I want to begin this column by asking you to join with me in praying for the families of the 11 police officers who were shot and killed recently during a peaceful protest in downtown Dallas. All of us are deeply saddened to see this reprehensible act of violence perpetrated against our law enforcement community, and I would ask that you join with me in praying for peace, healing, and unification of our country during this difficult time.
Now on to the latest update from your State Capitol…
An Update on Higher Education
The House committee on Higher Education met late in June to discuss some opportunities and innovative ideas for adults who come to college later than a traditional student directly out of high school. Many schools around the state, especially our community colleges, are taking a serious look at how to make sure these students get a quality education, in a timely fashion, and leave the campus with a degree, credential, or certification which allows them to enter the workforce immediately prepared to start a much needed job.
Some ideas include online programs which fit the schedule of a non-traditional student who might have a full time job while they attend school, as well as programs for veterans which reward time served and experience in the military for education credit hours. In addition, the committee is concerned with the rising cost of college, and is taking a look at options such as flat-rate tuition, which rewards students for taking more hours per semester.
House Interim Charges: House Committee on Natural Resources
This week in our update on interim charges, we’re looking at one of the most critically important committees for East Texas. The House Committee on Natural Resources deals primarily with water, and has purview over the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, water districts across the state, and all state and local governmental bodies which provide management and planning of water resources. As the Vice-Chairman, and only East Texan appointed to this Committee, I take very seriously my role of ensuring our region of the state, and rural interests in general, are vigorously represented in the arena of water policy.
The committee has met four times since the charges were released in November to hold discussions on nine items, including: how to efficiently handle long range water planning at the state and regional levels; the status of water markets in Texas, both for those receiving and supplying water; an analysis on freshwater loss in our state and how we can preserve some of what we’re losing; an update on the progress of seawater desalination to increase usable water resources; how to maximize funding for water resources; and encouragement of joint groundwater planning, and its impact on property rights.
The committee will also hold joint meetings with other House committees to discuss items such as the source, delivery methods, and conservation goals for water used for agricultural purposes and the safety standards surrounding groundwater and contamination from disposal and injection wells.
The mobile office will be taking the month of July off. We will be back on the road for the month of August and look forward to seeing you around House District 57!
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762 or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.