News & Press: Member Update

ACEC Texas Members Honored & Special Session Update

Tuesday, August 8, 2017  
Posted by: Michael Hancock
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Member Update

August 7, 2017


Bennett Ratliff, P.E.

Bob Pence, P.E.




Two ACEC Texas members have been recognized for their contributions to their community and the industry.


The ACEC College of Fellows annually has a Community Service Award to recognize ACEC members for demonstrated sustained commitment to their community, demonstrated public leadership, activity in local or state government, influence on decision-making outside of professional issues, and contributions to enhancing the quality of life in the community.


Bennett Ratliff, P.E., of The Ratliff Group will be recognized as one of the national award winners this year. Bennett served as a Trustee of the Coppell ISD for nine years and was subsequently elected State Representative for District 115. He has served as a member of the Coppell Educational Trust, supported the Coppell Engineering Booster Club, and mentored the Coppell Solar Car Team. He has been recognized as an Honorary Life Member of the Texas PTA for his service to education and to children. He and his wife Beccy are involved in many other organizations and volunteer opportunities.


ACEC Texas and Morrissey Goodale jointly sponsored a Texas A/E Industry Conference in the fall of each year and award a Lifetime Achievement Award to an industry leader.


Robert Pence, P.E. of Freese & Nichols will be this year's honoree. Bob retired last year as President and CEO of FNI and currently serves as chairman of the board. He joined the company as an engineer in 1978. Throughout his tenure he championed corporate support for professional education and encouraged involvement company-wide community-service projects. Under his leadership, FNI became the first engineering/architectural firm to receive the Malcolm Baldridge Award for Performance Excellence in 2010. He has been active in numerous professional societies.


Bob will be recognized at the 2017 Texas A/E Industry Conference October 25-26 in Austin. The event will also feature speakers on Texas politics and the Texas economy, a panel of Texas firm CEOs, Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton as part of a panel on energy and industrial markets, Transportation Commissioner Laura Ryan, TxDOT PEPS Director Martin Rodin, and others. Morrissey Goodale will also offer stand-alone seminars on mergers and acquisitions and strategic planning on the first afternoon. ACEC Texas members receive a discount; find more information at





The special legislative session called by Governor Greg Abbott has about ten more days to run, with a number of issues in play but not much finalized to date. The primary task for the session was to pass legislation extending the life of the medical licensing agency; bills to do that have passed in both houses.


The House and Senate continue to have different priorities, with the House leadership focused on reforming public education finance and the Senate more aligned with other issues in the Governor's call, including transgender use of bathrooms, abortion restrictions, and other issues. A bill to significantly alter municipal annexation prerogatives has passed the Senate and is expected to pass the House, but was removed from the calendar today on a point of order.


ACEC Texas' primary focus has been on bills to unduly restrict local government revenue, which could have an adverse impact on infrastructure funding. The Senate has passed a bill to change the rollback rate for local property taxes from an 8% annual increase to 4%, with an automatic election required to sustain more than a 4% increase. The House version of this sets the limit at a 6% annual increase, but it is not clear whether even that has support in the House. ACEC Texas has suggested to several members that spending on water, wastewater, streets, and drainage should be excluded from the rollback rate.





An ACEC Texas work group has been working with TxDOT PEPS Division on training designed to create greater consistency and understanding of the "rules of the road" in negotiations. One session was held in DFW in early August and another is scheduled for Houston August 29, with others scheduled as needed. The slides from the training are also available on under "News and Updates/State Agency Relations."



Calendar of Events

  • August 29, Houston: ACEC TxDOT Training on Negotiations
  • October 12: ACEC Texas Quarterly Board Meeting
  • October 14-17, Orlando, FL: ACEC National Fall Meeting
  • October 25-26, Austin: Texas A/E Industry Conference
  • November 10-11, San Diego, CA: ACEC Texas Winter Public Affairs Conference

In The News

Go to for current articles on construction, engineering, public works, transportation, politics and more including:

  • Houston economy, real estate to see better times ahead
  • Oil patch's water demand sparks West Texas battle
  • Dow to invest $105 million in plant expansion
  • Texas bridges doing well, even without a gas tax increase
  • Federal judge clears the way for SH45 SW project
  • Fort Bend County considering $217 million mobility bond
  • UTSA adding new construction material facility
  • Elgin: 5-year plan lays out potential city capital projects
  • Trump administration waives environmental rules to allow border wall construction
  • Drainage projects drive up price tag for Travis County bond package
  • El Paso: Flood prevention efforts continue on anniversary of 2006 floods
  • and more . . .

ACEC Texas Chapters



1001 Congress Ave., Suite 200 - Austin, Texas 78701

512-474-1474 - fax 512-474-1490

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