Water. Conservation of existing water resources, development of additional cost-effective supplies and sound scientifically-based and economically-rational standards for protecting water supply and quality will be the key to our ability to grow our economy. The Chamber will:
- Support the consistent management and regulation of groundwater by locally elected or appointed officials to local groundwater conservation districts. Oppose efforts to define such districts on the basis of defined hydro-geologic boundaries rather than political jurisdiction boundaries.
- Support the the “Rule of Capture,” as amended by the rules of local ground water conservation districts. The Chamber supports the legislature’s position that strong local ground water conservation districts are the preferred method of ground water management in Texas. State water policy should not be “one-size-fits-all,” and any legislation to quantify and/or limit ground water pumpage should be further researched with local economies in mind. Support legislation that would limit the eminent domain powers and address the creation of fresh water supply districts.
- Support the development and use of brackish groundwater resources. The development of brackish groundwater resources should be economical and based on sound science. Oppose any effort to weaken local groundwater management by groundwater conservation districts in managing brackish groundwater resources.
- Support the development of aquifer storage and recovery projects based on sound science that does not negatively impact existing water users or water supply.
- In examining any new legislative proposals to promote alternative or innovative water supply strategies, oppose efforts to alter the existing structure of water rights laws in Texas in any manner that would weaken the legal and property interest of existing holders of water rights.
- Support efforts to ensure that allocation of water during drought or other emergency conditions to meet critical public health and welfare needs is conditioned on recipients of water implementing the most stringent water conservation measures and allows for compensation from recipients of emergency allocations to those water rights holders who surrender water to meet public emergencies, with a premium paid over the pre-emergency market price of water.
- Monitor the implementation of any programs to increase or enhance the enforcement of water rights, including new watermaster jurisdictions to ensure existing water rights are protected.
Boll Weevil Funding. Support sufficient funding of boll weevil control programs.
Texas Ag Statistics Service. Support enhanced cooperative funding for the Texas Agricultural Statistics Service (TASS) budget, as a part of the overall budget of the Texas Department of Agriculture, at the level necessary for TASS to respond to the need for agricultural statistics for Texas. This would ensure that sound production and marketing decisions can continue to be made by all segments of agriculture.
Texas Department of Agriculture. Provide additional resources, including authorization and funding for regional travel, to the Texas Department of Agriculture as it addresses the economic development needs of rural communities.
Water Research. Support additional federal and/or state funding for water-related research projects, as long as a project benefits the region and does not negatively impact area producers and other water users. Support needed research on desalination efforts, particularly with regard to brackish ground water supplies.
Energy. Support LP&L’s efforts to move in to ERCOT. Support legislation that would further the development of wind energy zones and transmission lines, making possible the transmission of wind energy harvested in West Texas to more populous areas that are within the ERCOT power grid.
State Commodity Marketing and Research Programs: Oppose any misguided and misinformed efforts to eliminate state commodity research and promotion programs.
Texas 2050 Framework for Long-Term Economic Growth. Support the Texas Association of Business strategy for economic development in order to continue the level of economic development success that Texas has received in recent years. The plan includes education and workforce development, infrastructure, investment capital, and innovation while continuing to provide state and local tools to compete for corporate expansions and relocations that add jobs to our economy.
Creative Industries (Arts & Culture). Support increased funding for the Texas Commission on the Arts to foster the growth of the arts and culture industries throughout the state, resulting in job creation and increased cultural tourism.
Economic development funds. Support state-appropriated economic development funds for rural areas of the state.
Energy and economic development. Support healthy economic growth in Texas by promoting the production of adequate supplies of all forms of energy at competitive prices.
Extracurricular Event Legislation. Oppose legislation that would alter current system for selection of hosting locations for certain University Interscholastic League extracurricular competitions.
Community Development. Support policies that will advance the vision, strategy and goals of the Imagine Lubbock Together communitywide planning effort, including but not limited to:
- Local Financing Options. Support legislation that would foster local financing options for capital improvements, education or transportation that are based on citizen choice and approval, local control, equitable burden, and pay-as-you-go rather than additional debt.
- Sales Tax for Property Tax Relief: Support legislation that would create a new council-option city sales tax for property tax relief that may exceed the two-percent local cap. Support legislation that would automatically convert existing sales taxes for property tax relief that would not count against the two percent local cap. Oppose requirements that the property tax rollback rate by lowered for the adoption of a new sales tax for property tax relief.
Innovation. Maintaining a vibrant and innovative economy will be dependent on our ability to create and cultivate innovation intensive companies as well as greater research and commercialization capacities.
- Support investment in world-class research to spur groundbreaking innovation, including the Governor’s University Initiative.
- Support the promotion of and leveraging partnerships between private industry and academia, thus bridging the gap between innovation occurring on the campuses of Texas universities and the marketplace.
- Provide pilot “proof of concept” funding to accelerate university tech transfer and commercialization.
- Maintain R&D tax credit.
- Oppose any unnecessary regulations or legal or legal requirements that increase cost, reduce consumer choice, hamper innovation, and limit technology advancement and availability.
Investment capital. Support entrepreneurs and small businesses via a healthy ecosystem of capital to attract, grow and retain companies in Texas. Innovative, high-growth companies require significant and specialized capital resources.
