AUSTIN - The so-called bathroom bill was again a topic of discussion at the Texas State Capitol.
The House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness held its final hearing Tuesday.
Speaker of the House Joe Straus appointed the members to committee back in October, asking them to study and highlight the most effective ways Texas can compete for jobs, investments and highly skilled workers.
The committee heard invited testimony from 27 people. The first witness was University of Texas System Chancellor Bill McRaven who told lawmakers the state should find more ways to ensure children can attend and graduate from college to improve the workforce.
Former Austin Police Chief and now Chief of Houston Police Department Art Acevedo told the committee bills such as the ban on so-called sanctuary cities and the bathroom bill are unnecessary from a law enforcement point of view and deter business.
That point was reiterated by the president of Chevron North America Exploration and Production.
"In my company we have a value around diversity and inclusiveness. It's not a program, it's a value. It's something that we hold very, very dearly," said Jeff Shellebarger, President of Chevron North America Exploration and Production.
"If we can't provide an environment where everybody could come to work, contribute everything that they can contribute and feel that they're free and safe from discrimination, we can not be successful as a businesses. That's the basics, that's where it starts right there. When we looked at the proposed legislation, certainly it was in conflict with those values," he added.
The committee is charged with finding recommendations in seven areas:
- Examine commitments by the state to education and workforce development to ensure Texans and their employers access to high-paying and skilled workers;
- Examine infrastructure -- including transportation, energy, water and utility -- to ensure capacity to accommodate growing existing businesses and companies settling in Texas;
- Examine access to investment capital required to maintain healthy existing companies and newcomers to Texas;
- Examine investments in innovation, including barriers to innovation such as unnecessary regulations that would deter or impede the desire of a business to either remain in the state or choose to locate here;
- Examine existing and potential economic tools to compete for or retain jobs, including the appropriate use of those tools and the effectiveness of existing economic development programs;
- Examine the tools and authority of local governments to craft appropriate and specific responses to accommodate growing existing businesses and companies settling in Texas; and
- Examine successful and unsuccessful attempts to lure economic development projects to the state or other states, including common themes reported by companies and employees in choosing to locate or not locate to a state.
The committee has to turn in its report to Speaker Straus Tuesday, Dec. 12.
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