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87th Legislative Session

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. As we approach the 2021 State Legislative Session, 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. Want regular updates from the Partnership's policy team throughout the legislative session? Subscribe here.

Executive Priorities

Access and Energy Competitiveness will lead the Partnership's legislative agenda in 2021. Learn more about the impact these issues have on the business climate of our region and how we will focus on the elements of each during session below. 

Access

The Partnership believes all Texans should have equitable access to the institutions that power a strong, diverse economy and create true opportunity for all. The business community recognizes our responsibility to help dismantle racial inequity and systemic racism, strengthen trust within our communities, and remove barriers to inclusivity and success. The Partnership supports policies related to equitable access to education, digital connectivity and health care.

Public Education
A strong public education system is vital for the long-term prosperity of our region and state. In 2019, House Bill 3 significantly increased the state’s investment in public education and directed considerable funding toward transformational initiatives many of which were directed toward underserved student populations. It is critical to protect these programs and maintain a well-funded, accountable and equitable public education system that serves all children and strengthens our talent pipeline. Learn More
 
Higher Education
The Partnership supports policies that protect higher education funding and innovative programming options in the Houston region while increasing educational attainment rates, particularly in high-demand fields. The Partnership will also pursue policies that lead to more equitable access and attainment across the regional higher education ecosystem. Learn More

Digital Divide
All Texans should have equitable access to digital connectivity that empowers their education, employment, health care, and the economy. The Partnership supports the creation of a statewide broadband plan that addresses the unique needs of communities across the state and establishes the framework to provide every household with the broadband connectivity required in the twenty-first century. 

Health Care
The Partnership believes in building a healthier Houston region by protecting public health and improving our health care safety net. A healthier region is supported by policies that increase patient resources, secure sustainable funding and provide greater access to preventative care. 

Hermann Park Reflecting Pool crowd

 

Energy Competitiveness

The Partnership is committed to ensuring that the Houston region plays a key role in the global energy transition to a more efficient and sustainable, lower-carbon future and to accommodate global demand growth. Permitting, regulatory and energy infrastructure solutions are needed to strengthen Texas' energy competitiveness. To advance the energy transition, legislation should position the Houston region to lead the development of carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS).

Permitting
Texas’ competitive advantage depends on the state addressing permitting issues hindering private investment in the energy economy. 

Regulation
The Partnership supports legislation to strengthen regulatory certainty and attract economic development in the industry, including policies related to CCUS projects.

Energy Infrastructure
The Partnership supports policies that position the Houston region to develop technology and construct the infrastructure needed to advance the region's position as the Energy Capital of the World.

Energy Corridor

Legislative Session News

Preserving Progress on Public Education a Priority in '21

The effort to overhaul the school finance system began with the creation of a School Finance Commission.

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Likely Texas House Speaker Candidate Emerges

All signs indicate Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) has secured the commitments from enough of his House colleagues to secure the Speakership.

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Partnership Comments on Interim Charges Impacting Houston

The Partnership weighed in on nine of these issue areas important to the continued economic growth and competitiveness of the Houston region.

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Business Community Priorities

See the Partnership's Full Legislative Agenda

Convening to Make an Impact

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

One Month Remains in Session, Legislature Acts on Coastal Barrier and Economic Development

4/30/21
Week In Review With only 31 days until the end of the 87th Legislative Session, the Legislature acted on several bills impacting the Houston region this week. House Committees heard legislation concerning the coastal barrier and an important economic development incentive program. The House advanced legislation to invest in Texas' health sciences targeting brain-related research. State leaders also announced details on releasing federal COVID relief funding for public education.  Coastal Barrier Legislation Heard in House Committee Representative Dennis Paul (R-Houston) laid out Senate Bill 1160 authored by Senator Larry Taylor (R-Galveston) in the House Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday. The Partnership formally supported this legislation. The bill allows for the creation of a local sponsoring entity - the Gulf Coast Protection District - for the coastal barrier project. This legislation is necessary for the project to receive federal funding. The district would 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. Members of the Committee asked questions of Representative Paul related to the taxing structure, caps and scope of the bill. The bill was left pending in committee, but we expect further action in the coming weeks. Chapter 313 Reauthorization and Extension This week, the House Ways & Means Committee favorably reported two bills related to the reauthorization and extension of Chapter 313.  Representative Murphy’s (R-Houston) House Bill 1556 reauthorizes and reforms the Chapter 313 program. The bill also streamlines the application process and adds greater financial predictability to the program. Negotiations were finally reached among school districts that include certain policy provisions that replaces supplemental and revenue protection payments with a new and simpler stabilization payment to school districts. The Partnership continues to support the bill alongside other Keep Texas First coalition members like the Texas Oil and Gas Association, the Texas Association of Manufacturing, the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association and other chambers of commerce and economic development organizations. Also, earlier in the week, Representative Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas) presented the committee substitute to House Bill 4242 in the House Ways and Means Committee. This bill will simply extend the expiration date of the Texas Economic Development Act under tax code Chapter 313 by two years from December 31, 2022 to December 31, 2024. Chapter 313 is a critical economic development program as it provides temporary tax abatements to businesses which would otherwise locate in other states. The program has generated billions of dollars in capital investments and tens of thousands of jobs. The reauthorization of the Chapter 313 program is a key priority for the Partnership this session.  House Advances Brain Institute of Texas On Wednesday, the House passed House Bill 15 by Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), on a final vote of 107-36. This legislation would establish the Brain Institute of Texas to fund research in brain-related sciences in Texas. With the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas as a model, the bill would connect public and private institutions of higher education in Texas and other partners to create a state-funded research collaborative to put Texas at the forefront of brain research. The bill would also establish the Brain Institute of Texas Research Fund as a dedicated account in the state's General Revenue. The research would be funded by grants from the institute through revenue from general obligation bonds, and other sources. The Partnership has worked closely with the bill author to support this important legislation. Federal Funding for Texas Public Schools During a Wednesday press conference, Governor Greg Abbott and Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced the release of $11.2 billion in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) funding to Texas public schools. This one-time federal relief funding is in addition to the $9.5 billion increase in state funding for public education that is included currently in the proposed state budget. School district leaders have until the Fall of 2024 to fully expend the relief funds, and the U.S. Department of Education requires that each district that receives funding must utilize a minimum of 20 percent of the funds to address student learning loss through evidence-based interventions. We estimate that the 20 largest school districts in the Houston region stand to receive approximately $2.4 billion of Texas' ESSER III funding. School districts with significantly higher percentages of economically disadvantaged students are likely to receive more relief funding per student. Houston ISD is expected to receive the most funding in our region, with an allotment of approximately $804 million.  Sign-up to receive Legislative and other Public Policy updates directly to your inbox.
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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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