_advocacy

As an organization dedicated to the economic well-being of McLennan County, the Waco Chamber of Commerce actively seeks to promote policies that are conducive to the further development of this region. The goal of our public policy initiative is to inform, educate, engage and advocate for the Greater Waco business community regarding relevant public policy.

Public Policy & Advocacy News:

The Importance of the 2020 Census

Written by: Dr. M. Ray Perryman This article was originally published on the Perryman Group website on August 12, 2020. Accurate Census counts are far…

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Appointed Office Initiative

Did you know that in one four-year term, the Texas State Governor appoints over 1,500 Texans to serve our great state on various state boards,…

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A Look Back at the 86th Texas Legislative Session

Article written by Jessica Attas, VP of Public Policy at the Greater Waco Chamber, published in the 2019 third-quarter edition of Greater Waco Business magazine….

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2020 State Of Series Recordings

Legislative Platforms

The Waco Chamber serves the vibrant and growing heart of Central Texas as the voice for businesses. Each year, the Public Policy Committee will survey the Chamber’s membership and engage in dialogue with legislators to identify a priority list of issues that will be tracked. Individuals are invited to propose policy issues on behalf of their business or industry for consideration within the scope of the Chamber’s interests.

Every year, the Public Policy Committee develops a Legislative Priority Agenda at both the state and federal levels which serve as a public policy guide to inform our members, elected and appointed officials, and the community-at-large of the position of the Waco Chamber on issues that impact business in Greater Waco and Central Texas.

Texas 87th Legislative Session

Highlights

  • Redistricting: Ensure a fair redistricting process, based upon accurate Census data, that maintains a unified McLennan County district.
  • Broadband: Robust broadband in both rural and urban areas should be prioritized as a key infrastructure priority due to its importance in enabling remote learning and teaching; telemedicine and healthcare access; and business operations and commerce; improving educational, health, and economic outcomes in the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.
  • Recovery dollars: Federal funds sent to the state should be disbursed fairly, easily, and expeditiously throughout the state to local governments, such as McLennan County and local taxing entities, without preferential treatment, more flexibility, or higher rate of per capita allotment for major metros compared to mid-sized communities.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: We support policies and programs that advance economic inclusion, promote equity, and advance data-driven business and policy solutions that bridge opportunity gaps and ensure Black, Hispanic, and all people of color have greater opportunities to succeed.
  • Business Climate: Texas must retain its business-friendly climate through tax, fiscal, and regulatory policies that promote responsible development and economic growth.
  • Economic Development: Economic development tools and incentives, like the Chapter 313 property tax limitation program, are critical tools to keep Texas competitive with other states in attracting new business, and retaining and expanding existing business. These tools should be reauthorized and funded to best develop and grow our economy.
  • Workforce: Qualified and skilled workers are vital to the success of area industry. We support those programs that develop the workforce and strengthen the talent pipeline, cradle to career.
  • Public Education: A strong public education system is critical for the long-term success and vitality of our state. We must protect the initiatives and funding of House Bill 3 as we continue the work to build and strengthen an adequately funded, equitable, and accountable public-school system for Texas children, developing local talent today for the workforce of tomorrow.
  • Higher Education: Many of the jobs being created in Texas require some post-secondary education. We must protect higher education funding, aligning innovative programming and curriculum with regional industry needs, while expanding equitable access and attainment for a robust regional workforce.
  • Healthcare: The COVID-19 pandemic exposed deficits in the state’s health care safety net. Because a healthy employee is a critical part of a productive workforce, and a necessity to for economic recovery, we must develop resources and support policies that expand access to affordable care for all Texans.
  • Transportation: A robust infrastructure system is necessary to support the economic recovery and growth of our state. We must preserve transportation funding options to help provide the infrastructure to support our supply chain and efficiently move goods and people.

