2016 Federal Legislative Action Plan Presented to the 114th Congress
2016 Federal Legislative Action Plan The Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce advocates for businesses at the local, state, and federal levels. The Chamber uses guiding principles in considering positions on issues. At the heart of these principles is the certainty that the strength of a nation, a state, and a community is a reflection of the strength of their economies. Wealth and jobs are created through economic development in a free society by means of free enterprise. Businesses, especially small businesses, are the engines that drive economic growth and rely on an atmosphere conducive to that growth. It is therefore essential that we support efforts to: • Reduce unnecessary costs and entry barriers for doing business. • Eliminate excessive regulatory and tax burdens on businesses. • Develop a strong workforce through better education and affordable healthcare. • Continue to improve transportation infrastructure. • Maintain research and development funding to sustain a strong economy and military. The Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce has as its foremost mission the continuation and cultivation of a vigorous and diverse local economy. Through its many programs, the Chamber enhances the ability of companies in the Brazos Valley to grow and prosper. One of the most important roles for our Chamber is to take a proactive approach to ensure that those who represent us nationally in Washington D.C., state-wide in Austin, and locally in Bryan/College Station learn more about the business interests of our community. The purpose of our following Federal Legislative Action Plan is to summarize the important legislative goals in the areas of concern to our 1,400 plus members and our community. We respectfully request your support on the issues outlined in this plan.
Robert “Bobby” Bisor Chairman of the Board
Royce Hickman President & CEO
Americans want healthcare that is effective, provides for their safety and wellness, and is financially sound. Successful healthcare reform should maximize personal choice, slow the escalating cost of care, and increase access to healthcare for more Americans while providing economic stability for individuals, families and businesses. Many of the needed solutions to achieve these goals can be pioneered through the private sector. We support: 1. Reforming the healthcare system so that all citizens are invested in and have access to health services that are affordable, understandable and high-quality. 2. Extending and renewing the Texas 1115 Waiver as proposed by Texas Health and Human Services. 3. Expanding coverage and services for Behavioral Health by improving the network of crisis stabilization, outpatient and inpatient programs. 4. Expanding Graduate Medical Education and maintaining the current funding system. 5. Preserving the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) program and other finance mechanisms that sustain rural healthcare providers. 6. Reforming current Stark Law to: 1) lessen penalties for technical errors; and 2) support new payment models that encourage providers to work together for improving quality, outcomes and efficiency in the delivery of patient care.
Regulatory and Tax Burdens on Business
A recent report commissioned by the Competitive Enterprise Institute stated that in 2014 alone, nearly 3,500 federal regulations and 224 laws were issued at a total cost of $1.88 trillion to U.S. businesses. It cost business owners an estimated $9,991 per employee to comply with federal regulations in 2014. This overregulation, combined with a complex and inefficient tax code, makes it exceedingly difficult to do business in the U.S. We support: 1. Implementing comprehensive tax reforms that help U.S. companies better compete in the global marketplace, such as: 1) lowering tax rates, 2) securing longer term tax deductions, and 3) reducing taxation of repatriated funds. 2. Establishing e-fairness legislation and taxation of online and mail order sales through a standardized definition of the taxing jurisdiction site. 3. Replacing or amending the Dodd-Frank Wall Street and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 in order to reduce the cost and complexity of compliance for employers. 4. Opposing EPA’s “cross state” pollution regulations. Thorough Regulatory Impact Analyses (RIA) should be mandated for all EPA-proposed regulations. 5. Eliminating unfunded mandates on state and local governments.
Our membership continues to be concerned about the rate of spending which required the government to borrow nearly 16 cents of every dollar it spent in 2015. This is detrimental to a thriving business climate because it increases the federal debt, slows U.S. economic growth, and discourages private investment. We support: 1. Developing and implementing a balanced budget policy. 2. Reforming Medicare, Social Security, and all other government benefit programs in a way that will put them on a path to long-term sustainability. 3. Mandating consolidation or elimination of federal agencies and programs to reduce duplication, waste and fraud.
Higher Education & Workforce Training
The work being done by Texas A&M University and Blinn College, the Bryan/College Station business community and our local governments should be considered a model of how public/private partnerships are working to share the responsibility of developing dynamic and diverse local economies. Federally supported research helps develop new and advanced technologies and creates local business. We support: 1. Funding activities that produce invaluable economic impact through the commercialization of research into new technologies, new businesses, quality jobs and a highly skilled workforce. 2. Initiatives that place a priority on research and development funding, such as projects funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, as well as extramural research at mission agencies. 3. Increasing funding for the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program at the National Science Foundation and including community colleges in efforts to bolster America’s competitiveness in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. 4. Authorizing and funding a program dedicated to supporting and expanding innovative community college, veterans training, and industry partnerships, such as the proposed Community College to Career Fund.
Federal policies that encourage economic development are critical. We encourage lawmakers to facilitate economic success and quality of life by implementing more localized decision making processes, returning control to the state level. We support: 1. Continuing the tax exempt status of municipal bonds to make it financially feasible for states and local governments to expand and repair critical infrastructure, provide construction-related jobs and maintain a healthy economy. 2. Building a qualified workforce by implementing rational immigration and guest worker policies, providing funding for targeted vocational and technical training programs to meet local employers’ needs with funds distributed at the state level, allowing local market-driven competitive wages, and establishing a minimum wage at the state level. 3. Policies to promote American energy security, to encourage economically viable alternative energy sources such as nuclear power plants, and allow states to regulate hydraulic fracturing. It is essential to increase energy exportation, streamline permitting of refineries, and build Keystone and other pipelines. 4. Infrastructure requires improvement, including IH-14, in order to sustain regional growth and economic development nationwide. 5. Rebuilding the strongest national defense with sufficient military personnel and equipment to protect our economic interests and security worldwide.
B/CS Chamber of Commerce Contacts Robert “Bobby” Bisor
Chairman of the Board Texas A&M University (979) 845-3099 • [email protected]
Chairman Elect Wells Fargo (979) 776-3483 • [email protected]
Immediate Past Chairman HEB (979) 779-8905 • [email protected]
Mary Lynne Stratta
Legislative Affairs Committee Co-Chair City of Bryan (979) 209-5002 • [email protected]
Legislative Affairs Committee Co-Chair Knowledge Based Systems, Inc. (979) 260-5274 • [email protected]
Federal Legislative Action Plan Chair Bryan Texas Utilities (979) 821-5830 • [email protected]
Royce Hickman President & CEO B/CS Chamber of Commerce (979) 260-5200 • [email protected]
Glen Brewer Vice President B/CS Chamber of Commerce (979) 260-5200 • [email protected]
For more information or to receive an electronic copy of this Federal Legislative Action plan, visit www.bcschamber.org or contact the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce at (979) 260-5200.