85th Legislative Session

The McAllen Camber of Commerce’s legislative goal is to continue to make McAllen and the State of Texas the premier location to work and do business. Our goal is to encourage economic growth and produce good paying jobs driven by the market.

Criminal Justice.

Texas still has several major areas where reforms are needed in criminal justice to reflect the 21st Century and the role of crime and punishment.

Community supervision. Support legislation to utilize probation and state jail felony community supervision as part of the sentencing process to increase opportunity for employment, housing and other tools to reduce reincarceration.

Criminal records. Support efforts to reducing the reporting requirements on job application of criminal conviction for certain non-violent offenses.

Participation credits. Support efforts to allow TDCJ to provide the timely award of credits for participation in self-improvement programs.

Penalties. Support legislation to downgrade first-time minor drug possession offense and allow the courts to divert individuals to treatment programs when the court deems they would not be a threat to the public safety.

Raise the Age. Support legislation that allows 17-year-olds to be treated to the juvenile system when appropriate and allowing judges to determine for juveniles to be transferred to adult based on a case-by-case basis.

Economic Development.

Texas continues to be the leader in job creation and “pro-business” eco-systems. Texas must continue to protect and ensure that the State of Texas continues to play its role in creating an environment for business success.

Economic Development Programs. Continue support for state and local tools used to compete for corporate expansions/relocations and job growth through: Texas Enterprise Funds, Texas Enterprise Zone funds, and tax incentives under Chapter 313 of the Tax Code.

Education tax Incentives. Support legislation to provide tax incentives to encourage businesses to participate in education initiatives.

Innovation. Support legislation that will drive and create innovation in the Texas economy by investing in world-class research, partnership between private and higher education, provide funding for proof of concepts funding to assist in tech-transfer, maintain R&D tax credit.

Investment Capital. Support legislation that would develop a healthy investment eco-system for every region in the state.

Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Oppose legislation to expand or broaden the current RFRA or other legislation that would allow discriminatory practices in the workforce or cause a negative economic impact on the Texas economy.

Sales Tax for Economic Development. Support continue use and control of the ½ cent sales tax for economic development.

Oppose efforts to reduce control of the ½ cent tax because these funds are local and local control was a key element for support of ½ cent approval process.

Skills Development Fund. Support increased funding for skills development program administered by the Texas Workforce Commission.

Tax abatement and other incentives. Support continue use and support of local tax abatements, tax increment financing, and other incentives to promote economic development and job creation.

Texas Commission on the Arts. Support increase funding for the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Education and Workforce

Public education is the key to Texas’ long-term success. Advocating and developing new education business models is vital for Texas to compete in the 21st Century.

Support the 60×30 Texas education plan in which 60% of Texans between the ages of 25 and 34 hold some kind of degree or post-secondary certification by 2013.

Oppose measures that would weaken education accountability.

Support alternative certification which would give schools districts more flexibility in filling hard to fill STEM positions through alternative paths to teaching.

Support more rigorous career and technology education in partnership with public schools, community colleges and the business community.

Community Colleges. Continue to support community colleges as a key contributor to training students for jobs, providing a path for certification and key first step in achieving higher education degrees.

Full-Day Pre-K. Support funding for full-day Pre-K programs for school districts for currently eligible students.

Higher Education. Support continued funding for higher education and the critical roles its plays in position growth and opportunity for Texas. Continue support for looking for new and innovative funding formulas.

Local Control. Support measures that give school districts the flexibility to meet the needs of their students. Support at-will-employment for teachers, and removing the state from the terms and conditions of employment.

Non-Traditional Students. Support measures that encourage non-traditional students to complete their education.

Pay for Performance. Support legislation that allows school districts to financially reward campuses that achieve exemplary student performance.

Physical fitness. Support requiring recess and other physical activities as part of school programming.

Skills Development Program. Support increased funding for Skills Development Programs administered by the Texas Workforce Commission.

Tax Incentives. Support legislative tax incentives to encourage businesses to participate in education initiatives.

Employment Relations.

Businesses have an important role in the development of labor policies and regulations. Too many times laws are passed with good intention, but create uncertainty and havoc with the businesses. Good solid pro-business labor policy is a foundation for success.

Arbitration. Oppose efforts to modify arbitration that has been upheld by the Supreme Court that provides the employer’s right to establish a mandatory arbitration program.

Drug Testing. Oppose legislation to restrict the rights of employers to conduct random drug testing of employees.

Drug testing for Unemployment Insurance. Support legislation that provides a that a claimant who fails or refuses to submit to an employer-related drug test that is a condition of employment or refuses the offer to work without good cause would be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.

Control of work environment. Support employer control of work environment and for employers to maintain the right to control the workplace, thereby creating a safe and harmonious work environment.

