While in-person visits inside the Texas Capitol have been limited, members of Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston have been actively meeting with local state legislators via several virtual legislative days. ABC Greater Houston has connected with elected officials to discuss policy, address industry issues, and establish valuable relationships.
The first virtual legislative day was held on February 2, just weeks after the start of the 87th Legislature. Representatives Jim Murphy (R-Houston), Ed Thompson (R-Pearland), Dennis Paul (R-Houston), and Mike Schofield (R-Katy) participated on the call. The event began with an overview of ABC’s legislative priorities: design defects and consistency in employment regulations. A robust question and answer session with the legislative roundtable ensued on ABC priorities and other topics, including infrastructure, COVID-19 economic recovery, and environmental regulation. More than 40 ABC members logged on to hear from the local delegation.
ABC Greater Houston conducted a second virtual legislative day on March 2. Joining the legislative roundtable for this edition was a bi-partisan group of Representatives that included Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress), Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd), Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston), Sam Harless (R-Spring), and Christina Morales (D-Houston). Again, the legislative panel started with a summary of ABC of Texas issues. With committee assignments handed down by Speaker Phelan on February 4, the discussion focused on committee priorities for the legislators. . Important topics included career and technical education (CTE), minimum wage increases, and business insurance. Economic recovery from the pandemic and the legislature’s response to Winter Storm Uri were also discussed with the five legislators.
A third virtual legislative day on March 16 featured four freshmen members of the Texas House of Representatives. Cody Vasut (R-Angleton), Ann Johnson (D-Houston), Jacey Jetton (R-Richmond), and Lacey Hull (R-Houston) joined the roundtable for the first time as House members. After introducing ABC priority issues, ABC members who are constituents of the freshman legislative members asked questions to create a direct rapport. The bi-partisan panel outlined their top priority issues and detailed how their first legislative session was shaping up. With committees and bill movement in full swing by this point, discussion also centered on specific bills that ABC is monitoring. The Representatives provided insight into bills outside of ABC priorities that the association should track.
The next ABC virtual legislative day is scheduled for Tuesday, April 13 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Zoom. Less than 50 days from sine die, the end of the regular session, this meeting will be a valuable opportunity to remind state legislators of ABC priority bills and seek their support as the legislation moves through the House and Senate.
Efforts by ABC members and staff to connect with Texas state legislators, despite challenges created by variable protocols in the State Capitol, demonstrate the association and industry’s commitment to public policy. After a month of members settling in, the Texas legislative session becomes a sprint to pass legislation. Therefore, it is critically important to make sure that the local delegation in Austin remains connected to ABC and construction industry priorities remain top of mind. We all hope to be walking the halls of the Capitol again soon, but until then, all ABC Greater Houston members are encouraged to engage in the legislative process through these virtual forums.