Is Texas’ Business Community Losing Its Voice In Politics?

The Greater Houston Partnership’s new chair urges business leaders to step up their political game

The Greater Houston Partnership’s chair for 2018, Marc Watts, emphasized political participation during the GHP’s annual meeting on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018.

During last year’s state Legislative session, the Greater Houston Partnership lobbied for pre-K funding, city pension reform and against a piece of legislation dubbed “the bathroom bill,” which would have restricted transgender people’s access to public bathrooms and was championed by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

Those efforts proved successful.

But the Partnership’s new chair, Marc Watts, says they need to do more.

“Now is the time for the business community to weigh in to help end the destructive partisanship that is taking us down the road to a very bad place,” he said during the GHP’s annual meeting Friday.

Business leaders need to get involved in the electoral process from the beginning, Watts said, or someone else will fill the void.

In the case of the failed bathroom bill, the business community came in with force: around 50 Fortune 500 companies made their opposition known.

On the national level, the Greater Houston Partnership is weighing in too.

NAFTA is critical to Houston,” the group’s president and CEO, Bob Harvey, said. “Immigration reform – and especially DACA – is critical to Houston.”

Since July, the Partnership has had a full-time staffer in Washington to lobby Congress and the White House.

Clarification: The Texas Legislature passed a pre-K funding bill in 2015, for which the GHP had lobbied. It failed to provide continued funding during the 2017 session, but the GHP says it feels it was successful in lobbying the Legislature to uphold components of the high quality pre-K program.


Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters and the Houston Press Club. Florian is a native of Germany. His studies...

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