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88th Texas Legislative Session: End of Session Report

During the 2023 Texas Legislative Session, the Greater Houston Partnership prioritized issues foundational to Houston’s strong, diverse economy. 


Leading up to this session, the Partnership’s Board of Directors and Public Policy Steering Committee worked to develop a legislative agenda that addresses the most pressing issues facing the business community and the greater Houston region. The agenda included four executive priorities – economic development, higher education funding, flood mitigation, and energy transition.  

This year, the Partnership successfully advanced legislation to strengthen the region’s economy and provide opportunity for all. The Legislature passed bills that will positively impact the region, including establishing a new economic development incentive program, increased investment in workforce development and higher-education funding, and prioritized flood mitigation dollars in the state’s budget. While not all priorities made it over the finish line, the Partnership made great strides in advancing these key policy items during the 88th Texas Legislative Session. 


Below are the Partnership’s Executive Priorities and listing of bills supported by the Partnership during the legislative session. 

Executive Priorities

Economic Development Incentives

House Bill 5


House Author: Representative Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) 
Senate Sponsor: Senator Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown)

  • Ensures a competitive business climate and fosters growth by developing a new, transparent, and accountable economic development program for Texas.
  • Makes the state attractive to emerging industries and ensures long-term competitiveness.
  • A state-wide economic development incentive program is critical to attracting businesses that invest in local communities and provide high-quality jobs. After the expiration of the Chapter 313 economic development program last session, Texas was in need of a new school property tax abatement program as a competitive economic development tool.

Texas has long been a national leader in securing large capital-intensive investments and attractive to businesses looking to relocate on nearly all measures companies consider. However, Texas often falls short on property taxes, and the lack of a new school property tax abatement program could cause it to fall behind other states in landing new businesses.

After the last session, when the Texas Legislature allowed Chapter 313 to sunset, the Partnership and other business organizations began working on its replacement. Leading up to this session, a coalition of supporters conducted statewide polling, finding that Texans overwhelmingly support utilizing economic development tools to attract businesses.

The Partnership also partnered with statewide business organizations to mobilize regional partners to support House Bill 5, resulting in the collection of over 250 signatures from chambers of commerce and economic development organizations across the state on a letter of support for the creation of a new program.

Houston Skyline
University of Houston

Texas University Fund (TUF)

House Bill 1595/House Joint Resolution 3


House Author: Representative Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood)
Senate Sponsor: Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe)

  • Establishes a $3.4 billion research endowment for the University of Houston, Texas Tech University, University of North Texas, and Texas State University.
  • Performance-based allocations of up to $100 million annually for each university.

House Bill 1595 establishes the Texas University Fund, a permanent endowment that will appropriate billions of dollars to four of the state’s public universities, including Houston’s flagship university, the University of Houston.

This transformational investment will strengthen Texas’ higher education institutions by providing the necessary funding to improve Texas universities’ national rankings, which will help the state attract top talent and reduce “brain drain.” The fund will also provide long-term financial certainty, allowing for forward-thinking projects and innovation. Finally, it will help Texas schools compete for federal research grants, secure private research funding, drive increased alumni support, and position Texas as a top destination for premier higher education.

The TUF will also bolster the state’s economy by making Texas more attractive to business. There will now be a true ecosystem of institutions engaged in high-level research and development, strengthening Texas’ talent pipelines.

Community College Finance Reform

House Bill 8


House Author: Representative Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston)
Senate Sponsor: Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe)

  • Overhauls the state’s method of financing community colleges, shifting toward an outcomes-focused, industry-aligned
  • Increases college affordability by creating new scholarships to support high-demand industries.
  • Improves college capacity by providing funding for student support and inter-institutional shared services, to better serve
    the state as its population grows.

Currently, Texas’ community colleges are funded by combination of property taxes, tuition, and enrollment, meaning they remain fully funded regardless of student outcomes. A strong economy is supported by its workforce talent pipelines and strong community college graduates drive the talent pipeline. Therefore, student outcomes should be part of the equation on how community colleges are funded.

House Bill 8 provides for a transformational change by moving towards an industry-led, outcomes-based funding model, while also increasing college affordability and capacity. Community colleges will also work with employers to ensure they are producing the type and caliber of workers needed for the future economy.

The Partnership is proud to have supported the development of House Bill 8 by promoting industry voices at the Texas Commission on Community College Finance hearings, which was charged with studying how community colleges are funded and making recommendations to the legislature for improvement.


