Issues

Mission

The mission of the Chamber's Government Relations division is to ensure local, state and federal government policies are conducive to a strong regional business climate and that community decisions adequately support quality economic growth.

83rd Legislative Session Priorities

The Austin Chamber recognizes the fiscal challenges facing the 82nd Legislature. The State of Texas has developed its position as the national leader in job creation and low unemployment through a sophisticated set of programs across the economic development spectrum. We support these programs including, but not limited to, the Tax Increment Financing Act, the Property Redevelopment and Tax Abatement Act, the Skills Development Fund, Enterprise Zones, moving image project incentives, and sales and use tax exemptions. To maintain its competitive position with a strong business climate, the Austin Chamber strongly supports the following positions:

Texas Economic Development Act: Chapter 313, Texas Tax Code

Created by the Texas Legislature in 2001, the Texas Economic Development Act enhances the state's economic development efforts especially with securing large-scale capital investment. Through 2010, economic development agreements under Chapter 313 will result in more than $47 billion of estimated capital investment. The Chamber supports maintaining and strengthening this program to promote continued investment in large-scale projects such as manufacturing, research & development, and energy.

Emerging Technology Fund

As of August 2010, the Emerging Technology Fund (ETF) has awarded more than $290 million to Texas companies and universities to develop the next generation of commercial technology. The Texas Legislature created the ETF in 2005 and appropriated funding in every subsequent session. The Austin Chamber supports continued appropriations to the ETF to continue investment in high-impact, high-growth economic development for the future.

Texas Enterprise Fund

As of August 2010, the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) has contributed $397 million that successfully secured economic development agreements resulting in more than 53,600 jobs statewide with $14.4 billion of new capital investment. The Texas Legislature created the TEF in 2003 and appropriated funding in every subsequent session. The Austin Chamber supports continued appropriations to the TEF to maintain this vitally important economic development tool.

Together, the ETF and TEF maintain Texas as a national leader for business success especially in the following targeted industry clusters: Advanced Technologies and Manufacturing; Aerospace and Defense; Biotechnology and Life Sciences; Information and Computer Technology; Petroleum Refining and Chemical Products; and Energy.

Texas Franchise Tax

Small business success is important to the long-term economic health of the state. Maintaining a lower tax burden for these businesses is vital to their survival. The Austin Chamber supports maintaining the no tax due threshold amount of $1,000,000 for franchise tax reports due in all future years.

Immigration

Immigration issues continue to be a concern for Texas businesses, foreign governments and academic institutions as they engage talent from around the world to remain competitive in an increasingly global economy. The Austin Chamber recognizes the problems that exist and agree that comprehensive action should be taken at the federal level. We have historically supported national employer-based immigration policies and we support federal immigration reform which will give employers access to a legal workforce to meet legitimate business needs in all sectors of the economy.

Given that businesses need to have nationally consistent, comprehensive immigration standards, the Austin Chamber encourages the Texas state legislators to defer from policymaking at the state level and promote continued debate and national policy development at the federal level. We are hopeful that this debate will result in comprehensive immigration reform that will address both securing the international borders and the clear economic benefit of foreign workers to the Texas economy. In the interim, the Legislature should encourage adequate enforcement of existing federal immigration laws.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Reauthorization

Support for Small Business Administration (SBA) reauthorization. Support for the Small Business Growth Act [HR 3178], Small Business Job Creation and Access to Capital Act (HR 4302, S 2869), and the Small Business Job Creation and Access to Capital Act (HR 3854).

Pay-to-Play PLAs (Requiring Project Labor Agreements to Contract with the Federal Government)

Support for the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act (HR 983, S 90) a bill to preserve open competition and Federal Government neutrality towards the labor relations of Federal Government contractors on Federal and federally-funded construction projects.

Through Opportunity Austin 2.0, the Austin Chamber supports the use of performance-based economic development agreements as approved by the City of Austin and Travis County that result in new jobs and prosperity for Central Texas.

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