72 Hours on Capitol Hill: Advocating for Central Texas

72 Hours on Capitol Hill: Advocating for Central Texas

Posted By Greater Austin Chamber | Jul 19, 2017
Public Policy Print Article 72 Hours on Capitol Hill: Advocating for Central Texas

The Chamber led a delegation of 70 businesses, civic, and elected leaders from Central Texas to share how Washington can help keep Austin working.

The Central Texas legislative agenda was shared in more than 100 meetings with our nine member Central Texas delegation, Speaker Paul Ryan, the White House staff, cabinet secretaries, and others. Chamber President Mike Rollins also shared his opinion on how the federal government can help other cities become like Austin with The Hill, a U.S. political blog frequently read by White House personnel and lawmakers.

We left with the following outcomes:

  • Discussed potential options that will allow Texas to participate in the proposed $1 trillion infrastructure package. Our delegation also provided members an update about the Texas Legislature and the discontinuation of Public-Private Partnerships.
  • Garnered strong support for the Austin branch of the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit Experimental and additional conversations about the U.S. Army Research Laboratory located South on the campus of UT Austin. Both were opened in Austin last fall.
  • Senator Ted Cruz has a strong interest in emerging companies and military efforts. Representatives from his office—James Chistoferson and Carl Mica—will tour Austin Manufacturing during the August recess.
  • Senator John Thune (South Dakota) is in support of bill S 796, also known as the Employer Repayment Act. The bill provides employers tax credits to assist employees with loan repayment. He asked that the Central Texas delegation help build support for the bill.
  • Congressman Lamar Smith has a strong interest in the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). Abby Gunderson Schwartz, legislative director of his office, stated that he will support business resources for education through Austin Community Colleges.
  • Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s office was generally supportive of our federal agenda. His team—Doug Molof, Dan Smith, and Kate Stotesbery—let us know that Doggett sent a letter to the Ways and Means Committee for equitable healthcare policies.  He is continuing his work on tax credits for college enrollment in the federal tax reform debate.
  • Labor Secretary Alex Acosta met with Dynamic Manufacturing Systems CEO Robb Misso, Council Member Ora Houston of City Council District 1, and Dr. Molly Beth Malcolm of Austin Community College about Austin's approach to apprenticeships. 

Click here to read the full list of federal policies we advocated for while on Capitol Hill.

We’d like to offer a sincere thank you to all of the advocates who participated this year and made their voices heard to support Central Texas workers and businesses. Special thanks to Congressman Flores and his staff for securing our meeting room in the Capitol as well as his help for securing Speaker Ryan and Chairman Brady. We also appreciate Senator Cornyn’s office for helping us secure a meeting room on the Senate side. 

For more ways on how you can participate in next year’s DC Trip or our federal advocacy efforts, contact Drew Scheberle, SVP of Policy and Advocacy at 512-322-5628 or Dana Harris, VP of Federal and State Advocacy at 512-322-5647.

View photos of the trip on our Flickr page here.  

Pictured: Austin Chamber staff and advocates for the annual Washington, D.C. Trip (front row L-R): Dr. Dr. Molly Beth Malcolm, VP of Community Engagement and Public Affairs, Austin Community College District; Tina Cannon, Senior Director of Local Government, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce; Kwee Lan Teo, Vice President of Talent Development and Acquisition, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce; Doise Miers, Community Outreach Manager, CAMPO; Ora Houston, Council Member of District 1, City of Austin; Gregory Crumpton, Associate Director, Ray Marshall Center; (all others in no order): Jody Arlington, Head of Film, Press, and Publicity, SXSW; Writ Baese, Council Member of Place 5, City of Round Rock; Brian Baum, CEO, vitaTrackr; Erin Burget, External Affairs Director, AT&T; Edna Butts, Intergovernmental Relations and Policy Oversight Director, Austin Independent School District; Susana Carbajal, Assistant Director, Austin Bergstrom International Airport; Zhelun Chen, Advocacy Coordinator, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce; Elizabeth Christian, President and CEO, Elizabeth Christian Public Relations; Will Conley, Commissioner, Hays County; Adriana Cruz, President, Greater San Marcos Partnership; Julie Fitch, Vice President of External Affairs, Downtown Austin Alliance; Rene Flores, Council Member of Place 2, City of Round Rock; Brie Franco, Intergovernmental Relations Officer, City of Austin; Chuck Girard, Government Relations Director, St. David’s HealthCare; Nikki Graham, Market President, Bank of America; Lara Grantham, Government Affairs and Community Involvement, National Instruments; Rich Haines, CEO, OneLogos; Fred Heldenfels IV, President and CEO, Heldenfels Enterprises; Justin Henderson, Governmental Relations Coordinator, Capital Metro; Dr. Walter E. Horton, Associate VP for Research, Texas State University; John Howard, Government Affairs and Public Policy Director, Dell; Kelly Hyten, Advocacy, Diversity and Inclusion, Seton Healthcare Family; Ashby Johnson, Executive Director, CAMPO; Tim Jones, Manager of Environmental Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Samsung; John Kennedy, Vice President of Mobility, Downtown Austin Alliance; Shawn Kirkpatrick, Executive Director, Bastrop EDC; Ed Latson, Executive Director, ARMA; Bethany Leffingwell, Director of Marketing and Business Development, Frank Leffingwell & Associates; Frank Leffinwell, President, Frank Leffingwell & Associates; Jeff Markulec, Vice President of Operations, Dynamic Manufacturing Solutions; Stephanie McDonald, Chief of Staff, Central Health; Victoria Miller, VIP of Governmental and Regional Affairs, Lower Colorado River Authority; Robb Misso, President, Dyanmic Manufacturing Solutions; Terry Mitchell, Board Member, Capital Metro; Catherine Morse, General Counsel and Senior Director of Public Affairs, Samsung Austin Semiconductor; Jonathan Packer, Director of Global Technology and Innovation, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce; Anna Panossian, Vice President, Circuit of the Americas; Ellyn Perrone, Senior Associate Vice President of Research, University of Texas at Austin; Aaron Persons, VP of Chief Retail Officer, University Federal Credit Union; Geronimo Rodriguez, Chief Advocacy Officer, Seton Healthcare Family; Marisela Salayandia, Senior Managing Consultant, The PFM Group; Andrew Scheberle, Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce; Steve Steffensen, Chief of Learning Health System, Dell Medical School and UT-Austin; Bill Stotesbery, CEO, KLRU-TV, Austin PBS; Kimiko Unberhagen, Site Executive and Program Manager, BAE Systems; Stewart Vanderwilt, Director and General Manager, KUT Radio; Michelle Wallis, Executive Director, Austin Independent School District;  Meghan Weller, Government Relations Director, St. David’s Healthcare; Kevin Whitlow, Senior Vice President of Product Engineering, Dell EMC; Matthew Williamson, Managing Director, The Beck Group; Jason Winborn, Vice President of External Affairs, AT&T; Matt Wood, CPA and Auditor, RSM US, LLP; Gilbert Zavala, Vice President of Education and Talent Development, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce; and Walter Zaykowski, Senior Director of Advocacy and Communications for Regional Mobility and Infrastructure, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce; and Dana Harris, VP of Federal and State Advocacy, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

Greater Austin Chamber

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce focuses on how the Austin Region works. We serve as the voice of business for 2,800 organizations representing a combined workforce of about 330,000 employees throughout Central Texas. Our mission is to provide leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for members.