Rep. Zwiener’s dark sky preservation bill passes house
Austin — Rural communities who rely on their dark night skies to attract tourism just got a big win in the Texas House. House Bill 4158, authored by Representative Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood), passed out of the Texas House of Representatives on Friday. This legislation will allow small cities in Hays and Blanco counties to use revenue from their municipal hotel occupancy tax for construction and maintenance of infrastructure that reduces light pollution and sky glow.
“Tourism is a key industry in the Texas Hill Country,” said Zwiener. “Bed and breakfasts, inns, and hotels all rely on our dark skies to attract and retain visitors. This bill will give our communities one more tool to protect the night sky and bring more astronomical tourists to local businesses.”
There are three internationally certified dark sky cities in Texas, and two of those, Dripping Springs and Wimberley, are located in House District 45. In addition, the city of Blanco is currently applying for the same dark sky designation. All of these cities have worked jointly with local businesses and residents to protect the night sky and encourage astronomical tourism, and Dripping Springs holds an annual Texas Night Sky Festival that brings over 3,000 visitors.
“This bill will support our small towns’ tourism, natural beauty, and the economy as a whole,” Zwiener said. “I am thrilled this bill was passed out of the House, and I’m optimistic that the Senate will move it forward as well.”