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Victoria chamber picks 6 topics to watch during legislative session

By ALLISON MILES
Dec. 31, 2012 at 6:31 a.m.
Updated Jan. 1, 2013 at 7:02 p.m.

16 x9 legislative session

To search the bills filed for the upcoming legislative session, visit Texas Legislature online.

Politicians aren't the only ones prepping for the Jan. 8 start of the 83rd Texas legislative session. Victoria's business community is gearing up, too.

Although business leaders said they are not yet following any specific bills, a number of key issues top their lists.

The Victoria Chamber of Commerce's legislative committee has determined six key agenda items to watch throughout the legislative session, said Randy Vivian, the chamber's president and CEO.

Education, water, economic development, transportation and health care all make that list, according to the chamber website, but Vivian said the key issue is the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.

If certain proposed changes were to go through, it could mean a 20 to 40 percent increase in insurance prices for home and business owners.

"That's a huge issue we'll be watching," Vivian said. "This close to the coast, we fall into that category."

Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp., said he always watches for issues that could affect growth and development. That includes the Texas Enterprise Fund, which helps agencies close deals such as Victoria's Caterpillar hydraulic excavator plant.

Type A and B sales tax corporations, which allow communities to carry out economic development at the regional level, are also important, Fowler said, noting Victoria operates under Type B.

"I would certainly be a strong advocate for the Legislature leaving that in control of the communities," he said.

Henry Guajardo, executive director of Workforce Solutions of the Golden Crescent, did not have his eye on any particular bills either. Like the others, however, there are issues, he said he plans to watch.

Child care and workforce issues are important to the organization, he said, explaining the Texas Workforce Commission keeps its staff on top of bills it should be made aware of.

Education is another key topic.

Workforce Solutions operates a Communities in Schools program which, according to the Communities in Schools website, works through public schools to determine students' needs and provide resources with help from partnerships with area businesses, parent groups and more.

Guajardo said he planned to keep an eye on how both education and educational funding were affected.

"We're hoping that they'll find (funds) some place to support and invest in our future," he said.

Other legislative preview stories:

Crossroads experts to monitor Medicaid expansion

Cities to watch for unfunded mandates in 2013 session

Entertainment, downtown groups expect little change in legislative session

Officials say 2-1-1 help line funding vital

Texas Senate to consider law that bans texting and driving

Proposed bill could shake up criminal court procedure

Legislature to reconsider funding for state water plan

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