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117th Congress Federal Priorities

A thriving business environment that fosters economic development is critical to making Houston greater. In order to advance the Houston region, the Greater Houston Partnership supports policies that create a business environment attractive to leading global companies and skilled talent. During the 117th Congress, the Partnership will focus on this impact agenda that addresses the most pressing issues facing the business community and the Houston region. We invite you to join us in advancing these solutions and other measures to strengthen the region’s long-term growth and provide opportunity for all. Together, we make Houston greater.

Executive Priorities

The Partnership has established a series of priorities going into this Congress focused around energy, COVID-19 response and the Houston Ship Channel. Additional focused issue areas include transportation, economic development, flood mitigation, international trade and more. 

Energy & Energy Transition

The Partnership is dedicated to strengthening the region’s position as the Energy Capital of the World through supporting prudent and sound policies and energy infrastructure investments necessary for the region to lead the global energy transition and accommodate global energy demand growth.

Through leveraging members’ experience and expertise, the Partnership is in a strong position to advance policies to support the region’s natural gas and oil industry and workforce, and work to transition to a more efficient and more sustainable low carbon future.

COVID-19 Response & Relief

The Partnership supports continued response and relief packages to enable our communities to address and recover from the impacts of the pandemic, including funding for hospitals, public health authorities and community health clinics. These resources face significant funding gaps due to COVID-19 disruptions and require federal support to provide adequate testing and large-scale vaccine distribution.

Additionally, the Partnership supports extending personal injury liability protections for employers and businesses who make reasonable efforts to follow COVID-19 public health guidelines, and for front-line health workers and hospitals working under pandemic conditions. 

Houston Ship Channel Expansion

The Partnership supports the widening and deepening of the Houston Ship Channel to provide safe and efficient transit for each vessel traversing the busiest deep-draft trade waterway in the nation. With the project included in WRDA passed by Congress at the end of 2020, we are committed to working collaboratively with the federal government, Port of Houston Authority, and private industry to ensure the completion of the project.

Issues

Regional Resiliency & Flood Mitigation

The Partnership supports significant investment in infrastructure designed to protect both our economy and our people from future severe weather events. Recent major flooding events revealed the billions in needed investments in the Houston region’s flood mitigation and storm surge infrastructure. We will continue to support policies that improve resiliency and fund infrastructure needs for flood mitigation and storm surge protection.

Transportation

The Partnership supports maintaining and enhancing existing funding opportunities and meeting the region’s transportation needs. Given the interdependency of our regional, national, and international markets, maximizing the region’s economic prosperity depends on efficiently moving goods and people throughout the region.

International Trade & Investment

The Partnership supports free and fair international trade through accountable trade and investment agreements. The Houston region is a global logistics hub where 17% of the economy and 330,000 jobs are directly tied to exports. Supporting open international trade and international investment agreements helps to create jobs in the region while securing a strong and diverse economy.

Immigration

As America’s most diverse city, Houston’s foreign-born population plays a significant role in driving our region forward. The Partnership supports immigration reforms that meet the needs of greater Houston’s business community and the region as a whole. It is important to address immigration issues that have a disproportionate impact on our area to ensure talent is available to meet the needs of our companies.

Education & Workforce

The Partnership supports federal investment in the Houston region’s higher education institutions to ensure the current and future workforce meets the needs of the economy and accesses rewarding careers. The Partnership plays a leading role in improving regional coordination and alignment between industry, the public workforce system, public schools, higher education institutions and community-based organizations to produce the talent for a 21st century economy. The Partnership also supports policies to increase access to reliable and affordable broadband connectivity, which is essential for every individual’s education, employment, healthcare, and participation in the economy.  

Economic Development

The Partnership supports policies, programs, and investments which encourage inclusive economic development in the greater Houston region and across its major industry sectors, including energy, life sciences, manufacturing and logistics, commercial aerospace and aviation, and digital technology. Economic development initiatives help to maintain a diverse local economy, while creating and retaining jobs, and improving the quality of life of greater Houston.  

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The Partnership's impact work happens through Committees, which convene business and community leaders to fuel the growth and vitality of the Houston region. 

Public Policy Updates

Related News

Membership

Gov. Abbott Lifts COVID Restrictions, Broadband and Winter Storm Legislation Moves Forward

