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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? Subscribe here.

87th Legislative Session Summary

Learn how key elements of the Partnership's legislative agenda fared during the 87th Texas Legislative Session. 

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

Public Policy

Key Outcomes of the 87th Texas Legislative Session

7/5/21
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. 
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Public Policy

87th Legislative Summary: Transportation, Infrastructure and Business Issues

7/1/21
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. 
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Get in touch with our team to:

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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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