Three Business Issues for Us to Watch in 2020
The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce thrives on promoting commerce and the values of free enterprise on behalf of its members during the public policy process. Each year, the Chamber’s board of directors finalize a set of policy priorities at the federal, state, and local level. For 2020, many of our positions remained more or less unchanged, but there are always a few distinct items to monitor throughout the year.
Here are some new or especially important items added to the Chamber’s public policy guide this year and why they’re important for business here.
Lubbock County Expo Center
In November 2018, Lubbock County voters approved the construction of a new dirt floor arena capable of hosting livestock and equestrian events, rodeos, concerts, and more. In fact, the vote passed by a margin of two-to-one, showing overwhelming support.
The project will be funded by the collection of a two-cent hotel/motel tax within Lubbock County. What’s great about this funding mechanism is that residents of Lubbock are highly unlikely to foot any of the bill. Since the funds come from hotel visits, it will be those who come in from out of town for Texas Tech football games, or to visit Lubbock from across West Texas and Eastern New Mexico for its retail and medical amenities.
The Lubbock Chamber supports the advancement of the construction process for the Lubbock County Expo Center as intended by the voters of Lubbock County. Earlier this week, the Chamber attended the City of Lubbock’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to speak out in support of the proposed zoning case for the future expo center. The committee unanimously approved of the zoning case, which is a great step forward for the project.
Education and Workforce
For the first time, the Lubbock Chamber also created a state policies document for the Interim Session of the Texas Legislature. Even though no legislation will be voted on, hearings on various issues will occur and it will be important to monitor those in anticipation of the 2021 legislative session.
One issue that we’ll be keeping an eye on is the future of education and workforce in Texas. We are fortunate to live in a state with a growing economy, but understand a well-equipped workforce is necessary for maintaining that growth. The Chamber supports career and technology education for our local school districts, and also support the 60 x 30 initiative which aims have 60 percent of Texans with some form of postsecondary education by the year 2030.
We will monitor and support all initiatives ranging from Pre-K through postsecondary education to ensure that Lubbock is producing the type of workforce capable of leading Texas into another decade of economic prosperity.
FAST Act Re-Authorization
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is set to expire in the fall. Last year, a U.S. Senate committee put the wheels in motion for a five year, $287 billion reauthorization of the FAST Act that would enhance the nation’s freight and commuter corridors, improve the environmental permitting process so that projects could get under way more quickly, and repair bridges and other elements of our national infrastructure.
So far the reauthorization discussions have been bipartisan, as the motion passed 21-0 out of the Environment and Public Works Committee. The Chamber will continue to monitor and support FAST Act reauthorization in addition to supporting other transportation infrastructure measures that would enhance West Texas’ standing in national and international commerce.
The Lubbock Chamber is part of a longstanding coalition with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to support American infrastructure investment.