2019 Legislative priorities
The state and local economic development entities must have necessary tools to compete for corporate relocations and expansions. The LHAC will continue to support measures that provide businesses in Texas a competitive advantage when making decisions to invest capital.
- Provide adequate funding for Texas Enterprise Fund to keep it competitive by maintaining a $200 million balance for each biennium.
- Protect the pubic-private partnership economic development model and oppose legislation that would make nonprofits, with public service contracts and transparent reporting requirements, subject to open records laws or force the release of propriety information.
- Reauthorize Chapter 312 of the Texas Tax Code and continue allowing local property taxing entities to execute tax abatement agreements for the encouragement of private investment.
- Encourage capital investment in Texas by protecting the Texas Economic Development Act (Chapter 313).
- Support increased funding for the Skills Development Program administered by the Texas Workforce Commission and maintain Skills Development Fund grants to improve workforce training.
- 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.
- Oppose any bill that would damage Texas’ reputation as a “business-friendly” state.
Disaster Recovery & Resiliency
Texas lawmakers should place an emphasis on expediting disaster recovery and resiliency projects to aid and protect local communities and businesses in their effort to restore prosperity after natural disasters.
- Support state funding for recovery projects in the Lake Houston Area.
- Support legislative efforts to strengthen penalties and increase fines for aggregate miners which are in violation of TCEQ codes and regulations.
- Support the creation of new state programs specifically geared to help businesses recover following a natural disaster.
- Support the creation of a Texas Resilience Infrastructure Fund (TRIF) & Disaster Contingency Fund (DCF).
- Support the creation of a regional watershed authority for the San Jacinto watershed to help mitigate flooding.
- Financial Soundness for State Disaster Support improvements to the State General Fund to protect the state from significant losses in the event of a major hurricane in order to provide a more stable, well-protected coastal business environment, plan for quicker financial recovery and avoid increased business taxes in the event of a loss to the State General Fund.
LHA Chamber advocates for the highest quality health care at the best cost available for both employers who provide health insurance to their employees and for the state taxpayers who fund Medicaid. LHA Chamber’s legislative priorities are wide-ranging, covering issues such as access, transparency, and quality of service.
- 1115 Medicaid Transformation Waiver. Support a long-term extension of the 1115 Medicaid Transformation Waiver and a call for negotiations between the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) to develop an appropriate renewal of the waiver at the end of the extension
- Fraud and Abuse. Eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in Medicaid, the commercial employer- sponsored health care market and in the private sector health 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.
- Support the preservation of increased Medicaid reimbursement rates for healthcare professionals.
- DTF & EMS Fund. Support the preservation of a robust Designated Trauma Facility and EMS fund.
- 1115 Medicaid Transformation Waiver. Support the continuation of the 1115 Medicaid Transformation Waiver, at current funding levels for Uncompensated Care (UC) and Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) projects.
- Residency Programs. Support increased funding for physician and nursing residency programs.
- 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
- Support legislation to improve the administration of healthcare services through the education of physician office staff and streamline 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, encourage insurance carriers and administrators to accept claims electronically.
- 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.
- Advanced Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants. Support legislation that would expand the ability of advanced nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide primary care and would reduce physician oversight requirements and other restrictions on their practice. Increase the supply of advanced nurse practitioners and physician assistants by expanding educational opportunities and by improving the practice environment.
- Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS). Support policies that require the use of EPCS to transmit prescription information between prescribers and pharmacists which leads to improvements in patient’s adhering to their medications, reduces over-prescribing of opioids, and adds new dimensions of safety and security in the prescribing process.
- Fraud and Abuse. Eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in Medicaid, the commercial employer- sponsored health care market and in the 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.
- Freestanding Emergency Rooms. Support legislation that would prohibit a freestanding emergency room or hospital outpatient department 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 freestanding emergency rooms to ensure consumers understand the scope of services provided, potential costs and network participation. Require prominent signs to distinguish freestanding emergency rooms from urgent care clinics and to disclose hospital affiliation, if any. Require freestanding emergency rooms to submit claims data to the Department of State Health Services as hospital emergency rooms are required to do.
- Health Insurance Marketplace. Support stability in the health insurance marketplace and provide appropriate options for coverage that are affordable and accessible to patients.
- Support the expansion of telemedicine and teledentistry as an affordable and accessible component of coordinated, efficient high-quality care. Support legislation that allows the commercial market the same, or greater, freedoms in this area than are found in the Medicaid program. Support the Federation of State Medical Board’s interstate compact for medical licensure.
- Increase access to choices of health care programs by supporting market-driven health care policies that maximize consumer and public benefit and allow for the continuation of employer-sponsored voluntary health care coverage. Encourage the establishment of programs that would allow employers selection of the highest quality benefits and the lowest, most competitive prices.
