Public Arenas: Moving the Ball Forward

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Today that the Texas House of Representatives passed HB 1505, my legislation that will save taxpayer money by streamlining administrative processes at county or city-owned convention centers and arenas across the state. The bill, which passed 142-0, would substantially increase the percentage of alcohol sales revenue retained by cities who maintain these kinds of venues.

I'm pleased HB 1505 bill received unanimous support. Any increased revenue from municipally-owned facilities benefits the taxpayer. In these tough economic times, every dollar counts, and we need to streamline administrative costs at these facilities to realize savings for taxpayers.

City and county funded facilities, such as arenas and convention centers, are important sources of entertainment and economic development throughout Texas. Unfortunately, most of these facilities are not profitable, requiring taxpayer support for their continuing operation. However, complicated restrictions and bureaucratic processes limit the revenue municipalities can recoup.

Because of legal roadblocks, cities can only recoup a limited percentage of alcohol sales revenue at municipally owned arenas. My bill will allow a city to substantially increase that percentage by doing away with needless bureaucratic expenses.

The Corpus Christi Caller Times reported earlier this year that the American Bank Center, a publicly funded arena, is losing more money than the city had initially predicted, and the losses for the year could exceed $3 million.

This bill may not be enough to put facilities like the American Bank Center in the black, but it's a step in the right direction. The American Bank Center fills an important purpose in our community, but it's important to make sure we are saving taxpayer money wherever possible.

The House also gave second-reading approval to a bill I am joint-authoring: HB 270 by Rep. Fred Brown. The bill extends the enterprise zone program to a greater number of interested businesses and increases investment in economically distressed area of Texas.

I'm also a joint author of HB 608 by Rep. Joaquin Castro, which was also approved by the House on Tuesday. The bill authorizes psychological counseling for jurors involved in trials involving graphic evidence or testimony.  

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