Dark skies bill moves forward in legislature

International Dark Sky communities are one step closer to using Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) dollars for infrastructure meant to reduce light pollution.

House Bill (HB) 4158, authored by State Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood), would give Dark Sky communities more flexibility to reinvest in tourism efforts. The bill was unanimously voted out of committee and could soon be placed on the calendar for a vote in the Texas House.

If passed, the bill would directly affect Wimberley and Dripping Springs in Hays County, as well as Horseshoe Bend, located near Marble Falls; all three municipalities have been named as Dark Sky communities within the last few years.

“Dark sky tourism is a real phenomenon in the Hill Country, so protecting that night sky will protect that tourism,” Zwiener said. “HOT funds are used to reinvest in tourism, and that’s how we are making a case for this to pass.”

The bill is specifically tailored to allow these municipalities to use HOT funds for lighting infrastructure that allows residents to view the cosmos above. In city’s such as Dripping Springs, this includes special lights with hoods that hinder light pollution to the stars.

Read more from Exsar Arguello with Hays Free Press News-Dispatch here.