuss our most pressing federal issues: funding for Brand USA, travel-related infrastructure development and the Visa Waiver and Trusted Traveler programs. Just a few of the meetings we conducted included with Deputy Secretary Phil Lovas, who oversees the National Travel and Tourism Office in the Department of Commerce; Wes Hambrick, who serves as the Interim Federal Policy Director for Texas Governor Greg Abbott; Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; and Representatives Gus Bilirakis of Florida and Alice Titus of Nevada.

We are also pleased to report that as a direct result of our meetings, Congressmen Lloyd Doggett and Joaquin Castro of Texas have joined the House Tourism Caucus to express their support of our industry.

In Austin, the 86th Session is in full swing. Representative Matt Krause and Senator Donna Campbell have filed bills in their respective chambers in support of our school start date issue. If you have not reached out to your state senator and state representative to ask them to support this issue, we encourage you to do so.

TTIA and their team have been diligently working with both the House and the Senate as well as the Governor’s office to ensure the Office of Tourism receives its full funding.

We are also monitoring more than 60 bills that deal with other industry-related issues and I encourage you to reach out to our Government Relations team is you have any questions on any bills and their movement.

Also, we would be remiss if we didn’t remind you that we are in the middle of a special election for Texas House District 125. A date has not been set for the runoff between Ray Lopez (D) and Art Reyna (R), but we do expect it to be sometime in early to mid-March. There are approximately 136,000 voting-age individuals who live in HD 125, and approximately 6,000 total individuals came out to vote in the special election. If you live in this district, please go vote in the runoff.