In the coming weeks we will start seeing many bills on the House floor dealing with economic growth, job creation, strengthening public education and protecting traditional Texas values. However, we have accomplished so much already and I want to update you on three major developments in the Texas House.
Stepping Up to Secure Our Border
Back in 2014 I began meeting with many constituents, stakeholders and community leaders to understand what issues were important to them and to start preparing for this legislative session. By far and away the one topic that always resonated in those meetings was that Texas needs to fill the void created by a lack of action in Washington and secure our international border. Having spent considerable time along the Texas/Mexico border during this past summer, I had an opportunity to witness the escalation of activity along our border region and the need for additional resources to combat drug smuggling, human trafficking and other illegal activities.
Many of my colleagues entered this session with the same thought and that is why the Texas House acted swiftly in passing House Bill 11, which adds up to an additional 300 DPS troopers to the border region, strengthens our state smuggling laws to target organized crime, and most importantly, implements a long term, permanent plan for border security.
Fighting Back Against Human Trafficking
Coming into this legislative session, my colleagues and I knew that we had to attack human trafficking in Texas with a determination never before seen. When you consider that every year in Texas over 10,000 children run away from home and that a third of them are lured into human trafficking within the first 48 hours, you can understand the need to act now. That is exactly what the Texas House has done. With its first legislative act of the session, the Texas House passed House Bill 10, which I proudly joint-authored.
Specifically, HB 10 creates a Child Sex Trafficking Prevention Unit, requires the Texas Education Agency to better investigate and report trafficking of a child, and makes it easier for victims of trafficking to seek the help and assistance that they need. The bill also expands the power and authority of the Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force that is currently under the jurisdiction of the office of the Attorney General. While there are other bills on this topic that the Texas House must also consider, including legislation that I have authored, HB 10 sets the tone for making this the session that we eradicate this modern form of slavery.
House Proposed Budget is Heading to the Floor
As I write this editorial on March 25th, House Bill 1 was voted out of the Appropriations Committee and will be before the full membership on Tuesday, March 31st. The bill sets forth the spending plan for this state and represents traditional Texas values by limiting spending growth to only 4% over the two-year period, which is less than what would be necessary to account for population and inflation increases. This proposal also puts more dollars into education and highway construction, leaves the Rainy Day Fund intact, fully funds the border security components found in HB 11 and leaves room for billions in tax cuts.
Several amendments to the budget will be proposed before the floor debate, and I look forward to reviewing all of the proposals that my colleagues come forward with. While there is still much work left to be done before our spending proposal is finalized, I am confident that my colleagues and I will conclude this session with a state budget that all Texans can be proud of.
Many great things have already happened during this legislative session and I look forward to updating you later on many more accomplishments. I look forward to continuing to serve you this legislative session and please do not hesitate to contact me at my Capitol office at 512.463.0688 or by e-mail at [email protected] if I can ever be of service.