Summary of the 2023 Legislative Drive-In to the Texas Capitol
Authors: Michael Bloom, Chair, Governmental Affairs Committee and
Sofia Carrillo, Vice-Chair, Governmental Affairs Committee
The Texas Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE Texas Section) hosted its 2023 Legislative Drive-In the evening of April 3 and all day on April 4th near the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas. Every odd calendar year — when the Texas Legislature is in session — ASCE Texas Section conducts the Drive-In to provide our members with an opportunity to learn about the legislative process, how ASCE national policies are developed, how to conduct effective government relations activities, how to get more involved in both state and federal advocacy work, and to directly experience engagement with elected members of the legislature through in person meetings at the Capitol. The event also helps advance ASCE Texas Section’s infrastructure funding and policy objectives through in person advocacy and relationship building with elected members and their staff.
On the evening of April 3, attendees gathered for a networking reception that was supported by a fantastic group of event sponsors, including ADS, Halff, 5engineering, Raba Kistner, Stuart Consulting Group, Terracon, Thompson Pipe Group, Aguirre & Fields, AmeriTex, Freese and Nichols, LAN, and WGI.
The next morning, Michael Bloom and Sofia Carrillo welcomed everyone to the educational program. Then, Kevin Longley, Sr. Manager, Public Affairs & Media Relations for ASCE, presented an overview of ASCE’s national Key Contact program, policy making process, and government relations tips. Next, Dustin Cox and Chris Sanchez with Salient Strategies, an Austin based lobbying firm, shared their thoughts about the Texas Legislature and advocacy in the halls of the Texas Capitol.
After hearing about advocacy practices, subject matter experts presented some specific policy issues. Michael Bloom and Jeremy Mazur, with Texas 2036, discussed water policy issues. Sofia Carrillo presented transportation policy issues. We were extremely excited to have Senator Royce West, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation, present brief remarks about pending transportation related legislation. Michael Bloom touched on flood mitigation policy issues and then Oliver Smith, from our Beyond Storm – Reliability and Resilience Task Force, presented on energy and grid issues.
This year, 45 members attended the Drive-In. This allowed ASCE Texas Section to meet in person with the offices of 26 state representatives and 15 state senators to create or strengthen relationships between our organization and the legislature and to discuss our policy objectives. This is a great accomplishment for ASCE Texas Section.
Michael and Sofia would like to thank Jenni Peters, Mike Sosa, and Stephanie Ludlow for their hard work to help plan and execute the event. We’d also like to thank Augustine Verrengia, VP Professional for his leadership and work to initiate Drive-In events a few years ago and for his support for this year’s event.
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