Interest Groups in Texas

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In this essay I will compare and contrast the different legislative agendas of various interest groups involved with the Texas Government. An interest group (also called an advocacy group, lobbying group, pressure group, or special interest) is a collection of members that are determined to encourage or prevent changes in public policy without trying to be elected. The essay will discuss the four kinds of interest groups, trade, professional, single and public, as well as provide one detailed example of each type. It includes examples from the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, Texas AFT, MADD and TexPIRG interest groups, which are just a few of the many groups in existence out, but it provides an idea of what different types of interest groups are available and how they effect our government in Texas. The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers represents the interests of the oil and gas industry at both the state and federal levels of government and it is the largest state independent oil and gas associations in the nation. The Alliance is committed to ensuring the energy policy of the future will be one in which our members can grow and prosper. It also brings together members in 300 cities and 29 states for the common purpose of protecting the oil and gas industry and developing programs, such as insurance and public education, to make them more profitable.  The Alliance's effectiveness relies upon speaking with one, unified voice to represent the opinions of all its members. In addition to the “unified voice” strategy, the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers utilizes government contacts and supporters, including the Governor’s office, Texas House members, Texas Senate members, the Texas Railroad Commission, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and other contacts throughout the federal government, to push legislation through in their favor. Association members testified before a U.S. Commerce Department hearing on the threat of crude oil imports to national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, but despite the DOC declaring the level of imports were a threat to national security in 1989 and again in 1994, nothing was done by our federal government to change the trend in increased oil imports. Despite their failure to change the trend in crude oil imports, the Texas Alliance worked on a number of important regulations dealing with naturally occurring radioactive materials, pits, inactive wells and bonding, which lead to the Texas Alliance Energy Producers winning a temporary restraining order against the RRC regarding its bonding regulations.

The second interest group is a professional group, Texas AFT, and is mainly known for its ties to the educational profession. “Texas AFT is a statewide organization that exists to serve its members and local unions, also called “local units” or “affiliates.” (acconline.austincc.edu) Texas AFT currently has 64,000 members and growing. Texas AFT also provides a range of publications, such as the Texas Teacher magazine, specialized publications, and the PSRP Report. In addition, Texas AFT maintains a website and two e-mail newsletters, the weekly Inside Education and daily Legislative Hotline. Texas AFT believes the local union is the key to promoting the interests of educational employees. “The mission of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, is to improve the lives of our members and their families, to give voice to their legitimate professional, economic and social aspirations, to strengthen the institutions in which we work, to improve the quality of the services we provide, to bring together all members to assist and support one another and to promote democracy, human rights and freedom in our union, in our nation and throughout the world.” (tx.aft.org) Part of this year’s legislative strategy for the Texas AFT was a letter to President Linda Bridges, a moment of opportunity to reform testing and reinvest in public...
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