Creighton pushes bill requiring US-made steel for state projects
State Sen. Brandon Creighton is pushing a bill that would require Texas to use only steel made in America in state projects.
With Texas and steel manufacturers across the country long struggling to compete with foreign companies offering steel at cheaper prices, the Conroe Republican says his Senate Bill 1289 will help preserve jobs by requiring that only steel made in the United States be used on any Texas state project or construction job.
Although Texas does not have a vast Rust Belt area like regions across the Midwest were known for as steel plant after steel plant shut down, Creighton points to Texas companies -- including Tenaris -- that have laid off workers. Houston-based Tenaris blamed what it called "unfairly traded imports" from South Korea for forcing it to suspend work at its welded tubes mill in Conroe in April 2015. The closure put 230 people out of work.
Also last year, U.S. Steel laid off nearly 700 workers at its plant it operates in the Lone Star State.
"Iron and steel manufacturers have closed across the state," Creighton told The Courier. "We will continue to lose our manufacturing jobs to China and Turkey"
Although China leads the world in steel production, having long surpassed the U.S., according to the World Steel Association, production in Turkey is growing so rapidly that it is now among the world leaders in steel making.
In speaking of his bill, Creighton noted an executive order signed by President Trump earlier this week directing federal agencies to implement the so-called "Buy American, Hire American" promise he made during the presidential campaign. The directive from the president seeks to boost protections for American companies and their workers.
"These buy American provisions are creating jobs," Creighton told The Courier.
After being heard in the Senate's Business & Commerce Committee this week, the measure is expected to come up for discussion again next week in the committee, where Creighton says he's "confident" the bill will advance out of the committee.
In another matter, Creighton says he still is seeking to change the wording in his proposed bill that would allow development in a portion of Jones State Park for "educational purposes." The bill -- SB 1964 -- has sparked a torrent of local outrage over concerns about commercial development in the park, or that the owner and operator of the park -- Texas A&M University system -- intends to build a campus in the park.
Creighton has pledged to remove the word "commercial" from the bill when it is heard in committee, although no date has been set for a hearing. University system officials have denied they have plans for a campus in the forest.
Still, local opposition to the bill remains fierce, with more than 8,500 people signing a change.org petition seeking Creighton to kill the bill or amend it to protect the entire park.