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Restaurants collecting several wins after Texas legislative sessions

Posted at 7:19 AM, Sep 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-07 08:19:08-04

700 bills went into affect on Sept. 1 for the State of Texas. A few of those will impact local restaurants.

The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) is getting the word out about those bills.

This is the second year for the Emily and Kelsey’s Texas Tour. That is Emily Williams Knight, president and CEO of TRA and Kelsey Erickson Streufert, Chief Public Affairs Officer of the TRA.

They travel to the 23 TRA chapter’s with this year’s tour highlighting the recent positive impacts to restaurants that have come from the legislative sessions. The tour celebrates 70 wins in 70 days.

“It has been nothing but wins and that’s a real testament to the Texas Restaurant Association,” restaurant owner and president of the Coastal Bend Restaurant Association Sam Canavati said.

The tour stopped in Corpus Christi on Wednesday at Elizabeth's at the Art Museum of South Texas.

“You know, the property tax savings is huge for us as restaurant owners," Canavati said. "It’s going to make a huge difference in what we do moving forward. So, that’s probably the biggest bill that we’ve had.”

Canavati was referring to the $12 billion property tax cuts that voters will decide on this November.

Some of the other bills that were referenced include House Bill 2127, Senate Bill 812 and Senate Bill 577. These bills addressed topics like clearer health codes, workforce development, regulatory consistency and predictability and cutting down on permit fees.

“We went through the code and found that in many instances local governments were charging two fees, two sets of permits for the same activity," Erickson Streufert said. "So where we could, we eliminated those fees to help restaurants and their employees save money.”

Restaurants have faced hard times since the pandemic. Canavati said food prices have gone up double digits for three straight years. According to Open Table, dining at restaurants is down 4% from this time last year.

Erickson Streufert said bills were passed to hopefully change this by getting customers interested in unique experiences.

To help those issues, a bill was passed to allow restaurants to buy rare and vintage wine from collectors instead of wholesalers.

Another bill was passed to help the formation of more oyster farms, which local business owner Brad Lomax was the first in the state with an oyster farm license.

“It’s a growing industry here in Texas that really impacts the coast in particular," Erickson Streufert said. "And, it’s exciting for diners and restaurants. It creates a new opportunity, a new product to experience which is great to bring people out.”

TRA is scheduled to hold their next stop on the tour virtually for a statewide town hall on Sept. 27.

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