Carbon Capture Use & Storage: Comprehensive Regulatory Framework

House Bill 4484/Senate Bill 2107  


House Author: Representative Greg Bonnen (R- Friendswood) 
Senate Author: Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) 

  • Affirms surface owner owns pore space, recognizes the mineral estate, and establishes a process for pore space integration.
  • Creates an ongoing stewardship program and addresses transferability of long-term liability.

Leveraging Texas’ comparative advantage and remaining competitive in the multi-trillion-dollar carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) industry is a top Partnership priority. After successfully advocating for the state to seek primacy from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over Class VI carbon injection storage wells last session, which is currently pending EPA approval, it was important to shift to addressing the regulatory and legal uncertainty hindering CCUS.

The Partnership joined a broad coalition to support a comprehensive CCUS framework to resolve significant legal complexities posing the biggest barrier to CCUS while offering explicit protections for the mineral estate, providing additional revenue opportunities for landowners, and going above and beyond every other state to ensure potential wins for all parties.

The base bill was effectively gutted after an unproductive committee hearing filled with mischaracterizations and misinformation by opposition groups over a fundamental aspect of the bill – integration – a process required to combat immense hurdles CCUS developers face trying to assemble the web of fragmented property rights needed for expansive deep underground pore space storage.

Work on this priority legislation began long before the legislature convened, with a series of policy summits in Austin to educate legislative staff. Ahead of the bill’s legislative hearing, the Partnership mobilized companies, spearheading a letter-writing campaign, and amplified the message in Austin.

Flood Infrastructure Fund

House Bill 1 


House Sponsor: Representative Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) 
Senate Author: Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) 

  • Allocates more than $70 million in  general revenue  for the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to hire more staff for the implementation of the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF).  

Senate Bill 30 


House Sponsor: Representative Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) 
Senate Author: Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) 

  • Allocates nearly $625 million in one-time general revenue funds to replenish the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) prior to the state flood plan due September 2024. 

Following Hurricane Harvey, the Partnership advocated for the creation of the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) during the 2019 legislative session to address the need for adequate relief from flooding and protection from future severe weather events across the state.

As of February 2023, the greater Houston region received more than $159 million of the initial $793 million FIF appropriation, meaning Houston received 20% of the original funding for flood mitigation projects.

In late 2022, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), the state agency charged with oversight of the FIF, signaled that the fund is oversubscribed and would soon be exhausted.

This session, the Partnership prioritized the effort to replenish the FIF. As a result, the Texas Legislature invested more than $1.3 billion in flood prevention and resiliency work. The FIF received nearly $625 million in one-time general revenue funds in Senate Bill 30—a first for the fund as it was originally funded by a one-time infusion from the Economic Stabilization Fund. Additionally, House Bill 1 provided more than $70 million in funding to the TWDB for more staff to implement the substantial investment in the FIF.

H_GHP_Downtown_Buffalo Bayou_Memorial Drive_2019
H_GHP_Buffalo Bayou_Double Rainbow_2019

Coastal Texas Program

House Bill 1 


House Sponsor: Representative Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) 
Senate Author: State Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) 

  • Allocates nearly $600 million in general revenue to the Gulf Coast Protection District for the state’s contribution to begin construction on the coastal spine project. 

House Bill 2416 


House Sponsor: Representative Dennis Paul (R-Houston) 
Senate Author: Senator Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) 

  • Creates the Gulf Coast Protection Trust Fund.   

The Coastal Texas Program, also known as the Coastal Spine, will protect the Houston region from flooding and storm surges caused by catastrophic weather events like Hurricanes Ike and Harvey. The barrier floodgate and levee system’s development will require significant investment (65% Federal and 35% State/Local), making its funding a priority for the Partnership.

This session, the Legislature voted to establish the Gulf Coast Protection Trust Fund with the passage of House Bill 2416. On June 17th, House Bill 2416 was vetoed by Governor Greg Abbott for technical reasons.


Public Education
Energy & Environmental Regulation
Energy Transition
Transportation & Infrastructure
Workforce Development
Economic Development
Local Issues
Health Care & Life Sciences

View the Full 88th Texas Legislative Session Summary

See the Partnership's Full Legislative Agenda

Convening to Make an Impact

The Partnership's impact work happens through Committees, which convene business and community leaders to fuel the growth and vitality of the Houston region. 