- Establish and promote slight preference for in-state money managers over out-of-state managers in public investment, all other investment objectives and past performance being equal.
- Support the development of a domestic venture industry through the use of long-term incentives.
- Support investment in rural Texas.
Sales Tax for Economic Development
- Support continued use of a locally approved 1/2 cent sales tax collected by cities to fund economic development efforts.
- Oppose efforts to reduce local control of these funds or efforts to limit the uses of these funds. Because these funds are local funds, taxpayers should retain the right to manage their use so long as they are used for economic development purposes.
- Support the removal of county average wage restrictions that limit a local government’s use of these funds for local job training purposes.
- Support efforts to clarify that the purpose of the sales tax funds is to serve as economic development tools and to prevent raids on the funds for projects that are not related to economic development.
- Support the use of venture capital funds in West Texas and support state emerging technology funding
- Monitor legislation that would create a funding mechanism for cultural district designations. Support Lubbock’s efforts to obtain a cultural district designation.
Skills Development Program. Support increased funding for the Skills Development Program administered by the Texas Workforce Commission. Maintain Skills Development Fund grants at the Texas Workforce Commission to improve workforce training.
State Economic Development Programs. Continue support for state and local tools used to compete for corporate expansions/relocations and job growth such as the Texas Enterprise Fund, the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and the tax incentives available under the Texas Economic Development Act under Chapter 313 of the Tax Code.
Texas Agricultural Finance Authority (TAFA). Expand the ability of the Texas Agriculture Finance Authority (TAFA) to finance economic development activities in rural areas. Streamline TAFA to make it more “user-friendly.”
Tax abatements and other economic development incentives. Continue to support local control and flexibility in the use of tax abatements, tax increment financing, reinvestment zones and other incentives to promote economic development and job creation. Additionally, support the ability of local taxing districts to phase in tax abatements. Encourage the legislature to evaluate Texas’ competitiveness and the role that taxes and other incentives play.
Texas Department of Agriculture. Provide additional resources, including authorization and funding for travel, to the Texas Department of Agriculture as it addresses the economic development needs of rural areas.
Telemarketing. Support efforts to develop additional jobs while maintaining the more than 300,000 jobs held by Texans in the telemarketing industry. Support better enforcement of existing fraud and consumer protection laws while opposing efforts to impose additional regulatory burdens on businesses that use telemarketing. Support adequate resources for law enforcement and various state agencies to eliminate fraud and provide protection to Texas consumers and businesses, while not placing undue restraints on legitimate telemarketing businesses.
EDUCATION/EDUCATION REFORM/WORKFORCE TRAINING
Principles. Raise education standards and align skills to better prepare children in Texas; ensure that Texas students have pathways to high-paying, skilled careers in high growth STEM areas and graduate career- or college-ready, with the skills and training expected by employers.
60x30 TX Plan. Support an education plan in which 60 percent of Texans between the age of 25 and 34 hold some kind of degree or post-secondary certification by the year 2030.
Academic excellence. Support excellence initiatives aimed at moving students from minimum expectations to maximum achievement. Districts should be rewarded for significant incremental gains and students should be rewarded who complete the “distinguished achievement program” of more rigorous high school courses.
Accountability. Support additional reform of testing and accountability models to reflect realistic academic growth expectations.
Adult Basic Education. Support ABE that focuses on serving students who will be able to acquire the level of basic skills needed to enter the workforce.
Career and technology. Support career and technology education that fully articulates with community colleges where appropriate and meets the needs of employers in Texas. Support an increase in weighted funding for Career and Technical courses (CTE) to provide resources to expand CTE courses as prescribed in HB5.
- Rural schools have difficulty providing the infrastructure and teaching staff to offer the five endorsements available to students through HB5.
- School districts have difficulty paying for teachers to be certified to teach courses and administer the certification exams to provide students with those “business-recognized” certifications.
Classroom size mandate. Support legislation that creates flexibility for school districts in the requirement that grades K through 4 be comprised of no more than 23 students to one teacher, allowing school districts to use the 23:1 mandate as a district average.
Communities In schools. Support the Communities in Schools Programs in Texas, a dropout prevention or organization which focuses on helping young people to successfully learn, stay in school, and prepare for life.
Dropout prevention. Support measures that financially reward campuses for retaining students beyond the ninth grade.
Dual-credit. Increase opportunities for students to pursue dual-credit course offerings, internships and other education experiences that integrate high school, college and workplace learning and help our students transition from the classroom to careers.
Effectiveness: Support efforts that would specifically include effectiveness as part of the criteria in the evaluation of teachers.
GO Centers. Support the continuation of funding for GO Centers that serve as primary points of coordination between the College for Texans campaign (to increase college enrollment) and local communities.
Higher Education. Support Texas Tech University in its efforts to advance as a nationally competitive research university as well as Texas Tech’s goal of growing its student population and its pursuit for a substantial increase in formula funding--for both instruction and infrastructure. This will allow all higher education entities to fulfill their missions of instruction, research and public service with less cost shifting to the students (ie, tuition and fee increases). Support Texas Tech’s continued efforts to increase funding for capital facilities to address the most serious space needs and updating existing facilities. Support efforts to address the critical shortage of large animal veterinarians in the region and state with an innovative and cost efficient educational model.
