The Senate State Affairs Committee is meeting today, Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 8:00 a.m. in E1.012 of the capitol extension to take up SB 6 by Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) which would require school districts, political subdivisions, and state agencies to develop a policy requiring multiple-occupancy bathrooms or changing facilities to be designated for and used only by persons of the same biological sex ("biological sex" is defined as the physical condition of being male or female as stated on a person's birth certificate). A private entity that leases or contracts to use a public building would not be subject to this policy. It would enhance the penalties for offenses that are committed on the premises of a bathroom or changing facility. It would also:
- Prohibit political subdivisions from adopting or enforcing an order, ordinance, or other measure that relates to the designation or use of a private entity's bathroom or changing facility or that requires or prohibits the entity from adopting a policy on the designation or use of the entity's bathroom or changing facility; and
- Prohibit a political subdivision from considering whether a private entity competing for a contract for the purchase of goods or services has adopted a policy relating to the designation or use of the entity's bathroom or changing facility.
Governor's Cup Award
- On Wednesday Governor Greg Abbott announced that Texas has won Site Selection Magazine's 2016 Governor's Cup, an award that is given annually to the top performing state for capital investment and job creation. In 2016, Texas finished with 642 business relocations or expansions. This is the fifth year in a row, and the eighth year since 2004, that Texas has won the award. Governor Abbott said, "Texas' economic climate, best-in-class workforce and entrepreneurial resilience has once again made the Lone Star State the top destination for capital investment, and I am proud to accept this award on behalf of the men and women who have made our state the beacon of economic opportunity in the United States. I look forward to continuing the Texas tradition of winning this award again next year."
On Thursday, the House Economic and Small Business Development Committee held an organizational meeting and received invited testimony. The invited witnesses were:
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
- Keith Phillips of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported:
- The Texas economy is shifting into second gear after the energy slowdown, but Texas is better off than other energy states.
- Job growth in Texas last year was below the national average for the first time in 13 years, but he predicted Texas will be back above the national average again this year.
- The only risk to the Texas economy would be if oil prices declined or if there was a decline in exports due to federal policy. In response to a question from Representative Lina Ortega of El Paso, he said 38 percent of Texas exports go to Mexico.
Texas Workforce Commission
- Larry Temple, Executive Director of the Texas Workforce Commission discussed the programs his agency administers including the unemployment insurance (UI) program and two veterans assistance programs - College Credit for Heroes and Texas Wide Open for Veterans. He also discussed:
- The Tri-Agency Initiative and last week's rollout of the Texas Internship Challenge database matching businesses that offer paid internships with interested students.
- Courtney Arbour, Director of Workforce Development at the Texas Workforce Commission reported on the 28 local workforce boards and their role in establishing local priorities and how training money is spent in their area.
Governor's Office of Economic Development and Tourism
- Bryan Daniel, Executive Director of the Office of Economic Development and Tourism in the governor's office pointed out the many awards Texas has received for its economic climate including:
- The recent announcement by Site Selection Magazine that Texas won the Governor's Cup for the 5th year in a row.
- In the last two years (since Governor Greg Abbott became governor), the office has worked with 390 business prospects and has sent 142 leads to local economic development entities. 15 companies have been awarded Texas Enterprise Fund grants resulting in 5,600 direct jobs, another 7,500 indirect jobs, and $656 million in capital investment
- There are eleven potential projects pending decisions. He also talked about the Enterprise Zone program, the Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, the Governor's University Research Initiative, and outreach to small businesses.
Economic Incentives Oversight Board
- Massey Villareal, Chair of the Economic Incentives Oversight Board, which was established by Chairman Button's HB 26 last session to review and evaluate existing economic development incentives, reported that the board had its organizational meeting in December and will meet again in June. He said, "Incentives play an important role in capital investment and economic growth. Texas has a model that other states try to duplicate." He said that it is important to maintain all existing incentives and his board, in addition to looking at existing incentives, will look for new ways to drive economic development, particularly for small businesses.
- Russell Gallahan of the comptroller's office talked about his office's role in administering Chapter 313 agreements. He said the program has been popular and successful and no other state does it. It provides a ten-year property tax limitation of school district maintenance and operation taxes. Most of the projects are manufacturing and renewable energy. He also discussed:
- 28 local economic development corporations and Type A and Type B sales tax projects.
- Since their creation in 1989, they have generated $738 million for local projects.
Franchise Tax Reform
by Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) would increase the small business franchise tax deduction from $1 million to $4 million.
Speaking in support were:
- Will Newton of NFIB-Texas testified in support.
- Representatives of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association,
- Texas Apartment Association,
- Texas Merchandise Vending Association,
- Texas Retailers Association, and Texas Association of Builders.
Speaking in opposition were:
- Dale Craymer of Texas Taxpayers and Research Association and James LeBas on behalf of Texas Chemical Council.
Registering in opposition were:
- Representatives of the Center for Public Policy Priorities,
- Texas AFL CIO,
- Texas Oil and Gas Association,
- Texas Association of Manufacturing,
- Texas Chemical Council,
- Texas American Federation of Teachers.
- Texas Association of Business
It was left pending.