Broadband

  • Robust broadband in both rural and urban areas should be prioritized as a key infrastructure priority due to its importance in enabling remote learning and teaching; telemedicine and healthcare access; and business operations and commerce; improving educational, health, and economic outcomes in the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.

Business Climate (Tax & Regulatory Reform and Fiscal Policy)

Texas must retain its business-friendly climate through tax, fiscal, and regulatory policies that promote responsible development and economic growth.

  • Promote appraisal processes that are fair, professional, retain local authority while utilizing uniform and generally accepted appraisal standards, include local input on valuation ranges, and promote business development and growth, sustaining the momentum of the revitalization of downtown by true market-based valuations.
  • Oppose increases in local appraisal revenue growth mandated by state legislature in biannual budget planning.
  • Continue to build upon reforms of property tax system, with the goal of increasing accountability and transparency.
  • Enact tax provisions that spur private sector innovation and development and that encourage the formation of new businesses large and small.
  • Ensure regulations reflect a cost-benefit perspective and 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 economic growth and job creation.
  • Encourage efficiencies and transparency in government spending, focusing expenditures on areas most critical to increasing the economic activity and growth in our state.
  • Oppose tax changes that increase the state’s already heavy reliance on businesses to shoulder the bulk of the state’s tax burden.
  • Implement liability protections to protect businesses who adhere to safety standards and guidelines from lawsuits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

  • We support policies and programs that advance economic inclusion, promote equity, and advance data-driven business and policy solutions that bridge opportunity gaps and ensure Black, Hispanic, and all people of color have greater opportunities to succeed.

Economic Development: Competitive Incentives & Development Tools

Economic development tools and incentives, like the Chapter 313 property tax limitation program, are critical tools to keep Texas competitive with other states in attracting new business, and retaining and expanding existing business. These tools should be reauthorized and funded to best develop and grow our economy.

  • Support the Texas Enterprise Fund, the state’s deal-closing incentive fund, and all other competitive economic development incentives and tools, and expand accessibility for existing businesses of all sizes throughout the state.
  • Maintain Chapter 313 for large capital investment projects.
  • Protect the Economic Development Sales Tax (Type A, Type B).
  • Support local control generally, and specifically as related to control of local incentives packages.
  • Fund the Spaceport Trust Fund (minimum $10 million per biennium) for communities with designated Spaceport Development Corporations.
  • Protect hold harmless in freeport exemptions, that ISDs may participate in attracting capital investment.
  • Remove wage requirement restrictions in the Texas Enterprise Zone Program that create unequal playing fields for communities across the state.

Economic Development: Small Business & Entrepreneurship

  • Support for policies and programs that increase access to capital for small business loans.
  • Advocate for statute reform for the payday lending industry to foster access to capital without exacerbating debt through predatory lending practices.
  • Advocate for continued support of programs that provide resources to small business development.
  • Support continued state funding in support of cultural art development in Texas communities.
  • Support continued funding for the Waco Texas Anti-Gang Center (TAG) and other initiatives that enhance quality of life by promoting peaceful, safe communities.
  • Encourage legislation that focuses on issues of greatest importance to economic development and growth of our state.

Economic Development: Trade & International Competitiveness

  • Support policies to promote fair and open trade abroad that will spur innovation, expansion and job creation in all industry sectors.

Economic Development: Workforce

Qualified and skilled workers are vital to the success of area industry. We support those programs that develop the workforce and strengthen the talent pipeline, cradle to career.

  • Protect the funding and strategic initiatives of HB3 to strengthen an equitable and accountable public education system as a vital piece of our talent and workforce pipeline.
  • Support training programs that reskill, upskill, or strengthen the Texas workforce across all industry sectors, from childcare to advanced manufacturing to healthcare and beyond.
  • Focus CARES and other future recovery dollars on rapid workforce retraining programs.
  • Support funding for partnerships among universities, community and technical colleges, businesses and industries, and local ISDs in the flexible design and implementation of career and technology education.
  • Support solutions and programs that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion to strengthen our workforce and leadership pipeline. 

Healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed deficits in the state’s health care safety net. Because a healthy employee is a critical part of a productive workforce, and a necessity to for economic recovery, we must develop resources and support policies that expand access to affordable care for all Texans.

  • Support expanded access to healthcare coverage to ensure the burden of uninsured care does not fall on local communities (counties, cities, hospitals, physicians, or other health care providers).
  • Support legislation that encourages preventative healthcare, such as wellness and vaccine programs, encourages employees to be more involved in their health, and encourages education of employers and employees alike on health care costs and fees. Promote understanding that a healthy employee is a critical part of a productive workforce.
  • Support legislation and funding for increasing access to mental and behavioral healthcare, including through promoting usage of and reimbursement for quality telehealth services for mental and behavioral care.
  • Focus spending on mental and behavioral health, focusing on preventative and treatment focused strategies, over punitive strategies.
  • Support state funding of additional medical residency slots, particularly in areas of greatest physician shortage such as psychiatric care, over additional funding for any new medical schools.
  • Support funding robust nursing programs in order to increase the number of highly-trained qualified nurses. Support allowing highly-trained nurses to practice within the scope of their expertise.
  • In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, support free, public testing for all residents, and access to vaccinations.

Higher Education

Many of the jobs being created in Texas require some post-secondary education. We must protect higher education funding, aligning innovative programming and curriculum with regional industry needs, while expanding equitable access and attainment for a robust regional workforce.

  • Curriculum developed and offered across the higher education ecosystem should be aimed at developing 21st century threshold skills for a strong and qualified workforce.
  • Fully fund performance funding for community and technical colleges.
  • Support public-private partnerships among universities, community and technical colleges, businesses and industries with local school districts in the flexible design and implementation of safe and meaningful career and technology education.
    • Support legislation and rules, such as flexibility in the Texas College Work Study Program, so employers can better provide meaningful internships, apprenticeships, and other workforce training opportunities.
    • Incentivize businesses to invest in education throughout the pipeline, from high-quality early childhood, to CTE and retooling schools to enhance experience-based learning.
  • Maintain funding of the state financial aid programs, such as the Texas Tuition Equalization Grant program, to ensure opportunities for all Texans to attend an institution of higher education.
  • Increase funding for institutions of higher education to ensure the accomplishment of the state’s higher education strategic plan.
  • Support debt-free certificates and degrees for Texas students by providing additional resources for dual credit and fast to work training programs, to expand opportunities to pursue seamless academic transfer and technical career pathways.
  • Support teacher externship programs and incentivize or reward business participation, that teachers may have professional development opportunities that connect the classroom to the workplace.

Public Education

A strong public education system is critical for the long-term success and vitality of our state. We must protect the initiatives and funding of House Bill 3 as we continue the work to build and strengthen an adequately funded, equitable, and accountable public-school system for Texas children, developing local talent today for the workforce of tomorrow.

  • Continue to fully fund House Bill 3 and protect all the initiatives therein.
  • Ensure school districts receive their full Tier I entitlement to support a strong and equitable public-school system.
  • Expand the current testing and accountability systems to better measure student progress over time as opposed to one high stakes test.
  • Continue assessments to measure student learning through the COVID-19 pandemic, while providing schools a limited one-year hold harmless on both attendance and other accountability metrics.
  • Support advancement for high-impact teachers, as well as all programs to train and support and offer competitive pay to develop and retain high-quality teachers.
  • Oppose limiting the flexibility of local school boards to make decisions that serve the best interests of their districts
  • Support efforts to improve and expand access to quality Early Childhood Education and high-quality childcare programs, to ensure children arrive at kindergarten school-ready, laying the foundation for future workforce-readiness.
  • Ensure that dollars sent to the state for education are used exclusively on public education, not used to fill other shortfalls or fund other programs.