Public Policy Updates

Related News

Public Policy

HOU in ATX: Legislative Update – Week 20

During the final days of the session, House Bill 5 passes off the Senate floor and heads to conference, the budget moves one step closer to the Governor’s desk, and we take a look at Houston-specific bills passing the legislature. Economic Development Bill Clears the Senate Floor House Bill 5 was voted out of the Senate Committee on Business & Commerce on Sunday, paving the way for a vote on the Senate floor on Wednesday. The bill author, Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown), accepted five amendments and the final measure passed with a decisive 27-4 vote.  What’s next: The Senate made significant changes to the version that passed the House earlier this month. We expect a conference committee to be named to work out the two versions. Following the work of the conference committee, each chamber must accept the conference committee report before the bill can head to the Governor’s desk.  The bottom line: Stakeholders have raised concerns about the changes made to the legislation, but all parties recognize the importance of creating a new school property tax abatement program. Without a new program, Texas will fall behind other states in landing large-scale, capital-intensive projects.  What they’re saying: During the committee hearing on Sunday, Senator Creighton (R-Conroe) emphasized the transformational change that comes when new and emerging industries decide to locate in local Texas communities: “If we’re going launch into a new phase of new economic development incentives… [we need to think about] the culture we want to create to really land these companies that will change lives forever for Texans.” House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 30 - The State’s Budget  The budget bill is the only bill the Texas Legislature must pass each session. This week, the two chambers struck a deal on a two-year budget for the State of Texas totaling $321.3 billion.  The Legislature entered this session with an unprecedented budget surplus. However, due to constitutionally mandated restrictions on spending, the Legislature had more money available than it could spend. The budget prioritized spending on tax cuts, colleges and universities, grid resiliency, broadband, and water infrastructure.  Houston in Focus: The budget deal includes $1.25 billion for flood mitigation and storm surge protection.  $625 million for the Flood Infrastructure Fund out of one-time General Revenue Funding.  $550 million for the Gulf Coast Protection District, with $350 million of the appropriation allocated to be used as state matching funds for the Coastal Texas Program.  $50 million for the Lake Houston Dam Improvement Project.  What’s next: After the Legislature passes House Bill 1, the General Appropriation Act, and Senate Bill 30, the Supplemental Appropriations Act, both bills head to the Governor’s desk, where the Governor has line-item veto power for budget items. The Governor’s veto period ends 20 days after the last day of the legislative session.  Houston in Focus: Bills Impacting the Region    Here is a look at several bills that have passed that will directly impact the Houston region:  Senate Bill 1057, by Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston), allows the City of Houston and Houston First access to funds for much-needed renovations to the George R. Brown Convention Center.  House Bill 3474, by Representative Jeff Leach (R-Plano), the state’s omnibus courts bill, establishes six new criminal courts for Harris County.  House Bill 2416, by Representative Dennis Paul (R-Houston), creates the Gulf Coast Protection Trust Fund. The funding will be used for flood infrastructure developments within the Gulf Coast Protection District (GCPD), including the Texas Coastal Program, better known as the Coastal Spine or the Ike Dike.  House Bill 1595 and House Joint Resolution 3, by Representative Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), establishes the Texas University Fund (TUF), a permanent endowment fund investing in four Texas public university systems. The University of Houston will receive as much as $50 million dollars annually from the Fund.  What’s Next: End-of-Session Report    Upon final adjournment, the Partnership’s Public Policy Division will send one final update with a link to a comprehensive end-of-session report.  The overview of outcomes will provide insight into key policy issues facing the greater Houston region and how the Partnership advocated for these priority areas during the 88th Legislative Session. We look forward to sharing our work with you.    During the 88th Legislative Session, the Greater Houston Partnership will provide a weekly update on newsworthy items from Austin. You can view more policy news and archives of our weekly updates here. Subscribe here to get our weekly legislative updates
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Public Policy