Support Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center with appropriations to expand the educational pipeline for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants and other health care professionals. Specifically, endorse funding for
o Graduate Medical Education to increase the number of resident positions available in Texas
o Nursing Shortage Reduction
o Mental Health training and screening in the region’s public schools
Incentives for math and science teachers. Support teacher advancement initiatives like differentiated pay to help alleviate the shortage of math and science teachers in our public schools.
Local control. Support measures that give school districts the flexibility to meet the needs of their students. Support at-will employment for teachers, removing the state from setting the terms and conditions of employment.
P-20. Support efforts such as Closing the Gaps and support efforts to adequately and equitably fund Lubbock’s educational institutions at the “P thru 26” levels in order to ensure a well educated workforce in Lubbock.
Parental involvement. Support measures that encourage parents to become active partners with their children’s teachers and administrators.
Pay for performance. Support providing school districts resources to financially reward campuses that achieve high student performance or significant incremental gains, which are currently provided through state DATE grants.
Pre-K. Support funding for high quality, full-day pre-K initiatives and legislation that puts children on a pathway toward academic achievement.
Reform Initiatives. Review & evaluate education reform initiatives launched by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Texas Association of Business in support of the business community.
School spending. Support legislation requiring more financial transparency in school spending so taxpayers will see how their investment is being managed.
Skills Development Program. Support increased funding for the Skills Development Program administered by the Texas Workforce Commission. Maintain Skills Development Fund grants at the Texas Workforce Commission to improve workforce training.
Tax incentives. Support legislative tax incentives to encourage business participation in public education initiatives. Support franchise tax credit or other tax credit for companies offering an internship or apprenticeship for high school students in a recognized CTE pathway program. Support similar credit for companies offering internships for college students.
Technology Workforce Development Grant Program. Support the continuation of funding for the Texas Technology Workforce Development Grant program, which is awarded for computer science and electrical engineering instruction at various institutions of higher education in Texas.
Access to research. Support legislation to require that research data and analysis relied upon as the basis for proposed regulations by state and federal environmental agencies is made available for review by the regulated community before a regulation can be adopted or prohibit the adoption of regulations for which supporting data are not publicly available.
Ambient Environmental Standards. Support the development of ambient air quality or other standards which are based on sound scientific evidence that is comprehensively peer reviewed, technically feasible and economically practical. Oppose the imposition of any enforceable ambient standard that is based on conservative screening levels for pollutants, rather than demonstrated health risks.
Emission Limits. Oppose arbitrary emission limits established in statute that do not provide flexibility for site-specific conditions and future development of best practices or best control technology standards.
Clean-up Efforts. Create a TCEQ funding stream to pay for failed permitted recycling centers around the state. Lubbock’s I-27 site is by far the largest of these in the state.
Cumulative Effects. Oppose efforts to condition approval of permits on a review of all cumulative effects of other emissions that precludes the opportunities for economic growth, places the burden of attainment on new facilities and decreases incentives for demonstration of new control technology.
Environmental Standards. Support reasonable incentives for the development and demonstration of new energy or pollution reduction technologies that do not distort the market place. Oppose mandates for specific technology or environmental controls that are not cost effective or which can be implemented only if new technology is developed.
Clean Air Attainment. Except where specifically preempted or prohibited by federal law, support efforts to achieve attainment of national ambient air quality standards that help near non-attainment areas stay in attainment, ensure that the responsibility for emission reductions is shared equitably among all emission sources, and provide sources of emissions the maximum flexibility in obtaining permit authorizations in order efficiently achieve reductions.
Cost of federal and state regulations. Support Texas law that requires state environmental agencies to estimate the cost and net benefits to regulated entities before adopting any major proposed rule, and oppose legislation that places additional requirements on business and industry without a firm technical basis or appreciable benefit to the environment.
Endangered Species Conservation Plans. Support efforts by business, industrial and agricultural interests to enter into endangered species conservation plans that will meet the requirements of federal and state agencies and allow continued use and development of private property by businesses. Support continued efforts by the Legislature and appropriate state agencies to coordinate to ensure that endangered species regulatory decisions are based on valid scientific evidence and that the interests of Texas taxpayers, businesses and agricultural producers are represented before federal decision makers.
End of life/take-back. Oppose legislative efforts to implement mandatory consumer electronics and appliance take-back programs in Texas that unfairly place the cost burdens on manufacturers and/or distributors. Oppose limitations and restrictions on the types of materials contained in electronics and appliances produced or sold in Texas. Support voluntary take-back programs, and support research programs that would lead to increased recycling, refurbishment and reduction of hazardous materials in landfills.
Environmental audits. Support Texas law that encourages environmental compliance by allowing the use of a self-evaluation privilege that protects a company’s voluntary environmental and health and safety audits from being used in legal actions against the company under certain conditions.
Environmental education. Support activities for teachers and students in Texas public schools that promote a balanced perspective in environmental education based on sound science.
Environmental fees and Taxes. Oppose any new taxes to pay for additional environmental regulatory programs. Oppose the imposition of any new fees to recover the cost of regulatory programs unless the program can be shown to clearly address a critical environmental or public health need. Fees should only be assessed to recover the actual costs imposed on government by the activities of the regulated entities, must reasonably allocate costs between members of a regulated universe and must be adjusted periodically to actually match agency budgets and legislative appropriations.
