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Parker: Successful session completed

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tan_parker_deskby Tan Parker

As the 84th Legislative Session has come to a close, I wanted to take a brief moment to reflect on the critical priorities of the state that the Texas Legislature addressed this session. As your elected representative, I focused on important issues such as passing a fiscally responsible budget, creating tax relief, protecting our border region, improving education, funding transportation and protecting life and traditional values.

The State Budget

This session, the Texas Legislature maintained its fiscal discipline by passing a state budget that keeps growth beneath 2 percent per year. Although the budget, House Bill 1, limited the state’s overall spending, the budget provided additional funding for education, border security, transportation and child protection.

The budget grew less than the rate of population and inflation, was below the constitutional spending cap and left more than $11 billion in the state’s rainy day fund.

Tax Relief

With a budget surplus, the Texas Legislature was able to focus on a plan to deliver tax relief for the taxpayers of Texas. Those efforts paid off as the Legislature approved nearly $4 billion in tax relief: a 25 percent reduction in the business margins tax, as well as a $10,000 increase in the homestead exemption, which will provide relief for homeowners.

Border Security

As one of Governor Greg Abbott’s emergency items, the Legislature was committed to providing a more comprehensive border security solution for Texas. Early in the session, the House and Senate both passed House Bills 10 and 11. House Bill 10 takes new steps to fight and eliminate human trafficking.

House Bill 11 provides hundreds of new state troopers along the Texas-Mexico border while strengthening efforts to fight and prosecute border-related crimes. In addition, the budget provides a historic amount of funding – more than $800 million – for border security.

Transportation Infrastructure

With an increasing population and an economy that is growing rapidly, our state roads and highways are strained and need assistance. The Legislature addressed transportation this session without raising taxes, fees or tolls. Our state budget ends diversions of the State Highway Fund, meaning all of the money in that fund will pay for transportation instead of other programs.

That change will increase transportation funding by $1.3 billion over two years. Senate Joint Resolution 5, a proposed constitutional amendment, also annually dedicates an additional $2.5 billion of state sales tax revenue to transportation.

Protecting Life

In recent years, the Texas Legislature has repeatedly defended the rights of the unborn. This session, we continued this effort by passing critical pro-life bills and expanding funding for alternatives to abortion.

House Bill 3994 reforms the judicial bypass process for minors seeking abortions. These reforms will protect and strengthen parents’ rights while also increasing oversight of the bypass process.

The Legislature also passed House Bill 3374, which requires a medical provider to furnish information about treatment options and resources for Down syndrome children to new or expectant parents following a Down syndrome diagnosis. House Bill 3074, another crucial bill passed into law, addresses end of life issues and requires hydration and nutrition to be provided to patients in the natural process of death.

Pastor Protection

Additionally, the Texas Legislature worked hard to pass Senate Bill 2065, which protects pastors from lawsuits or criminal prosecution if they refuse to perform marriages that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. I was proud to support this effort in defending pastors’ First Amendment rights and making certain that their religious beliefs are not violated.

I am proud of the work product my colleagues and I produced on these important topics.  Next month I look forward to sharing with you the new laws that I authored based upon our shared values.

Now that this legislative session is complete, I welcome the opportunity to meet with you in the district and would be happy to discuss any of these items further. Thank you for the privilege of representing you in Austin. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can ever be of service.

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