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Visit San Antonio: Legislative Affairs, November 2017

One of the most common phrases heard around the Visit San Antonio offices is “meetings are big business.” While those of us in the industry know the vital economic role we play in our community and across the state, it’s not always fully understood among our legislators.

That’s why we use the occasion of our Annual Meeting to fully educate them on our industry. As you know, we held our Annual Meeting just last week and were pleased to welcome so many of our Bexar County delegation. We want to recognize:

  • Rep. Ina Minjarez
  • Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins
  • Rep. Philip Cortez
  • Rep. Diego Bernal
  • Rep. Lyle Larson
  • Councilman Rey Saldana

Many of our Councilmembers were traveling, but we appreciate that they acknowledged the importance of our industry by sending senior staff to our meeting on their behalf. Those included: Councilmembers Trevino, Shaw, Viagran, Sandoval, Courage and Perry. Additionally, we were joined by representatives from Commissioner Wolff and Commissioner Calvert’s offices, as well as Mike Asmus, District Director for Congressman Lamar Smith.

Let it never be said that politics is boring. These past few weeks have proved to be the antithesis of that. Locally, we were disappointed to hear that the Speaker of the House, San Antonio’s Joe Straus, announced his retirement. Although the Speaker assured supporters he would continue his service to the state, this was a blow to our city and our industry.

You may not also be aware that the Chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, Byron Cook, also announced his intent to retire. Chairman Cook – along with Speaker Straus - was a crucial piece of the puzzle in our defeat of the bathroom bill during this past legislative session.

This announcement was followed shortly by another from Congressman Lamar Smith, who also announced his intent to vacate the seat he has held in Washington, D.C., since 1987.

These announcements have not only led to succession speculation, but also opened up opportunities to share the importance and vitality of our industry to new members of the delegation.

As if this weren’t enough excitement, interim charges for House and Senate were released over the past few weeks. On the House side, Visit San Antonio was invited to testify in front of the House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness. Speaking alongside Dr. Ray Perryman, we outlined the potential economic damage to our industry should legislation that could be perceived as discriminatory be signed into law.

The Lieutenant Governor issued an interim charge that will directly impact our industry. Specifically, he is calling for the committee to “study and make recommendations regarding the collection and use of hotel occupancy taxes to increase transparency in the imposition, rate, and use of such taxes.” Visit San Antonio and TTIA will take an active approach to this charge and utilize our full resources to ensure the Senate Committee is aware of our current transparency and utilization of HOT.

As we enter one of the most critical phases of legislative activity, we want to encourage you to get to know the candidates in your districts. As always, if you have any questions about any candidates or districts, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Government Relations Department.