January 5, 2017

State Senator Joan Huffman, State Senator Larry Taylor, State Rep. Sarah Davis and State Rep. Jim Murphy Join HRBC for our January 2017 Breakfast

State Senator Joan Huffman, District 17

Senator Joan Huffman started her career as a public servant in 1981. Upon earning her undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University, she became a secretary for the Harris County District Attorney’s office. It was there that she became inspired by the work of prosecutors and decided to attend law school. She took night classes at South Texas College of Law while working full time.

Upon earning her law degree, Joan was hired as a prosecutor and advanced from misdemeanor court to Chief Felony Prosecutor, Special Crimes Gang Prosecutor, and Legal Counsel to the Organized Crime Narcotics Task Force. She served as lead prosecutor in over 100 jury trials, including murders, sexual assaults, aggravated robberies, and sexual assaults of children. Huffman earned a reputation as a fair and tough enforcer of the law both as a prosecutor and a twice elected Judge to the 183rd Criminal District Court.

Senator Huffman was first elected to the Texas Senate in 2008 after winning a special election to fill the vacated office of Senate District 17 and has been twice re-elected. Her background and knowledge on various topics has allowed for her to serve on several key committees which impact the overall operation and efficiency of state government. She currently serves as Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on State Affairs, Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, and is a member of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Legislative Budget Board.

Senator Huffman’s common sense approach to solving issues has allowed for her to build strong relationships with members of both parties, which enables her to represent the needs of her district and her constituents efficiently and effectively. Her leadership has been acknowledged by numerous advocacy groups. She was named a “Champion for Free Enterprise” by the Texas Association of Business, a “Taxpayer Champion” by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and a “Big Voice for Little Texans” by Court Appointed Special Advocates for her work to protect children. She was also named a “Patient Care Champion” by the Harris County Medical Society and is the only repeat recipient of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association’s “Law and Order Award” since its inception, for her efforts to improve victims’ protections and the criminal justice system.

Senator Huffman lives with her family in Houston and proudly represents a diverse district which includes portions of Brazoria, Fort Bend and Harris counties.


State Senator Larry Taylor, District 11

A native Texan, Larry attended Baylor University where he received his BBA in 1982.  He and his wife Kerri are the proud parents of three adult children and a granddaughter, Lila.  Larry owns Truman Taylor Insurance Agency in Friendswood, an independent agency started by his father more than 50 years ago.

Senator Taylor serves as the Chairman of the Senate Public Education Committee and as a member of the Senate Finance, Business and Commerce and Intergovernmental Relations Committees. Before his election to the Texas Senate in 2012, he served five terms in the Texas House of Representatives.

Senator Larry Taylor represents Texas Senate District 11, comprised of portions of Brazoria, Galveston, and Harris Counties.


State Representative Sarah Davis, District 134

Sarah Davis is a three-term Texas state representative. Davis graduated from John Foster Dulles High School in Sugar Land in 1994. In college, she was a member of the Baylor University debate team. After receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Baylor in 1998, she went on to earn her Law Degree from the University of Houston in 2001.

Davis is an accomplished and successful attorney devoting her career to defending against personal injury lawsuits. She is a partner with the national law firm of Wilson Elser, LLP. Sarah’s clients include individuals, local businesses, and Fortune 500 companies.

Davis was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2010, and served on the Public Health and Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committees. Davis was re-elected in 2012 and 2014, and currently serves on the House General Investigating and Ethics, Public Health, Calendars, and Appropriations committees. She served on the appropriations subcommittee dealing with health and human services, and also chaired the appropriations subcommittee on budget transparency and reform. This past session, Speaker Straus selected Representative Davis to serve as a conferee on the budget conference committee, as 1 of 5 house members charged with reconciling the house and senate budgets. She was also recently named to the House Select Committee on Mental Health and as Chair of the Select Committee to Determine a Sufficient Balance of the Economic Stabilization Fund.


State Representative Jim Murphy, District 133

State Representative Jim Murphy represents District 133, West Houston. First elected in 2006, Murphy serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Corrections and is a member of the Ways & Means Committee. Murphy also serves as Floor Leader for the House Republican Caucus.

