The home stretch leading up to the 84th Legislative Session is right around the corner. We will soon find out the new faces that will be joining the Texas House and Senate, bill filing will begin, and as quick as you can say “Merry Christmas” we will be back in Austin to tackle the issues that are important to Texans. In the meantime, here is an update from your State Capitol…
It’s been a few months since our state reinforced border security efforts in the Rio Grande Valley and called in the Texas National Guard to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants that had overwhelmed federal law enforcement. As a result, by the end of the fiscal year more than 100,000 undocumented immigrants had been apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley sector. While this is a positive result stemming from the efforts of our state to protect Texans from crime and potential terrorism, it doesn’t represent the entire border picture. The areas in Laredo, Del Rio and west to El Paso were not included in this summer’s surge, and while the Rio Grande Valley will remain a priority, there are close to 1,200 miles of our border to secure. This has led some lawmakers, including Lt. Gov. Dewhurst this month, to begin talks of potentially increasing state efforts in other border sectors. Whether it was unwilling or unable, the federal government did not properly protect Texans at our most vulnerable area– but because our state picked up the slack, we were able to see what worked in terms of border security. The potential to expand efforts that proved productive makes sense for Texas.
No Conversion of Paved-to-Gravel
On the transportation front, a misguided and unpopular plan to convert paved roads to gravel was abandoned by the Texas Department of Transportation. TxDOT, facing budget constrictions, had decided that converting the roads to gravel would be cheaper than fixing them; but opposition from lawmakers and folks around our state were able to convince the agency to pursue alternative solutions that did not consist of taking a step backward in infrastructure development. The population growth of Texas, coupled with the energy boom we have seen in recent years, has more vehicles (including heavy truck traffic) on our roads; but rather than covering the problems with gravel, TxDOT has agreed to better prioritize preventive maintenance on these roads before repairs become cost-prohibitive. One of the things my colleagues and I did last summer during a special legislative session dealing with transportation, was to help lay out this approach, which addresses road maintenance needs in a more constructive manner than paved-to-gravel– prioritizing safety and promoting continued economic growth.
As always my staff and I are available during the week at 512-463-0508 and 936-634-2762.