May 9, 2016

Interim Update: May 2016

Economic and Small Business Development Committee Hearing


The Economic and Small Business Development Committee and Subcommittee focusing on Small Business met April 28th. The subcommittee met to study opportunities and financial incentives for expansion and growth of small business in Texas and examined if adequate resources and capital exist for small business to thrive. They also reviewed available programs that provide business development and financial skills training. The subcommittee considered financial incentives that would incentivize expansion of existing small businesses and growth for new businesses. 

The main committee on Economic and Small Business Development met to discuss the impacts of the declining price of oil and the continuously depressed price of natural gas on the Texas economy and fiscal implications for the Texas budget. They considered the possible impacts on local communities that depend on oil and gas activity, including impacts on supporting economies such as retail, manufacturing, housing industries, and more. Strategies were recommended for sustained energy development and workforce growth during times of depressed energy prices.

Coastal Barrier System Update  

The Coastal Barrier System interim study, sponsored by Representative Faircloth during the 84th Legislative Session to study the feasibility and desirability of creating a coastal barrier system, held a hearing in Galveston on April 11th. The committee studying this issue includes both the Natural Resources Committee in the Senate and the Land and Resource Management Committee in the House, along with other members as appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House. The committee has until December 1, 2016 to report to the governor and the legislature the findings of the study and make any recommendations developed by the committee.

The design and construction of a coastal barrier system is essential to protecting the Texas coast, especially Galveston, from tropical storms. In 2008, Hurricane Ike devastated the Texas coast and was the third costliest in U.S. history. However, had it landed only 30 miles southwest Hurricane Ike could have caused upwards of $100 billion in damage, killed hundreds, left thousands more homeless and jobless, and devastated the largest petrochemical complex in the nation.

The economic interest in the region is huge. It is home to the second largest petrochemical complex in the world and the nation's largest exporting region ($110 billion) with a regional GDP of $450 billion. The Houston Ship Channel supports over 1 million jobs for Texans. The Perryman Report estimates that a 'Katrina-like' storm would cause aggregate losses to the Texas economy of $73 billion in gross product, $61.3 billion in income and 863,000 jobs.

There is also a large environmental interest in protecting Galveston Bay; it is home to the 7th largest estuary and the estuary is the 2nd largest producer of seafood. In addition to seafood production, the Bay has large and active recreational boating and fishing communities.

The Army Corps and Texas General Land Office (GLO) have been studying small and large scale plans to protect the Texas coast since earlier this year. Land Commissioner George P. Bush has stated that hurricane protection will be his number one priority during the 2017 Legislation. While there are multiple studies and economic impact analysis' still being conducted. The best thing at this point, until federal funds are available to help construct these projects, is that we continue to narrowly examine the best methods going forward. Texas remains one of the few states without a coastal plan.

Just this week, U.S. Senator John Cornyn introduced legislation to speed up the process by which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers studies and begins construction of a federally-funded coastal protection project along the Texas Gulf Coast. The Corps' Obligation to Assist in Safeguarding Texas (COAST) Act expedites the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' process for completing the Coastal Texas Protection & Restoration Study, a necessary prerequisite to any federally-funded protection project. The bill also streamlines Congressional authorization for the project once the Corps completes the feasibility study.

State Representative Faircloth is committed to continue to work with folks in Congress, across the state, throughout the coastal region such as with the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (BAHEP) and here locally with help from Texas A&M-Galveston to garner the support needed to obtain the necessary funding to complete a coastal barrier system which will go toward helping to save lives and reducing the economic impact from a costal storm surge.

7th Annual Mud Bugs and Beer on the Bayou

Representative Wayne Faircloth was a sponsor of the C-Crewe May event titled Mud Bugs and Beer on the Bayou. Many young professionals came out to enjoy numerous pounds of crawfish and many ounces of beer. It was a great event that was well attended and all of the guests were happy. 



San Jacinto Day 

April 21 marked the State Holiday known as San Jacinto Day.  San Jacinto Day commemorates Texas' victory at the Battle of San Jacinto which ended the Texas Revolution and earned Texas' independence from Mexico in 1836. The state holiday was celebrated by the annual festival and battle re-enactment at the San Jacinto Monument where the battle took place 180 years ago.


Rep. Faircloth Visit Students at Upward Hope Academy in Galveston

Rep. Wane Faircloth speaks to students at Upward Hope Academy about their future and the importance of doing well in school.


In The News...  

UTMB to train Cuban scientists

GALVESTON, Texas-The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston will embark on a two-year research development program to collaborate with Cuban scientists at the Instituto Pedro Kouri in Havana to better fight infectious diseases, especially in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean regions.

The program, at UTMB's National Biocontainment Training Center, will develop scientists' capabilities to work on a range of emerging infectious diseases, such as dengue, Zika and chikungunya.

To learn more please click on the following, UTMB to train Cuban scientists