His legislative accomplishments have earned Jim awards from organizations including the Texas Association of Business, National Coalition for Capitol, Texas Right to Life, Texas Conservative Coalition, Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and Texas Chemical Council.

Prior to his service in the Legislature, Murphy was twice elected to the HCC Board of Trustees, serving from 1997 to 2006.

Jim works as an economic development consultant through his firm, District Management Services. In this capacity, he has helped bring in over $2 billion in new investment and tens of thousands of jobs to West Houston.

Murphy grew up in District 133 and graduated from Strake Jesuit and UT Austin. He and his wife, Dr. Kathleen Murphy are members of St. John Vianney Catholic Church and have two adult sons, Robert and Pace.


Click here to RSVP for the January 27th breakfast.


October 24, 2016

The Importance of Down Ballot Races

A letter from HRBC Chairman Alan Hassenflu

HRBC, Houston’s Premier Business Coalition, supports limited government, capitalism and private property rights. We know these policies not only grow the economy, but also create opportunity and upward mobility for everyone. We base our endorsements on our mission statement and have high expectations for those candidates who earn our endorsement.

The recently published “Urbanism, Texas Style,” clearly shows how we are leading the way in expanding our economy, creating jobs and keeping housing and the cost of living low compared to other large urban areas.

“Market-oriented zoning policies and pro-business regulatory and tax environments are part of what has made Texas’s urban areas private-sector dynamos and magnets for the aspirational. If Texas stays true to what has made it great, Lone Star cities will continue to shine as the new exemplars of American urbanism.”

We want to continue to keep Harris County a leader. This is why our voice is so critical in the upcoming election on Tuesday, November 8.  Specifically, for the down ballot countywide and judicial candidates whose policy decisions and rulings affect us on a daily basis and are critical to continuing our culture of opportunity.

Click below to read the full article:

Click to print the HRBC 2016 General Election Endorsements

Early Vote Now – Friday, November 4
Click for Early Vote polling locations

Election Day Tuesday, November 8
Click to find your Election Day polling location


May 23, 2016

Dr. Ronald A. DePinho & Dr. Arthur Garson, Jr. Join HRBC for our June Breakfast

HRBC’s June breakfast will be on Thursday, June 16 and will be a panel discussion about the Texas Medical Center.  Joining us will be Ronald A. Depinho, M.D. and Dr. Arthur Garson, Jr., M.D., M.P.H.

Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., is president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Appointed to this leadership position in September 2011, Dr. DePinho and his research program have focused on the molecular underpinnings of cancer, aging and degenerative disorders and the translation of such knowledge into clinical advances.

Dr. DePinho’s independent scientific career began at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he was the Feinberg Senior Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research. He then joined the Department of Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Department of Medicine and Genetics at the Harvard Medical School. He was the founding Director of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Dana-Farber and a Professor of Medicine and Genetics at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. DePinho is a former member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for Cancer Research, and has served on numerous advisory boards in the public and private sectors. Dr. DePinho studied biology at Fordham University, where he graduated class salutatorian, and received his M.D. degree with distinction in microbiology and immunology from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

For his fundamental contributions to cancer and aging, he has received numerous honors and awards, including: the Cancer Research Institute Investigator Award, the Melini Award for Biomedical Excellence and the Kirsch Foundation Investigator Award. He is the recipient of the 2002 American Society for Clinical Investigation Award, the 2007 Biomedicum Helsinki Medal and the 2009 Albert Szent-Györgyi Prize. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science. In 2010, Dr. DePinho was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2012, he was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was inducted as a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science in 2014 and the American Association of Cancer Research Class of 2015. Dr. DePinho is a founder of several biopharmaceutical companies focused on cancer therapies and diagnostics.


Arthur Garson, Jr. “Tim” is the Director of the Health Policy Institute of the Texas Medical Center, home to 54 health care institutions in Houston. The Institute develops collaborative policy solutions to improve the health of those in Houston and Texas, and to make those solutions models applicable to the rest of the U.S. and beyond.  Areas of focus include health care delivery models and workforce; improvement in health care systems, such as Medicaid; population health with the Texas Medical Center as a demonstration site; and service to the state providing decision support for legislators.

