Interest Groups in the Lone Star State
In this position paper I will inform you on some of the different interest groups in the Government in Texas. Interest groups also known as an advocacy groups, or special interest groups is a collection of members that are determined to encourage or prevent changes in public policy without trying to be elected. (Edward S. Greenberg, 2009) In other words, an interest group is a like company defending its interests with very precise methods. Interest groups are present in all branches of society. They can concern lots of issues, or even just one. For example there are interest groups in areas such as agriculture, economics and labor to mention just a few. We will discuss four kinds of interest groups, trade, professional, single and public, as well as provide one example of each type. I am from Texas so I chose this topic because of my personal background and how these interest groups in Texas could affect me when I get out of the army and relocate back to Texas.
The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers represents the interests of both the oil and gas industry at both the state and federal levels of government. The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers is also the largest state independent oil and gas association in the United States. This interest group is committed to ensuring that the energy policy in the future will be one that their members can grow and prosper in. The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers brings members together for the 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 on speaking with one cohesive voice to represent the opinions of all its members. In addition to the “cohesive voice” strategy, the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers utilizes government contacts and supporters on their behalf, 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. 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 “Department of Commerce” 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.
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The second type of interest group is a professional group Texas AFT “American Federation of Teachers”, and is mainly known for its involvement in the educational sector. “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 is steadily growing. Texas AFT also provides a range of publications, such as the Texas Teacher magazine, and the PSRP Report. Texas AFT also 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 upholding the interests of the 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 education and they are ready with specific proposals reinvesting in public education, improvement in working conditions, improvement in learning conditions, and a call to action.
... borrowers they want to have the lowest possible interest rates.Interest rates influence borrowers and savers different ways. But there are ... way, the state of the global economy influences the interest rate environment. Interest rate falls if the global economy is ... goes without saying, that interest rates influence our decisions, and affect many activities in our lives. Interest rates can be expressed ...
The Texas AFT wants to influence the legislator because the school districts have been left to try and make up for insufficient state aid. The state plans on raising local tax rates to cover the costs. Basically, all they want to do is handle the budget crisis in the school districts of Texas. The analyzing of the successes and failures of the Texas AFT on influencing legislation is short and sweet; school systems are still under budgeted and local taxes are still being raised to help the schools. The only break educators have received was in 2006 with “surplus” dollars tax swap for which the bill is now belatedly coming due.
The third interest group is a single interest group called Mothers Against Drunk Driving, also known as MADD. A single interest group is a group of persons working on behalf of or strongly supporting a particular cause, such as an item of legislation, an industry, or a special segment of society. (Edward S. Greenberg, 2009) Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a non-profit organization seeking to stop drunk driving, supports victims of drunk driving, prevents underage drinking, and pushes for stricter alcohol policy overall. MADD was incorporated on September 5, 1980, the purposes of MADD as stated in its Articles of Incorporation were “To aid the victims of crimes performed by individuals driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to aid the families of such victims and to increase public awareness of the problem of drinking and drugged driving”.(madd.org) The strategy employed by MADD to influence legislation is clear; they want to stop drunk driving, especially by underage drivers, and they will use any legal means necessary to accomplish their agenda. They make this statement repeatedly, in various forms, on different areas of their website, in their mission statement and in educational pamphlets. Throughout the years they have been fighting against drunk driving, some laws MADD has inspired and/or influenced are the mandatory BAC testing for drivers who survive .08 Per Se, mandatory alcohol education and Child Endangerment. These are just a few and every year they fight for more, and usually stricter laws, like mandatory BAC testing for drivers who are killed, sobriety checkpoints and mandatory alcohol assessment/treatment.
... volunteers from around the country, selected by their chapters and groups, were delegates; some nondelegate members also attended. In 2008, the ...
The last interest group we will discuss is a public interest group. These groups vary considerably in size, influence and motive; some have wide ranging long term social purposes, others are focused and are a response to an immediate issue or concern. Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG) takes on powerful interests on behalf of Texas’s citizens, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being.(acconline.austincc.edu) TexPIRG’s mission is to “deliver persistent, result-oriented public interest activism to protect consumers, encourage a fair, sustainable economy and foster responsive, democratic government.(texberg.org) Some strategies employed to influence legislation are the safe food, healthy kids’ petition, toxic-free communities, transportation issues for Texas, financial security, healthcare, higher education, taxes and budgets, media/Internet reform freedom, and Elections and Government Reforms. The success is the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced tougher safety standards for ground beef served in school. The new standards will end a practice of selling beef products to the school lunch program that would be rejected by fast food chains. A failure of the TexPIRG is the smoke-free Texas petition, an attempt to ban smoking in any public place. This petition did not successfully pass through legislation.
In conclusion we have discussed several interest groups in Texas and how these individual interest groups effect or has tried to effect legislation. Some pass and others fail, but all interest groups can influence our government. We learned about a business interest group called Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, a professional interest group identified as Texas AFT, a single interest group acknowledged as MADD, and a public Interest group known as TexPIRG. I believe we can all agree that interest groups have been a tick on politics for as long as they have been around. It is a challenge to try and stop interest groups from having such an impact in politics as they do; the answer isn’t to stop them completely but to steadily regulate them. How to regulate them has become quite a riddle. When walls are put up to stop them holes are dug to get around them. We ultimately must not forget though that Interest groups can be both positive and negative in the world of politics and do serve a good purpose in making public opinion represented.
... is reason to believe that interest groups can reach and influence public perception through mass media in general. Interest groups can publish their articles through ... also provide avenues for interest groups to communicate to the public their position on government policies. For example, an interest group opposing the existing government ...
AFL-CIO. “Political Action.” Texas AFT – Home. Web. 08 October 2010.
“Interest Group: Definition from Answers.com.” Answers.com: Wiki Q&A Combined with Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Encyclopedias. 2010. Web. 08 October 2010.
MADD National Home. “MADDTEXAS.” – Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Web. 10 October 2010.
MADD National Home. “Mothers Against Drunk Driving – Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving – Laws.” – Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Web. 10 October 2010.
Quotesea.com. “I Don’t Care Much about Big Corporations, Frankly….” Home – Quotesea.com. 2010. Web. 10 October 2010.
Texas Alliance of Energy Producers. “Welcome!” Texas Energy Alliance. 2010. Web. 12 October 2010.
TexPIRG. TexPIRG. 2010. Web. 12 October 2010.
Edward S. Greenberg, B. I. (2009).
Struggle for Democracy ninth edition. Longman: Pearson.