I want to start this column by asking for all of your thoughts and prayers to be with the victims and families affected by the horrible terrorist attack in Paris. The attack was an atrocity, and I pray that those who took part in it will be brought to swift justice. While the world is looking towards ways to recover from and prevent another such attack, here is a quick update from your state capitol.
As you may know, there are thousands of refugees from the Middle East that the Obama Administration is trying to relocate to the United States. While I believe that many of these refugees genuinely are in need of help and sanctuary from the terrible lives in their home country, I believe that it is a huge mistake to bring these people into our borders with no real way to vet them first. There have been reports that some of the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks came to France as “refugees.” I believe that at this time it would be extremely unwise to subject our country to that level of risk. Last week, Governor Abbott sent a letter to President Obama stating flat out that Texas will not accept any such refugees, and I was proud to sign on to a letter with over 65 other members of the Legislature stating my support for his position.
Standing Against Fee Increases on Agriculture Producers
Over the past few weeks, I have heard from numerous constituents and a multitude of agricultural commodity organizations regarding the fee increases being proposed by the Texas Agriculture Commissioner. These proposed fee increases, if implemented, would generate over $21 million for cost recovery programs that the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) administers. These programs regulate and inspect all forms of agricultural commodity and livestock operations around the state. These programs are also responsible for inspecting gasoline pumps around the state, and ensuring that the gallon of gas you pay for is a full gallon. In many instances, the fee increases being proposed result in significant increases from the current fee amount and will serve as a hardship on our state’s agricultural industry. I have worked closely with a number of my colleagues in the Texas House of Representatives to fight back against this proposal, including sending a letter to Commissioner Miller, signed by approximately half of the members of the House, asking for him to reconsider his proposal. Following the submission of the House’s letter, Lieutenant Governor Patrick and members of the Texas Senate also voiced their opposition, and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs is holding a hearing on December 8th, 2015 to investigate these fee increases. My hope is the Legislature can work with the Commissioner on a resolution that doesn’t involve raising fees on producers and fuel station owners, as these costs will impact economic growth and ultimately be borne by consumers. I will provide updates in future columns about this issue and will make sure everyone is informed of the final outcome.
The mobile office has wrapped up for the month of November. If you are in need, please know that my office is always just a phone call away, and we always appreciate your input and are ready for the opportunity to help you navigate state government. Please do not hesitate to contact us at (936) 634-2762 or (512) 463-0508 if we can ever be of assistance, and remember that our door is always open.