Recovery dollars

  • Federal funds sent to the state should be disbursed fairly, easily, and expeditiously throughout the state to local governments, such as McLennan County and local taxing entities, without preferential treatment, more flexibility, or higher rate of per capita allotment for major metros compared to mid-sized communities.

Redistricting

  • Ensure a fair redistricting process, based upon accurate Census data, that maintains a unified McLennan County district.

Transportation: Infrastructure

A robust infrastructure system is necessary to support the economic recovery and growth of our state. We must preserve transportation funding options to help provide the infrastructure to support our supply chain and efficiently move goods and people.

  • Protect the funding framework for the State Highway Fund (SHF) including full funding and implementation of Propositions 1 and 7.
  • Support flexibility of CARES Act dollars to allow for developing infrastructure to strengthen public health and public safety efforts.
  • Support policies and innovative and alternate methods of financing transportation infrastructure, including public-private partnerships, changes to the gas tax or gas tax structure, user fees, and other funding mechanisms in order to allow local and state entities the ability to plan and execute infrastructure projects that meet our state’s growing needs.
  • Support a regulatory environment that allows for expeditious integration of new technologies in order to create a robust, multi-modal transportation system to meet the state’s growing transportation needs.
  • Support policies and programs, such as in-land ports, that would allow us to further develop Waco as a transportation hub.

Transportation: Aviation & Aerospace

  • Support policies, programs and a regulatory environment to further develop the commercial aerospace sector for our state.
  • Support policies to boost and increase ridership of local air services.

Transportation: High-Speed Rail

  • Advocate for the Greater Waco area’s best interests in high-speed rail access, including funding support for the study and design of high-speed rail projects, as well as Waco’s connectivity to a future high-speed rail line.

Water & Natural Resources: Water

  • Support innovative water management strategies, based on most recent drought records, including reuse, conservation, and conjunctive use of quality ground and surface water along with providing incentives for the implementation of these strategies, to ensure adequate supply of water at costs that are fair and support future economic growth and development of the region.
  • Ensure the existing structure of water rights is maintained, and oppose any efforts to change the same in a way that would weaken the legal and property interest of existing holders of water rights.
  • Support legislation to streamline the surface water rights permitting process to facilitate permitting within reasonable timelines so that businesses and entities can expeditiously complete new projects and maintain compliance while also avoiding costly procedural delays. This streamlining process should include allowing the outsourcing of certain aspects of the permitting and technical review process where appropriate.
  • Support flexibility in development of new water sources to meet the state’s future water needs, including reducing regulatory barriers to major projects such as new reservoirs and the movement of water from one river basin to another in the form of interbasin transfers.
  • Support adequate groundwater regulation and planning by encouraging groundwater districts to make decisions based on verified science and data and giving them the tools they need to do so.
  • Support all recommendations from the McLennan County Drought Contingency, Conjunctive Use, and Arsenic Management Plans.
  • Support local control generally and specifically as to dedicated rights of way, water rights, and watershed protection (moved from Business Climate)

Water & Natural Resources: Air Quality & the Environment

  • Support policies and initiatives that improve air quality, maintain compliance, and promote development without compromising quality of life. Support incentive programs aimed at improving air quality, enhancing public health, and promoting economic prosperity.
  • Support expeditious construction of transportation infrastructure projects to limit air quality degradation during construction phase.
  • Support legislation that affirms the rights and powers of the state government in environmental programs and appropriate regulatory oversight.

Public Policy Committee

The Public Policy Committee provides a voice for Chamber members in economic, legislative and policy issues that impact the community and economic development. The role of the committee is to be a liaison for our business community with local, state and federal officials and various government entities. Information about the 2021 Committee coming soon.

Fast Track Priorities

When necessary, upon request of a member business, the Chamber has the ability to address priorities in an expeditious manner. To submit an issue of concern for your business, please click here. Once this form is completed, please return to Jessica Attas.

For more information, contact Jessica Attas at 254-757-5631.