A Very Merry Christmas from the Texas Lobby Group


As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season ushers us into the New Year, we would like to take a quick moment to say “thanks.” We greatly appreciate your friendship, business and trust.

At the Texas Lobby Group, we pride ourselves in honesty, hard work and determination. With each year, we renew our continued commitment to you, your cause, and fighting for what is right for Texas.

Remembering the reason for the Season, we thank God for our continued blessings and praise him for bringing us hope, joy and eternal life.

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year,

The Texas Lobby Group:
Mike Toomey
Bill Messer
Lara Laneri Keel
Carrie Simmons
Michael Garcia

P.S. – Texas Lobby Group offices will be closed the last 2 weeks of December.  We will be checking messages and emails in the event you may need something feel free to call our mobiles.

Southern Political Report Ranks Texas Lobby Group Among Top Lobbying Law Firms

Austin, Texas– October 9, 2015 –

In the Summer 2015 issue of Southern Political Report Magazine, Texas Lobby Group was named one of the South’s “Top Government Affairs Firm and Lobbyists” in Texas. The rankings are based on the results of an online survey sent to lobbyists and government affairs specialists across 13 Southern states. In addition, top lawyers and lobbyists were consulted to make sure the ranking for each Southern state were as comprehensive and accurate as possible.

“These men and women shape public policy all over the South” said Southern Political Report publisher Phil Kent. “That’s why we regularly talk to various movers-and-shakers in 13 Southern states ‘in the know.’ Some are accomplished lobbyists themselves or they are the clients big and small that they serve. They know who the best are and, with this issue, now you will know.”

Southern Political Report Magazine

View the entire report.


National Association of Professional Employer Organizations Applauds Greg Abbott

Today, the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) thanked Texas Governor Greg Abbott for signing a bill that protects small businesses from paying double employment taxes. Small businesses across Texas that enter into a relationship with a professional employer organization after January 1st will now be protected from overtaxation.

“We thank Governor Abbott for his support of this bill, which will enable PEOs to continue to help small businesses in Texas grow and thrive while eliminating what was essentially a double tax on small business and maintaining the integrity of the UI trust fund at the same time,” said NAPEO President and CEO Pat Cleary. “PEOs provide valuable services to the small business community and play a role in the creation of Texas jobs, so enactment of this legislation was critical to the continued strength of the small business sector in the state.”

House Bill 3150 is also in line with the federal Small Business Efficiency Act (SBEA), which became law in December of 2014. Under the rules of SBEA, wage bases tied to federal wage-based employment taxes will not be required to restart when the employer either leaves or joins a SBEA-certified professional employer organization.

Professional employer organizations provide payroll services and other human resources benefits to small and medium sized businesses. The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations has 148 members doing business in Texas with many small businesses which employ more than 132,000 people.

“Governor Abbott has always been a strong proponent of small business, and this legislation is yet more evidence of his commitment to making Texas a great state for small business,” said Cleary.

Texas Lobby Group Holiday Announcement

SUBJECT:    Office hours during the end of the year holidays

DATE:           December 22, 2013

In observance of the Holiday season, The Texas Lobby Group will have the following schedule:  We will be closed Monday, December 22, 2014 and will be back in the office for normal office hours on Monday, January 5, 2015.  We will be checking the office voicemail periodically and our email daily.  If you need to reach us, please use the information below:

Mike Toomey
(512) 970-2970 (Mobile)
(512) 402-9950 (Home)

Bill Messer
(512) 659-2694 (Mobile)

Lara Keel
(512) 422-5682 (Mobile)

Carrie Simmons
(512) 903-1490 (Mobile)

Michael Garcia
(512) 626-9159 (Mobile)

Zoe Fain

Pam Johnson
(512) 633-5322 (Mobile)




 Happy Holidays and a Blessed New Year!

Former Republican Caucus Director Carrie Simmons Joins Texas Lobby Group

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Lara Keel
(512) 473-2646

Former Republican Caucus Director Carrie Simmons joins Texas Lobby Group


Austin, TX – Texas Lobby Group proudly announces the addition of Carrie Simmons to the firm. Simmons will work with the firm’s clients to promote and drive legislative solutions.

“Carrie has a depth of knowledge and an impeccable record of hard work, diligence and tenacity when it comes to working with the Texas Legislature,” said Texas Lobby Group founder Mike Toomey. “She brings initiative and a fresh perspective to the Texas Lobby Group that will serve our clients well.”