Environmental justice. Support the granting or renewal of permits on environmental and health-based standards and oppose permit programs that favor any community strictly because of its racial or economic composition.
Environmental regulatory structure. Support an environmental regulatory structure that bases state law on the enactment of federal environmental laws and regulations so that consistency is maintained. Support efforts to require that local governments operating under enforcement authority granted by the Legislature operate under the same policies and criteria utilized by state agencies operating under the same authority. Oppose expanding the environmental authority of local governmental entities, particularly where such authority is duplicative or inconsistent with state regulation.
Federal climate change regulations.
• Oppose any efforts to establish in Texas statute regulatory mechanisms that are intended to achieve compliance with the federal “Clean Power Plan” or similar EPA climate change regulations until such time as all legal challenges to such regulations have been exhausted and the State of Texas has agreed that development of a compliance plan is in the state’s interest.
• Support efforts to encourage voluntary, free-market solutions to energy conservation and demand response that save businesses money, maximize investment in energy infrastructure and promote competitive economic development in Texas.
Federal mandates that impede Texas energy businesses. Texas is the leading energy producing state by a large margin and fuels much of the energy needs of the nation, providing energy security and innovating key advances in energy technology. While numerous federal mandates that threaten to undermine Texas’ energy industries are appropriately identified in TAB’s national policy agenda, TAB supports state policies wherever feasible that counter any such damaging federal mandates or regulations that interfere with state authority over its energy industry, such as:
• Prohibitions on crude oil or LNG exports;
• Closing off access to federal or state lands for energy exploration or production;
• Unnecessary environmental rules targeting energy extraction and production; or
• Misguided federal tax policies that distort competitive electric markets by subsidizing intermittent renewable energy to the detriment of more reliable forms of generation.
Flexibility. Support efforts to expand operational flexibility options in environmental permit and compliance programs as long as the same or greater environmental protection is maintained. Designing such flexible operational programs can achieve significant cost-savings for both the state and the regulated community and still protect and enhance the environment.
Fund Balances. Oppose any effort to reduce the budget of a fee-funded regulatory program for the purpose of redirecting the fee revenues to another purpose. Support efforts to reduce unobligated fund balances in regulatory fee funds by reducing fees to match expenditures and eliminate overpayments by affected businesses and industries. Support legislative efforts to more clearly identify the source of funds for regulatory programs and fees that unfairly recover more than the costs of the programs they pay for.
Fuels Diversity. Oppose legislative efforts that would require the use of specific fuels for industrial sources for the purpose of forcing technology. Support removal of economic and supply barriers that distort fuel competition and free-market influences. Support legislative efforts to increase the supply of energy, using a diverse mixture of fuels including oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear, applied in an environmentally safe manner and coupled with encouragement of conservation and the practical use of renewable energy sources.
Green buildings. Oppose legislation in the area of energy and energy efficiency that pits products against each other based on artificial or unsound science. The market place should be allowed to dictate the choice of building materials based on performance standards.
Incentives instead of mandates. Support incentives for business to meet and exceed environmental legal requirements, thereby increasing environmental effectiveness and operational flexibility.
Mineral rights: Support mineral owners’ access as they exercise their mineral rights while ensuring fair treatment for surface land owners.
Paperwork reduction. Support state and Congressional efforts to streamline small businesses’ paperwork burdens within the environmental permit and enforcement process and ease civil fines on first-time paperwork violations so that small businesses may correct the violations.
Recycling or End-Use Programs: Support industry-initiated programs for the voluntary recovery or take-back of consumer goods. Oppose mandatory programs that impose costs or prohibit the use of products solely for the purpose of controlling personal behavior. Oppose mandatory recycling programs that impose enforcement liabilities or penalties for the disposal of materials in properly permitted and operated landfills or other waste management facilities designed to safely remove the materials.
Standing in contested cases. Support Texas law that prohibits the state environmental agency from granting party status in a contested case hearing unless a justifiable or economic interest in the permit activity can be demonstrated.
Streamlining the permit process. Support legislation to streamline the permitting process to ensure that businesses can maintain environmental compliance and at the same time minimize roadblocks that result in expensive procedural delays.
1115 Medicaid Transformation Waiver. Support an extension of the 1115 Medicaid Transformation Waiver and a call for negotiations between the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and CMS to develop an appropriate renewal of the waiver at the end of the extension period.
Access. Increase access and choice of health care programs by supporting market-driven health policies that maximize consumer and public benefit and allow for the continuation of employer-sponsored voluntary health care coverage. Tools should be explored that would allow employers selection of the highest quality benefits and the lowest, most competitive prices. Oppose tax legislation that penalizes employers who offer health benefits.
Administration. Support legislation to improve the administration of health care services through education of physician office staff, streamlining the process to enhance outcomes and lower administrative burdens, such as encouraging providers to submit claims electronically. To the extent that they do not do so already, also encourage insurance carriers and administrators to accept claims electronically.
Affordability. Oppose any measure that increases costs for Texas employers and their employees and families. The high cost of health services and health insurance is a primary contributor to the number of uninsured and to the rising percentage of budgets that households, businesses and government spend on healthcare. Support measures that would increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of health services and health insurance.
