Amplify the Voice of Business
One of the key strategies of the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce is to amplify the voice of the business community on business issues at city hall, at the county courthouse, in Austin and in Washington, D.C. Business opinions shared by the majority of Chamber members are identified and crafted into legislative agendas. Those agendas are communicated to legislators and members.
Coalitions with other like-minded chambers of Commerce give the weight of much larger groups of businesses to our member positions. The Greater Arlington Chamber leads one such coalition and participates in two others.
Membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Texas Association of Business give the Chamber the benefit of research conducted by those much larger organizations.
While the Chamber does not endorse candidates, we do try to schedule candidate forums ahead of contested elections for city, county and state offices directly impacting Arlington.
The positions the Chamber takes are informed by the members and ultimately approved by the Board of Directors. Members interested in public policy issues can serve on the Public Policy Advisory Council. The council brings together business members with the local district directors of most of the legislators serving the greater Arlington area. The ideas discussed by the council give rise to issues that may become part of the chamber’s legislative agendas.
In even numbered years every member is asked to complete a survey on issues expected to be a part of the Texas Legislative session. (The Texas Legislature meets for 140 days at the beginning of each odd numbered year.) Members of the Board of Directors take the same survey at a regularly scheduled board meeting. To become an issue on the Texas Public Policy agenda, 80% of board members taking the survey must agree on the issue and it must also be consistent with the member surveys.
Informed by the survey results, the chamber legislative staff drafts an agenda. It is then reviewed and approved by the Public Policy Advisory Council, the Board Public Policy Committee and ultimately by the full Board. A Texas legislative agenda is approved in October each even year for the impending session, each odd year for the interim year.
The federal agenda is informed by the positions of the US Chamber and the Texas Association of Business, drafted by staff and approved by the Board. The federal agenda is approved by the Board in December each year ahead of the Congressional session beginning in January.
Issues for the city and county are approved by the board as they arise.
Stay Informed and Involved
An important part of representing the voice of the business community is keeping members informed so they can become involved in the issues that matter to the business community.
Public Policy Newsletter
At least monthly the Greater Arlington Chamber publishes a newsletter that is distributed by email to members who have requested it. Currently about 500 individuals receive the newsletter. The newsletter accumulates information from other publications with links to the full stories for those who want to know more. One regular source is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Above the Fold” newsletter covering national items of interest to business. Some original analysis and reporting on government relations issues is usually included as well.
After each Texas Legislative session the Chamber, usually in conjunction with the Coalition of East Tarrant Chambers, hosts a panel to address what impact the legislature’s actions will have on their operation. Each is either a panel of agencies who have to live with what the Legislature enacted or a panel of legislators going over the actions taken.
Public Policy Advisory Council
The Public Policy Advisory Council exists to encourage an exchange of ideas between chamber members and state and federal legislators. Monthly meetings are a mixture of a speaker on a government relations topic, reports by ex-officio members representing the local staff of legislators representing Arlington in Austin or D.C., and issues raised by members on government relations topics.
Once or twice each year the PPAC will host a forum on a topic like transportation, water resources or payday lending. Members of the Board of Directors and Corporate Level Investors in the Chamber are invited to join the Council members on these occasions.
Membership in the Council is open to Corporate Level Investors who may choose to put one representative on the Council. General members interested in belonging to the Council may apply for membership.
The Greater Arlington chamber attempts to sponsor candidate forums whenever a contested election for a position representing Arlington is to be held. When possible these are coordinated with the League of Women Voters. Success in this effort is dependent on the willingness of candidates to participate.
Chamber led trips to Austin and D.C. give members the opportunity to come face to face with legislators and push home their points of view. Members also gain additional insight into the way state and federal governments operate.
Tarrant County Days in Austin
In the first 60 days of each session of the Texas Legislature the Greater Arlington Chamber participates with the other Tarrant County Chambers to take a large delegation to Austin for a two-day visit to the legislators who represent Tarrant County. The visit includes presentations to those attending by most members of the Tarrant delegation. Often the Speaker of the House, the Governor and the Lt. Governor also address the attendees.
Private meetings are held with specific members and small groups of members who want to stress an important business issue. A Legislative reception and a Legislative breakfast are a part of the program.
Washington, D.C. Fly-In
In the fall of each year, the Greater Arlington Chamber coordinates with either the North Texas Commission or the Texas Association of Business to take some of our members to visit our Congressional delegation. These visits are coordinated with the U.S. Chamber and include briefings on topics important to our state and region. Members of the Texas delegation are invited to address the assembled attendees. Small private meetings with individual legislators are usually included.
Public Policy Resources
- Research Links
- Voter Information Links
- Who represents me? https://wrm.capitol.texas.gov/home
- Texas Voter information https://www.votetexas.gov/
- Tarrant County Voter Information https://tinyurl.com/y3estlga
- Federal Government Links
- Legislative Information https://www.congress.gov/
- U.S. House of Representatives https://www.house.gov/
- U.S. Senate https://www.senate.gov/
- Texas Government Links
- Texas State Website https://texas.gov/
- Texas Legislature https://capitol.texas.gov/
- Texas Governor https://gov.texas.gov/
- Local Government Links
- City of Arlington https://arlingtontx.gov
- Arlington City Council https://www.arlingtontx.gov/city_hall/government/city_council/members
- Arlington Independent School District https://www.aisd.net/
- Mansfield Independent School District https://www.mansfieldisd.org/
- Tarrant County http://www.tarrantcounty.com/en.html