Skip to main content

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


Get the latest Public Policy news

Related News

Public Policy

Key Outcomes of the 87th Texas Legislative Session

The Greater Houston Partnership is the region's primary business advocate and works on behalf of and alongside our 900 member companies to advance policy that supports continued economic growth across Texas. At the conclusion of the 87th Legislative Session formally the Greater Houston Partnership released a summary of outcomes from the organization's impact agenda for the 2021 session. In advance of this session, the Partnership’s Board of Directors and Public Policy Steering Committee worked to develop a legislative agenda that addresses the most pressing issues facing the business community and the greater Houston region – these being broadly categorized as access and energy competitiveness. Key wins were passed in both of these priority areas this session, with bills signed into law that:  Advance equitable access to public education, digital connectivity and health care Create a landscape that positions the Houston region to lead the development of carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS), a key step in advancing the global energy transition Address business community priorities including workforce development, legal liability protections, transportation infrastructure and economic development Despite the challenges presented throughout the 2021 session including the ongoing pandemic and Winter Storm Uri, the Partnership successfully advanced important legislation that supports continued economic growth across Texas.  We hope this overview of outcomes gives you insight to key policy issues facing the greater Houston region and thank you for your ongoing support and engagement in our work.  View the full report. Learn more about the Partnership's public policy work. 
Read More
Public Policy

87th Legislative Summary: Transportation, Infrastructure and Business Issues

With the end of the 87th Texas Legislative Session, the Partnership produced a summary report on its legislative priorities. This post focuses on outcomes related to priorities of Houston's business community including transportation, infrastructure, economic development and legal liability protections.  Coastal Barrier Senate Bill 1160 - PASSED INTO LAW Senate Author: Senator Larry Taylor (R-Galveston) House Sponsor: Representative Dennis Paul (R-Houston) Highlights:  Creates the Gulf Coast Protection District for the coastal barrier project, enhancing protection for the greater Houston area and the Texas economy from the devastating effects of hurricanes and storm surges The Partnership supports the construction of a coastal barrier to protect the Houston region from hurricanes and storm surge. At the federal level, we anticipate that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will release a Chief's Report this summer, after which Congress can authorize and fund the project. To receive federal funding, the state is required to designate a local sponsoring entity.  SB 1160 creates the local sponsoring entity - the Gulf Coast Protection District - for the coastal barrier project. The district will have the authority to issue bonds, impose fees and taxes not to exceed legislative limits, and exercise eminent domain to facilitate the construction of the project that would protect the Houston area and Texas economy from the effects of hurricanes and storm surges.  +++   Transportation Budget Senate Bill 1 - PASSED INTO LAW Senate Author: Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) House Sponsor: Representative Greg Bonnen (R-League City) SB 1, includes a 2.9 percent decrease, from $31.1 billion last session to $30.2 billion this biennium. This does not threaten or delay the state's commitment to the State Highway Fund, serving transportation needs, and TxDOT's reductions primarily reflect the loss of one-time funding sources. +++ Chapter 313 House Bill 1556 - FAILED TO PASS House Author: Representative Jim Murphy (R-Houston) Senate Sponsor: None   House Bill 4242 - FAILED TO PASS House Author: Representative Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas) Senate Sponsor: Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) In 2001 the Texas Legislature and Governor Rick Perry worked to establish a new economic development program designed to attract capital-intensive businesses, high-paying jobs and expand the property tax base. The program would offset Texas' high business property tax rates relative to other states by offering a 10-year limited abatement to school property taxes, which often comprise 50percent of a local property tax bill. The program came to be known as Chapter 313, after the section of the tax code where it is located. It specifically targeted the manufacturing, R&D, power generation, computer centers and renewable power business sectors. Qualifying businesses received an abatement of their local school district maintenance and operation property taxes, while continuing to pay all other property and sales taxes. After the 10-year abatement period, the facility rolled onto the local tax rolls at the full rate. The program was reauthorized and reformed in 2013, adding additional reporting requirements and oversight by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Qualification requirements were further strengthened to target those projects which otherwise would not have located in Texas. Through September of 2020, Comptroller reports estimated the program brought over $200 billion in capital investment and 56,000 direct and indirect jobs to Texas, including nearly 100 separate manufacturing projects in the Houston region. With the program set to expire on December 31, 2022, HB 4242 proposed a simple 2-year reauthorization with no changes to the program, so the Legislature could better study the issue in the interim.  The Partnership worked with a statewide coalition, known as Keep Texas First, consisting of other chambers of commerce, businesses and economic development organizations to coordinate the reauthorization effort. Ultimately, all reauthorization legislation failed to pass.  Chapter 313 is scheduled to expire at the end of 2022. Without Chapter 313, Texas will have the fourth highest business property taxes in the nation for large, capital-intensive projects, putting our state at a severe disadvantage for recruiting new companies. The Keep Texas First coalition is already coordinating ways to work with the Legislature to restore our economic competitiveness until a more permanent solution can be found. +++ Legal Liability Protections Senate Bill 6 - PASSED INTO LAW Senate Author: Senator Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) House Sponsor: Representative Jeff Leach (R-Plano) Highlights:  Offers statewide liability protection for businesses, education institutions, health care facilities and government offices complying with posted government safety protocols, extending beyond COVID-19 to all pandemics  The COVID-19 pandemic exposed businesses to a quickly-changing set of regulations and recommendations from government and health care entities. Companies, particularly small businesses with limited resources, faced the very real prospect of being sued for not properly protecting employees or customers from contracting COVID-19, even if the companies were acting in good faith.  SB 6 provides explicit statewide liability protection for businesses, education institutions, health care facilities and government offices operating in good faith and in compliance with all posted government safety protocols. The bill extends beyond COVID-19 to all pandemics. Efforts to enact nationwide liability protections remain ongoing in Congress, and the Partnership continues to work with our Texas delegation to achieve that outcome. See the full 87th Legislative Session summary report. 
Read More

Related Events