The Fight for Local Control
Bill to void local control dies
     House bill 3899 which would have eliminated cities' ability to regulate businesses that operate in multiple cities died in the Calendars Committee in the House on Thursday, May 9 th . This bill would have prevented cities from regulating payday and title lenders and would have stopped them from requiring recycling in new apartment complexes. The HEB Chamber and Coalition of East Tarrant Chambers, true to our position of favoring most local control, opposed this bill and contacted every member of the Calendars' Committee asking that it not be placed on a calendar for consideration by the full House.

Legislative Lowdown
Conference committees abound as the session draws to an end
     The critical pieces of legislation promised by state leaders for this session have cleared the House and Senate and now are in conference committees where five appointees from each chamber will reconcile the House and Senate versions of the legislation. Counting today, there are effectively 12 real legislative days left in the 86th Texas Legislature.
    The budget for the coming biennium is in conference committee. This is the one bill that the legislature must pass so it is pretty sure the committee will eventually be successful. Chambers across the state including our Coalition of East Tarrant Chambers are working to have the conferees remove Rider 44 from the final budget. This rider would effectively kill the Texas Central High Speed Rail project.
    HB3, the vehicle for revamping the way Texas funds public education is in conference committee. Major issues between the two chambers make this bill the most difficult to reconcile. The House version provides a major boost in the standard allotment for each enrolled student, reduced property taxes by 4 cents per hundred dollars of valuation and provides about an $1,800 pay raise for all non-executive school employees. The Senate version provides a smaller increase in the standard allotment, a $5,000 pay raise for only teachers and librarians and reduces school property taxes 10 cents per hundred dollars of assessed valuation. The House plan is fully funded, while the Senate plan spends more than is available. There are other sticky issues that are a little too technical to explain here.
    SB2, the vehicle to cap the increase in property taxes that a taxing entity can raise without an automatic election, is also in conference committee. Looks like cities and counties will be capped at a 3.5% increase. School districts will have a cap, but the discussions range from 2% to the current 6%.
    There are five conference committees appointed and meeting. The others are on SB500, a higher education funding bill and SB12 concerning teacher retirement.

Slow and Steady
Cities' ability to make property tax abatements (chapter 312) appears on way to passage
     House bills 360 and 3143 were heard as one combined bill in the Senate Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee. Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) is carrying the bill in the Senate. HB360 was a simple extension of Chapter 312 until 2029. HB3143 places some conditions on Chapter 312 agreements that make them more visible to the voting public. The two bills were combined in the Senate because Senator Brian Birdwell, Committee Chair, did not want to risk extending the existing law without improvements in visibility which might have occurred if HB360 was passed by itself. O ver 40 support letters from businesses, economic development corporations and chambers across the state where delivered and more than 100 people were in the Capitol for the hearing and registered FOR passage of the bill including all five Chambers in the Coalition of East Tarrant Chambers.
    Robert Sturm, Economic Development Director for the City of Fort Worth opposed HB3143 because it required a 30-day notice to the public before a contract could be approved. He contended competitors would take that notice and try to woo the investing company away. Senator West seemed concerned about that point and proposed lowering notice to 7-days. Senators who thought 30-days was too short and wanted 90-day notice weighed in and it appears notice will remain at 30 days. The bill is expected out of committee May 15 th.

With Flying Colors
Bill to collect federal matching medial funds passes both Houses
     HB2324 by Geren (R-Fort Worth) was passed and signed in both the House and Senate and is headed to the Governor's Desk for signature. This bill allows Tarrant County hospitals to pool resources and use those funds to draw down federal matching funds in a 60-40 ratio. Called a Local Provider Participation Fund (LPPF), Tarrant County hospitals have been using this vehicle to bring in over $180 million in federal funds used for indigent care. The current program was set to expire in December of this year. HB2324 extends the program to the end of December 2025. It was supported by Texas Health Resources and other major hospital groups and by the Coalition of East Tarrant Chambers.

Well Worth the Work
Tom Luce champions 20-year plan for Texas
     Tom Luce has a distinguished 40 year career in law and politics in Texas and at the national level. He has now turned his attention to getting the state focused on long term, aspirational goals in six areas: Education and Workforce, Health and Human Services, Infrastructure, Natural Resources, Safety and Justice and Government Performance.
    His organization is Texas 2036, chosen because 2036 is the Texas Bi-Centennial year. He presents data showing the "Texas Miracle," which was the result of good public policy, abundant workforce, natural resources and aggressive economic development activity, is about to slip away from us. Our population is not adequately taking advantage of education and our workforce is becoming less well qualified. Our growth in working age population has been fueled by record immigration, but that trend is slowing. Immigrants to Texas are better educated than our native population. To support our projected population growth by 2036 and keep unemployment the same, we need to create as many new jobs as now exist in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas. Supporting this economy will require massive investment in infrastructure.
    Luce believes that we are Texans and we are up to this challenge. We need a 20-year plan with benchmarks and frequent evaluation and correction. The business community needs to hold public officials accountable for achieving the benchmarks.  Ask yourself, what you have done to move us along the path to our education goals? As a business, it is not enough to only say you support education. If our plan is not working, we need to fix it. It is up to us to keep public officials focused on our future as a state, not on winning the next election.
    CLICK HERE to learn more.

To Dedication and Commitment
Congratulations to our newly/reelected Hurst-Euless-Bedford Officials
Bedford City Council
Ruth Culver
Amy Sabol
Hurst City Council
David Booe
Larry Kitchens
Jon McKenzie
Euless City Council
Perry Bynum
Eddie Price
Tim Stinneford
HEB ISD Board of Trustees
Fred Campos
Andy Cargile
Julie Cole

We're working for you

   The Chamber's Board has five goal teams. One of these teams is Business Advocacy, and it is chaired by Howard Shotwell. The team's responsibilities include government relations, issues identification, identifying collaboration opportunities and ensuring Chamber members always have a "seat at the table." We welcome your support! If you would like to get involved in the Chamber's business advocacy work, contact Mary Frazior, 817-283-1521, [email protected].

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