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HOU in ATX: Legislative Update – Week 8

Published Mar 03, 2023 by Taylor Landin

Austin Capitol Building

This week, Governor Abbott received the prestigious Site Selection Governor’s Cup for economic development achievements for a record-breaking 11th year in a row. Speaker Phelan expanded on his legislative priorities, focusing on economic growth and workforce development.

The Partnership also traveled to Washington, D.C. this week for its DC Fly In to advocate for its federal priorities.

Speaker Announces More Priorities
On Tuesday, Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) outlined additional key priorities for the Texas House to tackle this legislative session. These priorities include defending Texas’ position as the nation’s economic powerhouse while also ensuring Texas continues to train a skilled workforce to meet employers needs. 

House Bill 5, Texas Jobs & Security Act - Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi)

  • Why it matters: Speaker Phelan has been a staunch supporter of economic development. A new program established under House Bill 5 would provide temporary and limited competitive economic incentives to attract large-scale, capital-intensive projects related to manufacturing, national and state security, and energy infrastructure. 

House Bill 8 - Rep. Gary Van Deaver (R-New Boston)

  • Why it matters: House Bill 8 will fundamentally overhaul the state’s method of financing community colleges and make funding dependent on student outcomes and employer alignment. House Bill 8 makes investments in funding for outcomes, improving affordability, and in increasing college capacity. If passed, this legislation would transform community colleges and position Texas as a national model talent pipeline development.

House and Senate Committee Hearings are Underway
House Public Education

  • Big Picture: The House Public Education Committee convened for the first time this session under new Chairman, Rep. Brad Buckley (R-Salado) and heard testimony from Mike Morath, Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency. Commissioner Morath discussed a broad range of subjects, including post-pandemic learning recovery, school district budgetary issues, teacher pay and retention, school safety, and accountability systems. Commissioner Morath asked that lawmakers continue to make meaningful investments in public education so that Texas students are competitive with the best students from across the nation. 
  • What’s next: The committee will convene again next week to begin hearing referred bills, including a bill to help address teacher workforce challenges.

Senate State Affairs

  • Big Picture: During a six-hour hearing, Senate State Affairs heard testimony on a pair of bills to prevent foreign governments from owning property in Texas. Senate Bill 147 by Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) would prohibit property ownership by a governmental entity or a company headquartered in or directly or indirectly controlled by the government of China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia. 
  • What’s next: Several bills with similar objectives have drawn national media attention. Sen. Kolkhorst’s bill is expected to move out of committee with substitute language to clarify provisions would only apply to foreign governments — not individuals.

Texas Wins Governor’s Cup

Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference on Wednesday March 1 to announce Texas won Site Selection Magazine's Governor's Cup for the 11th year in a row. This is Texas’ 19th win overall. 

The Governor’s Cup is awarded annually to the nation’s leading state in attracting job-creating capital investments. 

Why It Matters: While Texas continues to be the best state to do business, competition amongst states is rapidly accelerating. 

  • Texas has lost several large projects over the last year, including Rivian to Georgia, Intel to Ohio, and Micron to New York.
  • A new program proposed in House Bill 5 will provide new economic development tools to keep Texas competitive as other states work to replicate Texas’ success.

DC Fly-In: Houston on Capitol Hill
The Partnership concluded our annual Washington, DC fly-in yesterday. This is an opportunity for Houston business leaders to interact with Members of Congress and key policy makers on the issues most important to the Houston region. There were several issues that rose to the top of our federal legislative agenda including the energy transition, infrastructure investments and the possibility of winning a headquarter location for ARPA-H. 
By the numbers: The group met with over a dozen Members of Congress, officials from the Biden administration, and national trade organizations:

  • Senator John Cornyn and Senator Ted Cruz
  • Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), Congressman Randy Weber (TX-14), Congressman Tony Gonzales (TX-03), Congressman Colin Allred (TX-32), Congressman Brian Babin (TX-36), Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18), Congressman Wesley Hunt (TX-38), Congressman Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), and Chairman Michael McCaul (TX-10).
  • The group also heard from neighboring Senator Markwayne Mullin (OK) and the office of Senator Bill Cassidy (LA), on tackling the critical issues facing our states. 
  • Administration officials from the Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, NASA, White House Council of Economic Advisors and White House Infrastructure Implementation Office. 
  • Industry trade groups included the American Petroleum Institute, American Chemistry Council, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Partnership often partners with these national trade groups on important federal policy issues. 

During the 88th Legislative Session, the Greater Houston Partnership will provide a weekly update on newsworthy items from Austin. You can view more policy news and archives of our weekly updates hereSubscribe here to get our weekly legislative updates. 

Executive Partners