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A Texas-Sourced Push to Reauthorize Ex-Im Bank

Also, a roundup of notable legislative filing activity, and it was Blue Bell day at the Capitol.

Bill Hammond is the CEO of the Texas Association of Business.

Two prominent business groups — the Texas Association of Business and the Texas Association of Manufacturers — are mobilizing support for the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the reauthorization of which has proved divisive among Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The effort by the two business organizations involves a collective letter to be delivered to Texas’ congressional delegation.

The two groups back reauthorization of the bank as a support to Texas’ status as the country’s leading exporting state.

Critics, though, have recently seized on the news of the decision at the bank to no longer disclose information on businesses that unsuccessfully apply for financing.

One of the biggest critics of the bank is Dallas Republican Jeb Hensarling. As chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, reauthorization legislation would go through his committee. The Hill reported that Hensarling hasn’t said whether he would allow any such bill out of his committee.

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In other legislation news, legislation that would allow Tesla to sell its cars directly to Texans was referred to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources on Tuesday.

Filed by Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, Senate Bill 639 would allow manufacturers that have never sold their cars through independent dealerships in Texas to operate up to 12 stores, skirting the traditional dealership model.

For background, here’s a Tribune piece on Tesla’s legislative push this session.

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A few weeks after Gov. Greg Abbott called local ordinances like plastic bag bans one of the biggest threats to the "Texas model," state Rep. Matt Rinaldi has taken up the charge.

The Irving Republican filed a bill Thursday that allows a business to provide customers with "a bag or other container made from any material," and it nixes any local bag bans. The legislation drew swift condemnation from Texas Campaign for the Environment, a big proponent of the bans, which called Rinaldi's action a "trampling of local sovereignty."

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State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, filed the second of three bills expected from him this session on improving windstorm insurance access for coastal homeowners and businesses.

This one targets school districts that are buried under the weight of huge windstorm insurance premiums. Those that are closest to the coast pay far more, which means local property owners bear more of a burden than other areas of the state.

Taylor's solution is to appropriate money through the school finance formula so that school districts can get reimbursed for windstorm insurance costs. No word on how much money he's asking for yet, but a similar pitch he made in 2013 — which was left pending in the Senate education committee — would have cost the state about $133 million.

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State Rep. Will Metcalf, R-Conroe, began his campaign against a proposed high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas in earnest on Wednesday when he filed a bill that could effectively kill the multibillion-dollar project.

HB 1889 would require that the leadership of every county and city along the route of the privately funded bullet train that Texas Central Railway hopes to build would have to approve it before it can be built. Officials with several rural counties along the route have already publicly come out against the project.

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And at the risk of burying the lede, it was Washington County Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, meaning that those under the Dome were treated to the county’s most famous export, Blue Bell ice cream.

No immediate word on how many scoops were handed out. We are told that, among other flavors, scoops of Homemade Vanilla, Dutch Chocolate, Southern Blackberry Cobbler and Mint Chocolate Chip were served.

Disclosure: The Texas Association of Business and Tesla Motors are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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