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An Update on the 87th Texas Legislature

March 15, 2021Doug Williamson, Director of Governmental Affairs

The Abilene Chamber of Commerce received a request last week to encourage the Legislature to take some action in the area of transportation.

The ask from the Keep Texas Moving coalition was to work to get the Texas Legislature to reauthorize the use of Comprehensive Development Agreements (CDA)/public-private partnerships to build Texas highway infrastructure and address the needs of some of our most congested areas.

When we get such requests, we don’t just automatically give a thumbs up.

We send them to our members of the Business Advocacy Council (BAC) to get their opinions. Sometimes it can be done through email, other times we Zoom.

Once the BAC reaches a conclusion, we send that to the Chamber Executive Committee for consideration. Depending on the topic and action requested, it could also move on to the full Chamber Board.

(If you are wondering, the BAC unanimously endorsed the transportation request, and it is now in the hands of the Executive Committee. Late last year, we wrote a letter of support to the Teas Transportation Commission to consider private/public partnerships, like using toll roads, for a major project along Interstate 35 through Austin and other parts of Central Texas.)

WHAT ARE YOUR CHAMBER ADVOCATES WATCHING?

We have our 2021 Legislative Agenda that focuses on eight key issue areas. We monitor legislation and other actions that could affect the people and businesses in Abilene in those areas. Those key issue areas are:

  • Economic Development
  • Arts & Tourism
  • Military/Veterans
  • Business & Transportation
  • Water
  • Agriculture
  • Redistricting
  • COVID-19

During the Legislative Session, we focus a great deal of resources on the Capitol. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed and limited activities in the Legislature during its first two months. However, we have been monitoring legislation and activities via the media, contacts with our lawmakers and their staffs, House and Senate committee hearings and sessions live online and the work of an Austin-based advocacy consulting firm.

May 31st will be the 140th and last day of the 87th Session of the Legislature. The Governor has named a number of issues in emergency status that lawmakers need to address. And constitutionally, they have to approve a balanced budget. In addition, they have to redistrict congressional, state Senate and state House districts, but that most likely will be done after the regular Session since the Census numbers are delayed.

 

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