Every ten years, the United States takes a census, and from this collected data, government representation is determined.
At the national level, it has already been announced that a number of states will be losing Members of Congress, while a few states will increase their delegations. Texas is expected to gain four additional seats. This will take us from 32 to 36 Members of Congress and will increase our State’s clout in Washington. For those states that are decreasing their representation, they will experience less influence.
From a business perspective, does this matter? Definitely! Businesses face scrutiny, both from Washington when Congress is in session and from agencies year round. The regulatory environment can make or break business. Case in point: think of the recent moratorium on Gulf drilling after the oil spill.
The more clout a Congressional delegation has in D.C., the more it is able to fight for the businesses in their state. During the oil spill crisis, most of the Texas delegation was vocal and fighting hard to support the oil industry and the many people it employs. They were also fighting hard for the impacted fisherman and tourism industries.
Redistricting also occurs at the state and local levels. You’ll see changes in each governmental entity that elects representation by population. In Texas, the State Legislature will be redrawing lines. There has been a significant shift of population from rural to urban areas. Urban communities will gain in influence, while agricultural interests will suffer. The rural delegations have long dominated policy debates in Austin, so this will create an interesting shift in policy-making.
In Houston, two new Council Members will be added to the Houston City Council. This will completely change the dynamics of City Hall. City Council currently has 15 members, including the Mayor. Adding two more Council Members elected from communities will intensify debate and discussions. With the expansion of the Council, local policy-making that deals with streets, water and sewers, trash collection and more will become much more heated.
If your business participates in the political process in Texas, or even nationally, 2011 and 2012 will be expensive years. Political Action Committees will need more funds to support new members and fundraisers will abound.
So, grab hold of your pocketbooks. Politics is on the rise!