Austin was more crowded than usual this past week, as folks from across the state poured into the city to celebrate Texas Independence Day. While committee meetings and legislative hearings took place inside, the outside of your State Capitol was a festive mix of Lone Star customs and culture, including a giant Texas flag on the Capitol steps comprised of 1,836 donuts donated by Krispy Kreme to honor of our state’s birth year. Here is what else is happening at your State Capitol…

Appropriations Subcommittee
As we wrap up our appropriations subcommittee meetings, we have made strides on major issues such as addressing ways to create meaningful pre-kindergarten programs, increasing education funding, ensuring our institutions of higher education are able to adequately educate our future workforce, and making certain that our universities set the pace for cutting edge research in the future.

Natural Resources
In our first full meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee, my colleagues and I heard testimony from the Texas Water Development Board related to the rollout of the State Water Implementation Fund. The TWDB announced that 48 applications for water project funding had been received by the February deadline. With oversight from an advisory committee, the TWDB will do a comprehensive scoring in order to rank the projects by priority using criteria developed through public input last year. While this year’s wave of funding will total $800 million in water infrastructure projects, that number will eventually reach the $2 billion mark that was approved by voters in November of 2013.

Border Security
I co-authored legislation this past week to help bolster our state’s continued border security effort. House Bill 11 authorizes the Texas Department of Public Safety to hire additional troopers and re-establish state police checkpoints, while also creating a “DPS Officer Reserve Corps” to handle background investigations and sex-offender compliance. This proposal provides a much-needed long-term solution that would bring an end to law enforcement surges, and instead provide a stable law enforcement presence along the border. The measures proposed in HB 11 will work to enhance the security of all Texans, but will not interfere with our lawful trade with Mexico.

Mobile Office
District Director Linda Parker will continue hosting our mobile office throughout the month of March. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone to come speak to her in-person regarding any issues or concerns we may be able to assist with. She will be available on March 18th at the Houston County Courthouse Annex from 8:30 am to 11am, and at the Trinity County Courthouse from 1:30 to 4. She will conclude her month on March 25th at the San Augustine County Courthouse from 8:30 am to 11am.

As always, my staff and I are available during the week at (936) 634-2762 or (512) 463-0508. Please do not hesitate to call if we can ever be of assistance, and remember that our door is always open.