2012-2013 Legislative Priorities

 


State Priorities

Transportation and Infrastructure
Current funding mechanisms fall short of providing the necessary level of support to maintain our current infrastructure system with the state’s projected growth.  A flexible, reliable transportation system is essential to the stability and the growing economic development, and to provide transportation for our future businesses and employees.  The Chamber will continue to support legislation that would provide funding to properly maintain current infrastructure systems and fund expansion projects.  Through its Transportation Management Association (TMA), the Chamber will also support an alternate transportation program such as ride sharing (e.g., improved and expanded carpooling and vanpooling options and availability) for a more immediate solution to reducing the cost of employee work commute, as well as reductions in emissions and congestion.

Economic Development / Business Recruitment
The Chamber will continue to encourage full funding or increased funding for state development/incentive programs, in order to remain competitive and bring more jobs and businesses to Texas.  We will also support local control and flexibility in the use of tax abatements, tax increment financing, reinvestment zones and other incentives to promote economic development and job creation.

Education / Workforce Development
Texas’ education system must accelerate student improvement gains, provide thorough educational programs and require standards which prepare students to graduate with the education and skills to enter into the workforce or attend post-secondary education without need for remediation.

The Chamber will continue to support legislation which:

  • Furthers pilot programs for dropout prevention, high school success, as well as college and workforce readiness in public schools;
  • Gives school districts more local control pertaining to the needs of their students;
  • Supports flexibility for school districts in the requirements that grades K-4 are comprised of no more than 22 students to one teacher, allowing school campuses to use the 22:1 mandate as a campus average in general education classes.
  • Supports ongoing funding of higher education programs that enhance research productivity and positively impact student retention and success.

Health Care
The impact of new federal laws will not be fully understood for some time.  At a minimum, it appears that there may be subsidies available for small businesses that have not previously been able to afford insurance for their employees.  We recommend maintaining our advocacy similar to the healthcare agenda for the 82ndLegislative Session until we fully understand in what ways, positive and negative, the federal law will impact employers, employees and providers in Texas. 

Water
From 1950 to 2010, the Texas population grew from about 8 million to 25 million.  According to Texas Water Development Board projections, the number of people living in Texas will reach 40 million by 2040 and 46 million by 2060.  Rapid growth combined with Texas’ susceptibility to drought makes water supply a critical issue.  In this regard, the Chamber will continue to support Texas’ statewide water plan, adopted by the Texas Water Development Board, and will monitor throughout the session to avoid any changes that might negatively affect the Irving area.  We also support conservation efforts as a useful tool to help meet regional water needs.

Air Quality
The Chamber supports continued funding for state programs that fund air quality improvements, traffic congestion relief and technological investment to reduce pollution.  We would carefully review new proposals that further impose costs on business – either fees or regulatory compliance costs – to determine if the costs are worth the benefit.

State Revenue
Texas’ budget process poses a significant set of challenges in the current economy.  The Chamber supports a state tax structure that fosters economic growth and does not unfairly burden small to medium-sized businesses. 

Film Incentives
The Chamber supports the existing Texas Moving Image Incentive Program.
  The Chamber recognizes the important role film and television plays in economic and artistic life of Texas and the City of Irving.  With a strong existing infrastructure and talent base, Irving has been a hub of production.  Film and video projects financially benefit businesses by providing services such as housing, food, beverage, clothing, dry cleaning, construction supplies and tourism.

Property Owners Associations
Any bills which would have a negative impact on the Las Colinas Association and the Valley Ranch Association will be opposed by the Chamber.  These property owner associations are instrumental in maintaining the quality of Irving’s important two master-planned communities.

Telecommunications
The Chamber will continue to support legislation which promotes meaningful investment, competition, job creation and the development of advanced technologiesin their importance to overall economic growth and in close comportment with the principles of free enterprise.

Casino Gambling
The Chamber will support legislation for a limited number of strategically located high-end destination-type casinos/hotels that will economically benefit the State of Texas.

Federal Priorities

Fiscal Policy Reform
Over the next decade, projections indicate federal deficits will significantly exceed estimated revenues as a percentage of GDP.  A still-weak economy limits the scope for large adjustments in the very short term, but addressing this long-term imbalance soon will allow for more reasonable and gradual adjustments.  The Chamber supports economic solutions that put spending cuts and revenue options on table in order to put our country on a sustainable fiscal path. 

Regulatory Reform
Regulatory action at federal agencies has reached an unprecedented level in recent years, and numerous agencies have instituted rulemakings significantly beyond their scope.  The Chamber supports regulatory structures that are consistent and open, and allow businesses to adequately plan.  We oppose expanding the authority of federal agencies to intervene in local and state business affairs, particularly where such authority is duplicative or inconsistent with current regulations.

Immigration
Although the Chamber realizes that immigration is a federal issue, these issues continue to be a concern for DFW businesses, foreign governments and academic institutions as they engage talent from around the world to remain competitive in an increasingly global economy.  The Chamber supports immigration reform which will give employers access to legal workforce to meet legitimate business needs in all sectors of the economy.

Online Sales Taxation
The Chamber will continue to support national efforts to streamline online sales taxation.  We support allowing states to collect sales tax from online businesses, as a way to ensure a level playing field with “brick and mortar” operations in the state of Texas.