Prioritizing for next week’s Golden Triangle Days in Austin
Published 12:26 am Saturday, February 25, 2023
Next week a delegation of approximately 350 people from Orange and Jefferson counties is heading to the state capital with a list of legislative priorities touting the importance of our area to the country’s economy.
Golden Triangle Days in Austin this year is Monday and Tuesday. The event features a welcome reception followed by a day filled with informational sessions on topics of legislative importance, a visit to the House of Representative and the Senate, which comes with a resolution in each and ends with a Cajun reception and dinner.
“It helps us all understand and appreciate our collective interests, and it keeps us from having tunnel vision in our own little microcosm municipalities and counties,” said Pat Avery, president and CEO of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce.
“It is a great education for all delegates and the entire community.”
Golden Triangle Days in Austin began in 2007 with Orange, Beaumont and Port Arthur chambers coming together to bring a regional voice to Austin, according to information from gtdaustin.com.
Officials said the regional approach created a stronger presence in Austin to lobby for issues and change.
The legislative priorities are broken into categories: economic development, education and workforce, environmental quality and stewardship, healthcare, insurance and taxes and transportation and infrastructure.
Importance of the area
Southeast Texas has a major impact on the economy, according to the legislative priorities.
The area is a major hub for storage and export of crude oil, condensate and refined transportation fuels and liquefied natural gas and renewable fuels. The Sabine-Neches Waterway is a part of all of this.
Some of the other energy related attributes include:
- Being home to four major refineries including the largest one in the U.S.
- Being home to the largest methanol facility in the U.S.
- Southeast Texas is responsible for 13 percent of transportation fuels.
- The Sabine-Neches Waterway is the No. 1 liquid bulk cargo waterway in the U.S.
- Is home to two Strategic Military Ports that function as the nation’s number one commercial military out-load port.
Legislative priorities regarding economic development cover a variety of topics from supporting small business and expanding opportunities for job creation to the reinstatement of the school value limitation incentive and protection of the gulf-caught wild shrimp industry.
Southeast Texas represents 4.4 percent of Texas manufacturing gross domestic product, according to information from GTDA.
Education and workforce
Legislative priorities regarding education and workforce covers a number of issues, some of which include continued investment in public education that helps prepare students for skilled and professional workforce opportunities, school safety resources, mental health services, funding for Lamar University, Lamar State College Orange, Lamar State College Port Arthur and Lamar Institute of Technology.
The list also includes replacement of the “one size fits all” state accountability rating system, measures to address the teacher shortage and expanding student loan forgiveness programs for teachers, among other issues, according to information from GTDA.
Environmental quality and stewardship
Legislative priorities regarding environmental quality and stewardship include supporting the preservation of natural resources that contribute to our local economy as job creating opportunities, water reuse incentives and environmental sustainability goals developed by industry, natural barrier restoration of ecological systems for all of SETX residential, marine and business communities, and carbon reduction, sequestration and recycling through business incentives and rebates to reduce our SETX carbon footprint, among other issues, according to information from GTDA.
Healthcare issues include funding for community health clinics to provide primary are to the underserved populations of SETX, thereby reducing costs by providing accessible preventable care, complete hospital pricing transparency regarding the cost of al hospital services, prior to services being rendered and legislation that enhances rate for rural, trauma hospitals among other issues, according to information from GTDA.
Insurance and taxes
The Insurance and taxes topic supports legislation and programs that bring financial relief to Southeast Texans through property tax and insurance reform and eliminate unfunded mandates.
They also support legislation amending revenue cap on cities, counties and other taxing entities to account for inflation and address property tax reform and require insurers to process windstorm and flood claims as they would hail, among other priorities, according to information from GTDA.
Transportation and infrastructure
Legislative priorities involving transportation and infrastructure support an improved interchange at Texas 87 and Texas 62 as well as Texas 87 and FM 1006, a second ingress-egress at Sabine Pass and consider the feasibility of ferry service as an interim solution, and additional funding to improve drainage along state highways among other priorities, according to information from GTDA.