88th Texas Legislative Session Priorities (2023)

(Updated February 1, 2023)

The arts are a cornerstone of the Texas economy and the Texas identity. Texans for the Arts advocates for the development and implementation of statewide public policy and for public funding that supports a strong, equitable and vibrant arts, culture, and creative industry across Texas, working in partnership with legislators, arts and business leaders, organizational partners, members, and citizen advocates.

Our primary commitment during the 88th Texas Legislative Session will be threefold: to protect and grow the appropriations to the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA), the state arts agency, including the TCA’s Cultural District grant program; to protect the statutory protections for the arts of the Municipal Hotel Occupancy Tax; and to respond to additional legislative opportunities that advance and strengthen the arts, culture and creative industry across the state.


Municipal Hotel Occupancy Tax


* Protect use of Municipal and County Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) to fund the arts

* Support legislation in the 88th that will clarify often confusing HOT Tax Code provisions and will create greater transparency in reporting comprehensive municipal and county HOT collections and provisions.

* Oppose legislation expanding the eligible uses of the Municipal Hotel Tax to include general infrastructure items which would violate the tax law and would deflect local HOT revenue vital to ensuring continued local tourism promotion.


The Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) was enacted in 1965 and is levied on the state and, optionally, on the municipal and county levels, to guests renting a hotel or guest room. This tax was created to promote tourism and the convention and hotel industry. In 1977, the Legislature added that “up to 15%” of municipal HOT funds may be dedicated to “the encouragement, promotion, improvement, and application of the arts”. This was in acknowledgement that there is a direct correlation between a vibrant and dynamic arts, culture and creative community and a successful tourism and hotel industry.

Texans for the Arts was a leading proponent of the passage of SB1221 in the 85th Legislative Session. SB1221, the “HOT Transparency Bill”, requires that municipalities report HOT collections and use annually to the Texas Comptroller. This transparency bill provides publicly accessible data and promotes the effective use of the tax.

Since its inception, the local Hotel Tax has been statutorily dedicated to directly promoting local tourism, hotel and convention activity. Bills expanding eligible uses for general infrastructure violates statutory dedication and would deflect local HOT revenue vital to ensuring continued local tourism promotion.


Texas Commission on the Arts Funding


* Protect the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) base funding and support Exceptional Item #1 - $3M for “organization” grants with an additional $5M to meet significant unmet need, and Exceptional Item #2 - $5M for Cultural Districts

* Promote the important role the legislature’s investment of public resources in the arts plays in the vitality, economic health, and civic pride of communities all across Texas.    

* Support and promote the Texas Commission on the Art’s Cultural & Fine Arts District Program for the strong role it plays in harnessing the power of cultural resources to stimulate economic development and community revitalization.


The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA), established in 1965, is the state agency responsible for fostering the fine arts throughout the state. Their mission is “to advance our state economically and culturally by investing in a creative Texas. TCA supports a diverse and innovative arts community in Texas, throughout the nation and internationally by providing resources to enhance economic development, arts education, cultural tourism and artist sustainability initiatives.”

In 2005, the TCA was given authority by the Texas legislature to designate cultural districts across the state as “special zones that harness the power of cultural resources to stimulate economic development and community revitalization.”

By 2015 there were 26 TCA designated Cultural & Fine Arts Districts across the state and there are now 52 with more applying each year.  Municipalities recognize the economic development and community revitalization potential of these districts. The need and demand for grant program support is only growing.  




Texans for the Arts, in concert with its extensive roster of members and partner advocates, will keep a watchful eye on additional issues, which may change as new legislation is filed and other issues of statewide importance are raised throughout the 88th Session.


*Fully fund the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation. This program sparks economic development and attracts cultural tourists.  Data shows the arts and culture tourists stay longer, travel in larger groups, and spend more than the average tourist.  In addition, Texas Commission on the Arts’ Cultural Districts that include restored historic courthouses in their geographic footprint have shown an increase in Hotel Occupancy Tax collection and enhanced economic and cultural activity

*Protect the Historic Texas Preservation Tax Credit Program for both for-profit and nonprofit owned properties.  Ensure that tax credits continue to incentivize rehabilitation of historic buildings, and create jobs, as well as the create affordable housing as part of revitalization efforts in historic Texas downtowns.

*Support HB323 “Changes the curriculum standards for public schools, buy re-designating “fine arts” as part of the foundation curriculum; it was previously considered part of the “enrichment curriculum”

*Support HB667 “Requires the Texas Dept of Licensing & Regulation to regulate the profession of music therapy and create a Music Therapist Advisory Board. Outlines the regulatory process for this occupation.

*Monitor HB1497 “Requires the disclosure of taxes and fees charged for the sale of concerts and other event tickets.

*Support SB281 “Splits the designation of a ‘state musician’ into two separate ‘state musicians’ one for the classical genre and one for the nonclassical genre.

*Monitor HB1495 ”Relating to a study on leasing state property for private use.”

*Invest in arts education through policy decisions and appropriations.  Our goal is to ensure that every student has equal access and opportunity to an art’s rich education, which helps prepare our children to succeed in school and life

*Maintain or increase funding for the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program (film, television, commercial, and digital interactive media incentives).  The Moving Image Industry Incentive is vital for keeping the creative industries thriving in Texas. The Texas legislature should increase funding to support economic development initiatives and help prevent Texas communities from losing business to more competitive states

* Maintain Funding for Tourism Promotion in the state budget. Every legislative session, the hotel and travel industry advocate to protect the 1/12th dedicated portion of the state hotel occupancy tax that is used to promote Texas as a tourism destination as part of the state appropriations bill. The full 1/12th of the state hotel occupancy tax revenue remains dedicated to promoting tourism under state law and cannot be spent for any other purpose.  This means the dedicated state hotel tax dollars must be spent promoting Texas as a tourism destination, which increases the State’s return-on-investment and civic pride of communities all across Texas.    

*Explore opportunities to fund arts programming and initiatives through other agencies including Health & Human Services, and Texas Education Agency, and others – citing national research models that show the critical role the arts can play in health and healing, education, criminal justice, and more

*Monitor legislative action that impacts the nonprofit sector, such as tax exemptions and regulatory efforts. Texans for the Arts will actively monitor the legislative session for any legislative action that has the potential to impact the nonprofit sector generally. 


In addition to Texans for the Arts' core Legislative Agenda for the 88th Session, TCA is keeping a watchful eye on additional issues as new legislation is filed and other issues of statewide importance are raised.  We will make advocacy decisions accordingly, in concert with our members and partner advocates.   

 We will keep you apprised!

If you have any questions about this agenda, please contact [email protected]