He is also currently Professor of Management, Policy and Community Health, University of Texas School of Public Health.  Until June 2014, he was the Director of the Center for Health Policy, University Professor, Professor of Public Health Sciences and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, and from 2007-2011 was Executive Vice President and Provost of the University of Virginia.  He was responsible for the operations of the University’s 11 schools, as well as planning with a $1.3 Billion academic budget, and helped to fund and to found the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.  From 2002-2007, Dr. Garson served as Vice President and Dean of the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine.

Dr. Garson graduated (Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude) from Princeton University in 1970 and received his M.D. (Alpha Omega Alpha) from Duke University in 1974, remaining at Duke for Pediatric residency through 1976.  In 1979, he completed his Pediatric Cardiology fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, becoming Chief of Pediatric Cardiology in 1988. He has been a visiting professor in more than 200 institutions, is on the faculty of the Children’s Hospital in Paris, and was awarded the “Keys to the City” of Parma, Italy.  He is the author of more than 450 publications including 8 books.  In 1992, he received a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Texas Houston.  Also in 1992, he joined the faculty at Duke University, becoming Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, where he served as Medical Director of Government Relations for the Medical Center; and professor in the Sanford Institute of Public Policy.

In 1995, he returned to Houston to be Baylor College of Medicine’s Dean for Academic Operations.  He was also Vice President of Texas Children’s Hospital for quality.

He has served as Special Consultant in Health Programs and Policy to the State of Texas, Department of Health and the North Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Commission.  He chaired the North Carolina Health Planning Commission Committee charged with drafting legislation on practice guidelines, report cards and malpractice reform.  He chaired the State of Texas Health Care Information Council’s Subcommittee on Outcomes Reporting.

In 1999-2000, Dr. Garson served as President of the American College of Cardiology.

In addition, he has served on the White House panel on Health Policy.

He was appointed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Thompson to chair the National Advisory Council of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in 2003.

In 2004, he was appointed to chair the Healthcare Programs subcommittee of the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Insurance and chaired the Workforce Subcommittee.

In 2006, Dr. Garson helped to originate and draft a bill, the “Health Partnership Act” which funded grants to states for innovations to improve coverage for the uninsured, quality, and efficiency.

His book, “Health Care Half Truths: Too Many Myths, Not Enough Reality,” was published in April, 2007.

He was awarded that Health Statesman of the Year Award for 2007 by Health Access Texas.

In 2007, Dr. Garson was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. [In 2015 IOM changed name to the “National Academy of Medicine”]

In 2009, Dr. Garson was appointed to the National Advisory Council of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

In 2010, he was appointed Chair of the Workforce Committee of the American College of Cardiology.

In 2010, he created the Grand-Aides program, an innovative workforce model in which health workers “with the characteristics of a good grandparent, no matter how young”, under close supervision by a professional, use protocols by telephone and home visits with portable telemedicine to provide simple primary care, as well as prevention, chronic disease management to reduce readmissions (e.g. medication adherence upon hospital discharge for heart failure). In 2012, Grand-Aides was placed into Texas Medicaid law. The program is in operation in 11 states and under development in 14 countries. Grand-Aides has been named one of the top 3 innovations by the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Innovation Exchange.

Dr. Garson has been asked to present Grand-Aides to President Bill Clinton, the Medicaid Medical Directors and the Institute of Medicine.  He has recently worked with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and the Health Ministers of Ontario, Canada, Ireland, Panama, France, Australia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Valencia, Spain and the National Health Service in London, UK on ways to improve their health care workforce.

In May 2012, Health Affairs published as an Innovation Profile, Garson’s “A new corps of trained Grand-Aides has the potential to extend reach of primary care workforce and save money,” in January 2013, “The Grand-Aides Program in Baotou, Inner Mongolia:  A revolutionary health care workforce” in the International Journal of Health Policy; and in 2014, A structured home visit program by non-licensed healthcare personnel can make a difference in the management and readmission of heart failure patients,” in the Journal of Hospital Administration and Grand-Aides and health policy: Reducing readmissions cost-effectively in Health Affairs.

He has an ongoing research grant, “Tailored Educational Approaches for Consumer Health (TEACH): A new model to improve the delivery of health information to consumers.

