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Future of Texas – Unscripted: End of 87th Regular Legislative Session

Published Jun 04, 2021 by Lindsay Munoz


midyear texas state capitol.jpg

In this final episode of Future of Texas – Unscripted, we discuss Sine Die for the 87th Legislative Session - what bills got passed, what bills got slashed, and what is yet to come. Partnership Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy, Lindsay Munoz, discusses with Partnership Vice President of Strategy, Ben Melson. 

In this episode we cover:

  • Partnership priority bills and where they ended up
  • Legislative personalities and maneuvers used during session
  • Special sessions are on the horizon

 

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In the weeks before early voting, the Greater Houston Partnership will share essential information on the 2023 ballot initiatives that will impact our region. This week, we focus on state Propositions 8 and 10, which would allow Texas to expand its broadband infrastructure and become more competitive in attracting the medical and biomedical manufacturing industries. We will also go deeper into Harris County’s bond proposal, which would upgrade and enhance the hospital district’s facilities.  Prop 8: Bridging Texas' digital divide Equitable access to reliable, high-speed broadband provides economic opportunities to all Texans, and investment in broadband expansion enables local communities to thrive. However, U.S. Census Bureau data indicate almost 2.8 million Texas households and 7 million people lack broadband access. To close this digital divide, Proposition 8 creates the constitutionally dedicated Broadband Infrastructure Fund (BIF). The BIF will assist in financing connectivity projects and invest $1.5 billion toward expanding broadband infrastructure around the state, enabling Texas to successfully draw down funds from the federal Broadband Equity, Access, & Deployment (BEAD) Program. If approved by the voters, Proposition 8 will ensure our communities remain connected, competitive, and adaptable in the face of whatever challenges and opportunities tomorrow may bring. Prop 10: Boosting Texas' medical manufacturing competitiveness As Texas strives to become a hub for life sciences, our state needs to become a more attractive place for companies in the medical and biomedical industry to relocate.  By the numbers: Texas has one of the highest effective tax rates for the medical and biomedical manufacturing sector, taxing these businesses over 28%. For comparison, none of Texas’ largest competitors taxes the same industry more than 13.5%.  Proposition 10 is a constitutional amendment to exempt medical and biomedical manufacturers from the state’s inventory and equipment taxes, therefore reducing the effective tax rate for these manufacturers. If voters approve Proposition 10, Texas would be more attractive for existing medical and biomedical manufacturers to expand while also drawing new innovators to Texas from around the country and around the world.  Harris County Prop A: One step closer to urgent expansion The Harris Health System, our county’s hospital district, has provided care and served the residents of Harris County for nearly six decades. Acting as the county’s safety net care system and operating one of our two Level I Trauma Centers, the system is an integral part of our health care ecosystem.  By the numbers: Harris County's population has more than doubled in the past 30 years to nearly five million residents, while the facilities run by Harris Health have decreased in capacity, and many are nearing the end of their lifespans. This drastic increase in population over the decades has necessitated the need for an additional Level I Trauma Center, especially one located outside of the Texas Medical Center that is more easily accessible to all residents.  Harris County Proposition A seeks voter approval of a $2.5 billion bond issuance for constructing a new Level I Trauma Center, a new hospital, and other upgrades and investments in the Harris Health system’s facilities.  Important Election Information:  View the Greater Houston Partnership’s Ballot 2023 Initiative Guide before you head to the polls.  Important Election Information:  Last day to register to vote: Oct. 10 Early Voting: Oct. 23 – Nov. 3 General Election Day: Nov. 7 You may find more information on voting and polling locations here. Find more information on each of these ballot measures supported by the Greater Houston Partnership at Houston.org/2023ballot.
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9/29/23
In the weeks before early voting, the Greater Houston Partnership will share essential information on key ballot initiatives impacting our region. This week, we focus on state propositions 5 and 6, which would allow Texas to invest in its higher education system and improve deteriorating water infrastructure. The 2023 Ballot On November 7, Texas will hold a statewide general election, allowing voters to decide on 14 to the state’s constitution. Since Houston will be the only major city in Texas conducting local elections, Houston voters will disproportionately impact the statewide results. In this general election, Texas could invest in its higher education system, improve deteriorating water infrastructure, expand equitable broadband access, and incentivize biomedical manufacturing and job creation. In addition, Harris County could receive much-needed funds to enhance and expand the Harris Health System. Proposition 5: Boosting Texas Universities with $3.4B Fund A strong college-educated talent pipeline is becoming increasingly important to attract the companies and investments that can power economies for decades. There are just two national top 50 public universities in Texas: The University of Texas at Austin (ranked 9th) and Texas A&M (ranked 20th). Consequently, Texas is ranked 23rd nationally in the number of students attending a top 50 public university.  With the goal of elevating other Texas universities to top-50 status and improving Texas’ competitiveness, the 2023 Legislature passed House Bill 1595 and House Joint Resolution 3, which will establish the Texas University Fund (TUF). The TUF is a permanent $3.4 billion research endowment that will appropriate up to $100 million dollars annually to four Texas public universities, including the University of Houston.  Why it matters: This historic investment will strengthen Texas’ higher education institutions by providing the necessary funding to improve Texas universities’ national rankings, which will help the state attract top talent and reduce “brain drain.” Additionally, it will allow Texas schools to compete for federal research grants, secure private research funding, drive increased alumni support, and position Texas as a top destination for premier higher education.   What’s next: Establishing the fund is contingent on voters passing Proposition 5. The Partnership urges support for the constitutional amendment creating the Texas University Fund, which will expand educational opportunities for all Texas students and strengthen the state’s economy. Proposition 6: One positive step toward addressing looming water challenges According to the most recent State Water Plan, the population in Texas is expected to grow by 73 percent from 2020 to 2070, while the water demands are projected to rise by nine percent. Meanwhile, the existing water supply is expected to decline by around 18 percent. The result would be a crisis-level water shortage of 6.9 million acre-feet per year by 2070. To address this need, the Texas Legislature passed a constitutional amendment to establish the New Water Supply Fund, the Texas Water Fund, and the Statewide Water Public Awareness Account and put dollars toward crumbling water infrastructure across the state. The measure will help address future shortfalls by enabling the state to take on new water infrastructure projects, thereby increasing access to water for residents.   What’s next: Establishing these funds and funding is contingent on voters passing Proposition 6. The Partnership urges support for the constitutional amendment creating the Texas Water Fund to assist in financing water projects in Texas. Important Election Information: Early Voting: Oct. 23 – Nov. 3 General Election Day: Nov. 7 Find more information on voting and polling locations. Find more information on each of these ballot measures supported by the Greater Houston Partnership at Houston.org/2023ballot.
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