PA Chamber leaders talk next steps after delivering agenda to Texas legislators

Published 12:19 am Thursday, March 11, 2021

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Now that the legislative agenda has been delivered virtually to lawmakers in Austin, a focus will be on making sure each appropriate committee receives and understands the information.

The virtual Golden Triangle Days in Austin featured numerous leaders in industry and business along with updates from local lawmakers. With the event came a plethora of information on what are topics of importance to the growth of the area.

“ (Tuesday) we presented the entire legislative agenda. Now we will break that agenda down in segments. For instance, the transportation piece in the video and issues we support and oppose will be sent on a zip drive to everyone on that committee,” Pat Avery, president and CEO of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, said.

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In addition, the information regarding transportation issues will also be sent to the Texas Department of Transportation district engineer so he will be made aware of the issues.

One of the transportation issues is for expanding and/or restructuring Texas 87/82 and Texas 73 to Sabine Pass, according to TxDOT Commercial Carrier Standards to support the tax base for state and local industrial growth.

For Port Arthur, this means having roadways ale to withstand increased traffic for construction, support supplies, employees and support personnel and product.

The Texas 87/82 roadway is the artery connecting Port Arthur to Sabine Pass and the only way in and out of the community. Currently there are two liquefied natural gas facilities in various stages of construction or expansion increasing normal traffic flows.

And this, in turn, is tied to the economic prosperity of the city, area and beyond.

Avery said in addition to providing the information to the specific committees, they are also going to provide the information to the legislators who took part in the event. Those lawmakers, some of which included state Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont; Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont; and state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, participated by giving an update on their work in Austin, now they will receive a copy of the local issues.

Tonya Moses, partner at CRYSM Enterprises and chairwoman of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee, said a vital part of the event is to ensure lawmakers understand the return of their investment – “to make our case for why these things need to be done, especially in a year when the budget is quite strained due to COVID.”

Currently, Southeast Texas represents 1.53 percent of Gross Domestic Product, 5.9 percent of the manufacturing GDP and 1.52 percent of the labor force.

There is a rare opportunity for Southeast Texas to become a critical part of the state and nation’s reemergence from the COVID era economy and to do that we will need the support of the state and our legislature, Moses said.

Legislative topics presented during the event included economic development, education and workforce development, environmental quality and stewardship, healthcare, insurance and taxes and transportation, energy and infrastructure.