The Mayor’s Economic Development partnership group hosted its first meeting of 2021 Tuesday, Jan. 5, and were updated on the upcoming legislative session by Texas State Representative Cody Harris. Harris will begin his second term in Austin Jan. 12.
Harris updated the group virtually on his legislative priorities as well as his expectations of what the year could bring in the state capital.
Harris reported he has been in contact with the governor and his staff to expedite necessary resources for Navarro County to combat the spread of COVID-19, which has recently surged in the county.
“The virus is a dire situation right now, the best way to get our economic engine going again is to get past the virus as quickly as possible,” Harris said.
Among the bills Harris will prioritize is one which could mean a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree available through Navarro College at the Corsicana Campus. Harris has been working with Navarro College District President Dr. Kevin Fegan.
Last session, a similar bill was sponsored by former Ellis County Republican Representative, John Wray. That bill passed the House, but failed to gain the necessary support to be voted out of committee in the Senate. State Senator Brian Birdwell is expected to sponsor the bill in the Senate.
Cody said efforts continue to solidify a ruling which would change where sales tax revenue would be collected. Previously revenue stayed where warehouses are located. The change would allow municipalities where goods are purchased to recapture that tax revenue.
The decision on whether that change would require legislative action is pending. Harris said he expects a productive session.
Harris also updated the group on his and opposition to the high speed rail process. Harris said Texas Central still has tremendous hurdles to overcome but called the group a “tremendous propaganda machine.”
He said two other issues for the next session are the budget and redistricting. Harris has previously said that a major divide in the Texas House has been the tension between urban and rural legislators.
“Unfortunately, that divide has only gotten deeper,” Harris said.
He introduced Scott Gilfillan, a Corsicana native who will serve as Harris’ Legislative Director to and help get these bills passed.
Regular updates on housing construction and Chamber of Commerce reports were provided, during meeting.
The Economic Development Partnership group routinely meets on the first Tuesday of the month, and is scheduled for Feb. 2.