3/5/21
Week In Review Governor Greg Abbott took executive action on COVID-19 protocols. Legislative hearings continued in response to Winter Storm Uri, and lawmakers introduced new broadband policy proposals to expand Texans' access to the Internet. Governor Abbott Lifts COVID Restrictions On Tuesday, Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA-34, which stated, in brief, that effective March 10, 2021, a.) there are no COVID-19-related capacity limits for any business or other establishment; and b.) face coverings are no longer required, although individuals are strongly encouraged to wear them when social distancing is not possible. Per the Order, businesses are free to limit capacity or require face coverings if they so choose. The Executive Order allows certain mitigation steps to be taken if an area has had seven consecutive days with more than 15 percent of hospital capacity occupied by COVID-19 patients. Currently, only two regions (El Paso and Laredo) meet that standard.   In response, Partnership President and CEO, Bob Harvey issued the following statement:  “While we in the Houston area have seen considerable improvement since January in terms of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and we are pleased that the three approved vaccines are beginning to reach the most at-risk populations, we should recognize that the majority of the regional population is still at risk of contracting the virus.   We believe that our masking and social distancing behaviors are helping drive down the prevalence of the virus even as we see an increasing presence of the worrisome variants. We have been following the advice of health care professionals throughout the pandemic and believe it is simply too early for us to forgo these actions.    We at the Partnership encourage Houstonians to stay the course, continue masking and social distancing, and we encourage customer-facing businesses to continue to require masks and limit crowding. Let’s continue to be responsible, with or without state requirements.” Winter Storm Legislative hearings on Winter Storm Uri continued this week. The industry continues to provide feedback and data from the power outages and has begun to propose solutions to improve ERCOT and the state electric grid. At the request of the Legislature, recommendations from state electrical market leaders are forthcoming. While more than 50 bills relating to the winter storm have already been filed as of Thursday, we expect the primary legislative vehicle will take shape over the next week few weeks. The last day to file bills is Friday, March 12, but it is not uncommon for lawmakers to file a “shell” bill as a placeholder and introduce actual legislation during the committee process. Among those bills already filed, most address the governance of ERCOT or the Public Utility Commission. Other bills propose mandatory reserve capacity, winterization of energy facilities and statutory restrictions on the time customers are allowed to be without power during periods of rolling blackouts.    Broadband The Legislature’s effort to address the digital divide received a boost this week when Representative Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) filed House Bill 5. This bill is expected to be the primary vehicle for broadband legislation and includes the two primary objectives outlined by the Partnership and the Digital Texas Coalition – creation of a statewide broadband office and the authorization of a long-term statewide broadband plan.     Additionally, the bill requires the creation of a grant program to facilitate investment in broadband infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. Partnership staff have been working to expand the grant program to include affordability and require equitable distribution of grant funds to both rural and urban areas of the state. The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on State Affairs chaired by Representative Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), who is a joint author of the legislation. We anticipate this legislation will be heard in committee in the next few weeks. Learn more about the Partnership’s Executive Priorities.
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Membership

Lawmakers Respond to Winter Storm Uri, Governor Prioritizes ERCOT Reform and Winterization

2/26/21
Week In Review Legislators' attention was focused squarely on the response to last week's severe winter weather. Legislative hearings are expected to continue with legislation to follow. Governor Abbott Responds to Winter Storm Governor Greg Abbott announced two additional emergency items for the legislature to prioritize this session. First, Governor Abbott identified the reform of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) as a legislative priority and called on the legislature to investigate the decisions made by the state agency to find long-term solutions. Additionally, the Governor declared that winterization of Texas’ power system and related funding be added as an emergency item to ensure the reliability of the state's power infrastructure. In response to Winter Storm Uri, Governor Abbot requested that a Major Disaster Declaration be issued by the federal government, which would allow eligible Texans to apply for financial assistance related to property damage caused by the effects of the storm. President Joe Biden granted that request for nearly half of all Texas counties. Legislative Hearings on Electric Grid The Texas Senate Committee on Business and Commerce and the House joint State Affairs and Energy Resources Committees conducted two days of hearings to examine the conditions leading to the power loss during last week's winter storm. In a break with common practice and a sign of the importance of the topic, even Senators not serving on the committee were able to participate and ask questions. In both chambers, hearings were highly technical, digging into specifics of issues such as legal authority, and the operation of the power grid. Legislators asked tough questions of the witnesses, and witnesses provided substantive testimony. Vulnerabilities to extreme weather events were exposed throughout the system, from regulators to power plants to industry. Both chambers covered the historic nature of the conditions compared to prior winter weather events and peak summer demand. Legislators questioned ERCOT CEO, Bill Magness, and Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chairwoman DeAnn Walker. Legislators asked questions ranging from decisions made before and during the storm to oversight authority and infrastructure winterization. Legislators also heard testimony from agency leaders, industry associations and individual companies from each segment of the sector's supply chain. Only one week after the storm, witnesses requested more time to conduct their root cause analyses of the events in order to provide recommendations on how to strengthen the electric grid. In many cases, the committees demanded those reports and recommendations be quickly provided to the Legislature. One suggestion that was widely supported by numerous witnesses is a statewide public alert system for the electric grid. More hearings are expected on this topic, with legislation to follow. Learn more about the Partnership’s Executive Priorities.
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Become a Member Today

Interested in joining the Partnership? Take the next step and learn how you can make an impact on Houston.

Get in touch with our team to:

  • Learn more about the Partnership's policy priorities
  • Get involved in a policy committee and meet industry peers 
  • Help shape the Partnership's policy initiatives
Taylor Landin
Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer
Public Policy
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tlandin@houston.org
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713-844-3624
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Executive Partners