As a legislative staffer, and as a lobbyist, Eric Woomer has assembled an impressive resume of accomplishment in aiding legislators to achieve their public policy goals.
Significant legislative and professional accomplishments achieved while serving as a lobbyist include:
- Fostering changes to the Texas Public Utility Commission’s substantive rules, doubling frequency of fuel factor filings for vertically-integrated utilities in Texas.
- Over time, outdated fuel factor provisions and regulatory lag led to substantial under-recovery of fuel expenses by utilities. Through a collaborative effort which included the PUCT, legislators, and other interested parties, the relevant rules were updated, which has lead to greater recovery of fuel expenses for Texas utility shareholders.
- Greater transparency for alcohol taxes.
- For decades, Texans purchasing alcohol from a venue that holds a mixed-beverage permit did not pay sales taxes per beverage. Instead, the permit holder paid a 14% tax on the drink and passed those costs along to consumer imbedded in the price of the beverage. After securing passage of new legislation in 2013, mixed-beverage gross receipts tax changed from the 14% tax paid exclusively by permit holders to a 6.7 percent gross receipts tax paid by the permit holder coupled with a 8.25% sales tax passed through to the consumer, resulting in transparency and equity in alcohol taxes.
- Decriminalizing truancy in Texas.
- Historically, Texas has prosecuted K-12 children and their parents for truancy at more than double the rate of all 49 other states combined. In 2013 alone, there were 115,000 citations for failure to attend school. Unlawful absenteeism affected young people from all walks of life, often leaving a criminal paper trail that jeopardizes their futures. After the bill’s passage, criminal prosecution was replaced with civil punishments, schools are obligated to take common-sense steps to address students’ truancy problems before referring students to court, as well as to look at the underlying issues behind truancy — such as homelessness, chronic illness, or unidentified special education needs.
- Passage of strong anti-indemnity legislation for the Texas construction industry.
- Prior to the bill’s passage, construction contracts often required a subcontractor to indemnify, defend, or hold harmless another party for a claim caused by that party’s own negligence or fault. Now, owners and general contractors can no longer require subcontractors to indemnify them for the owner or general contractor’s own negligence or purchase insurance coverage for the owner or general contractor’s own negligence.
- Passage of legislation establishing a new annual Transmission Cost Recovery Factor (TCRF) for non-ERCOT utilities in Texas.
- In recent years, explosive growth in the need for electric transmission and distribution facilities to foster wind energy development and accommodate population increases had outpaced the ability of integrated utilities to recovery these costs. Establishment of a TCRF offers greater investment in electricity transmission & distribution facilities, by allowing utilities to recovery these costs on an annualized basis. Enactment of the change led to millions of dollars in accelerated recovery for utility shareholders, and encouraged additional investment in transmission & distribution facilities.
Accomplishments as an advisor to state legislators include:
- Implementation of a “graduated” driver’s license program for young Texans, imposing greater restrictions on their ability to drive while unsupervised during the first 6 months of licensure.
- This effort led to a 33% reduction in auto-related teen fatalities in Texas since its passage, a rate of decline that leads the nation. The Austin American Statesman cited passage of this legislation as a primary cause for the improvement.
- Creation of Texas Professional Educator Home Loan Program, a housing assistance program which helps more than 300 teachers annually to own homes.
- The program is housed within the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation, which makes millions available annually to support down payments assistance efforts and make low-interest loans to first-time homebuyers.
- Passage of legislation decreasing the statutory definition of “intoxicated” from .10 to .08 for all driving intoxication offenses.
- As a result of this effort, the number of alcohol-related fatalities in Texas has declined by 23%, while attracting millions in additional federal highway funds to the state.
- Development of the Senate Hispanic Research Council, the research & policy development arm of Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus.
- Starting from scratch, this program has grown to a self-sufficient 501(c)(3) whose mission is to provide educational and leadership opportunities to all segments of the Hispanic community by supporting active participation at all levels of government. Among it’s most significant achievements is the creation of the Sen. Gregory Luna Scholarship Program, a fellowship program which helps participants gain invaluable experience and exposure to the Texas Senate as full-time legislative assistants in the capitol, performing a variety of legislative tasks, including legislative research summaries, bill tracking, constituent correspondence and drafting floor statements, articles, press releases.