03 April 2023

Capitol Update: Protecting the Timber Industry

With March in the rearview mirror, we’re entering a critical period for the 88th Legislative Session. April is a particularly important time for the Texas legislature, as we are hard at work in committee hearings, considering bills on the floor, and working to finalize the state budget before the end of the session. With floor debates in full swing, our ideas and proposals are brought to the House floor, where they’re debated, amended, and ultimately voted on. As we move forward into this phase of the legislative session, I’m eager to see what ideas my colleagues will bring to the floor and to work together to find solutions that will improve the lives of all Texans.

With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol…

Capitol Update

This past week, my bill, House Bill 1772, was presented to the House Committee on Agriculture & Livestock. HB 1772 would establish stronger penalties for those who engage in timber theft while also providing additional resources to law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute these crimes. Illegal logging and theft of timber is a serious offense and undermines the sustainability of the forest industry. This has significant economic and social consequences for our rural communities that rely on this vital industry for their livelihoods. Additionally, timber theft often involves illegal activities, such as trespassing, theft, and fraud, which can have serious legal implications. Strong measures to deter timber theft, such as penalties and enforcement actions, can help to protect natural resources, promote sustainable forestry practices, and create a level playing field for forest landowners and legitimate businesses operating in the industry.

I also had the opportunity to present my package of broadband expansion bills to the House Committee on State Affairs. If you’ve followed my recent columns, you know I’ve emphasized that House Bill 9 is an essential piece of legislation for rural Texas. HB 9 addresses the critical need for broadband development and funding in Texas. In our increasingly digital world, access to high-speed internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity. By investing in broadband infrastructure, the state can help ensure that all Texans, regardless of location or economic status, have access to high-speed internet. This will not only improve access to critical services such as healthcare and education but also create economic opportunities and foster innovation in all parts of the state. It is clear that expanding broadband access is crucial for ensuring all Texans, whether living in downtown urban areas or rural East Texas, deserve access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. I look forward to presenting my package of broadband bills to the full House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

The mobile office is on the road again and we look forward to seeing you on the following dates, in the following locations: April 5 at the San Augustine County Courthouse from 9:00-11:00am; April 12 at the Polk County Commissioner’s Court Room in Livingston from 9:00-11:00am, or at the Tyler County Courthouse in Woodville from 1:30-3:30 pm, April 19 at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 9:00-11:00am, or at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30-3:30pm.

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 and our Capitol office at (512) 463-0508. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will post regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and share information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

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