- Oppose any measure that increases health care costs for Texas employers and their employees and families. The high cost of health care 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 health care. Support measures that would increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of health care services and health insurance.
- Consumer Information. Empower employees and consumers with information
- regarding the cost and quality of health care services, including integrative therapies, 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. Support efforts to facilitate health plans providing members with information on the allowable amount and patient responsibility in advance of receiving services.
- Consumer Credit Protection. Support legislation that protects consumers from the submission of adverse credit reporting from medical bills when the provider did not give the allowable price that would be accepted as payment-in-full in advance of services rendered.
- 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. Support efforts to facilitate health plans providing members with information on the allowable amount and patient responsibility in advance of receiving services.
- Health Literacy. Support legislation that ensures health literacy in Texas, including the taxpayer- funded health care enterprise system. Support the provision of plain language usage and disclosure of basic health information, including financial and quality information, whenever possible to expand the capacity of individuals to make appropriate health decisions on an ongoing basis. Support the development of a “Health Literacy” curriculum that is a required course study for all health care professionals so they may help educate Texans on proper self-care, appropriate services and unwarranted spending on unnecessary or duplicative services.
Taxation, Regulations & Fees
Tax reform is the number one issue for businesses in the Lake Houston. We are concerned with taxes being too high for businesses and support a tax structure that is fair and equitable to businesses in order to foster a sound economy while funding critical government services that benefit all citizens.
- 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.
- Federal Funding. Support state policies and programs that maximize the receipt and use of federal matching and other funds for state purposes.
- Support government tax policies and incentive programs that are effective in increasing investment to create new jobs and greatly expand economic activity. Support specific exemptions, like those for manufacturing use, construction and electricity use, as well as reasonable abatements, enterprise funds, the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program and reinvestment zones.
- Gross Receipts Tax. Oppose the imposition of a gross receipts tax in Texas.
- Gross Receipts User Fees. Oppose any attempt to retroactively or prospectively impose a percentage of gross receipts user fee or street crossing surtaxes on the transmission of natural gas, crude oil petroleum products, petrochemicals and other goods, through pipelines.
- 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.
- Oppose unfunded government mandates that shift the cost of financing programs to either the private sector or other levels of government.
- New Regulatory Fees & Taxes. Oppose any new taxes to pay for additional 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 public need. Fees should only be assessed to recover the actual costs imposed on the government by the activities of the regulated entities. The fees must reasonably allocate the costs between members of a regulated universe, and they must be adjusted periodically to actually match agency budgets and legislative appropriations.
- Real Estate Transactions. Oppose mandatory price disclosure on commercial real estate transactions.
- Regulatory Policy. Support legislative efforts to maintain a regulatory climate that does not impose hidden taxes on employers through excessive fees and fines, but rather reduces excessive regulations to promote, rather than impede, economic growth and job creation.
- Small Business Tax Relief. Maintain franchise tax relief for small business.
- Windfall Profits Tax. Oppose efforts to impose “windfall profits taxes” or to penalize companies for substantial and sudden profits.
Education & Workforce
Career & Technology. Support career and technology education in conjunction with public schools and community colleges where appropriate to meet the needs of Texas employers.
- Support innovative and flexible career and technology education pathways in conjunction with public schools and community colleges where appropriate to meet the needs of Texas employers.
- Support legislation that strengthens accountability on career and technology money Support requiring districts that receive funding for career and technology to offer courses that prepare students with a blend of on-site or virtual on-site training, based on their needs of curriculum delivery. Support increased funding for online curriculum and online testing.
- Support additional mental health professionals and guidance counselors in middle and high school to help students meet the state requirement of selecting a career endorsement by the 8th
- Support industry aligned early college models, like Industry Cluster Innovative Academies including P-TECH, that include career guidance, mentoring, and applied learning opportunities.Community Colleges. Strong support should be reflected for community colleges as important contributors to training students for jobs in the workforce and providing pathways for completion of industry certificates, Associate degrees, Bachelor programs (where a local need exists) and continuous upskilling or reskilling opportunities. Community colleges should be supported in maximizing the use of dual credit courses and other creative partnerships with high schools and four-year universities. The Texas State Technical University System, with its effective pay for performance model, is worthy of support and replication in other systems.
- Unfunded Education Mandates. Oppose any mandates imposed on public schools without accompanying funding.
- Internships and Apprenticeships. Support tax incentives for companies offering an internship or apprenticeship for high school students in a recognized Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathway program. Support similar incentives for companies offering internships for college students.
- 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.
- 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.
- Smart School Safety. Support innovative preventive measures to make our schools a safe and comfortable place to learn.
