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Legislative Session Update: Week 19

Published May 17, 2019 by Taylor Landin

During the 86th Legislative Session, the Partnership will provide a weekly update on our top executive priorities and other newsworthy items from Austin. 

This week in Austin, the House passed legislation to invest in flood mitigation and recovery from Hurricane Harvey. The deliberations on school finance reform continued among House and Senate conferees. With only ten days left in the 86th Legislative Session, final legislative outcomes on the most prominent issues are finally coming together.

On Thursday, Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) brought to the House floor Senate Bill 7, legislation to establish funds for Hurricane Harvey recovery and future flood mitigation. Representative Phelan introduced an amendment to SB 7 that incorporated the substance of his own flood mitigation bill, House Bill 13, into SB 7. The final legislation creates both a future flood mitigation fund and a fund that provides for Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery and United States Army Corps of Engineers projects. The Senate will have to either concur with the House version or go to conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions. 
On Monday, Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Partnership, and Scott McClelland, Chairman of the Board, visited the Capitol to discuss school finance reform with Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, and Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor. The Partnership presented its school finance reform priorities, which were well received by our state leaders. All expressed optimism that substantial school finance reform legislation would pass during the regular legislative session.
House and Senate members of the conference committee on House Bill 3 met on several occasions this week to discuss the differences between each chamber’s version of the legislation. Three main differences between the two chambers are clear. Those differences include the across-the-board pay raise for all full-time teachers and librarians, providing incentive funding to school districts where students meeting third grade reading standards, and a provision that changes the property value calculation for school districts from prior year property values to current year property values. 
The conference committee members will continue to meet until they come to a compromise on all issues in the legislation. The bill will then be sent back to each chamber for final approval. 
Workforce Development

The Partnership has made progress on workforce development this session by taking the lead on House Bill 3511 by Representative Gary Van Deaver (R-New Boston). This legislation establishes the Commission on Texas Workforce of the Future and charges the commissioners to address specific recommendations designed to build a twenty-first century workforce pipeline in Texas. The bill was heard on Thursday in the Senate Education Committee. Senator Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) is the Senate sponsor of the legislation. The committee recommended the bill favorably to the full Senate with a vote of 8 to 1. Two members of the committee did not vote, and the bill will head to the Senate for debate next week.
Eminent Domain
On Thursday, the House Committee on Land and Resource Management passed Senate Bill 421 by Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) on eminent domain. After negotiations throughout the session, landowners and industry have come together to support the current version of SB 421, which will now be taken up by the full House. It is important to note that we are paying careful attention to House Bill 1211, which is a potential vehicle for the most onerous eminent domain proposals to reemerge. 
Texas Public Information Act
The House took up open records reform this week. Senate Bill 943 by Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin) addresses contracting disclosures and was written to address concerns with potential disclosure loopholes created by the Boeing and Greater Houston Partnership open records Texas Supreme Court case rulings. Work on this bill began over a year ago led by Senator Watson and Representative Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) and was done in collaboration with the Partnership, Boeing and numerous other companies and non-profit organizations. Senate Bill 943 increases public disclosure while protecting proprietary information and private organizations such as the Partnership. We expect the bill to pass the House and be sent to the Governor by next week.
NOTE: The next edition of the Legislative Session Update will publish on May 28th following the last day of session. 

Stay up-to-date with our Policy Team throughout the 86th Legislative Session by opting-in to this weekly update or follow the team on Twitter @GHP_Policy

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Houston City Council Members Discuss Economic Development, Resiliency

Providing a great quality of life and building a strong diverse economy was top of mind for four Houston City Council Members at the Greater Houston Partnership on Friday. They addressed a sold-out room at a Future of Texas event and included:  Mayor Pro-Tem Dave Martin, District E Council Member Abbie Kamin, District C Council Member Robert Gallegos, District I Council Member David Robinson, At-Large Position 2 Here are highlights from the discussion: Great Quality of Life: Building a more resilient Houston after Hurricane Harvey Council Members discussed the city’s response to Hurricane Harvey and how to build a more resilient Houston. Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin discussed the city’s work with state and federal partners to secure funding for Houston's flood resilience. He highlighted the Partnership’s Washington D.C. Fly-In next week as an opportunity to advance priorities in the region’s flood resilience with federal partners. Council Member Abbie Kamin discussed the City’s new Resilient Houston strategic plan, which will institutionalize resiliency planning in city departments and serve as a blueprint for flood mitigation and overall resilience in the City of Houston over the next decade. Strong, Diverse Economy: Economic Development in the City of Houston City Council Members discussed their priorities for the energy transition and economic development in the City of Houston. As Chair of City Council's Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee, Council Member David Robinson talked about the importance of the development of the Ion as a center for innovation in Houston and transit-oriented economic development. Council Member Abbie Kamin touched on energy transition. She highlighted the Partnership’s strategic focus, which Partnership 2020 Board Chair, Bobby Tudor, Chairman, Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co., announced at the Partnership’s Annual Meeting in January. His remarks are available here. Council Member Kamin discussed the city’s renewable energy portfolio and her priorities for how the city can support the energy transition.  Homelessness in Houston During Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s inaugural address earlier this year, he announced an initiative to continue addressing Houston’s homeless challenge. During the Future of Texas panel discussion, Houston City Council Members also discussed their priorities for housing and supporting Houston’s homeless. As the Chair of the City Council Quality of Life Committee, Council Member Robert Gallegos, discussed potential policies to address Houston’s homeless challenge. Parks and Green Spaces Council Member Gallegos highlighted key parks and green space expansions and improvements within the City of Houston that are underway or soon to be completed. He expressed his support of the 50/50 Parks Partners initiative to uplift 50 neighborhood parks within the City of Houston. He also described the importance of connecting transit with parks, focusing on his effort to connect downtown Houston with Memorial Park, which is in the midst of a $200 million Master Plan improvement.  Next Month: Future of Texas On March 27, the Partnership will host its next Future of Texas panel focused on Higher Education and Workforce Development. The Future of Texas series, which is a part of our Business Resource Group (BRG), features elected officials shaping our state's future, giving Partnership members the opportunity to engage with these leaders and hear their perspectives on our city and state's most pressing issues. Learn more here.
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New Partnership Members in January