Coalitions/Cooperatives: Protect and expand previous legislation that allows for employers or employer groups to band together to purchase affordable health benefits for employees.
Consumer-directed health care. Support legislation to promote enhanced transparency and consumer-directed health care models. Encourage employees to be more involved in their health, and encourage education of employers and employees on actual health care costs and fees. Promote understanding that a healthy employee and a healthy family create a productive workforce.
Consumer information. Empower employees and consumers with information regarding the cost and quality of health care services to allow consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. Support giving state agencies adequate funds to analyze and publish data in ways that stimulate improvements in quality of care and consumer comparisons.
Contracting. Oppose legislation that restricts the ability of health insurers to negotiate contracts with physicians and providers.
Corporate practice of medicine: Support legislation to eliminate state prohibitions on the direct employment of physicians by hospitals and also other providers of health care services.
Coverage for the Uninsured: Support the renewal of the 1115 Medicaid Transformation Waiver and support a private insurance model that includes copays and a sliding scale in order to reduce the number of uninsured Texans.
ERISA. Preserve employer, employee and health care system benefits of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by opposing any attempt to erode the federal preemption of state law relating to health benefit plans. Support legislation to vigorously protect the ability of ERISA employers to operate uniformly across state lines.
Flexibility: Seek federal flexibility to maintain control of state spending in Medicaid and CHIP, as long as it does not increase the rate of uninsured or increase the burden on employers.
Fraud and abuse. Eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in both the commercial employer-sponsored health care market and private sector health programs. Support legislation to ensure that prompt payment statutes do not result in the reimbursement of fraudulent claims. Support legislation to require health care providers to submit information to the state on financial relationships and utilization of services that will deter and detect improper activities.
Free-Standing Emergency Rooms: Support legislation that would prohibit a Free-Standing Emergency Room from charging a facility fee unless it can show that the treatment rendered was beyond a doctor’s office visit. Support greater transparency related to services provided at free standing emergency rooms to ensure consumers understand the scope of the services provided, potential costs and network participation. Require prominent signage to distinguish free standing emergency rooms from urgent care clinics and to disclose hospital affiliation (if any). Support legislation to add free standing emergency rooms or any facility that charges a facility fee, to the balance billing medication statute.
Health Care Professionals. Support legislation and appropriations to expand the educational pipeline for physicians, nurses, physician assistants and other health care professionals by public colleges and universities. Specifically, endorse policies that would:
- Support funding Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board studies to increase productivity and to reduce the cost of training health care professionals.
- Support six year BS/MD programs.
- Support standardized, pre-licensure training for RNs.
Health care contracting. Oppose legislation that restricts the ability of health insurers to negotiate contracts with physicians and providers.
Liability. Prevent needless increases in cost and litigation through the expansion of any kind of medical liability. Support legislation to curb existing abuses and the filing of frivolous lawsuits.
Coverage for the Uninsured: Support the renewal of the 1115 Medicaid Transformation Waiver, and a Texas Solution that maximizes available federal dollars for private market coverage choices for the uninsured.
Personal responsibility for health. Support legislation and other state actions to encourage and equip each Texan to accept personal responsibility for his or her health throughout their lifetime.
Physician self-referral. Support legislation and other state actions to collect data to disclose physician self-referral for all health services, to enforce disclosure of self-referral to patients and health plans and to prohibit self-referral for those services where it has been shown that self-referral unnecessarily increases health care costs.
State-sponsored health care. Support legislation strengthening and improving HIPP, Medicaid and CHIP programs with comprehensive reforms that encourage budget certainty and savings while providing high quality care through the utilization of care management in delivering services to those enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP.
Telemedicine. Support the expansion of telemedicine as an affordable and accessible component of coordinated, efficient high-quality care.
Uninsured. Support targeted, market-based reforms that enhance the employer-based system to provide affordable access to quality care. Encourage greater voluntary participation of individuals by expanding access and choice. Support legislation that will reduce the number of uninsured Texans by increasing the affordability of health insurance and will allow the most efficient use of public, group and individual insurance arrangements within state budget constraints.
Waiver of co-payments. Support legislation to stop the waiving or discounting of co-payments, in whole or in part, for insured patients, and encourage enforcement of existing law.
Support federal immigration policies and procedures that are responsible, efficient, and fair and that do not place undue burdens on employers in a piecemeal fashion. Urge attention to current and potential delays, backlogs, and disruptions in our immigration and border management systems that impede the movement of legitimate cargo and travelers across U.S. borders. Continue to advance long-term legal immigration objectives to secure additional workers to counteract demographic trends. Ensure the continuity of H-1B, L-1 and J-1 medical visas for professionals and highly valued workers. Push for continuation of employers’ ability to access needed talent and meet global workforce needs. Urge a workable guest-worker program that encourages secure, documented entry to the U.S.
Equity. Support legislative measures to equitably distribute the burden of business sector taxes among all businesses, including service and manufacturing. Also, support legislation ensuring that homeowners and businesses share support for public education.
