While the Texas Legislature is only in session for 140 days every other year, lawmakers remain actively engaged in public policy all throughout the two-year cycle. Nothing exemplifies this more than interim charges, which are best described as specific issues that each committee is assigned to review, critique and recommend legislative changes for next session. House leadership recently released the charges for this interim, and over the course of the next year House Committees will be meeting to work diligently on many topics, five of which I know to be particularly important to Denton County.
I am extremely pleased that every House Committee has been broadly charged with looking into significantly improving the state’s manufacturing capability. This is an issue that I have championed for 3 years as the most effective way to make an immediate improvement to our state’s economy. With an average pay of $75,000 a year, manufacturing compensation is the highest in the private sector. Every dollar sold in manufactured goods supports another $1.40 of economic output elsewhere and so many other private sector jobs depend on a strong manufacturing presence. Yet despite this, manufacturing jobs in Texas are down over 300,000 from their 2008 level. For too long now, we have watched new large scale manufacturing facilities locate to other states in a competitive bid situation. I am thrilled that the Texas House is going to take an aggressive approach in addressing this trend, and I look forward to introducing legislation on this very topic next session.
The House Appropriations committee will be spending the interim looking at many cost saving fiscal matters, including how to reduce our state’s debt. Even though Texas ranks 49th out of 50 states in per-capita debt, I am pleased that we will be taking the necessary steps to reduce our already low level of debt.
In July countless constituents shared with me their outrage over the Casey Anthony verdict and called for Texas to adopt a new law that would create a criminal offense for not reporting in a timely manner either the disappearance of or the death of a young child. The feedback I received was consistent all across the state and the Texas House of Representatives has answered the call by charging the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee with studying the feasibility of enacting such a law here in Texas.
Staying with matters of public safety, the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee will spend this interim looking closely at state and federal law to determine what new provisions are needed to address security concerns along the Texas/Mexico border.
Lastly, the Energy Resources Committee has been charged with taking a close look at the state regulations that govern oil and gas well construction in order to determine what changes should be made to ensure that the health and well being of the citizens of Texas are protected. Many of us have worked tirelessly for years at the local level to strike the right balance between protecting our public health and well-being while at the same time allowing North Texas to reap the tremendous economic benefits that our natural resources provide. Entering the 82nd Legislative Session, expanding on our local efforts to find that balance was a top priority. Significant progress was made with the funding of an additional 20 air monitors in the Barnett Shale region and the passing of our nation’s first fracking disclosure law, but I am extremely thrilled that the Texas House is going to stay focused on this issue that is critical to us in North Texas.
All counted, 33 different House Committees will be closely studying over 150 areas of public policy, looking for how we can make Texas a better place to live, work and raise a family. If you would like to see a full list of the interim charges, they can be viewed at http://www.house.state.tx.us/_media/pdf/interim-charges-82nd.pdf
As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Texas House of Representatives and I welcome your feedback on this and any other critical state issues. If you would like to share a thought with me, please feel free to contact me at my Capitol office at 512-463-0688 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org