Hiring Practices. Oppose efforts to dictate how private employers’ interview and hire candidates for jobs.

Employment at Will. Oppose any legislation that would erode employment-at-will for all Texas employers.

Family and Medical Leave Act. Oppose efforts to modify the Family, Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that would require employers to pay for FMLA.

Fraud Control. Support legislation for the TWC to hire outside contractors to assist in the efforts to detect and remedy unemployment benefit fraud.

City Mandated Living Wages Ordinances. Oppose efforts by cities to impose wage requirements beyond the federal required minimum wage.

Right-to-Work. Support efforts to keep Texas a right-to-work state.

Subsidized Training Wages. Support legislation to allow employers to apply part of their unemployment insurance taxes toward the cost of training workers for their businesses.

Union Dues Check-off. Oppose efforts to allow public employees, or to require private employers to subsidize or promote labor unions through payroll collection of dues.

General Business

There are many pieces of legislation that do not fit a category, yet impact businesses and their operations. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce does not want to see overbearing rules or regulations that impact the business climate in Texas or South Texas.

Auto Insurance Choice. Create a new system in state law that allows drivers to choose between the current system, in which they can sue for non-economic damages, and a new system under which they can waive the option to recover non-economic damages.

Civil Liabilities for Businesses. Oppose legislation that would create a new cause of action against employers who choose to disallow guns at their place of business.

Immigration Reform. Oppose the State of Texas’ attempt to resolve comprehensive immigration reform at the state level. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce supports comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level.

Insurance Fraud. Support anti-fraud insurance legislation and enforcement. Fraud costs Texas’ businesses millions of dollars every year.

No Pay, No Play. Support reforms that would prevent uninsured motorists from collecting pain and suffering damages if they are in an accident with an insured driver.

Public Information Laws. Oppose legislation that would make private entities subject to open records laws or force release of proprietary information in government contracts with businesses.
Vehicle Sales. Maintain Texas’ prohibition of direct sales of vehicles to consumers.

1115 Medicaid Transformation Waiver. Support extension of the 1115 Medical Transformation Waiver.

Taxes

A fair and equitable tax system is a foundation to a thriving and growing economy. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce continues to oppose hidden fees and a tax system that is not equitable.

Equity. Support legislation that provides equitable distribution of burden of business sector taxes among all businesses.

Provide taxpayers equal interest rates on overpayments and underpayments.

Provide for a 90-day protest period for taxpayers.

Allow tax payers an automatic filing extension with federal extension

Eliminate pay-to-play that currently requires Texas’ taxpayers to prepay tax or post a bond to obtain access to the trial court level.

Wholesale and retail equity. Support maintaining the current equal assessment for franchise tax for both retail and wholesale entities and a graduated approach to tax for businesses that have less than $1 million.

Business losses. Support authorizing a business’s losses on the franchise tax to be carried forward for up to 10 years.

Research and Development Tax credit. Support reinstating the research and development tax credit (provided under the previous franchise tax) and allowing it to be carried forward.

Gross Receipts Tax. Oppose the imposition of a gross receipts tax in Texas.

Incentives. Support local government tax policies and incentive programs that are effective in increasing investment to create new jobs and greatly expand the local economy.

Mandates. Oppose unfunded government mandates that shift the cost of financing a program to either the private sector or other levels of government.

Regulatory Policy. Support legislation that maintains a regulatory climate that does not impose hidden regulations and costs.

Windfall Profits Tax. Oppose legislation to impose a “windfall profit tax or to penalize companies for sudden and substantial profits.

Tort Reform

Texas has led the nation in tort reforms efforts and there has been many successes, but there are many forms still to come and the need to protect what has been passed.

Alternative Dispute Resolution. Support legislation that creates mechanisms and incentives for the use of alternative dispute resolution.

Civil Justice Reform. Protect the comprehensive tort reform measures that have been passed by the Texas Legislature that help create a fair and balanced system.

Support reforms in the property and casualty in the Texas Insurance code. That would:

Limit the amount of legal fees that an attorney can recover in statutory actions.

Mandate a Standard Appraisal Process to resolve disputes, with appropriate measures taken to insure the umpires selected to mediate differences between the property owner’s appraisers and the insurer’s appraisers are qualified and unbiased.

Require Dispute Resolution between property owners and insurance companies when there is a difference of opinion on the value of the underlying damages.

Judicial Selection. Support legislation that relates a mechanism for merit selection and non-partisan retention election of qualified jurist.

Medical malpractice. Protect legislative reforms enacted to address rising medical malpractice insurance coasts.

Patent Reform. Support patent reform legislation at the state level to stop abusive patent litigation from harming Texas business.

Statues of Limitation. Oppose attempts to amend current law to extend statues of limitations or timetables for filing lawsuits.