Vol. 1, Issue 1
Primary elections DO matter -- and here's why

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently ran an article about the importance of voting in primary elections.  For the constitutional amendment election held last November, the paper reports that  77 percent of eligible Texans were registered to vote, but less than 6 percent turned out.

Two things to know: First, people have a tendency to live around people like themselves, meaning Democrats and Republicans tend to "self-sort." Second, when the Texas Legislature re-draws district lines every 10 years, they usually create districts that are biased toward a particular party.  The Dallas Morning News recently wrote a good article about primaries, explaining, "Because of gerrymandering and polarization, the vast majority of elected seats in Texas are effectively decided before the general election."

That's right: BEFORE the election. 

WHERE WE STAND: The Chamber strongly encourages everyone who is eligible to vote in the March 6 primary. Please note that the Chamber does not endorse candidates, only issues. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Share the Morning News article with everyone you can. The Star-Telegram and Texas Association of Business also recently posted good articles to share about the importance of voting. Then make sure you know your representatives, voting location and who's on the ballot (see below). And remember what the Texas Association of Business tells us: "Texans who fail to participate in the process, by voting and monetarily, will be letting others choose who represents them and the ideological profile of their party." 

Who are your Tarrant County representatives?
To find out,  click here.  You'll see a box like the one at right. Enter your first and last name, and then click "Search" (Box 1). A list of names will come up. Click on your voter registration number. Each blue link will direct you to information about your representatives. At the bottom of your page you can see a sample ballot for the Republican or Democratic  primary of your choice (Box 2). Scroll down to see which races are on the ballot this year.

Work on I-35 is roadblocked, but you can help change that

Construction work on I-35 around Western Center Blvd., November 2016.
If you have been on I-35 north out of Fort Worth, you know it has been under construction for awhile -- in fact, since 2014. The first two sections, which extend from downtown to Highway 81/287, are funded and about half-complete. But the third section, extending to Alliance Airport, is on hold.
Like the first two sections, the third calls for tolled express lanes. However, Governor Greg Abbott has instructed the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDot) to not approve any new projects with toll lanes.

The State does not have enough funding to complete the project, and having toll lanes could be very helpful in attracting private industry investors. But without the toll component, the road will not be built, and improvements to I-35 will stop at Highway 81/287.

There are two free lanes in each direction today, and if the project is approved, motorists will still have access to these lanes. In addition, new access roads will open the adjacent land for potential development, also without tolls. And for those people willing to pay a toll, there w
ill be two lanes in each direction. 

In short, everyone seems to benefit.  But with the Governor making clear his opposition to toll roads, TxDOT is unlikely to approve the change order required for construction to begin, and the project is roadblocked -- for now.

WHERE WE STAND: We support completion of the I-35 project WITH the originally planned toll roads. Completion will greatly benefit both motorists AND area businesses.  

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Contact the Governor's Office, your State Senator and your State Representative, urging them to approve the toll roads and complete the project. You can also read TxDOT's brief and informative history the history of the project.

Pay at the Counter?
Legislators consider ending property tax, expanding the sales tax

State Representative Matt Krause brought to our attention talk among House members about eliminating the property tax. He wants to replacing it with a sales tax that is "reformed," which means "increased and expanded." We did some research on this proposal, and what we learned is a surprising.
First, no other state has eliminated its property tax, so Texas could become the first state with no property OR income tax. In addition, sales tax is widely considered to be a "regressive" form of taxation; that is, it adversely impacts the lowest-income people the most. 
Sales tax plans have previously been floated in D.C. as a replacement for the income tax, but always with some form of subsidy for low-income people. 
What's being talked about now is a proposal being developed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation . This group calculates that we could  replace all the revenue from the current property tax and the existing sales tax by expanding the sales tax to 1) cover all services subject to sales tax in at least one state, and 2) raising the rate to 11 percent. 

We did not find a great deal of research on why this is a bad idea. We did come across an article published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas on the fairness of taxes in Texas. It turns out that people in the lowest three-fifths of the income range could actually benefit from this approach. So maybe sales tax reform is not as regressive as we first thought.

WHERE WE STAND: The Chamber has yet to establish a position on this issue. But if legislators maintain their interest and if their research continues to be positive, we will develop a position to present at the 86th Texas Legislature. Stay tuned!

We're working for you

The Chamber's Board has five goal teams. One of these teams is Business Advocacy, and it is chaired by Howard Shotwell. The team's responsibilities include government relations, issues identification, identifying collaboration opportunities and ensuring Chamber members always have a "seat at the table." We welcome your support! If you would like to get involved in the Chamber's business advocacy work, contact Mary Frazior, 817-283-1521, maryfrazior@heb.org.

Offices being voted on in the March 6 Primary

Federal: United States Senator, United States Representatives

State offices: Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller of Public Accounts, Commissioner of General Land Office, Commissioner of Agriculture, Railroad Commissioner, Texas Supreme Court Justices, Court of Criminal Appeals' Judges, State Board of Education, State Senator, State Representative

Judges: 2nd Court of Appeals District Judges, District Judges, Criminal District Judges, Family District Judges, Criminal District Attorney, County Judge, County Court at Law Judges
County Criminal Court Judges, County Probate Court Judges

County: District Clerk, County Clerk, County Tax Assessor -Collector, Justices of the Peace, Party Chairmen, Propositions for Party Platforms

Primaries of particular interest to HEB: US Rep, District 24, State Senator, District 10, State Representative, District 92, State Board of Education District 11, County Tax Assessor-Collector

We thank our business advocacy sponsors:




Sponsorship does not necessarily imply endorsement of the Chamber's policy positions.


The Chamber is 4-Star accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.