Christmas is a special time of year for lots of reasons, and like many of you, it’s easily my favorite holiday. As we enjoy food, fellowship and the magic of this season, let’s never forget the true meaning behind it. For our family, the tradition of gathering at our church on Christmas Eve to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is especially meaningful. Whatever your plans this year, I want to wish each of you a safe and very Merry Christmas, and again share what an honor and privilege it is for me to be able to serve as your State Representative. Now, as we all look forward to that Christmas turkey and pecan pie with a heaping scoop of Blue Bell ice cream, here is an update from your State Capitol….
A Bill and Some Change: Local Control for Schools
Over the last few weeks, I have seen several school districts across the state announce adjustments to their school calendar for next year. You may be interested to know these recent decisions are a result of HB 2610 which was signed into law earlier this year. This new law still requires school districts to provide the same amount of classroom instruction time each school year, but now districts have more discretion in setting their local academic calendar to meet those requirements. For example, if a school chooses to lengthen their school days, they can provide additional days off around holidays or potentially let school out for summer a few days earlier. I believe it is important to note that this new law is completely voluntary and schools are not required to change their daily classroom schedule unless they choose too. As a former school board member, I understand how important local control is for trustees, administrators, teachers, and parents. In this case, I know how excited many are to finally be able to make local decisions about what works best in their communities as it pertains to setting their own individual academic calendars.
Standing Against Fee Increases on Agriculture Producers
Several weeks ago, I wrote about how the Texas Agriculture Commissioner was planning on raising fees for certain cost recovery programs administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture. These programs are critically important to our state and they help our agriculture industry and rural economy thrive. At a recent Senate hearing, Commissioner Miller outlined why he felt these fee increases were necessary, and while I do have a better understanding of his position, I still believe raising fees by over $21 million in this biennium is unnecessary as there are other options available. The rising costs will negatively impact economic growth and will ultimately be borne by consumers. Numerous legislators from around the state have voiced concerns, but Commissioner Miller has decided to move forward with the increases, which will take effect on January 1st. While he has the constitutional authority to make this decision, I disagree with it, and I believe it is an issue that the Texas Legislature will certainly take another look at when we reconvene for the next legislative session.
The mobile office will be taking the month of December off during the Christmas season, but will be back on the road soon after the start of the New Year. If you are in need, please know that my office is always just a phone call away, and we always appreciate your input and are ready for the opportunity to help you navigate state government. Please do not hesitate to contact us at (936) 634-2762 or (512) 463-0508 if we can ever be of assistance, and remember that our door is always open.