This year, the Texas Legislative Conference (TLC) — a nonpartisan organization focusing on public policy issues and whose members comprise Texas business and political leaders — marks its 55th anniversary. This milestone will be celebrated at a May conference when members gather to discuss state issues and honor those who have made substantial contributions to Texas business, politics, sports or culture.
The annual conference, held in New Braunfels, offers attendees a unique opportunity to connect with decisionmakers and elected officials and discuss high-impact state policies and programs.
“Getting involved in this event helps create and strengthen relationships between policymakers and Texas organizations, and ensures this important dialogue continues throughout the year,” says Alyssa Coker, TLC program director.
“In the mid-1960s, New Braunfels attorney Tom Burrus approached the then-Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Purdum about creating a legislative conference to bring state and national leaders to the community each year to discuss the issues of the times,” explains New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Michael Meek. In 1967, the inaugural conference was held in the cafeteria of New Braunfels High School.
“A Texan of the Year honor was added in 1974, which added greatly to the prestige of the event and helped bring a ‘who’s who’ of Texas legends to New Braunfels each year,” says Meek. “Attendance has grown more each year, and the event is now livestreamed in Texas public high schools.”
Past recipients of the Texan of the Year Award include American astronaut Charles Duke (2020), The Honorable Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court Wallace Jefferson (2014), Texas musicians George Strait (2018) and Ray Benson (2011) and NBA San Antonio Spurs basketball legend and philanthropist David Robinson (2004). The Bush family’s political, news, business and philanthropic efforts also have been honored through the years, including Laura Bush (2005), George W. Bush (2002), Barbara Bush (1990) and George H.W. Bush (1982).
“Any living Texan who has committed to public service for the benefit of the state of Texas is eligible for the Texan of the Year Award,” says Coker. Committee members of the Texas Legislative Conference, many of whom are leaders in multiple Texas sectors, submit nominations, which are then vetted and taken to a vote.”
This year’s award recipient is Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, in recognition for his focus on his agency’s constitutional duties, commitment to customer service and transparency and efforts to foster a better environment for job creation and business expansion in pursuit of a healthier Texas economy.
TLC Conference Chair Patrick Rose commended Hegar’s leadership during the past year of economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and his proactive role in positioning Texas toward a post-pandemic economic recovery. “The comptroller’s leadership as our state’s chief financial officer, especially during this time, makes Mr. Hegar more than deserving of this prestigious award,” says Rose.
“I am honored and humbled by this recognition, especially when there are so many deserving Texans who have stepped up and shown tremendous leadership during this historic and unprecedented challenge,” Hegar says. “I’m particularly moved that this honor comes from the distinguished business leaders who make up the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, as well as the business, government and education leaders who comprise the Texas Legislative Conference Leadership Committees.
“Texas wouldn’t be the economic envy of the nation without our dynamic and innovative business community, and it’s that community that will lead us out of the economic shock we’ve experienced over the last year,” says Hegar. “Thank you for this honor, but more than that, thank you for your insights and guidance during these difficult times.”
Hegar was elected the 36th Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in November 2014 and serves as Texas’ chief financial officer. The Comptroller’s office collects state taxes, monitors economic trends, estimates revenue so legislators can create a state budget and acts as the treasurer for the multibillion-dollar business of Texas government. The office also handles other programs, such as overseeing the first state-administered bullion depository and safeguarding unclaimed property until owners retrieve it.
“With 48 Texans of the Year named since 1974, there is a wide range of accomplishments that have made these great folks recipients of this award, including presidents, entertainers, U.S. senators and even an astronaut,” Coker says. “One commonality among these winners is their humble nature. These individuals have had an enormous impact on our state.”
The TLC has seen many changes over its 55-year history, yet conference organizers remain true to the organization’s core values of nonpartisanship, Meek says.
“For decades, the Texas Legislative Conference has been an inspiration to thousands who have gathered to hear respected individuals offer their insight and lead discussions on the issues affecting our state,” says Coker. “This event is truly unique and changes every year to maintain its relevance to the important matters of its time.” FN
The 2021 Texas Legislative Conference is scheduled for May 6-7, 2021, at the McKenna Events Center in New Braunfels, Texas, with the Texan of the Year Reception honoring Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on May 6 from 7 -9 p.m. Visit the New Braunfels Chamber website for the 55th Texas Legislative Conference schedule and panel discussion details.