Fairness. Support the following Council on State Taxation taxpayer fairness proposals:
- Provide taxpayers equal interest rates on overpayments and underpayments;
- Provide for a 90-day protest period for taxpayers;
- Allow taxpayers an automatic filing extension with a federal extension; and
- Eliminate pay-to-play that currently requires Texas taxpayers to prepay tax or post a bond to obtain access to the trial court level.
Fiscal policy. Support requiring government at every level to practice fiscal responsibility. The Legislature should ensure that the basic and necessary functions of state government are adequately funded, while also ensuring that state agencies operate efficiently and effectively. State and local spending controls are desirable that restrict budget growth beyond appropriate population and inflation indices. The state should not use debt financing for any recurring operational expense and should use debt financing for critical infrastructure or capital projects only where the use of debt can be clearly shown to provide a positive return on investment.
Franchise (margin) tax: Support maintaining the current equal assessment rate for the franchise (margin) tax for both retail and wholesale entities and a graduated approach to the tax for businesses that have sales less than $1 million.
- Business losses. Support authorizing a business’ losses on the franchise (margin) tax to be carried forward for up to 10 years.
- Exemption of flow-through funds. Support an exemption from the franchise (margin) tax of all flow-through funds that are mandated by contract to be distributed to other entities.
- Rebating excess revenue. Support rebating to taxpayers any excess revenue collected from the franchise (margin) tax.
- Research and development tax credit. Support reinstating the research and development tax credit (provided under the previous franchise tax) and allowing it to be carried forward.
- Compensation paid to independent contractors. Support allowing businesses that elect to subtract compensation in computing their taxable margin to include wages and cash compensation paid to independent contractors if the total revenue of that business is below $2 million.
Gross receipts user fees. Oppose any attempt to retroactively or prospectively impose a percentage of gross receipts use fee or street crossing surtaxes on the transmission of natural gas, crude oil petroleum products, petrochemicals and other goods, through pipelines.
Gross receipts tax. Oppose the imposition of a gross receipts tax in Texas.
Incentives. Support government tax policy that is effective in increasing investment to create new jobs and expand economic activity. This would include specific exemptions, like those for manufacturing use, construction and electricity use, as well as, reasonable abatements, enterprise funds, and reinvestment zones.
Inventory tax. Support elimination or reduction of local inventory taxes. Texas is one of only six states that permit the levy of a property tax on inventories. This places the state at a severe economic disadvantage.
Location of payor. Oppose any component of a business or franchise tax that penalizes those located in Texas (location of payor).
Mandates. Oppose unfunded government mandates which shift the cost of financing programs to either the private sector or other levels of government.
Privatization. Encourage prudent privatization efforts in government for increased efficiency and to reduce government spending when most advantageous.
Property tax relief/tax structure. Oppose efforts to increase the property tax burden since 58% of all property taxes are paid by businesses.
Real estate transactions. Oppose mandatory price disclosure on commercial and residential real estate transactions.
Regulatory Policy. Maintain a regulatory climate that does not impose hidden taxes on employers through excessive fees and fines and reduces excessive regulations to promote, rather than impede, economic growth and job creation.
Research and development tax incentive. Support the continued expansion of tax incentives designed to aid our state’s research and development industries. Expansion of the Research and Development Tax Credit program would be one way to do this.
Sales tax--Exemption for research & development. Support a sales tax exemption for the cost of material and equipment purchased for the purpose of research and development.
Split roll. Oppose any plan which splits the property tax rolls either by rate or by making one a state-wide tax. Oppose any tax plan or component that allows the state to treat businesses differently from homeowners.
Small business tax relief. Maintain franchise (margin) tax relief for small business.
State tax system. Support a balanced state tax system that encourages the savings and investment necessary for the creation of jobs and that does not place a disproportionate share of the tax burden on business. Any revision in the business tax structure should reduce the percentage of state and local taxes paid by business or be revenue neutral and also reduce the administrative burden.
Truth in Taxation. Support Truth in Taxation as a preferred method of expenditure control by government entities.
Windfall profits tax. Oppose efforts to impose “windfall profits taxes” or to penalize companies for substantial and sudden profits.
Alternative dispute resolution. Support legislation that creates cost-effective mechanisms and incentives for the use of alternative dispute resolution.
Judicial selection. Support legislation that creates a mechanism for the merit selection and non-partisan retention election of qualified jurists.
Jury service. Support legislation to reform jury service requirements to streamline the process and encourage jury service.
Legal ethics reform. Support legislation to ensure that the process for disciplining lawyers is effective to prevent abuse but retains “local peer” direction and review.
Medical malpractice. Protect reforms enacted to address rising medical malpractice insurance costs.
Special courts. Support legislation to allow the Texas Supreme Court to create special courts and/or assign cases to specific courts in matters requiring medical or technical expertise.
Statutes of limitation. Oppose attempts to amend current law to extend statutes of limitations or timetables for filing a lawsuit.
Principles: All transportation policy decisions should be focused on increasing efficiency, efficacy and ease of movement of people and goods across Texas and between the other states and our neighboring countries. We should address system needs in the short-term while envisioning a system that is sustainable for the next several decades. While financing options, project sizes and decision processes are limiting factors to implementation, we cannot originate infrastructure goals based solely or primarily on funding. Financing methodology is an important but secondary question. Instead, we must first envision the system the state deserves and then determine how to pay for it.
