Tarrant County leaders in Austin for ‘Day at the Capitol’

State Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills

Over 400 Tarrant County business leaders and government officials attended the first of two days of meeting with elected officials and representatives of state offices on Wednesday at the Texas Capitol. Tarrant County Days was a joint effort coordinated by the Fort Worth and area chambers of commerce, which resulted in the largest number of participants than anyone involved could recall.

The Arlington Chamber has led the formation of the Coalition of East Tarrant Chambers, which includes the Arlington, Grapevine, HEB, Mansfield and Northeast Tarrant chambers, which joined with the Fort Worth Chamber.

Fort Worth Chamber CEO Bill Thornton and Arlington Chamber CEO Michael Jacobson and their staffs coordinated the combined effort. Tarrant County Days is an annual opportunity for local community and business leaders to interact with elected officials and departments at the Texas State Capitol.

Attendees heard from state senators Jane Nelson, Beverly Powell and Kelly Hancock, as well as state representatives Tan Parker, Jonathan Stickland, Stephanie Klick, Matt Krause and Giovanni Capriglione.

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Leadership programs from the Grapevine, HEB, Northwest Metroport, Northeast Tarrant and Southlake chambers of commerce each rode on chartered buses to attend the day’s sessions.

The contingent also gathered for a massive group photo on the Capitol steps, which was followed by a legislative reception for the Fort Worth and Arlington chambers of commerce.

Thursday’s events began with the Tarrant County Legislative Breakfast that featured a keynote from new Speaker of the House, Dennis Bonner, who spoke about the progress made in the two parties working across the aisle together. He challenged the participants by saying that the best leaders go where they are uncomfortable and work to provide solutions.

Due to a demanding schedule, the Speaker was 10 minutes late for the breakfast. In the interim, Tarrant County Judge B. Glen Whitley took to the podium and brought up state senators Nelson, Powell and Hancock and State Rep. Craig Goldman, who entertained the crowd with insights on the legislative process. Representatives from both the Senate and House of Representatives presented declarations that honored the Tarrant County delegation.

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Following the breakfast, the contingent from State Senator Brian Birdwell and state representatives Chris Turner, Bill Zedler, Craig Goldman and Tony Tinderholt presented their legislative updates to the attendees.

Four of the most memorable quotes came from Rep. Goldman, Senator Nelson, Senator Powell and Sen. Hancock. Goldman told the Thursday morning attendees, assembled in the Supreme Court Chamber, that individuals traveling to Austin to meet with their representatives carry a lot of weight. He added that these local constituents, traveling at their own expense, are far more impactful than they could ever imagine.

Senator Nelson called this “the Education Session” because of the intense focus on public education and she gave great encouragement that effective resolution will be passed.

Senator Powell said she appreciated Lt. Governor Dan Patrick for placing her on influential committees, including the higher education committee, because of her passion for education, as shown by her almost 20 years of service on the board of trustees at Texas Wesleyan University.

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When asked about the school finance legislation, Sen. Hancock urged people to be patient when he said that the House and Senate will reach a compromise agreement that will have some of the elements of each body’s original bill but will not be precisely what either is proposing now.  – John Fletcher