The Chamber's 2016 federal legislative priorities include:
Education & Workforce
Promote Flexible Funding to Local School Districts, Transparency and Accountability
- Many students aren’t being given the tools to adequately prepare them for college or careers, creating a skills gap leaving millions unemployed and businesses struggling to find qualified candidates. The Chamber advocates for giving school districts more local control pertaining to the needs of their students.
- The Chamber supports local school districts allocating federal funds to the areas of greatest need and opposes measures that place restrictions on the spending of federal funds.
- The Chamber encourages greater transparency and accountability including providing a method of restructuring or closing school districts that continue to fail.
Improved affordability for Higher Education
- The Chamber promotes improved access and affordability as well as flexible pathways for students to gain postsecondary credentials.
Encourage and expand federal research for clean energy technology, decrease federal regulations
- The Energy sector impacts our economy and drives job growth. The Chamber urges Congress to take regulatory steps to produce more American energy and in an environmentally responsible manner. The Chamber calls for allowing greater access to oil and gas resources on federal lands and offshore.
- The Chamber supports the development of clean energy technology as well as advanced emission controls related to energy development and production.
- The Chamber supports an energy program that allows the free market to determine how to diversify and create a sustainable system of fuel and energy sources in an environmentally safe manner.
- The Chamber opposes efforts to delay production of domestic energy resources or supersede state authority for regulation of oil and gas exploration and development.
Promote Access to Quality Health Care for All, Reform Medicare/Medicaid Programs
- Health care services vary widely throughout the country in quality, cost and access. Years after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted, further reforms are needed to lower costs and improve care for all Americans.
- The Chamber supports reducing the harm of the employer mandate by restoring the 40-hour work week, and repealing taxes that increase premiums including the excise tax (Cadillac tax), medical device tax and health insurance tax. Improve flexibility for accounts that encourage responsible health care spending like Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s). Congress should allow states to use Medicaid dollars for premium subsidy programs to purchase private insurance policies in order to lower costs.
- Additional resources should be focused on primary care, prevention and wellness programs.
- The Chamber supports improving and increasing access to mental health treatment programs and coverage of these programs through insurance.
Improved border security
- In order to continue to compete globally, America needs the best talent and hardest workers and it needs immigrants. They help fill labor shortages in our workforce, but reform is needed.
- The Chamber supports a national employment verification system that is workable for employers and creates the ability for undocumented workers residing in the United States to obtain legal status.
- The Chamber advocates for improved enforcement to protect our borders and national security.
Oppose Minimum Wage Increases
- The Chamber opposes minimum wage increases that ultimately hurt entry-level workers. Economic studies have shown that mandatory wage increases price low-skilled workers out of jobs. Companies forced to pay a higher wage will seek employees with a matching skillset. Additionally, businesses paying more for their employees will ultimately pass the expense on to consumers through increased costs of goods and services.
Support the United States Export-Import Bank
- The U.S. Export-Import Bank is a tool businesses large and small utilize to compete globally. It allows them to export their goods and services to other countries. Without export credit, the United States would adversely affect 17,000 suppliers across the nation. These suppliers include a variety of critical industries: oil and gas, aircraft manufacturing, mining, agribusiness, medical and construction equipment.
Transportation & Infrastructure
Increase Federal Investment in Transportation, Provide a Sustainable Funding Source and Promote Innovative Funding Methods
- The Irving-Las Colinas Chamber supports increasing federal taxes and/or fees to fund transportation infrastructure including transit and safety projects at the national, state and regional level that support and facilitate economic growth.
- Congress must ensure the country has a dedicated and sustainable source of revenue to invest in transportation infrastructure and ensure the project planning and approval process is streamlined. Projects or programs that increase economic development activity and create jobs should receive priority.
- The Chamber supports the use of innovative funding methods including the use of public-private partnerships. The Chamber opposes measures penalizing states for utilizing private investment for infrastructure projects.
- The Chamber supports efforts to provide and expand a seamless regional transit system that includes high-speed rail.
Support Improved and Streamlined Permitting Processes for Water Supply Projects
- The permitting and environmental review process can delay critical water infrastructure projects. At times of drought, reservoirs and water pipelines ensure the needs of the U.S. population and economy are met.
- The Chamber supports changes to streamline and improve the permitting and environmental review process for new water projects.