After campaigning as a strong fiscal conservative, pledging to protect the taxpayer by opposing tax increases, and riding the ‘tea party wave’ back into office in November, it would seem that Rep. Jim Murphy (R-Houston) has forgotten the promises he made to his constituents on the campaign trail. 

Rep. Murphy’s House Bill 1454 raises taxes by changing the definition of the word “price” in sections of the tax code pertaining to hotel taxes. In the words of our friends at Americans for Tax Reform, the bill would “expand hotel taxes beyond their appropriate scope” to include and apply to services provided by booking and travel agents. 

Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time someone from Houston has tried to pull this over… But the last person to do so was a liberal Democrat.

Before he was a failed gubernatorial candidate, Mayor Bill White wanted so badly to reach further into the taxpayer’s pockets, he had the city sue (against the recommendation of then city controller Annise Parker) to collect this tax.

Bill White lost the suit because the correct reading of the law indicates that the hotel tax should apply only to the cost of the room and not to any booking fee. (He lost in November because Texans didn’t want him anywhere near the tax code.) 

Whether he means to or not, Rep. Murphy is carrying Bill White’s liberal water by raising taxes. 

Mr. Murphy’s bill is currently scheduled for a public hearing in the Ways and Means committee Monday, March 28th.

Americans for Tax Reform – the originators of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge that we administer in Texas – has taken note. They sent a strongly worded letter to Ways and Means chairman Rep. Harvey Hilderbran (R-Kerrville, and a pledge signer) opposing the legislation. 

As a member of the ‘Tea Party Caucus’ and having signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, it certainly does not seem prudent for Mr. Murphy to push Bill White’s taxes on the rest of Texas.

(Also posted on

Andrew Kerr is the Executive Director of Empower Texans / Texans for Fiscal Responsibility

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