SAN BENITO, RGV – The City of San Benito plans to honor state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., and state Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, for helping to pass what city leaders say is historic legislation.

A reception is scheduled at 6 p.m. on July 23 at the San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum.

“The public is invited to join in the reception that will honor the Lucios for their exemplary service benefiting the City of San Benito during the recently concluded session,” said San Benito Mayor Ben Gomez.

The two lawmakers “proved that they are true friends” of the City of San Benito, the mayor said.

San Benito Mayor Ben Gomez

“We want to show them that we as a community, are grateful for their dedication and commitment to our city’s future.”

San Benito City Manager Manuel De La Rosa said he believes the new legislation has the potential to make San Benito a Destination City.

“It will help attract a greater number of visitors from both Mexico to the South, and throughout the State of Texas, thereby making the city an international destination,” the city manager argued.

House Bills 4377 and 2199 topped San Benito’s legislative agenda during the 86th Legislature. San Benito City Manager Manuel De La Rosa said the bills would help facilitate “financial mechanisms” to bring about a variety of retail, sporting, dining, lodging, entertainment and educational facilities to the city.

“This is legislation of historic proportion for San Benito and South Texas,” De La Rosa said. He argued that the bills were crafted to specifically to bring greater growth and development to San Benito.

“House Bill 2199 is designed to use municipal hotel occupancy tax revenue in certain municipalities, including San Benito, for development of sports and entertainment facilities,” De La Rosa said.

“Likewise, HB 4347 is a bill that will allow San Benito to again use municipal hotel occupancy tax revenue for hotel and convention center projects and other qualified development.”

De La Rosa pointed out that the two Lucios authored and introduced legislation that evolved into House Bills 4377 and 2199. They were ultimately approved by the Legislature on May 23. 

“As initial authors of our legislation in their respective chambers of the Legislature, they oversaw the measures through their respective committees and hearings,” De La Rosa said, pointing out that the legislation becomes effective on Sept. 1.

State Rep. Eddie Lucio, III.

De La Rosa said the recently completed 86th Texas Legislative Session was “very good” for the City of San Benito.

 “The Legislative delegation from the Rio Grande Valley was strong this year. They managed to maneuver the bill to the right people. This is wonderful beyond measure for the imminent development of the City of San Benito. With this action, we made it over the goal-line,” De La Rosa said.

In addition to the two Lucios, De La Rosa also gave a shoutout to legislative consultant Parker McCollough, a senior vice president with Mercury LLC. De la Rosa said McCollough helped navigate the measure through the legislative process.

“It is through their perseverance that these two major pieces of legislation were enacted,” De La Rosa said.

Mayor Gomez said that with the legislation now approved, the City of San Benito will begin the process of establishing legal agreements with a potential developer who has expressed interest in creating the project.

“We are ecstatic that after seven long months of hard work and dedication we now have a solid strategy to create new business opportunities in our community,” Gomez said.

How the Legislation Came About

In a news release, the City of San Benito explained how the legislation came about.

In September 2018, a developer approached De La Rosa to propose a project similar to one he has underway in East Texas, utilizing municipal hotel funds as incentives to pay-down development costs. 

“He liked our physical location with traffic flow to the north and south, and the availability of land. The problem was, we needed to change state law to be able to assist in financing the anticipated multi-million project, De La Rosa said.

“It was quite a challenge for us to decide to tackle this mammoth undertaking. You know how difficult it is to actually pass a law, so, it is quite amazing that we were able to get this accomplished on our first try.”

In October 2018 the City of San Benito hired McCollough as their legislative consultant, believing he had the knowledge and contacts to steer the legislation through the House and Senate. 

“Hard work, long hours by all concerned and a die-hard spirit were instrumental in its success,” De La Rosa said.

On Jan. 22-24, the city manager met in Austin with the two Lucios to discuss the proposed legislation. De La Rosa was back at the state Capitol April 8-10. It was during this visit that he testified before the Senate’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.

Next Steps

De La Rosa said that with the legislation approved, the City will begin the process of establishing legal agreements with the developer.

“The City will soon begin work with principals of the company to structure the document to protect both parties’ interests. Completion of financing details, utilizing the benefits built into the new legislation and approval by City officials each step of the way, will be institute as the project advances,” De La Rosa said.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows state Sen. Eddie Lucio and San Benito City Manager Manuel De La Rosa at the state Capitol in Austin.