The Texas State Legislature passed House Bill 535 almost unanimously with a House vote of 145-0 and a Senate vote of 23-7 earlier this month. With such a strange display of agreement between the two parties, one has to wonder which issue could spark such bipartisanship.
HB 535, an act “relating to the preference given by state agencies to goods offered by bidders in this state or manufactured, produced, or grown in this state or in the United States,” was three pages dedicated to simply buying American.
The bill is written to alter the current text of the Texas State Government Code which already endorses the support of Texas grown or produced goods, including agricultural products.
The bill encourages buying from:
• disabled veteran Texans over other Texans
• Texans over those from…other states
• Those from other U.S. states over foreign nations
In turn, the bill was vetoed by Governor Perry.
Governor Perry, who vetoed the bill May 25, 2013, two days before the end of the 83rd Session, stated “Current law already requires state agencies to give preference to goods produced and grown in Texas. While I support and encourage our agencies to buy goods from Texas businesses, this bill simply does not change current law.”
While yes, current Texas state law does require agencies to give preference to goods produced and grown in Texas, HB 535 isn’t as useless as it is made out to be by the Governor’s Office.
HB 535 adds “manufactured” onto the list of requirements, defining it as, “with respect to a manufactured good, an item produced as a result of a manufacturing process that alters the form of the components, including articles, materials, or supplies, that are directly incorporated into the item in a manner that adds value and transforms the components, and that is functionally distinct from a finished item produced merely from assembling the components into the item.”
The new text would emphasize the importance of including manufacturing as well as clarifying the law, making it easier for agencies to follow.
Shortly after the Governor’s Office made the veto public, Becky Moeller, president of the Texas AFL-CIO, a state labor federation representing union members, made a press release stating Governor Perry won’t stand up for American jobs:
Gov. Perry by his veto has undercut the creation and preservation of manufacturing jobs in Texas and the U.S. These jobs are critical to our economic success. Despite the governor’s grandstanding in California and Illinois and his rhetoric about jobs, the veto of HB 535 reveals a painful truth: this Governor won’t stand up for American jobs or Texas workers.
While the 83rd Legislature had a limited opportunity to override this bill which initially passed with near-unanimous support, the time allowed has passed and manufacturing will not be emphasized in the Texas Government Code any time soon.