Two SD 29 Economic Development Bills by Sen. Rodríguez Pass Senate

Austin – Two of Sen. José Rodríguez’s economic development bills passed the full Senate today. They now move to the House for consideration. 

The bills are S.B. 799, which allows El Paso County to continue collecting a hotel occupancy tax (HOT) that is used for such items as tourism promotion and historic preservation, and S.B. 440, which allows Marfa to use HOT revenue to maintain and improve its airport. 

“A large part of the job in Austin is making sure we take care of local priorities,” Sen. Rodríguez said. “With these items, key elements of the Senate District 29 agenda are addressed.”

Regarding S.B. 799

  • Tax Code Section 352.002(a)(2) authorizes a county, which (1) is on the U.S.-Mexico border, (2) has a population over 90,000, and (3) does not have three or more municipalities with a population of more than 17,500 to collect the HOT. 
  • In 2010, El Paso met these criteria given it had only two cities with a population of more than 17,500. However, by 2020, El Paso will no longer meet these criteria due to growth in the eastern region of the county. S.B. 799 amends Tax Code Section 352.002(a)(2) to allow El Paso County to continue to be able to collect the HOT by changing the third criterion in (a)(2) to four (vs. three) cities with a population of more than 25,000 (vs. 17,500).
  • S.B. 799 is supported by El Paso County and the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association.

Regarding S.B. 440

  • S.B. 440 enables the City of Marfa to budget up to 15 percent of annual hotel occupancy tax revenue generated in the city towards improvements to the Marfa Municipal Airport, the area’s only airport, which is owned by Presidio County.  
  • This bill is necessary because Marfa, a small town of 2,000 and an increasingly popular tourist destination, does not have a commercial airport capable of accommodating the increasingly large charter aircrafts coming into Presidio County.  The asphalt on the Marfa Municipal Airport runway has begun to sink as a result of the increased air traffic from large modern charter turbines.

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José Rodríguez represents Texas Senate District 29, which includes the counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, and Presidio. He represents both urban and rural constituencies, and more than 350 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. Senator Rodríguez currently serves as the Chairman of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus, and is a member of the Senate Committees on Natural Resources and Economic Development; Transportation; Veteran Affairs and Border Security; and Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs (Vice Chair).  

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