- Special Education. Adequately fund special needs education to meet the needs of the special needs population in a cost effective manner.
- Higher Education System.
- Support reasonable regulatory and legislative oversight of the Higher Education System, coupled with clear statements of goals, expectations and accountability of results. Support collaborative approaches among Texas’ higher education institutions in research and development funding strategies, technology deployment and distance education to avoid duplication and waste, and create an affordable
- Support legislative funding of Higher Education based on the completion of courses, not based upon classroom attendance on the 12th day of the
- Support funding levels for TEXAS Grants, Texas Tuition Equalization Grants, and Texas Educational Opportunity Grants that would provide scholarships for 100 percent of renewal and initially eligible
- Support continuation of in-state tuition for long term residences of
Transportation & Infrastructure
An adequate transportation system is absolutely essential to the movement of people, goods and services and the preservation of economic opportunity in Texas. All transportation policy decisions must be focused on increasing the efficient and cost-effective movement of commerce between our neighboring states and countries. We must identify the transportation system that Texas needs and then determine all reasonable means to pay for it.
All modes of transportation that support our economy and jobs deserve support, as well as maintenance and modernization of our existing infrastructure. All methods of finance, including toll roads, alternative methods of funding and state revenues will be essential to providing all levels of government – state, regional and local – the tools to plan, design and implement transportation projects that serve the needs of this state.
- Transportation Funding. The last several legislatures made valuable progress in improving transportation funding in Texas without authorizing any new fees or taxes. With these efforts, however, we can only hope to maintain current levels of traffic congestion. In order to meaningfully reduce congestion and meet the needs of our growing population, new and sustainable sources of revenue are inevitably required. LHA Chamber will oppose any efforts to reduce the availability of recent revenue gains in attempts to fund other budget priorities.
- Improved Transportation Systems. Support improved highways, ports of entry and other infrastructure that facilitates trade, increases the effective flow of goods and services, promotes tourism and increases public safety wherever these improvements can improve economic opportunity and state productivity.
- Waterway, Port, and Ship Channel Improvements. Support any opportunities available to the Legislature or state agencies to facilitate ongoing efforts to improve the maintenance and modernization of commercial waterways and ports. Support local communities seeking funding through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) or other sources, and support state agency review and coordination of federal or state permits or authorizations.
- Funding for New Water and Flood Control Infrastructure. LHA Chamber supports increased state participation in and funding for water and flood control infrastructure.
- Utility Coordination on Transportation Projects. Support coordination efforts between TxDOT and utilities and other local project participants on the design and construction of roadway projects to save time and money, and minimize disruption to the surrounding community.
- Despite the appropriate concern over both state and local government debt, LHA Chamber supports the issuance of bonds as funding mechanisms for highway and related construction where the long- term financing of infrastructure makes financial sense, generates positive economic returns and provides adequate revenues to retire the obligations. We support the early retirement of transportation debt where financial analysis clearly shows that such options provide the best return on investment of transportation funds and adequate funds for long-term maintenance and operation are available.
- Local Participation. Support the continued use of local pass-through financing and other alternatives that enhance the ability of local communities to participate in the transportation planning, development process and funding options that address local and state connectivity needs.
- New Revenue Sources. The last several legislatures made valuable progress in improving transportation funding in Texas without authorizing any new fees or taxes. With these efforts, however, we can only hope to maintain current levels of traffic congestion. In order to meaningfully reduce congestion and meet the needs of our growing population, new and sustainable sources of revenue are inevitably required. LHA Chamber will oppose any efforts to reduce the availability of recent revenue gains in attempts to fund other budget priorities.
- Public-Private Partnerships. Support the continued use of public-private partnerships and re- authorizing the use of Comprehensive Development Agreements (CDAs). Enhance mechanisms that allow project sponsors to access private capital to supplement state or local funds to build infrastructure. We also support efforts to remove statutory or legislative restrictions or limitations on the number or nature of local comprehensive development projects where there is local support for such projects that address local or regional transportation needs.
- Vehicle Registration Fees. The successful efforts of past legislatures to end fuel tax diversions and allocate sales taxes will go a long way in alleviating the significant funding shortfalls for transportation. However, these efforts will still not completely address the problem. LHA Chamber will continue to support additional alternatives, including an increase in non-commercial 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 contributing to the continued growth of our state’s economy.
- Eminent Domain. Support efforts to improve the eminent domain process that protect both the interests and rights of property owners, improve the efficiency of the process for any party acquiring property through eminent domain, reduce the costs of infrastructure projects to taxpayers and ratepayers and ensure a balance of interests between both public utilities and landowners. Oppose any efforts to unfairly or arbitrarily deny access to the eminent domain process to any class or type of utility or public infrastructure provider, whether public or private.