Recently, ASCE Texas Section hosted its annual Texas Civil Engineering Conference (CECON) in San Marcos, Texas. This event brings together industry professionals of all likes under one roof to explore current trends in our profession, collaborate on topics related to civil engineering and allows members to build strong relationships.
This year at CECON, the Government Affairs Committee (GAC) hosted a legislative panel discussion to reflect back on the State of Texas’ 86th Legislative Session, the progress made on topics related to Civil Engineering and lessons learned about the challenges we face moving forward. This panel was populated by a lineup of influential figures in the Texas legislative community including Texas Representative Erin Zwiener (District 45), Texas Representative Celia Israel (District 50), Kathleen Jackson PE (Board Member, Texas Water Development Board) and Ida Musgrove (Deputy Director, City of Austin – Intergovernmental Relations). The panel was moderated by ASCE National President ASCE President Robin Kemper PE, LEED AP, ENV SP, F.SEI, F.ASCE. and discussed issues related to our aging infrastructure, the importance of resiliency, and recent efforts to roll-back the requirements of professional licensure.
All of the panelists agreed on the need for investments in Texas’ infrastructure and spoke at length about the impacts legislative action (or the lack of action) can have on our State and the well-being of its citizens. Infrastructure investment was deemed a “socioeconomic issue” permeating the lives of every person in the country. Funding remains the overarching challenge in getting infrastructure improvements, and the panel encouraged the entire engineering community to make a difference by getting involved, speaking up and working with their legislators in government to ensure the right steps are taken to get the funding that we need. Rep. Israel spoke directly on the issues related to the outdated gas tax, which is the main source of funding for infrastructure in the state, and how it has not been raised since 1993. With improvements in fuel efficiency, inflation and trends moving towards electric vehicles the funding that comes from this gas tax is increasingly diminishing, and that is why ASCE National has proposed to raise the gas tax by $0.25, $0.05 every year for the next five years before ultimately tying it to inflation.
If you would like to assist ASCE and support these and other topics related to the civil engineering community, we encourage you to sign up for the ASCE ‘Key Contact’ program. If you would like to join the Committee directly, please email [email protected] for more information on how you can make a difference.