About 200 chamber of commerce and government representatives participated Wednesday in the first Galveston County Legislature Day at the Texas Capitol.
The collaborative event featured a day of photo opportunities and meetings with Texas legislators about projects that need state support to implement, such as coastal protection and port improvements. County government officials and chamber members from Galveston, Texas City-La Marque, Santa Fe and League City-Bay Area were among those who traveled to Austin for the day.
Representative Wayne Faircloth said the day showcased the Galveston County and its communities.
"It allows the elected officials here in the Capitol to be able to see the rich resources and the incredible people that inhabit Galveston County and our importance to the state economy and our importance to education and jobs and the industry,” he said. “For me, it’s wanting to shine the spotlight on our county and how important we are and allow the other members of the legislature to experience the people, the seafood and the different things that we have to offer." Listen (0:43)
During meetings with representatives and senators, chamber representatives presented the legislators with a coffee table book about the history of Hotel Galvez and a journal embossed with the county seal.
Santa Fe City Manager Joe Dickson said his team discussed coastal protection, funding for the medical center and the tax caps with half a dozen representatives and senators.
"They have a lot of issues they have to deal with so we will see how it all comes out in the wash,” he said. Listen (1:12)
Galveston Island resident Rusty Carnes, expressed concern about immediate coastal issues including a brewing battle about the cleaning process of a superfund site on the San Jacinto River that threatens Galveston Bay. He said he wanted state legislators to learn the dangers of dredging the site, which is a process the federal government proposes.
“The safest thing to do is to cap them because once they start stirring them up that stuff will be distributed all over the bay,” he said. Listen (0:57)
County Commissioner Ken Clark said the commissioners’ court had conversations for many years about conducting a countywide legislative day but the effort always languished. He described the milestone as an “Open House at the Capitol” because it created ambassadors who raised awareness among legislators who knew little about the Galveston area.
“It allows us to focus on issues that are specific to our county and gives us the ability to work together to achieve the ability to reach out to the representatives and the legislators and have a common message,” he said. “It builds camaraderie and unity in the county when we do that.”
The issue that all members of the delegation discussed with their representatives was the urgency for funding of the "Ike Dike" to protect the Upper Texas Gulf Coast from the devastation by future storm surge.
Following the visits, the chambers hosted a reception with a live band and fresh seafood from Galveston businesses. Among approximately 400 guests attending the party were veteran legislator Babe Schwartz and his wife Marilyn.
Photo with Governor Greg Abbott provided by Lora-Marie Bernard
Photos of the day’s events provided by Ruth Ann Ruiz