This essay aims to illustrate and compare the diverse legislative agendas of different interest groups associated with the Texas Government. An interest group, also referred to as an advocacy group, lobbying group, pressure group, or special interest, consists of members who are committed to influencing or obstructing alterations in public policy, without seeking office. The discussion will encompass four types of interest groups – trade, professional, single, and public – along with a comprehensive example of each category.
The text explores various interest groups in Texas, including the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, Texas AFT, MADD, and TexPIRG. These examples provide insight into the range of interest groups that exist and their influence on our government in Texas. The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers is a notable organization that actively supports the oil and gas industry at both state and federal levels. It proudly holds the title of being the largest independent association for oil and gas in the nation.
The Alliance’s main objective is to ensure that the future energy policy supports its members’ development and success. It unites members from 300 cities and 29 states who are dedicated to safeguarding and enhancing the profitability of the oil and gas industry. To accomplish this, the Alliance implements various initiatives such as insurance programs and public education campaigns. The key to the Alliance’s effectiveness lies in presenting a united standpoint that reflects all member perspectives.
The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers uses a strategy known as the “unified voice” to advocate for their interests. They collaborate with different government contacts and supporters, such as the Governor’s office, members of the Texas House and Senate, the Texas Railroad Commission, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and other federal government connections. These alliances play a crucial role in promoting legislation that aligns with their goals.
Members of the Association attended a hearing organized by the U.S. Commerce Department to discuss concerns about national security risks caused by crude oil imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act. Despite the Department of Commerce acknowledging in 1989 and 1994 that these imports posed a danger to national security, no measures were implemented by the federal government to tackle the ongoing rise in oil imports.
The Texas Alliance has focused on regulations concerning various aspects of the crude oil industry, such as naturally occurring radioactive materials, pits, inactive wells, and bonding. Despite not being successful in changing the pattern of crude oil imports, their efforts resulted in obtaining a temporary restraining order against the RRC regarding its bonding regulations.
Another interest group is Texas AFT, a professional organization with strong ties to the educational profession. Their main objective is to provide support to its members and local unions known as “local units” or “affiliates.” Currently, Texas AFT has 64,000 members and continues to experience growth. They offer publications like the Texas Teacher magazine, specialized publications, and the PSRP Report. Additionally, they maintain a website and two e-mail newsletters: Inside Education (weekly) and Legislative Hotline (daily).
Texas AFT believes that promoting the interests of educational employees can be best achieved through involvement from local unions. The American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO shares this dedication for enhancing the well-being of its members and their families. Their advocacy extends towards supporting their professional development, economic prosperity, and social aspirations while also working towards strengthening the institutions they are employed by and improving service quality.In addition, the federation operates at various levels – union, national, and global – to not only unite members for assistance and support but also advocate for democracy, human rights, and freedom. As part of their legislative strategy this year, the Texas AFT has sent a letter to President Linda Bridges. Their objective is to advocate for testing reforms and reinvestment in public education. Within the letter, they propose specific measures to enhance working conditions and learning environments while issuing a call to action. The reason behind seeking influence with legislators is that school districts face challenges in compensating for inadequate state aid through local tax rate increases. However, state policies increasingly hinder their ability to do so effectively.
The main goal is to tackle the budget crisis in Texas school districts. When assessing the influence of Texas AFT on shaping legislation, it becomes evident that school systems still lack sufficient funding, leading to higher local taxes being imposed to support schools. Educators only experienced relief once in 2006 through a tax swap for extra funds; however, the repercussions of this bill are now overdue. Another interest group that holds relevance is Mothers, an organization with a specific focus.
Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a non-profit organization and single interest group that concentrates on tackling different issues associated with drunk driving. This involves pushing for legislation, industry reforms, or specific sectors of society. MADD’s primary objectives are to combat drunk driving, offer assistance to victims impacted by these incidents, deter underage drinking, and advocate for stricter alcohol policies.
MADD, which stands for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, was founded on September 5, 1980 with the aim of aiding victims affected by crimes committed by drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs and offering support to their families. Additionally, MADD endeavors to raise awareness about the issue of impaired driving (madd.org). The organization takes a proactive approach in shaping legislation – their main focus is on preventing drunk driving, particularly among minors, and they are willing to utilize any lawful means necessary to accomplish this objective.
MADD consistently emphasizes their dedication to combating drunk driving, expressing it through numerous channels such as their website, mission statement, and educational materials. Over time, MADD’s efforts have led to the implementation of various laws, which they have either inspired or influenced. Examples of such laws include mandatory BAC testing for surviving drivers, the adoption of the .08 Per Se limit, mandatory alcohol education, and the protection of children from endangerment. MADD continues their advocacy annually, striving for additional and often stricter legislation. Proposals they champion encompass mandatory BAC testing for drivers involved in fatal incidents, the establishment of sobriety checkpoints, and obligatory alcohol assessment and treatment.
The Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG) is a public interest group that focuses on protecting the health and well-being of citizens in Texas. TexPIRG advocates for various causes including food safety, transportation, healthcare, education, taxes, internet reform, and government reforms. They employ strategies such as petitions and activism to influence legislation in these areas. Notably, TexPIRG successfully influenced the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement stricter safety standards for ground beef served in schools.
The sale of beef products to the school lunch program that would be rejected by fast food chains will no longer be allowed under the new standards. TexPIRG’s unsuccessful smoke-free Texas petition, which aimed to ban smoking in all public places, did not successfully pass through legislation. This essay explores the influence of different interest groups on legislation, emphasizing their ability to impact our government and highlighting both their successes and failures.
We studied various interest groups, including the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, Texas AFT, MADD, and TexPIRG. As Kinky Friedmen once said, “I don’t care much about big corporations, frankly. Most politicians never met a special-interest group they didn’t like” (Quotesea.com). Works Cited: AFL-CIO. “Political Action.” Texas AFT – Home. Web. 08 July 2010. “Interest Group: Definition from Answers.com.” Answers.com: Wiki Q Combined with Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Encyclopedias. 2010. Web. 08 July 2010. MADD National Home. “MADDTEXAS.” – Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Web. 07 July 2010. MADD National Home. “Mothers Against Drunk Driving – Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving – Laws.” – Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Web. 08 July 2010. Texas Alliance of Energy Producers. “Welcome!” Texas Energy Alliance. 2010. Web. 08 July 2010. TexPIRG. TexPIRG. 2010. Web. 07 July 2010.