Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s the only time of the year I get to make my Nanny’s famous dressing and serve it up alongside my family’s cheese grits, cherry salad, and homemade pumpkin pie. More importantly, Thanksgiving affords us the opportunity to gather with loved ones and give thanks for our countless blessings. As you’re passing the turkey and cranberry sauce around the table this Thanksgiving, I hope you and your family will take time to share with each other what you’re most grateful for this holiday season. Let us always remember that Thanksgiving should not be just a day, but a way of life.
With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol…
Since our last column, Governor Abbott signed Senate Bill 8 into law, allocating nearly $16 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding awarded to the State of Texas earlier this year. As you may recall, during the third special session, the Legislature was tasked with identifying the areas in our state where these federal dollars could be invested in a wise and prudent manner. I was fortunate to help craft this legislation as a member of the House Committee on Appropriations and I’m pleased with the resulting investment in our state. To highlight a few of the key investments, Senate Bill 8 provided $500 million for broadband infrastructure, $150 million to improve our 9-1-1 services to support our first responders, $378 million for critical staffing needs of frontline workers including recruitment and retention bonuses for nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, and $75 million to support rural hospitals that have been affected by COVID-19. While these are only a few of the key investments, I believe they will make a real and lasting impact on our state, especially the rural areas, as we seek to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
As the crisis at our southern border continues to worsen, state officials are preparing for another potential surge by deploying hundreds of Texas National Guard soldiers and DPS State Troopers to help thwart the illegal activity happening there. As you may recall, the Legislature recently passed House Bill 9, which provides nearly $2 billion for supplemental resources and manpower at the border over the next two years. We also launched — Operation Steel Curtain — that deploys 6,500 law enforcement officers to fortify and place temporary fencing at key points of entry. The state has also appointed a project manager for the construction of a border wall, and the Texas Facilities Commission is working to finalize the design-build contract so that the state can begin construction as soon as possible. With little, if any, guidance from the federal government, I’m proud the State of Texas has taken matters into its own hands to ensure the safety and security of not only our border communities, but communities across the entire state.
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. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: