Call to Action - Legislative Alert - May 1,2017

Texas Commission on the Arts
Cultural District Funding
Cultural District funding has made a significant impact to Texas communities.  In the current budget, support for this program is cut drastically, along with additional cuts to the overall TCA budget.

We want to pass on this information from our colleagues at Texans for the Arts: Please reach out to your legislators and ask them to support full funding for the Texas Commission on the Arts and restoration of the $5 million for the Cultural and Fine Arts District Grant Program

Texas Historical Commission
Courthouse Program
The Senate version of the budget provides $5 million for the Texas Historic Courthouse Program, while the House version provides $19.2 million.  Please contact your legislators and ask them to support the House level funding for this key program of the Texas Historical Commission.  Courthouse restorations, renovations, and repairs have made incredible impacts on downtowns across the state.  Not only is a historic structure maintained, but economic development is supported through the growth of the adjacent area. 

Heritage Tourism
The Senate budget for the Texas Historical Commission includes $1.5 million for the Texas Heritage Trails Program, which support heritage tourism and travel across the state.  There is no funding for the program in the House version.  Evidence shows that investing in this program provides a return to the state in the form of sales tax, HOT funds, and more.  Please ask your legislator to support the Texas Heritage Trails Program by funding Heritage Tourism.  

Budget Conference Committee Members|
Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound)
Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham)
Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston)
Senator Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown)

Representative John Zerwas (R-Richmond)
Representative Oscar Longoria (D-Mission)
Representative Sarah Davis (R-Houston)
Representative Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin)
Representative Larry Gonzales (R-Round Rock)

Not sure who represents you?  Click here for district and office details.

If your Senator or Representative is not one of the ten Conferees, ask them to urge their colleagues on the Conference Committee to support funding for the items above.   



Call to Action - Legislative Alert - April 5,2017

Today we were disappointed to hear about a number of amendments that would adversely affect both the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) and the Texas Historical Commission (THC).

Please review the proposed amendments below and call your legislators TODAY.  Ask them to oppose these amendments and tell them why the arts and preservation are important to your community and downtown.

Not sure who represents you?  Click here to find out.

Amendments proposed for the TCA budget

Representative Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington, District 94) has proposed Amendment #851342 which would eliminate ALL funding for the Texas Commission on the Arts.
Representative Pat Fallon (R-Frisco, District 106) has proposed Amendment #851210 which would reduce the biennial appropriation by an additional $5,000,000 making a 43% reduction in the Texas Commission on the Art's biennial budget for 2018-2019. 

Amendments proposed for the THC budget

Representative Abel Herrero (District 34) has proposed an amendment that would decrease operating funding for the THC's Main Street, Heritage Tourism, and Certified Local Government (CLG) programs by $700,000.  Instead the funding would go towards the restoration of the Ritz Theatre in Corpus Christi.  

An amendment from Representative Cecil Bell (District 3) would decrease funding for the THC courthouse grant program and historic sites, and another by Representative Pat Fallon (District 106) would move $10 million from the THC historic sites operating budget and reallocate to criminal justice.

The amendments will be discussed tomorrow - Thursday, April 6 - in the Texas House so immediate action is needed.

Please contact your Texas representative TODAY.

The 2017 TDA Legislative Agenda supports continued full funding for both TCA and THC.  We strongly believe that the arts and preservation are vital components of successful downtowns and have seen firsthand how downtowns have been impacted by a healthy arts community and quality preservation projects.



TDA Legislative Update - March 27, 2017

This week we will continue to show our support for funding for the Texas Historical Commission and the Texas Commission on the Arts and are monitoring a number of bills that have been filed related to downtown.

We encourage everyone to contact Senators Cornyn and Cruz as well as their congressional representatives about proposals included in the federal budget that will affect funding for a variety of agencies and programs that contribute to downtown development and revitalization.  

We recently read an article by The Daily Yonder about a number of programs that are slated for significant reductions or elimination, impacting both rural and urban communities.

From the article:

  • Reducing the Department of Interior by $1.5 billion, a 12% reduction.
  • Eliminating LIHEAP, which helps low-income rural residents with paying high home heating and energy bills.
  • Reducing Department of Education funding by $9 billion, a 13% reduction.
  • Eliminating the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), a source of funding for economic development efforts in low-income communities.
  • Eliminating the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) grants program, which facilitates capital and small business financing in both rural and urban areas.
  • Eliminating the Corporation for National and Community Service, which funds Americorps volunteers.
  • Eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • Reducing Department of Energy spending by $1.7 billion, a 5.6% cut.
  • Reducing Environmental Protection Agency funding by $2.6 billion, a 31% cut.

You can read the whole article here

Click here to find out who represents you in Congress.


TDA Legislative Update - March 6, 2017

So far this session we’ve submitted letters of support for:

Texas Commission on the Arts
We support the restoration of $5 million in funding for the Cultural and Fine Arts District grants.  These grants make a huge difference to communities that seek funding for the arts.  95% of the communities that are designated cultural districts in Texas are TDA members and most include downtown.  We believe that the arts are an economic development tool and hope the Texas Legislature will restore this funding.

Texas Historical Commission
We support THC’s exceptional budget item requests for the Texas Courthouse Preservation Program and the Texas Heritage Trails program. 

The Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program has made a tremendous difference to downtowns across the state.  While the program’s primary impact is the restoration of iconic structures, it can be argued that such the program also positively impacts private property values and sales tax as owners invest in their buildings and more visitors are drawn downtown to work, shop, and play.   

The Texas Heritage Trails Program promotes many small and rural communities that otherwise would not be able to connect with potential visitors.  The relatively small investment by the state allows this program to reach a wide audience with information and stories about our beautiful and diverse Texas. 

SB 550 - Campbell
This bill would expand the market for credits earned under the program by allowing insurance companies to purchase the credits for use against the premium tax. Although the credits may be purchased by any entity for use against the franchise tax, insurance companies are exempt from the franchise tax because they instead pay premium tax under the Insurance Code. Thus, a credit that is applicable only to the franchise tax is of no value to them. We believe expanding the pool of potential buyers will make the credits more valuable and further enhance the program.

We are so grateful to our organizational partners – Texas Municipal League, Association for Rural Communities in Texas, Texans for the Arts, Texas Economic Development Council, and others - for keeping us up to date on legislation that would affect downtown development and revitalization. 

If you’re curious about a legislative issue or would like to pass on information about a bill, please contact the TDA office.

Carthage Main Street Youth Program

YAC group (courtesy of City of Carthage Main Street)

Recently we asked members if anyone had established a youth advisory group for downtown.  Cindy Deloney from the City of Carthage Main Street Program responded and graciously shared helpful information about how she and the Carthage Main Street Advisory Council started a youth group last year and its impact on downtown.

Cindy and the Main Street Advisory Council got started by researching how to start a downtown youth group and found a number of resources that helped them develop bylaws, a process for applying, and a plan for getting the group off the ground.

Read more 

2017 Texas Downtown Association
85th Session - Legislative Priorities

The Texas Downtown Association provides resources to members through networking opportunities, marketing, education and advocacy to achieve community goals and ensure that every community in Texas has economically vibrant center that reflects its unique character.

The legislative priorities listed below reflect the feedback we received from our members, and the issues we believe are necessary to achieve our organization’s goals and objectives.  Use the link below to download the agenda and share with your elected officials.

TDA is not a registered lobbyist, but advocates for downtowns and educates lawmakers about programs and services utilized by TDA members. The TDA Board of Directors recently approved our 2017 Legislative Agenda. 

Focus Areas

Economic and Community Development
Historic Preservation, Environment and Sustainability
Culture, Arts and Recreation
Rural Interests
Local Control 

Download copy of the 2017 Legislative Agenda