The fall season is upon us in Texas, and it seems our area is bustling with activities. This is a welcome change from the many challenges we faced last year as COVID-19 kept so many of us apart. Yet, Texans have an incredible ability to overcome and prosper. It’s just one of the many reasons why I love our great state.
October isn’t a typical time for your Texas Legislature to pass laws. In fact, lawmakers meet every odd-numbered year by convening on the second Tuesday of January for 140 days. This year, state lawmakers were called back to do additional work for the betterment of Texas in a series of Special Sessions, 30-day calls by the governor to address very specific topics. On September 20, lawmakers convened for a third Special Session to address unfinished business for the people of Texas.
Here are the seven issues underway at your Capitol:
Redistricting: Legislation relating to the apportionment of the state of Texas into districts used to elect members of the Texas House of Representatives, Senate, State Board of Education, and United States House of Representatives;
Property tax relief: Legislation providing additional property-tax relief for Texans;
Bail reform: Legislation proposing a constitutional amendment to further protect the safety of the community, law enforcement, and victims from accused criminals who may be released on bail, including by giving magistrates the discretion to deny bail under some circumstances to people accused of certain violent, sexual, or trafficking offenses;
Federal relief funds: Legislation providing appropriations from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA);
Fair sports: Legislation identical to Senate Bill 29 as passed by the Texas Senate during the 87th Legislative Session disallowing a student from competing in University Interscholastic League athletic competitions designated for the sex opposite to the student’s sex at birth;
Vaccine mandates: Legislation regarding whether any state or local governmental entities in Texas can mandate that an individual receive a COVID-19 vaccine and, if so, what exemptions should apply to such mandate;
Dog restraints: Legislation similar to Senate Bill 474 as passed in the 87th Legislative Session, but that addresses the concerns expressed in the governor’s veto statement. I supported this bill during the 87th Session and look forward to it becoming law.
Redistricting, which occurs every 10 years after the release of new census data, is of particular interest. Texas’ population grew by more than 4 million people since 2010, with 1.2 million coming to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. For Denton County, this reflects a population jump of 36.8%. Lawmakers must redraw Texas House, Senate, and Congressional districts taking into account population growth and decline.
You can learn more about the redistricting process by visiting redistricting.capitol.texas.gov. All legislative measure can be followed on capitol.texas.gov which also provides information on previous legislative sessions, including the 87th Regular in which lawmakers addressed issues ranging from electric grid reform, border security and election integrity to education and the economy.
While lawmakers remain at work in Austin, the real differences being made for our state come from the heart of our communities and the people who are working every day to build prosperity and good will. I am excited to see October bring much opportunity for volunteerism and support for area non-profits.
One organization that I enjoy working with is Special Olympics that fosters inclusion for Texans with disabilities. Their goal to provide differently-abled athletes a chance to participate in sports is an important reminder to all that regardless of a disability, every person has ability. You can learn more at www.sotx.org.
To help ensure at-risk students stay in school, please consider joining Communities in Schools of North Texas for their 2021 All In Fore Kids golf tournament on Monday, October 18 at the Lantana Golf Club. There are also needs for mentors and other areas of service to wrap these youths in community support. You can learn more at www.cisnt.org.
There are countless ways to get involved and be a beacon of hope for others here at home and across our state. I am grateful for those who have reached out about how we can work together to enact changes that brighten Texas’ future.
As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Texas House of Representatives. If you would like to share a thought with me, please feel free to call 512.463.0688 or email [email protected]. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.