2017 State Legislative Action Plan


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2017 State Legislative Action Plan Presented to the 85th Texas State Legislature

WELCOME The Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce has, as its foremost mission, the continuation and cultivation of a vigorous local economy. Through many of its programs, the Chamber enhances the ability of companies in the Brazos Valley to grow and prosper. As the voice of local business, we 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 hear about the business interests of our community. The purpose of the State Legislative Action Plan is to summarize the important legislative goals and areas of concern to our community. We respectfully request your support on the issues outlined in this plan. Please contact the B/CS Chamber of Commerce if you need clarification or additional information.

David O’Neil Chairman of the Board

Glen Brewer President/CEO

ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES The continued production of energy and stewardship of our natural resources is vital to a sustainable national and local economy. Electricity Preserve local regulatory authority.

Water Support changes to eliminate use of desired future conditions as a cap on groundwater availability/supply in the Regional Water Planning process. Oppose legislation that would attempt to undermine in any way HB 655, which deals with the aquifer storage and recovery project, passed in the 2015 session which gave the Texas Commission on Environment Quality (TCEQ) exclusive jurisdiction for regulating and permitting of Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) projects. Support legislation that would facilitate the development of brackish groundwater supplies for municipal, industrial, and mining use, through the designation of brackish groundwater zones. Support legislation making Groundwater Conservation District rule-making subject to requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act. Oppose legislation that would transition groundwater management to a correlative rights system.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Economic development in Texas requires strong support of transportation infrastructure, education, water and other natural resources. We encourage support of the following initiatives vital to economic development. Revenue Caps Oppose revenue caps on municipalities lower than the current roll back rate as the maximum increase in property tax revenues a city may collect without a mandatory approval by voters and exempt new construction from any cap. Workforce Development Support increased funding and policy alignment to enhance university, community college and high school workforce training programs to meet the workforce training needs of local employers, including support of programs like the Skills Development Fund, Jobs and Education for Texans ( JET) and HB 5 which resulted in the Foundation High School Program. Research and Development Continue R&D tax credits and similar resources that place Texas in the forefront of economic development that will lead our state to greater prosperity.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Texas Franchise Tax Support the no tax due threshold amount of $1 million indefinitely. Support making the permanent exemption from franchise tax obligations of certain small businesses with total revenues equal to or less than $1 million. Texas Enterprise Fund Support maintaining the Texas Enterprise Fund or legislation to continue funds similar to the Texas Enterprise Fund for very large projects considering relocation to Texas or significant expansion of existing Texas businesses. University Interscholastic League (UIL) Support legislation to require the UIL to allow qualified Texas universities and communities to bid for the opportunity to host athletic, academic, theatric and music competitions. Opening the competition for those events will provide high performing students the opportunity to experience numerous campuses while yielding a positive economic impact to communities.

EDUCATION Higher Education

Making a transformational difference is a hallmark of Texas A&M University and Blinn College – in their graduates and faculties. Texas A&M’s and Blinn’s legislative priorities reflect and reinforce their commitment to continue providing accessible and affordable education. Texas A&M University Eliminate any proposed cuts to budgets. Maintain current formula funding rates (base funding) to cover statewide enrollment growth. Maintain current rates for Texas Research University Fund. Promote veterinary medicine partnerships.

Blinn College Increase funding in order to meet the education needs of Texas students at an affordable rate. Increase funding for community college workforce training. Increase state funding to offset the rising expenses associated with Hazlewood exemptions. Maintain existing funding for the operations of the State of the Republic Museum.

EDUCATION Public Education Provide a school finance system that adequately and equitably funds all schools. Ensure that all public, private, and home schools that receive state funding are held accountable for student performance and financial transparency. Support the removal of the harmful A-F labels from the current state accountability system. Help school district infrastructure in fast growing communities.

HEALTHCARE Support funding for a strong behavioral healthcare system.