“The addition of another strong female to the Texas Lobby Group will enhance the team and broaden our ability to better serve our clients,” added Texas Lobby Group Partner Lara Keel.

Prior to joining the Texas Lobby group Simmons was the Director of the Republican Caucus, providing legislative research and communication assistance to all 95 Republican Legislators in the Texas House of Representatives for more than six years — through three legislative sessions and multiple special sessions.

After the 83rd Legislative Session, Simmons joined forces with fellow female Republican leaders to start Red State Women PAC. Red State Women was created to engage, empower, and inspire women to become politically active within the Republican Party.

“I look forward to joining the Texas Lobby Group and advocating on behalf a diverse and exciting lineup of clients,” said Simmons. “The right to petition ones’ government is fundamental to our democracy and I look forward to helping clients address a range of important issues with the Texas Legislature. “

Simmons holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Texas at Austin.


The Texas Lobby Group is a full service lobbying and government relations firm that continues to earn incredible stature throughout the state lobby industry. Services include legislative lobbying, administrative lobbying, strategy development, grassroots development and mobilization, internal and external communications, and political strategy, advice and counsel. 

Texas Lobby Group October 2013 Newsletter

Texas Lobby Group October 2013 Newsletter

Texas LobbyistWith the Regular and three Special Sessions finally over, the focus in Austin has turned from policy to politics. The March primaries are just 150 days away. All state-wide executive office holders are up for reelection as well as all members of the Texas House of Representatives. With Governor Rick Perry – Texas’ longest serving Governor – not seeking reelection, many officials are testing the waters in hopes of reaching higher office, creating a crowded primary season.

Sitting Attorney General Greg Abbott is the clear front runner in the race to succeed Rick Perry as the next Governor of Texas. Former Workforce Commissioner Tom Pauken is challenging Abbott in the Republican primary. Democrat State Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth and of filibuster fame, is expected to announce her candidacy for Governor later this week. General Abbott is considered the odds on favorite against Senator Davis – the last time that a Democrat candidate came within 10 percentage points of the Republican at the top of the ticket was in 2006, where Kinky Friedman and Carol Keeton Strayhorn ran as Independents and combined for more votes than Democrat Chris Bell. But, SPOILER ALERT, democrats are hoping to lure Debra Medina out of the Comptroller’s race and into the gubernatorial fray as an independent potentially making this a three person general election.

While it is fun to speculate about how things will shake out in the general election, there are a few heated primary battles to watch right now.

Republicans have declared for each statewide office on the ballot. Only one Democrat has officially declared for a statewide office so far. Democrats have not won a statewide seat in nearly two decades. Despite the long-odds, the national Democratic Party is working to turn Texas “blue” and are hoping that a Senator Davis gubernatorial candidacy and a slate of other qualified candidates for all statewide offices may be just what it takes to end their losing streak. Or at least help them begin to rebuild at a faster rate.

Four elected officials are seeking the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor. Incumbent Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (who fell short in his bid for U.S. Senate to now Senator Ted Cruz in the last election cycle) hopes to hold off State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston), Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. Democrat State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) is reportedly eyeing a “free run” at Lieutenant Governor. She has a four year Senate term, so she can run and still remain a Senator if she does not win. Expect an announcement after Senator Davis makes her announcement tomorrow.

Three Republicans are vying for the party nomination for Attorney General. State Senator Ken Paxton (R-McKinney), State Representative Dan Branch (R-Dallas), and Chairman of the Railroad Commission Barry Smitherman look to succeed General Abbott. While no Democrat has declared, rumors abound that the party will announce a bid for the office.

Republican State Representative Harvey Hilderbran will face off with State Senator Glenn Hegar for the Republican nomination for Comptroller. Debra Medina is currently in the fray for the Republican nomination, but has indicated that she is unable to compete due to a lack of funds and may throw her hat in the governor’s race as an independent. Businessman Mike Collier has announced he will seek the Democrat nomination.

