Executive Vice President Message

Written by  Jennifer Woodard

The 86th session of the Texas Legislature adjourned “Sine Die” Monday, May 27, 2019. The final weeks were marked by speculation that the House and Senate would not be able to come to an agreement on the budget, school finance reform, or property tax relief legislation. Many were making plans to spend the summer in Austin for a special session (or two) to address these priority items identified by the state’s top leadership. However, days before the end of the regular session, Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, and Speaker Bonnen announced that a deal had been struck, and the members of the House and Senate would conclude their work on time and return to their districts. The Capitol breathed a collective sigh of relief and the customary “Sine Die” celebrations ensued.

For AGC of Texas, the 86th session began in a very low-key manner. We had prepared with all due diligence for transportation to be overshadowed by education, taxes, and hurricane relief. We were ready to play defense and protect the funding increases achieved over the last three sessions. There was an entirely new leadership team in the House under newly elected Speaker Dennis Bonnen, and we had new members and committee chairs to become acquainted with and to educate. We had a handful of items we hoped to address if given the chance - such as eliminating contractor liability for design defects on transportation projects and extending the sunset date on Proposition 1. Our plan was to keep close tabs on legislation that would impact the industry and try to avoid engaging in any controversial issues. It was a good plan.

By the mid-point of session, around March 10, AGC was tracking hundreds of bills, including 37 pieces of legislation that would adversely impact the aggregate production and construction materials industry by way of environmental regulation. The plan turned to offense completely and we worked tirelessly as an industry throughout the session to defend our market and our ability to produce material, as well as to pass meaningful design defect liability reform. Countless hours were spent by the Legislative Drafting & Review Committee and the staff. Chair Tracy Schieffer (A.L Helmcamp), Johnny Weisman & Glen Dvorak (Hunter Industries), David Zachry & Tara Snowden (Zachry Corporation), Steve Bolline (Slates Harwell) along with others testified in person or made personal visits on key bills. We conducted our most successful and best attended Legislative Fly-In in February. There were numerous “Calls to Action” to which the membership responded without fail. It was 140 days of nonstop action.

In the end, AGC of Texas had one of the best and most successful sessions on record. The design defect legislation was signed by the Governor in early June. HB 2899 is a highlight victory for the highway construction industry. The legislature extended the sunset date for Proposition 1 for an additional 10 years. Senate Finance Chairman Jane Nelson passed SB 69, which ensures predictability in TxDOT funding. The most egregious aggregate production operations bills were defeated, and chapter-supported legislation that focused on operators without permits was approved.

There were other accomplishments that the membership will be hearing about in the weeks and months to come. It was truly a team effort between staff and membership and a job well done.

As we look ahead to the summer months, the 50th AGC of Texas Management Conference was held in June at The Breakers, West Palm Beach. A record 385 people attended this long-standing and informative session. The Administrative Conference was held July 18-20, which sold out in record time. We love to see the AGC community gather as family. The growing popularity of these events speaks to the strength and health of the Chapter. We hope to see you there.

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