The 2015 Legislative Session ended June 1. This session legislative debates focused on property tax cuts, franchise tax reductions, sales tax reductions, gun rights, and the balance between local and state regulations. With so many new House and Senate members, and changes to the Senate rules, there was a great deal of uncertainty about how these issues would play out over the 140 days of the session. The Texas Restaurant Association had a very successful session. We are confident that our two most important pieces of legislation will become law. Senate Bill 582, which will eliminate additional food handler permit fees for many restaurant employees who are required to take food handler training, will also help restaurant owners by reducing the paperwork and tracking of food handler permits and certificates. House Bill 1251 will ease the financial burden on restaurant franchisees by reducing excessive unemployment insurance taxes for restaurant franchisees based on an unfair interpretation of franchise agreements by state regulators. TRA also advocated for the restaurant industry on other important issues such as open carry, franchise tax reduction and property tax reduction. House Bill 910 will allow the open carry of handguns if a person has a concealed gun permit. TRA worked to include language in the legislation that protects the property rights of business owners by allowing them to post signage to prohibit open carry or concealed carry of guns if they choose to do so. TRA also advocated for a reduction in franchise taxes and there will be a 25% reduction in property taxes. We will send further information about franchise tax reductions and tax reporting when the Comptroller provides additional information. TRA also worked to protect restaurateurs from further state menu labeling requirements and penalties. While the FDA has adopted a national menu labeling and calorie count rule for restaurants with more than 20 locations, TRA prevented the Texas Legislature from passing additional requirements or imposing state fines for violations of the Federal rule. Governor Abbott has about three weeks to sign all of the bills passed by the legislature. Thanks to all of the TRA members who worked closely with our lobby staff to educate Senate and House members on these and other issues. Your assistance is truly invaluable!