In addition to the statewide movements, there are numerous retirements in the Texas House of Representatives, and there will probably be more to come before the filing deadline. State Representative Mark Strama (D-Austin) resigned from the legislature for a private sector job, and a special election will take place for that Austin area seat. Other announced retirements – who will serve out the rest of their terms are – current House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie), Pensions Chairman Bill Callegari (R-Katy), Economic and Small Business Development Chairman John Davis (R-Houston), Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Chairman Tryon Lewis (R-Odessa), Craig Eiland (D-Galveston), and Rob Orr (R-Burleson).

Musical chairs, anyone?

In addition to the openings presented from retirements, many seats will open up from legislators seeking higher office. In the House, State Representatives Van Taylor and Stephanie Carter (R-Dallas) look to move up – Select Committee on Federalism and Fiscal Responsibility Chairman Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), Higher Ed Chairman Dan Branch (R- Dallas), House Ways and Means Chairman Harvey Hilderbran (R-Kerrville) will all be vacating their seats to pursue higher office. In the Senate, Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston), and Senator Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) will give up their seats to run statewide. Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) is also running statewide but he has a four-year Senate term, so he will stay in office either as a Senator, or as Comptroller if elected statewide.

With all of these retirements and current members running for higher office, the outcome of the races – no matter how they turn out – mean that there will be at least a dozen new House members. Again. The last two freshman classes have already historically been the largest we have seen in a decade. Now it appears those young members are moving up the Seniority Chain relatively quickly.

The political season is definitely running in high gear – and there are more announcements to come.

We will keep you posted….

Texas Lobby Group Tops in Capitol Inside’s Lobbyist Rankings for 2013

Texas Lobby Group Tops in Capitol Inside’s Lobbyist Rankings for 2013

The Texas Lobby Group has again topped Capitol Inside’s Top Hired Gun Lobbyist rankings. Mike Toomey and Bill Messer are ranked the No. 2 and No. 3 Hired Gun Lobbyists in the State and Lara Keel is the highest ranked female lobbyist in Texas coming in at No. 14 overall.

Mike Toomey and Bill Messer, who helped found the group, retain their spots among the rankings’ top four lobbyists. Bill Messer has been rated in the top four every year of the ranking’s existence. Mike Toomey has been rated the number one lobbyist three times and has been in the top four every year he has been on the list. In 2003, he was rated the top lobbyist turned public servant when he moved to the Governor’s office making him the only person in Texas history to serve as Chief of Staff to two Texas Governors. [Read more...]

Texas Lobby Group Holiday Hours

Texas Lobby Group Holiday Hours The Texas Lobby Group is a full service Lobbying firm, based in Austin Texas. Our holiday hours are as follows:

FROM: Mike Toomey
Bill Messer
Lara Keel
Michael Garcia

SUBJECT: Office hours during the end of the year holidays

DATE: December 19, 2012

In observance of the Holiday season, The Texas Lobby Group will have the following schedule: We will be closed Friday, December 21, 2012 and will be back in the office for normal office hours on Wednesday, January 2, 2013. We will be checking the office voicemail periodically and our email daily. If you need to reach us, please use the information below:

Mike Toomey

Bill Messer

Lara Keel

Michael Garcia

Janet Traxler

Zoe Fain

Election Update from the Texas Lobby Group

Texas Lobbyist News: Election Update from the Texas Lobby Group

Following redistricting and a summer of primaries and run-offs, the numbers of the Texas Legislature have changed very little. The Senate will continue to have 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. The House will go from 102 Republicans to 95 and 55 Democrats. Three incumbents lost in last night’s general election: John Garza (R-San Antonio), Dee Margo (R-El Paso) and Connie Scott (R-Corpus).

The real story is all of the new faces in each body. The House will have 40 new members. On the Senate side there will be 5 new faces.

Cases Await Judgement in United States Supreme Court 2012 to 2013 Term

Texas Lobby Group News: Cases Await Judgement in United States Supreme Court 2012 to 2013 Term

We commend to you the overview of cases before the Supreme Court found at CNN.com. The Texas Lobby Group is posting this quick digest as a public service for Texas lobbyists and lobbying firms, Texas politicians and political advisors, and other interested parties.

The following text is taken from the CNN website. We are quoting them and encourage you to visit the site for the complete text. Click here to read the complete summary at CNN.com


Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

Abigail Fisher sued the state university after her college application was rejected in 2008 when she was a high school senior in Sugar Land, Texas. Fisher claims being turned away in part because she is white. The school defends its policy of considering race as one of many factors.

[Read more...]

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