Carabajal, the council legislative committee chairman, said the committee met with State Rep. J.M. Lozano, State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and their staff members to discuss legislative issues. The committee was accompanied by city consultant John Valls, who made the appointments for the trip.
“We presented each item or our program and after much discussion we decided to focus our efforts on legislation related to hotel tax exemption,” Carabajal told his fellow council members at their Tuesday evening meeting.
Committee members were told by Lozano that he had filed a bill related to the hotel tax exemption on behalf of Bee County and there might be an opportunity for Beeville’s request to piggyback on that bill.
Lozano told the group that he was pleased to see a large contingent of representatives from Beeville in Austin.
Lozano then invited the council members to return to Austin and review a copy of the bill he intends to propose.
Zaffirini spoke to the Beeville group outside a finance committee session she had been attending, and she invited the group to meet with her later in her Capitol office.
She encouraged the Beeville group to continue working with Lozano and his staff and said her office would be in contact with the representative’s staff on legislative matters.
At Dewhurst’s office, the group explained potential municipal water problems Beeville is facing during this extended drought in the Coastal Bend.
The lieutenant governor’s senior policy adviser, Carmen Cernosek, assured the group that Dewhurst’s office had placed a high priority on water issues for the current legislative session.
Cernosek told the City Council group that plans were to provide additional funding for water projects in Texas, available through the state’s Water Development Board.
The group then stopped by to visit State Rep. Todd Hunter’s office because the representative is a member of the Coastal Bend delegation.
Hunter offered his support for any of the legislative requests Beeville brings to the floor of the House of Representatives.
Hunter assured the contingent that he would be working closely with Lozano and his staff.
“Since our trip, we have noticed many bills being filed related to hotel tax exemption and extending the 30-day registration period which makes it possible for some hotel and motel occupants to avoid paying the hotel and motel occupancy tax,” Carabajal said.
The council is asking that the exemption period be extended to 60 or 90 days.
Martinez had said earlier that the city is also interested in easing restrictions on the use of those taxes so that the money could go to help finance infrastructure improvements.