The state has too few inpatient beds for patients with severe behavioral health issues. Outpatient services and crisis units are not sufficiently available to serve the needs of Texans.

Support solutions that will allow the most efficient use of public, group and individual insurance arrangements to reduce the number of uninsured Texans. Expansion of coverage should focus on private insurance options that require personal accountability and engagement to control costs.

Support local funding options to secure a Medicaid rate enhancement without using additional state funding. Texas must find a way to draw down additional federal dollars to improve Medicaid reimbursement rates, allowing for improved access and reducing the losses that providers encounter when caring for Medicaid patients.

HEALTHCARE Support the continued funding of the Trauma Care Network with the fees and fines collected from the Driver Responsibility Program.

There must be a stable funding mechanism for the 284 designated trauma centers providing care to victims of accidents, mass casualty events and other trauma incidents.

Support the continued expansion of Graduate Medical Education/Medical Residency positions.

More than 150 additional first year graduate medical education positions are needed to keep pace with Texas’s rapidly-growing population and eliminate the “export” of Texas-trained medical students to residencies outside Texas.

Support the elimination of “surprise” out of network medical service bills due in part to cost control efforts.

Patients are suffering economic harm due to “surprise” bills for needed medical services provided by non-network providers within contracted network facilities.

REGULATORY/TAXES Discontinue unfunded mandates on local governments.

State officials create mandates for local governments and accept or bear no responsibility for funding the costs of these mandates. Over time, unfunded mandates have placed an increased strain on local government budgets, and in turn, on local property taxes and local taxpayers.

Reduce the continuous stream of new State regulatory burdens imposed on businesses each year. Excessive regulations on the local, state, and federal level cause businesses to drive up product and services prices to consumers, creating a sense of uncertainty that restrains the ability to plan for future growth.

Preserve local regulatory authority.

Locally elected officials should be allowed to decide, based on the needs of their constituents, how to provide appropriate services. Texas is wonderfully diverse, and a one-size-fits-all approach does not work well for such a broad range of governmental entities.

Reduce State-levied taxes on business.

A lower business tax rate would encourage businesses to locate in Texas and allow them to be more competitive in the market place.

Mandate collaboration between State agencies to reduce waste, fraud and duplication.

The Texas Legislature needs to redouble its efforts to reduce expenditures by eliminating government mission creep and duplication of State programs.

TRANSPORTATION Transportation is a core concept to every aspect of daily life, which constantly strains infrastructure. The priority for this infrastructure must not be just its maintenance, but also must allow for infrastructure expansion in areas of high growth and during times when rapid economic development and population expansion occur. Prioritize transportation funding for top priority projects as approved through a local planning process by local elected officials via their Metropolitan Planning Organization and Rural Planning Organization. Develop new funding mechanisms for local projects, off-system roadways and transit. This includes, but is not limited to, raising the motor fuels tax, implementing an equitable funding formula and providing for a local transportation funding option, such as registration fees to support local projects. Follow and implement statewide transportation management policies. Implement safer roads through better Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technology advancement (i.e., connected vehicles, freight shuttle, active roadway messaging, etc.). Streamline environmental approvals. Support public and private High Speed Rail development in Texas. Fully fund TxDOT to levels that allow for adequate project management and project design in the coming years. Increase customer service support at Department of Public Safety offices to reduce the time and effort needed for licensing of both private and commercial drivers.

B/CS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CONTACTS David O’Neil

Chairman of the Board Wells Fargo Bank [email protected]

Jason Ogle

Chace Murphy

Vice-Chair of Community Enhancement Atmos Energy [email protected]

Mary Lynne Stratta

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

Legislative Affairs Committe Co-Chair City of Bryan [email protected]

John E. Anderson

Glen Brewer

State Legislative Action Plan Commitee Chair Merrill Lynch [email protected]

President/CEO B/CS Chamber of Commerce [email protected]

4001 E 29th St, Ste 175 • Bryan, TX 77802 (979) 260-5200 • www.bcschamber.org