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Economic Focus: Local Representatives Share Business-Related Legislation Priorities

By: Rachel Madison

At the Round Rock Chamber, public policy efforts have always been important. Not only do they help to support a strong pro-business environment, but they also help to keep the community growing, even through a host of extraordinary impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the 87th Texas Legislature, which is currently underway, are facing these impacts head on, especially when it comes to economic development. What are Round Rock’s local leaders’ priorities for legislation related to business this year? Read on to find out.

State Senator Charles Schwertner (District 5)

“This legislative session presents a host of novel concerns and situations as we conduct our business in the midst of a pandemic, but I am hopeful that like the many businesses who have continued their operations throughout COVID-19 without pausing, the Texas Legislature will also navigate this unprecedented time successfully,” said State Sen. Charles Schwertner (District 5). “My priorities for this session are the same as every session.”

Schwertner added that those priorities are to ensure a balanced, responsible state budget; to protect constituents’ pocketbooks and livelihoods; and to maintain a climate where businesses can thrive and grow.

“The Texas Legislature must ensure fair and consistent regulations so our business owners can succeed without government intrusion,” Schwertner said. “We must also continue to focus on ensuring that we have a workforce ready to serve the ever-changing needs of employers and the market.”

Schwertner added that he applauds the Round Rock Chamber for leading the way on this issue and looks forward to working on these difficult issues this session with his colleagues.

Representative James Talarico (District 52)

In 2019, the Texas Comptroller proposed a policy to shift sales tax revenue collection for products bought online from origin-based sourcing to destination-based sourcing, benefitting cities that import lots of goods, rather than those who export, said Representative James Talarico (District 52). This change will be his focus when it comes to business.

“Though this ruling won’t change the sales taxes levied statewide, it will drastically change the sales tax incomes collected by some cities, including Round Rock,” Talarico added. “For thirty years, the City of Round Rock has had a unique partnership with Dell Technologies, in which the community supports the company with necessary infrastructure and a qualified workforce, while the company supports the community with millions of dollars in sales tax collected from Dell products. This proposed policy shift to destination-based sourcing will cost Round Rock millions of dollars a year, crippling the budget of our rapidly growing city.”

Since the proposal was introduced in early 2020, Talarico and his team have been working closely with the chamber and city leadership to protect Round Rock’s arrangement with Dell.

“I am committed to working with stakeholders in Williamson County to ensure Dell and the City of Round Rock are omitted from the change to destination-based sourcing,” Talarico said. “The relationship between our city and Dell is a unique one, and our state policies should reflect that, supporting our local economy rather than disrupting it.”

Round Rock Chamber

The Round Rock Chamber’s top priorities align with these leaders. The chamber urges legislators to support legislation that maintains and strengthens the state’s competitive edge in business attraction, development, and retention. This includes preserving economic development tools like the Texas Tax Code and Texas Local Government Code, because they promote economic development and job creation.

The chamber also urges legislators to protect and support programs that help the local community attract and upskill their workers, such as the Skills Development Fund and Skills for Small Business program. The chamber has also asked legislators to support nondiscrimination legislation that will make the state more competitive for talent, tourism, and investment.

Lastly, the chamber also supports local control and urges legislators to oppose any legislation that impedes a city’s ability to provide increased services, such as public education and infrastructure, in growing communities like Round Rock.

The chamber has also outlined its 2021 state legislative priorities for education, transportation, and healthcare. To learn more about the chamber’s priorities in these categories, visit Round Rock Chamber Outlines 2021 State Legislative Priorities – Round Rock Chamber.

***Attempts to reach Representative John H. Bucy III (District 136) for comments before press time were unsuccessful.