Legislative issues and elections are always an important part of any Chamber’s agenda. This year it will go to the front of the line for Texas chambers because 2015 will bring the Texas Legislature back into session. The Golden Triangle chambers will be planning the 2015 Golden Triangle Days in Austin. We take 300 to 400 area leaders to Austin to present our legislative agenda.
In February, I will be attending the Texas Association of Business (TAB) annual conference. The agenda items for this conference include:
• In-depth candidate forums for offices of lieutenant governor, attorney general and comptroller
• Education and Workforce Policy discussions and how businesses can help shape Texas education
• The Impact and Innovation of Signature Texas Industries
• Texas transportation and what’s next for business
• Water: How Will Texas plan for it? How will Texas use it?
While all of these issues are important I will be paying close attention to education, transportation and water sessions.
Education is at the top of my list. I am taking every opportunity to learn what business can do to assist our school district in keeping students in school through graduation. I also want to learn what some of the new policies are doing to address those students who do not wish to attend college. With Southeast Texas’ explosion of construction jobs over the next five to 10 years, we must find out how to prepare our students to take advantage of this opportunity.
Water has always been an issue for this area. The problem is not that we do not have enough but how we keep it from being borrowed by the rest of the state. I understand that we are all Texans and are in this together (although the rest of the state doesn’t remember that when we talk about windstorm insurance), our area should not be shorted because the rest of the state ignores the problem and continues to outstrip their water supply. So I will be listening closely to a presentation concerning water.
Our legislative policy committee will begin formatting our issues list, and I encourage everyone to read, learn and submit your concerns to your local chamber. Remember to keep your target broad, i.e. water, transportation, education, etc. Voice your fears, ideas and suggestions.
Local elections in Port Arthur will be quiet and boring as usual, with everyone loving each other and politely asking you to vote for them. Well, maybe not, but they will be important so pick your candidates, ask them hard questions and vote. Go out and sign up your neighbors. It is yet to be determined if the Chamber will host any forums; we will not be hosting debates. I have attended several large dinners and receptions and noticed that every other person is running for some office or representing a candidate. So now is a good time to plan a fundraising dinner; you are sure to sell 50 or more tickets to candidates or their representatives.
Come hear the real story about the Apollo 13 mission from flight director Gene F. Kranz. Kranz was portrayed by Ed Harris in the movie “Apollo 13.” Feb. 25, he will speak at the Port Arthur Chamber Luncheon at the Bob Bowers Civic Center in Port Arthur. Tickets are $25. So mark your calendar and call to make reservations. I am fascinated by the real story about this historical event.
Bill McCoy, President
Greater Port Arthur Chamber