Improved Transportation Systems: Support improved highways, ports of entry and other infrastructure, as well as public transit, that facilitates trade, increases the effective flow of freight and services, promotes tourism and increases public safety if these improvements can improve economic opportunity and productivity throughout all regions of the state.
I-27 Extension: Support Designation of the I-27 Extension Route.
Proposition 7 Administration: Ensure that distribution is equitable throughout all regions of Texas for funding from Proposition 7, a constitutional amendment passed by Texas voters in 2016 to dedicate portions of revenue from the state’s general sales and use tax, as well as from the motor vehicle sales and rental tax to the State Highway Fund for non-tolled projects.
Bonds: Despite the appropriate concern over both state and local government debt, support the issuance of bonds as funding mechanisms for highway construction where the long-term financing of infrastructure makes financial sense, generates positive economic returns and where adequate revenues exist to retire the obligations.
Vehicle Registration Fees: Support an increase in vehicle registration fees, dedicated to transportation infrastructure that will complement other sources of funding to ensure that Texas has a transportation system capable of maintaining and growing our state economy. Encourage enforcement of registration compliance and reexamine penalties for noncompliance.
Ongoing Projects. Support the use of additional state or federal funding for completing projects already underway.
Multi-Modal Improvements and Integration. Support TXDOT efforts to assess and improve freight rail infrastructure in West Texas. Also support to integration and coordination, to the maximum extent possible, existing and future transportation corridors with energy corridors under development. Support a stable revenue stream for rail improvements.
Inland Ports. Support legislation that would provide innovative funding mechanisms for the improvement of designated inland ports.
Ports-to-Plains and International Trade Corridors. Support efforts to establish and improve the Ports to Plains Corridor as a priority corridor to accommodate current and future Texas transportation demands resulting from trade agreements.
Toll roads. Support the construction of toll roads in major metropolitan areas only where economically feasible and appropriate. Tolls should be dedicated solely to maintenance and new construction.
Financing. All reasonable, equitable and effective source of funds to meet our critical transportation system needs should be considered. Support focusing on additional sources of revenue for transportation, including dedicating a portion of the tax on motor vehicle sales to transportation.
Local Option Strategies for Metro, Small, Urban and Rural Properties. Transportation infrastructure in the State of Texas, including public transportation, is deteriorating due to lack of sufficient resources. Transportation is the lifeline for our State’s economic well-being, the safety of our citizens, maintaining mobility in congested urban areas, and access to goods and services in rural areas for our growing and aging population.
This lack of resources is due, in large part, to the failure of the legislature to increase the state gasoline tax since 1991. This tax is being further eroded through the use of more fuel efficient vehicles. The legislature has resisted the increase of the gas tax for almost two decades. However, it is critical that the legislature extend existing legislation to allow counties throughout the state the option to vote for increased local fees to support mobility. These fees can include county vehicle registration, transit sales tax, local gas tax options, etc. As such, we recommend supporting local option legislation.
Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). Oppose certain funding mechanisms without adequate feasibility research, such as vehicle-miles-traveled fees, that could disproportionately harm certain regions if feasibility studies determine such results.
Accountability of Providers. Support accountability measures for providers within the workers’ compensation system.
Administrative simplification. Support legislation to reduce unnecessary administrative burdens in the workers’ compensation system on employers, insurance carriers, injured workers, and health care providers.
Arbitration. Oppose any efforts to disallow or negatively impact arbitration, which allows disputes to be resolved in a timely manner. Oppose additional restrictions on arbitration.
Employer responsibilities. Support efforts to streamline the statutory process in which an employer is required to notify its employees about any change to its workers’ compensation program relating to networks.
Exemplary damage caps. Oppose legislation to remove caps on exemplary damages in workers’ compensation claims.
Fraud: monitoring, detection and prosecution. Support legislation that increases the Texas Department of Insurance focus on identifying and prosecuting fraud and abuse within the workers’ compensation system. Also, support incentives for identification and successful prosecution of workers’ compensation fraud.
Health and safety. Support cost-effective health and safety measures.
Illegal drug use. Support legislation encouraging zero tolerance for the presence of alcohol or illegal drugs on the job. Support efforts to make the intoxication defense stronger.
Impairment ratings. Maintain the objectivity of the workers’ compensation system by ensuring that adopted medical impairment guidelines do not raise impairment benefit amounts. Also, support continued monitoring of the income benefits system.
Mandatory Workers’ Compensation. Oppose legislative efforts to mandate workers’ compensation coverage.
Mental health. Oppose legislation designed to expand mental health treatment guidelines, or the inclusion of psychologists as authorized treating physicians.
Opinion of chosen doctor. Support legislation to clarify that claimants may not appeal the opinions of their treating doctor in the areas of medical treatment, impairment and dispute process.
Over-burdensome laws. Oppose legislation that imposes new laws or regulations on employers that are non-subscribers to workers’ compensation.
Public use data files. Support requiring the Texas Department of Insurance to make available a public use data file (PUDF) that protects the confidentiality of claimants and employers, but identifies health care providers and insurance carriers. Support all changes in the confidentiality provisions of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act necessary to allow distribution of the PUDF and to allow publication of medical disputes, appeals panel and the State Office of Administrative Hearings decisions with protection only of claimant and employer confidentiality.
