There are basically two ways to measure how the people of Texas are impacted by any biennial gathering of their elected representatives.
Success comes from either (1) passing new laws that benefit Texans who live in the nation’s fastest-growing state, or (2) from killing proposed legislation that does not serve their best interests.
News and commentary abound on what has taken place since the legislature was gaveled to order Jan. 10.
That pass-or-kill approach to governance has unfolded in two areas that impact every one of the state’s almost 28 million residents.
All of us have to deal with the constantly growing challenge of getting from place to place on the state’s highway networks. We face getting bogged down in massive congestion due either to inadequate capacity or construction designed to solve that inadequacy.
Legislators achieved some degree of success in addressing those conditions by passing something and killing something.
At the beginning of the session there were predictions of lawmakers doing nothing more than what was necessary to maintain current conditions faced every day by motorists across the state.
Instead of that outcome that would have done nothing to better accommodate mobility in our massively crowded major cities, lawmakers approved $700 million for new construction for each of the next two years.
What they killed were almost 20 bills that would have effectively eliminated the privately funded high speed rail project that will link the state’s two most populous urban communities.
Once people can take the train between here and Houston, there will be fewer cars on the inadequate and overcrowded highway networks that now connect us.
The second area where bad legislation was stopped was in carrying out the mission of creating economic opportunity and jobs.
All kinds of reports accompanied the arrival of legislators bent on denying citizens their rights of controlling the economic fate of their cities.
Bills were filed to either eliminate or substantially curtail economic development incentives to attract corporate America investment and job creation.
Measures that would have gutted long-standing and vital authorities available to local governments were proposed, and some even made their way into committee hearings.
Fortunately, that is as far as they got.
On the positive side of protecting and building upon one of the nation’s most successful state economies, the governor did get $86 million in “deal-closing” money along with other resources he can access in the overall state budget.
We may not, however, be out of the woods on what could be the remaining largest threat to the state’s economy and especially to its convention and tourism industry.
The so called “bathroom bill” — a solution looking for a problem — which dominated much of the scene throughout the session failed to get worked out between the two houses of the legislature.
It could get back on the agenda of a special session if Governor Abbott decides to include it among other tasks that remain.
If there is any question about whether or not that very controversial bill would hurt the Texas economy and curtail tourism in places like Arlington’s entertainment center, it seems to have already been answered.
The top executives of 14 of the state’s largest corporations have stated, in a letter to the governor, their “steadfast opposition” to what they interpret as discriminatory legislation.
Legislators can ignore that opposition at our peril.
The final measure of success coming from Austin may just be the need for one more killing blow to something that is full of emotion and void of reason.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.