HOU in ATX: Legislative Update – Week 17

This week, economic development incentive program passes the House, curriculum bill moves forward, higher-education funding and court bills in positive positions in the legislative process, and a critical CCUS bill loses momentum. Economic development bill passes the House The Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved House Bill 5 by Representative Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), which establishes a statewide economic development program so Texas can remain competitive in today’s global market. Why it matters: The Chapter 313 economic development incentives expired late last year after the legislature failed to extend the program during the 87th session. This raised concerns about how Texas could remain competitive in recruiting new businesses to our state. Last year, Texas competed against other states for large-scale, capital-intensive projects that went elsewhere due, in some part, to incentive packages offered by other states. “We’re no longer competing with [other] states and nations. We’re competing worldwide…This is basically going to be an economic development tool to continue to attract investments to Texas,” Hunter said. Houston in Focus: 23 Houston-area Representatives voted in favor of House Bill 5, with 16 out of 36 Representatives of the Houston delegation also signing on as co-authors of the bill. House members in opposition to House Bill 5 expressed concern about the bill’s exclusion of renewable energy projects, while others had ideological issues with incentive programs altogether. The bill’s current version includes battery storage projects “regardless of the power source.” What’s next: The Partnership appreciates the flurry of support for House Bill 5 posted on social media this week. After passage by the House, the bill heads to the Senate for committee consideration. K-12 curriculum bill advances to the Senate    This week, House Bill 1605 by Representative Brad Buckley (R-Killeen), which helps ensure students in Texas’ K-12 public schools are receiving rigorous and on-grade-level instructional materials, passed the House. This bill encourages districts to adopt high-quality instructional materials by providing the following: $467 million to school districts at the rate of a $40 allotment per student for districts choosing to use any State Board of Education and Texas Education Agency-approved curricular resource. $24 million to school districts at the rate of a $20 allotment per student for printing online materials. $100 million in grants to school districts for teacher support and training. Go deeper and explore the Texas Tribune’s Texas Schools database to learn more about the academic performance and college readiness of the state’s 1,207 districts and 8,966 public schools. What’s next: House Bill 1605 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Education. Since the Senate has already passed its companion bill, Senate Bill 2565, we can expect the item to be heard quickly in committee and receive a favorable vote on the Senate floor. New university endowment bill moves forward in the Senate On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Finance heard House Bill 1595 and House Joint Resolution 3 by Representative Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood). The bill and resolution would establish the Texas University Fund (TUF), a $3.4 billion research endowment supporting four Texas universities, including the University of Houston. This significant investment in the state’s public higher education system provides UH with the funding it needs to compete for federal and private research opportunities, attract world-class professors and students, and strengthen talent pipelines. The fund also provides long-term financial certainty, allowing forward-thinking projects and investments. Houston in Focus: If passed, the University of Houston could receive as much as $100 million annually to boost its research capabilities.  What’s next: With broad support from the Senate Finance Committee, the proposals are expected to continue to advance through the legislative process.  Harris county criminal courts and business courts bill advance  Adding New Harris County Criminal Courts This week, House Bill 3474, by Representative Jeff Leach (R-Plano), the state’s omnibus courts bill, passed the House. The bill establishes six new criminal courts for Harris County. The additional criminal courts were approved by Harris County Commissioners Court in an effort to add capacity in the county’s criminal justice system to address its high felony case backlog. What’s next: The bill is expected to move through the Senate smoothly in the coming weeks. Once passed, the first three courts will be set up on October 1 to align with the County’s budget, and the Governor will appoint the new judges who will sit until the next election. The additional three courts will be up and running the following fall. Business Courts This week, House Bill 19 by Representative Andrew Murr (R-Junction), which would create a specialized court system for business cases, passed the House. The bill would transform the state’s current judicial process and provide relief to the district court systems by “removing” action on certain business disputes and referring those cases to the newly established business court. Go deeper: Read the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence's recommendation to implement business specialty courts in its December 2022 Interim Report. Statewide CCUS regulatory Bill Won't Cross the finish line This week, the Senate passed the gutted version of the statewide carbon capture (CCUS) regulatory bill, Senate Bill 2107 by Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville), with a vote of 29 Yeas to 2 Nays. However, the House is unlikely to hear the bill in committee.  Why it matters: As filed, the 22-page bill aimed to establish a regulatory CCUS framework clarifying pore space ownership, mineral estate protection, liability, long-term stewardship, and integration. These elements are critical for Texas to compete in the trillion-dollar global carbon storage industry against the 12 other states that have adopted similar legislation. What’s next: The uncompromising attitude among opposition groups and lack of understanding on a complex topic suggests supporters of this legislation will have to regroup and determine a new strategy going forward.  During the 88th Legislative Session, the Greater Houston Partnership will provide a weekly update on newsworthy items from Austin. You can view more policy news and archives of our weekly updates here. Subscribe here to get our weekly legislative updates
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