Affairs Committee
Steve Ahlenius
Vice-Chair Govt. Affairs
Eddie Brown
John Darby
Tony Felker
Mary Frazior
Jim Johnson 
Jamee Jolly
Eddie McBride
Wayne Mitchell
Jason Mock
San Marcos
Tony Moline
Cedar Park
Mitch Thames
Bay City


Last Tuesday, the Senate State Affairs Committee took 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. The committee heard over 18 hours of testimony with 43 speaking in support and 266 speaking against. An additional 201 people registered support and 1333 registered opposition. A committee substitute was adopted and it was reported out of committee by a vote of 7 to 1.
Senator Lois Kolkhorst - In laying out the bill, Senator Kolkhorst said,  "In May of 2016, President Obama issued an edict that all school children could declare their own gender and use the restroom, locker room and shower of their choice. Thankfully, the newly-appointed Attorney General has since rescinded that order, saying it was done 'without due regard for the primary role of the states.' I agree, which is why I've been joined by over a dozen of my fellow state senators in authoring this bill, the Texas Privacy Act (SB 6).
The bill codifies what most Texans already expect. The act designates separate showers, locker rooms and restrooms for males and females in public schools, colleges, universities and government facilities. Unless we define boundaries, young men who are 'curious' or hold more nefarious goals will be free to experiment, while girls and parents are left legally powerless. Schools will face lawsuits, and pit parents against school boards, as we have already seen in Fort Worth, Dripping Springs, and Pearland. Texas must set a sensible, non-discriminatory gender policy, or someone else will do it for us. We must put safety, and dignity ahead of social engineering that is disguised as civil rights.
The Texas Privacy Act is inclusive, allowing personal accommodations for special circumstances while also respecting those who do not consent to a male entering a female restroom. Some have made predictions that our economy may suffer if our state passes SB 6. The opposite is true. SB 6 allows private businesses to make their own decisions, while providing clear direction to public schools and government buildings, which will bolster our economy. Look at North Carolina, which posted a $425 million budget surplus and announced 5,000 new jobs after addressing the issue."
Bill Filing Deadline - The deadline for legislators to file bills to be considered by the Texas Senate and House this session was 6:00 p.m. on Friday, March 10, 2017. Beginning this week, it will take a suspension of the rules to get permission to introduce a bill. The filing deadline does not apply to local bills, concurrent resolutions or simple resolutions. As of last Friday, March 3rd, 2931 House bills and HJR's had been filed and 1349 Senate bills and SJR's had been filed for a total of 4280. At the same point in the 2015 session, 3521 bills had been filed (750 less). In 2015, 2586 bills were filed in the last week.
Last Thursday, the House Economic and Small Business Development Committee heard invited testimony. Witnesses included:
Dale Craymer of Texas Taxpayers and Research Association suggested that the state needs a "one stop shopping" portal for businesses seeking economic development incentives to apply in one location even if there are multiple applications to submit. He also suggested the legislature should review how it evaluates incentives. Because fiscal notes are static, they only report the amount of money the state or local entities lose because of an economic development incentive. He recommended that reports on incentives should also look at the benefits brought to the state and the amount of money the state would have lost if the incentivized project was not in the state.
Joe May , Chancellor of Dallas County Community College (DCCC) reported that community colleges are the number one provider of workforce training in Texas. He also talked about the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) housed at his institution. He discussed the workforce shortage (currently, there are 42,000 job openings in the Dallas/Fort Worth region). To help address the issue, DCCC is requesting approval by the legislature to offer baccalaureate degrees in early childhood education, nursing, and applied technology and manufacturing.
Carleton Schwabb of Texas Economic Development Council discussed Type A and Type B local economic development corporations. Since the programs were started in 1989, 723 economic development corporations have been established - around 500 Type B corporations, and a little over 200 Type A corporations. The projects that have been funded have created over one million jobs and accounted for 20 percent of the state's job growth between 1989 and 2015.
Bill Peacock of Texas Public Policy Foundation made a case against economic development incentives. He argued that states that perform best economically are the states that have the lowest per capita spending and they are also the states with low economic development spending per capita. He said, "States that reduce spending and taxes have the strongest economies. States with the highest economic performance spend the least per capita on economic development." He suggested:
  • slow spending growth by basing the spending cap on population growth plus inflation;
  • not dipping into the Economic Stabilization Fund; and
  • phasing out local and state economic development incentive programs.
Barrett Groves of the Center for Public Policy Priorities discussed the declining middle class and the reduced number of mid-skill jobs available compared to 1979. There is growth in high skill jobs and in low-skill jobs. He suggested the state needs to align workforce training and education efforts with available jobs. 

Have a great week!

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