2015 Federal Legislative Action Plan


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2015 FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE ACTION PLAN PRESENTED TO THE 114TH CONGRESS (1st Session) BY THE BRYAN/COLLEGE STATION CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Bryan/CollegeStationChamberofCommerce

Educate. Advocate. Legislate.

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Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce

Bryan/College Station: Taking Care of Business First

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“When local businesses succeed, our non-profits and civic organizations flourish, our local governments prosper to the benefit of our schools and children and provide better services for all of our residents. That is the economic cycle that creates the wonderful community in which we all work and live.” – B/CS Chamber of Commerce



Bryan/College Station (B/CS) is one of the fastest growing areas in the United States for biomedical research and product development.



The unemployment rate in the B/CS area was 5.3% in 2013 and dipped as low as 4.4% in December. Employment increased by 14% from 2011 to 2013. The increase in job growth ranged from 11% to 34% from 2000 to 2011.



The B/CS “Relative Employment Performance” has outpaced the national average for 18 years in a row.



Military.com rated B/CS #4 in cities for military retirement in 2010.



B/CS has been named to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s 2013 list of 10 Great Places to Live.



B/CS is located near three of the ten largest cities in the U.S. and within a 180 mile radius of ~ 80% of the population of Texas.

The Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce has as its foremost mission the continuation and cultivation of a vigorous and diverse local economy. Through its many programs, the Chamber enhances the ability of companies in the Brazos Valley to grow and prosper. One of the most important roles for our Chamber is to take a proactive approach to ensure that those who represent us nationally in Washington D.C., state-wide in Austin and locally in Bryan/College Station learn more about the business interests of our community.

Rich White Chairman of the Board

Royce Hickman President & CEO

Bryan/CollegeStationChamberofCommerce

The purpose of our following Federal Legislative Action Plan is to summarize the important legislative goals in the areas of concern to our 1,400 members and our community. We respectfully request your support on the issues outlined in this plan

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Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce

2015 Federal Legislative Action Plan

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The Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce advocates for businesses at the local, state and federal levels. The Chamber uses guiding principles in considering positions on issues. At the heart of these principles is the certainty that the strength of a nation, a state and a community is a reflection of the strength of their economies. Wealth and jobs are created through economic development in a free society by means of free enterprise. Businesses, especially small businesses, are the engines that drive economic growth and rely on an atmosphere conducive to that growth. It is therefore essential that we support efforts to: • • • • •

Reduce the cost of doing business. Reduce regulatory compliance and tax burdens on businesses. Increase the qualified workforce. Continue to improve transportation infrastructure. Maintain research and development funding to maintain a strong military and economy.

Americans want healthcare that is effective, provides for their safety and wellness, and is financially sound. Successful healthcare reform should maximize consumer choice, slow the escalating cost of care, and increase access to healthcare for more Americans while providing economic stability for individuals, families and businesses. Many of the needed solutions to achieve these goals can be pioneered through the private sector. By prioritizing improvements in the employer-sponsored healthcare system, we can provide system-wide changes leading to more insured individuals and sustainable health care costs. We support: 1. Replacing or amending The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) to create a market-driven health care system that reduces the complexity of compliance for patients, providers, insurers and employers. 2. Improving value-driven healthcare services for all stakeholders by making the system easier to navigate and increasing user-friendly public access to current, accurate and unbiased medical cost and quality information. 3. Developing incentives that encourage and promote personal responsibility for individuals to make healthy

lifestyle choices which will help transition our healthcare system to a “well care” model from a “sick care” model. 4. Allowing states to develop alternatives to Medicaid expansion – using The Texas Way as a model. This flexibility will allow states to design programs that are more appropriate for their residents and businesses. 5. Preserving the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) program and other mechanisms that sustain rural health care providers that serve rural communities.

Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce

Improve Health Care Legislation

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Promote Fiscal Responsibility

Bryan/CollegeStationChamberofCommerce

Our membership continues to be concerned about the rate of spending which requires the government to borrow nearly 20 cents of every dollar it spent in 2014 (www.budget.gov). This is detrimental to a thriving business climate because it increases the federal deficit, slows U.S economic growth, and discourages private investment.

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We support: 1. Developing a balanced budget policy and a requirement to use the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in all government budgeting. 2. Mandating collaboration between federal agencies to eliminate duplicative program expenditures. 3. Reforming Medicare, Social Security and all other entitlement programs in a way that will put them on the path to long-term sustainability. 4. Improving Congressional oversight of federal programs using existing resources. 5. Levying greater penalties on those who intentionally defraud the federal government.

According to a 2014 report commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers, the total cost of federal regulations in 2012 was $2.028 trillion (in 2014 dollars). For small businesses, those with fewer than 50 employees, it cost business owners an estimated $11,724 per employee per year to comply with federal regulations. 88% of those surveyed say that federal regulations are a top challenge for their firm. We support: 1. Tax code reform that decreases business taxes, helping U.S. companies better compete in the global marketplace. 2. Modification of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 to reduce the cost and complexity of compliance for employers. 3. All efforts to oppose EPA’s “cross state” pollution regulations. 4. All efforts to oppose unfunded mandates on state and local governments.

Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce

Reduce Regulatory and Tax Burdens on Business

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Encourage Economic Development Federal policies that encourage local economic development are critical. We encourage lawmakers to facilitate economic success and quality of life by a more localized decision making processes, returning control at the state level.

Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce

We support:

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1. Policies that promote American energy security, including expanding oil and gas exploration on Federal lands and offshore, encouraging economically viable alternative energy sources including nuclear, and allowing States to regulate hydraulic fracturing. We support U.S. energy exportation and renewed development of our energy infrastructure, including pipeline development and streamlined permitting of new refineries. 2. Comprehensive tax reform that drives innovation and global competitiveness, provides incentives for university, community college and business research and development, lowers the corporate tax rate, and returns funds and jobs to the United States from overseas; establishing E-fairness legislation and taxation of online and mail order sales through a standardized definition of the taxing jurisdiction site; increasing efforts that address cyber security. 3. Building a qualified workforce by developing a rational guest worker policy, providing funding for targeted vocational and technical training programs to meet local employers’ needs with funds distributed at the state level; allowing the market to determine competitive wage rates. 4. Continuing the tax exempt status of municipal bonds to make it financially feasible for states and local governments to expand and repair critical infrastructure, provide construction related jobs and maintain a healthy economy. 5. Recommitting to ensure that our national defense is the strongest in the world, and fulfilling our responsibility and our promises to active duty military personnel and veterans, through sufficient compensation, locally delivered health care, and retirement benefits.

The work being done by Texas A&M University and Blinn College, the Bryan/College Station business communityand our local governments could be considered a model of how public/private partnerships are working to share the responsibility of developing dynamic and diverse local economies. In Fiscal Year 2013, Texas A&M University generated more than $820M in federal research expenditures. Federally-supported research helps fuel “idea reactors” on campus that churn out new and advanced technologies and spawn new local businesses. We support: 1. Funding activities that produce invaluable economic impact through the commercialization of research into new technologies, new businesses, quality jobs and a highly skilled workforce. 2. Initiatives that place a priority on research and development funding, such as projects funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, as well as extramural research at mission agencies.

Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce

Funding Higher Education Research Encourages Economic Development

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Prioritize and Fund Transportation Infrastructure Improvements

Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce

Improvements to funding for transportation are critical to enhancing national security, public safety and local economic growth. For example, infrastructure improvements will help achieve the benefits from the federal government’s investment in the Texas A&M Center for Innovation, which was designed to enhance the nation’s emergency preparedness against emerging infectious diseases (including pandemic influenza) and other biological threats.

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The B/CS area is ~$400M short in funding for projects already identified in its transportation plan. The need for access and the increased freight and passenger traffic resulting from the Panama Canal expansion and port development projects are vital to commerce – but our citizens are growing more concerned about their future safety. Investments in B/CS and Brazos Valley infrastructure will enhance logistics that allow local business better access to work markets and vice versa. We support: 1. The use of 2010 Census Data in all funding formulas as part of any MAP-21 Continuing Resolution and in the next Reauthorization. 2. Developing sustainable and predictable funding for the transportation system. Indexing the revenue source of the Highway Trust Fund is supported. 3. Authorizing a long term (i.e., 6 years) federal transportation bill. 4. Utilizing the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s transportation data resources to identify national infrastructure project priorities.

Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce Contacts

Rich White

HEB Chairman of the Board 979.779.8905, [email protected]

Kathy Krusie

Bobby Bisor

Chair-Elect, Chamber Board Vice-Chairman of Community Enhancement Office of the President, Texas A&M University 979-862-6700, [email protected]

Mary Lynne Stratta

Chamber Board/Vice-Chair of Community Enhancement St. Joseph Regional Health Center 979.776-2446, [email protected]

Legislative Affairs Committee Co-Chair City of Bryan 979-209-5002, [email protected]

Cathy Boeker

Royce Hickman

Federal Legislative Action Plan Chair Associate Vice President Government & Public Affairs, Blinn College 979-830-4455, [email protected]

President & CEO B/CS Chamber of Commerce 979-260-5200, [email protected]

Glen Brewer

Immediate Past Chairman of the Board 979-255-6315, [email protected]

Jason Ogle

Legislative Affairs Committee Co-Chair Knowledge Based Systems, Inc. 979-260-5274, [email protected]

Burl Haigwood

Director of Operations & Public Affairs B/CS Chamber of Commerce 979-260-5200, [email protected]

To receive more details or an electronic copy of this Federal Legislative Action Plan, visit www.bcschamber.org -> Legislative Affairs or contact the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce Office at (979) 260-5200

Bryan/CollegeStationChamberofCommerce

Educate. Advocate. Legislate.

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Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce 4001 E. 29th Street • Bryan, TX (979) 260-5200 • www.BCSChamber.org