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TAB Gearing Up for Contentious Legislative Session

- GMs, NDs: Mark Calendars for Jan. 22 Conference

Texas broadcasters will convene in Austin on Jan. 22 for TAB’s biennial legislative conference which prepares station managers and news directors for one-on-one advocacy with state lawmakers during the five-month session. Our continuing effort to restore the state’s Open Government laws to ensure all Texans know how their tax dollars are being spent will take center stage, but we must also prepare to safeguard TAB’s hard-fought successes on a wide range of tax policy and newsroom protections.

With the House Speakership up for grabs and a seven-way race for that office already underway, it is imperative that broadcasters are well-prepared to advance our agenda once that key leadership position is settled.

TAB’s one-day Legislative Conference includes a morning of detailed briefings on key issues for broadcasters, followed by a program-free luncheon where you are seated with local lawmakers to foster discussions of community concerns and legislative initiatives. The afternoon is open for further meetings at the Texas Capitol.

The event is slated for early in the session before lawmakers’ schedules are overcome with committee hearings, floor votes and what are always tense budget negotiations.


Contentious Session Anticipated
Though every session has its share of battles, the 2019 Texas Legislature will stand out among those from the past decade because of the intensifying battle within the Republican Party between its far-right and moderate wings.

Current Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, is retiring and members of both camps have stepped up as candidates to succeed him. Straus took a moderate approach to policymaking on local government autonomy and prioritized legislation addressing core government services such as public education and transportation. He rejected the agenda advanced by the Senate and Governor Greg Abbott which centered on opposing women’s abortion rights, transgendered Texans’ access to bathroom facilities and equal access by LGBT Texans to business services, as well as restricting local governments’ authority in setting local property tax rates.

The general business community sided with Straus, educators and local governments in the interest of fostering a welcoming climate for industries considering relocating to the Lone Star State. They are in a pitched battle with far-right groups funded by a handful of well-heeled donors to keep the Speakership in moderate Republican hands.

Democrats in the Texas House meanwhile are expected to make a few gains in the upcoming elections and will attempt to find some common ground with the more moderate Republicans.

To be certain, the outcome of the Speaker’s race will have a huge influence on the overall legislative agenda and outcomes that all players will either crow or cry over come May 27 when the 140-day session ends.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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