The Greater Houston Partnership welcomed 21 new member companies in the month of January. The Partnership works to connect companies with resources, information and networking opportunities to help increase business while also providing a platform to influence the direction of the region. New members joining in the month of January include: Silver Eagle Distributors: Houston, LLC As the third largest Anheuser-Busch distributor in the country, Silver Eagle Distributors Houston, LLC serves more than 10,000 businesses in the Houston. Website Credera: A full -service IT and management consulting firm with offices in Dallas, Houston, New York, Denver and Chicago. Credera’s clients range from Fortune 500 companies to emerging industry leaders. Website Jeanne-Mey Sun: Individual   CSNA: An Electrical services firm based out of Houston that provides business to business services. Founded in 2015, CSNA specializes in commercial HVAC and Plumbing. Website Barbers Hill Independent School District: Barbers Hill Independent School District is a public-school district based in Mont Belvieu, Texas. Website Airswift: Airswift is the leading workforce solutions provider to the energy, process and infrastructure industries. The company has three corporate hubs in Houston, Manchester and Singapore supporting 60 regional offices. Website ykcreative: ykcreative has been a Houston industry leader in branding and digital marketing for businesses of all sizes for over 15 years, serving various industries such as hospitality, law, and education. Website USAi Labs: A Not-for-Profit with a series of High-Tech Profit LLC's that specialize in A.I., IOT, Robotics, Consulting, Machine Learning, NLP, FPGA, Cyber, Blockchain and Research and Development. Website NETravel: A small business travel agency founded in 2019, specializing in luxury and group travel. Website Life Time: Life Time is a luxury healthy way of life destination that meets the health and fitness needs of the entire family. Website North Highland: North Highland is a global management consulting firm bringing big ideas and challenging the norm. Their focus is Data and Analytics, Experience Design, People and Change, Project and Program Management, Business and Process Analysis, Strategy and Technology across all sector. Website Houston Tents & Events: Houston Tents & Events provides event rental equipment for a variety of events and manages all event/rental elements (excluding sound AV/equip). Website JASON Learning: JASON provides curriculum and learning experiences in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for K-12 students, and high-quality professional development for teachers. JASON has been used successfully in a wide variety of formal and informal education environments. Website PB&DJ Productions, LLC: PB&DJ Productions provides DJ, Photo Booth, Lighting, LED Dance Floor, Stages, Pipe and Drape, AV equipment, Linens, Furniture and other rentals and services for weddings and events. Website Geosol Capital LLC: Discretionary trading and investment in energy markets. Website TRC Companies, Inc.: TRC is a national engineering, planning, environmental consulting, and construction management firm that provides integrated services to Oil & Gas, Infrastructure, Environmental, and Power clients. Website Albright Stonebridge Group: Albright Stonebridge Group is a global business strategy firm based in Washington, D.C., United States. It was created in 2009 through the merger of international consulting firms The Albright Group and Stonebridge International. Website BRPH Architects Engineers, Inc.: BRPH is an international architecture, engineering, interior design, and construction services firm with clients in Aerospace, Manufacturing, Commercial, Education, Government, Entertainment and Hospitality markets. Website Extractive Industries For Poverty Eradication: Extractive Industries For Poverty Eradication networks with extractive companies to ensure their commitment to corporate social responsibility and obliterate global poverty. Website Hanszen Laporte, LLP: A full-service law firm comprised of three practice groups — litigation, business, and real estate. Website The Energy Corridor District: The Energy Corridor District shapes initiatives in the areas of transportation and mobility, public amenities, infrastructure, public safety, urban design and business development in one of the Houston region’s most important business centers. Website Click here to see the Partnership's Membership Directory. To learn more about membership with the Greater Houston Partnership click here, or contact
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