Legislative Agenda


88th Texas Legislative Session Priorities (2023)

(Adopted March 9, 2022)

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.

Addressing the ongoing challenges faced by the arts, culture and creative industry posed by COVID-19, will also continue to be top of mind in the 88th Texas Legislative Session.

 

PROTECT
Municipal Hotel Occupancy Tax

Action

* Protect use of the Municipality Hotel Occupancy Tax (MHOT) for the arts
* Encourage municipalities that levy the HOT to maximize the full 15% for the arts
* Oppose legislation expanding the eligible uses of the Municipal Hotel Tax to include general infrastructure items.
* Support bills filed that increase transparency in MHOT and County HOT reporting to the Texas Office of the Comptroller.

Background

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.

 

PROTECT AND INCREASE
Texas Commission on the Arts Funding

Action

* Protect and increase the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) base funding levels from fiscal year 2021-2022, including the $10 million in grant funds for the TCA Cultural District grant program.
* Support, promote and increase the appropriation for the Texas Commission on the Art’s Cultural & Fine Arts District Program for the strong role the districts play in harnessing the power of cultural resources to stimulate economic development and community revitalization.
* 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.

Background

The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA), established in 1965, is the state agency responsible for fostering the 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.”  There were no funds appropriated to the TCA Cultural District Grant Program until 2015 when there were already 26 TCA designated Cultural & Fine Arts Districts across the state.  Today there are 51 with more applying each year. Municipalities and business and arts leaders recognize the economic development and community revitalization potential of these districts. The need and demand for grant program support is only growing.

 


Working with our Members and Strategic Partners 

 

To date, Texans for the Arts has only adopted its core Legislative Agenda for the 88th Session as articulated above.  We will consistently keep 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]