Regulatory efficiency. Support measures to increase efficiency in the operation and administration of the Texas Department of Insurance.
Retaliatory discharge. Support legislation to limit damages and restrict the scope of action filed by a terminated employee for workers’ compensation retaliatory discharge.
Settlements. Oppose legislation that attempts to reintroduce lump sum settlements, including medical lifetime benefits, into the Texas workers’ compensation system.
Statutory employer. Support clarification of the law granting immunity from lawsuits to the direct employer of an injured worker.
Subsequent injury fund. Support legislation to secure the solvency of the subsequent injury fund that does not require an increase in the maintenance tax.
Treating physicians. Support legislation that strengthens the role of treating physicians to ensure quality medical care and effective management of care for injured workers. Also support clarifying current law regarding the authorization for treating doctor.
Utilization review. Support legislation to promote utilization review as a method of cost containment and quality improvement.
Waiver. Support legislation to specify that the defense of “No compensable injury” cannot be waived regardless of any time constraints.
Arbitration. Oppose any effort to modify the Halliburton case where the Supreme Court upheld an employer’s right to establish a mandatory arbitration program applicable to at-will employees.
Devolution of federal programs to the states. Support transferring control over federally mandated programs like unemployment insurance to the states, thereby reducing employers’ tax burdens and increasing local control over workforce-related programs.
Drug testing. Oppose attempts to restrict the rights of employers to conduct random and/or universal drug testing of employees.
Drug testing for Unemployment Insurance (UI) beneficiaries. Support legislation that provides that a claimant who fails or refuses to submit to an employer-required drug test that is a condition of the job offer or refuses the offer of work without good cause would disqualify the claimant from receiving unemployment benefits.
Employer control over work environment. Support efforts to maintain employers’ prerogative to control the workplace, thereby creating a safe, satisfying and harmonious working environment.
Employment-at-will. Oppose legislation that would erode employment-at-will as a right for all Texas employers and employees.
Ergonomics. Oppose legislation and regulations on a federal level that would increase the already-considerable burden on employers regarding OSHA requirements.
Fair Labor Standards Act reform. Support efforts to reform the wage and hour laws by allowing more flexibility for employers and employees in hours worked during a pay period before mandating overtime pay.
Family and Medical Leave Act. Oppose efforts to modify FMLA, and oppose any initiatives to require employers to pay for FMLA leave with unemployment insurance taxes.
Fraud control. Support legislation to allow TWC to hire outside contractors on a pay-for-performance basis to assist in efforts to detect and remedy unemployment benefits fraud.
Living-wage ordinances. Oppose piecemeal mandates that vary from city to city requiring employers to pay a wage level higher than the federally required minimum wage.
Minimum wage. Oppose arbitrary increases in minimum wage which cannot be supported by improvements in productivity and which deprive many entry-level workers of job opportunities.
Payday law reform: Support reform of the Payday Law to achieve greater consistency with provisions of federal law. Support legislation to eliminate the Payday Law’s applicability to non-wage benefits including vacation pay, sick pay, etc. Support capping the amount of wages that may be claimed under state statute.
Professional licensing: Oppose any legislation that would further regulate the activities of a private-corporation or other business entity, including the activities of the full-time employees or other personnel under the direct supervision and control of the business entity by requiring the employees to hold professional licenses. Licensing should only be required where deemed appropriate and where it would affect the public at large.
Public Collective Bargaining Rights. Oppose any expansion of collective bargaining rights in the public sector since the current system adequately provides for employee participation without the potential for disruption of services.
Right-to-work. Support efforts to keep Texas a right-to-work state and oppose agency shop legislation.
Subsidized training wage. Support legislation to allow employers to apply part of their unemployment insurance taxes toward the cost of training workers for their businesses.
Unemployment insurance reform. Support unemployment insurance reform to improve effectiveness and reduce the burden to employers, including legislation treating severance pay the same as wages in lieu of notice, tightening up on work search requirements for claimants, and improving TWC’s verification procedures for unemployment claims.
Unemployment savings accounts. Support fundamental changes in the unemployment insurance system that would abolish traditional federally controlled unemployment insurance programs in favor of establishing individual Unemployment Savings Accounts (USAs) for employees that would be available if needed for unemployment, training, or as a supplement to retirement income.
Union dues check-off. Oppose efforts to allow public employees or require private employers to subsidize or promote labor unions or similar organizations through payroll collection of dues and contributions.
Auto Choice. Support changes in state law allowing drivers to choose between the current system, in which they can sue for non-economic damages and a new system under which they would waive the option to recover non-economic damages.
Budget. Cuts to State Agency budgets should be equitable across a state agency’s budget and not targeted at a specific area to the extent that it results in incapacitating vital and essential services.
Contracting. Oppose legislation that restricts the ability of private parties to contract.
Corporate Sale of Liquor: Support free-market principles for the corporate sale of liquor. Texas is the only state in the nation that disallows publicly traded companies from selling liquor.
No pay, no play. Support reforms that would prevent uninsured motorists from collecting pain and suffering damages if they are in an accident with an insured driver.
Legislative Rules. Support legislative procedural rules that ensure adequate representation of rural and underrepresented portions of the state.