In addition to the monthly Houston Chronicle Op-Ed series on health care, Dr. Garson’s journal articles have included: International differences in patient and physician perceptions of high quality health care; Attack obesity: lessons from smoking; Heart of the uninsured: a personal story; Our physicians and our profession must lead in improving our health care system;  Leading universities to the future: Developing student maturity; Leveraging the health care workforce: What do we need and what educational system will get us there? New systems of care can leverage the health care workforce: How many doctors do we really need?


May 19, 2016

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar Joins HRBC for May Breakfast

We were excited to have Comptroller Hegar join us for our May breakfast. If you weren’t able to make the event or want to review what was discussed in the meeting, please see a synopsis below of what Comptroller Hegar discussed.


“Visiting with HRBC is a chance to have a true dialogue,” said Hegar. “HRBC members are some of the most informed and engaged business leaders in the state, and that was obvious in our meeting. The questions were pointed and dealt with some very pressing issues facing not only Houston, but also our state as a whole.  And the input I received from the folks in attendance will prove tremendously valuable as I look at Texas’ economic landscape in the next biennium and beyond.”

State Economic Overview:

  • Texas will continue to grow, only at a much more moderated pace than the last several years.  In 2014, Texas grew by 5.8%, second only to ND.  Much of the growth was in the construction, mining, education & health services.


  • Lower oil and natural gas prices and the contraction in those industries will be a drag on state-wide growth in the near term.


  • We are hearing a lot about low oil prices and how they will affect the state’s budget. The most direct impact will be to the Rainy Day Fund and State Highway Fund. Fortunately, we have a very robust Rainy Day Fund – current balance of $9.6B and nearly $10.4B at end of biennium, if no other transfers.


  • It is important to note that any reduction in the amount of money the Lege has to spend, will likely come from less revenue from sales and franchise taxes as a result of reduced spending by energy companies and the people they employ.


  • Despite lower oil prices, our general revenue collections are still running very close to our estimates.


  • Of course, a sudden shift in the global economy can change the outlook, pending tax & school finance litigation, or even 2% change in Medicaid rolls has a $1B impact to the budget, 41% of which comes from GR.


  • What does all this mean? We continue to project modest growth in FY2016 and FY2017. It is amazing that the 12th largest economy has absorbed the oil contractions and continues to grow moderately.  Consider that:


  • For 111 months, Texas has had a lower unemployment rate than the US average. Texas number is currently 4.3%.  (April jobs numbers released today make this 112 straight months even as unemployment ticked up slightly for april to 4.4%)


  • After 11 straight months of job gains, we lost 12K jobs in March. Total job gains for last 12 months is 185K. (worth noting that today the april numbers were released and they were back in positive territory +8300)


  • Over the last year, losses were led by mining & manufacturing , while gains were led by health care, professional services, hospitality, retail, state and local gov, and wholesale trade.


  • After 5 consecutive months of declining sales tax, we’ve had 2 consecutive months of gowth, with April up 3% over April of last year. The three month average ending in April for state sales tax collections is down 0.8%.
    • March was up 2.1% compared to March 2015. The three month average ending in March for state sales tax collections is down 3.2%.
    • October (-5.4%), November (-3.3%), December (-1.1%), January (-4%), Feb (-6.8%), March (+2.1%).


  • Cities where oil production is a prominent economic driver are definitely hurting, Collections for the 3 month average ending in April are down in the following cities: Houston -4.8%, Corpus -11.5%, & Midland is -19.0%.


  • However, despite lower oil prices, a great deal of the state is thriving like Dallas, Austin and SA.  3 month average for Dallas is +5.1%, Austin is +4.6%, SA is +2.1%.

A few other statistics of particular interest are:

  • Texas population increases 600 day and 650 day (migration and natural growth respectively)


  • Texas exports more value of product than any other state and at a record amount of $290B last year.


  • Texas continues to rank as one of the best places to do business.  In fact, 54 of the nation’s leading companies base their headquarters here.


  • With no corporate income tax and no individual income tax, Texas has one of the lowest tax burdens in the country.


  • Texas has the 2nd largest civilian workforce in the US – 13M people.