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Posts published in “Day: March 29, 2011”

North Houston sees increased Economic Development activity

NORTHEAST HOUSTON– A new high-tech industry, Neutex Lighting, cut the ribbon on their new offices and manufacturing facility on Vickery Drive last Thursday.
The company develops and manufactures LED and other energy efficient light fixtures. They currently employ about 20 persons in Houston, and expect to add several hundred to the manufacturing staff in the next few months.
Reggie Gray of the North Houston Economic Develooment Council, lauded the move of Neutex, noting that they were taking advantage of the location and strengths of the North Houston area.

As president of the Chamber and the Economic Development Council, he said that his group has responded to almost 30 inquiries from businesses wanting to locate here, since the end of last year.
The ribbon cutting was hosted by John Higgins, president/CEO of Neutex, who said that his company will bring back to this country jobs that had been outsourced overseas. “It only made sense for the company blazing the trail in the advancement of energy usage should be located in the enrgy capital of the world,” remarked Higgins.
East Aldine District and Greenspoint District are two other groups actively pursuing additional economic development for the area. EAD Economic Development director Gretchen Larson reported at the last District workshop in February that two major projects will come online this year. Kennedy Greens Business Park is a 275 acre development on JFK Boulevard, with 5 new businesses committed to buildings so far. Also on JFK will be a new building for Noble Corporation, a major business in the oil and gas field.
Jack Drake reported at a Chamber luncheon last month that SYSCO has built a large distribution facility at I-45 and Beltway 8 on a 1000 acre site in Pinto Business Park, that employs hundreds distributing food throughout the Houston area.

Thompson introduces gambling bills into State Legislature

By BOBBY HORN JR.
HOUSTON—With much of the talk around the State Capitol in Austin focusing on the state budget, one state representative is seeking to fill Texas coffers with “gaming money.”
Within the space of a week, State Rep. Senphronia Thompson filed three separate pro-gaming bills.
On March 7, she filed House Bill 2424, which is the enabling legislation for House Joint Resolution 119. The resolution and the accompanying bill are related to “the operation of video gaming by authorized organizations and commercial operators that are licensed to conduct bingo or lease bingo premises.&#8221Under HB 2424, the state would not only benefit from the collection of licensing fees, which range from $50 to $10,000 but would also collected 20% of the gross monies taken in from the gaming devices.
The bill has been sent to the Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, on which Thompson serves, for review.


Casinos in Texas
Thompson did not stop with video gaming at bingo parlors.
On March 11 she filed House Bill 3575 and HJR 151, which would allow the “operation of casino gaming in this state by federally recognized Indian tribes on certain land.”
The same day, she added House Bill 3576, which expanded the language of HB3575 to include casino gaming “by licensed operators at horse and greyhound racetracks and licensed locations.”
Thompson’s filing brought an almost immediate response from the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.
“House Bill 3575 and House Joint Resolution 151 by State Representative Senfronia Thompson will give Texans the right to decide for themselves whether gaming should be allowed on Indian lands. Public opinion surveys have consistently shown that voters not only want the right to decide, they are supportive of responsible gaming in Texas,” Carlos Bullock, Tribal Council Chairman Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, said. “Passage of this initiative would raise revenue for critical state services without raising taxes.”
“This bill would stop the annual loss of nearly $3 billion in Texas tourism and gaming revenue flowing into our neighboring states, where gaming is a success. Today only one of Texas’ three federally recognized Indian Tribes is allowed to offer gaming on its lands. Allowing all Indian tribes in Texas the same right to offer gaming on their Tribal lands would correct this inequity, and we thank Representative Thompson for recognizing that fact.”
Casinos force political battle
The battle in the House could come down to party lines. Thompson is a Democrat.
Republicans Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst have come out publicly against expanding gambling in Texas. The Republican Party of Texas is also opposing the legislation, saying that it would have a “devastating impact on many Texas families.”
A GOP of Texas poll showed that 71.2% of Texans did not believe Texas should legalize casino gambling and 72% said they did not support using revenues from expanded casino gambling to address the state budget shortfall.
The Texas Gaming Association says a University of Texas/ Texas Tribune survey showed that 81% of people polled were in favor of expanding casino gaming in Texas.
Two other Democrats, Jose Menendez and Rodney Ellis have filed joint resolutions in the State House and Senate respectively, seeking constitutional amendments. The main difference between the Menendez resolution and Thompson’s resolution and bill is that Menendez calls for the legislation to provide money “or the property tax relief fund and additional financial aid for higher education students.”
Austin-based gaming lobbyist Texans for Economic Development says that expanding casino gaming would generate $8.5 billion in economic activity and 75,000 new jobs.
Whether the bills pass, Thompson has already benefited from the gaming issue.
According to documents obtained by the Northeast News between Oct. 29, 2009 and Nov. 11, 2010, Thompson received no less than $13,000 in campaign contributions from groups that would benefit from the bills’ passage. This includes $6,000 from the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, $5,000 from the Texas Gaming Association (given two weeks after she was reelected in 2010) and $1,000 from Texans for Economic Development.
Before being enacted, the bills would be put before the voters in November in the form of proposed Constitutional Amendments.