Even though the state isn’t in session this year, there’s plenty of work to do.
by JUSTIN BRAGIEL
Unlike most states, Texas only meets for a regular legislative session from January to June in odd-numbered years. Even though the next legislative session convenes in January 2019, the hotel industry is currently engaged on multiple fronts. Committee meetings are underway, political leadership is shifting dramatically, and hotel owners have plenty of opportunities to get involved.
HOUSE SPEAKER STEPPING DOWN – SHAKEUP BREWING
While AAHOA members were meeting with their members of Congress at FNAC, surprising news was emerging from the Texas Capitol building in Austin. In late October, after nearly a decade in the position, House Speaker Joe Straus unexpectedly announced he is not seeking a sixth term. Speaker Straus will be stepping down before the 2019 legislative session, creating a vacuum in one of the most important statewide-elected offices.
Speaker Straus’s decision reverberated throughout the Capitol, setting up a potentially dramatic race for the office. The next Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives will be elected by fellow members of the Texas House at the start of the 2019 legislative session. While several current House members already announced their candidacy for Speaker, there is not yet a clear consensus on who will be elected to the office. Texas Hotel & Lodging Association (THLA) will be actively working with the new House leadership as it develops, and we look forward to continuing to advocate for the hotel industry under the leadership of a new Speaker.
HOUSE & SENATE COMMITTEES HOLDING HEARINGS
During the interim period between legislative sessions, House and Senate committees hold fact-finding committee meetings on topics chosen by House and Senate leaders. These interim committee meetings are important because they often shape the content and direction of the legislation in the next session. Agendas released from the interim committees have largely focused on disaster recovery and preparedness spurred by Hurricane Harvey’s devastation.
THLA is actively working with these committees to address issues such as hotel availability during and after a disaster, avoiding price gouging, dealing with other consumer issues, and coordinating with agencies to better provide assistance to displaced residents. We are extremely proud of the Texas hotel industry’s response to Hurricane Harvey by avoiding price gouging and donating thousands of hotel room nights to Texans in need of shelter. We are highlighting this good work from our industry, and also working with government agencies to prepare for the next disaster.
HOTEL OWNERS MUST GET INVOLVED
While events in D.C. seem to capture the news media’s attention, local politics are just as important to your business. Now is the perfect time for you to become more involved with Texas politics:
- Invite your state representative or state senator to tour your hotel property.
- When elected officials are invited to speak at AAHOA Town Hall or Regional meetings, introduce yourself and talk with them about your business.
- Stop by your state representative and state senator’s district offices to develop a relationship.
If you don’t know where to start, or if you would like help setting up a meeting with your elected officials, please give THLA a call. Lastly, consider contributing to AAHOA’s political action committee (PAC). Your PAC contributions give the hotel industry the voice we need both in D.C. and in Austin. Thank you for supporting our industry. ■