21 March 2021

Capitol Update: Rural Broadband, Law Enforcement, and Rural Schools

The Dogwood and Bradford Pear trees are starting to show their colors and, of course, there is yellow pine pollen everywhere. Only us lucky enough to call East Texas home know what that means… The start of Spring is behind us and we can now expect warmer weather and longer days. With many local fairs taking place in the next few weeks, as well as opening day of youth baseball season, I hope you will join me in attending many of these events in support of the hard-working young people in our communities. I’m planning to attend several of our youth fair auctions, and of course, who doesn’t enjoy a beautiful day at the park watching America’s favorite pastime.

Additionally, I want to extend another warm welcome to each of you to come visit your Texas Capitol during the current legislative session. Last week, I was delighted to see several constituents from Angelina and Madison Counties that made the trek to Austin to visit with me about several bills of importance to them. Never forget our beautiful Capitol belongs to each of you, and if my office can help facilitate a visit, please don’t hesitate to contact either our Capitol or district office.

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

Capitol Update

The committee process serves as one of the most important procedural parts of the legislative session. As bills march forward in committee, members have the opportunity to hear from any member of the public concerning their views and ideas on the legislation being heard.  This is a constructive process which serves to give businesses, stakeholders, and private citizens a formal venue to speak on the legislation that matters most to them. As you may know, committees are made up of a select group of representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House. Each member brings their unique background and experience to the table.

This week I had the privilege to speak before the House Committees on State Affairs, Transportation, and Pensions, Investments & Financial Services to introduce several bills posted for public hearing. I was honored to lay out House Bill 5, our state’s rural broadband expansion bill, before State Affairs. As it travels through the legislative process, it is my goal that HB 5 will be the catalyst for closing the digital divide that we know all too well in rural Texas.

The House Committee on Transportation heard House Bill 1257, which seeks to clear up a statutory gray area so law enforcement officers can promote public safety and feel certain they are acting in accordance with the law. Constable Tom Selman in Angelina County brought this issue to my attention, and I am grateful for this perfect example of constituent input turning into sound public policy.

Finally, I presented House Bill 1552 which seeks to respond to rural school districts that are struggling to attract and retain bus drivers. I believe this common sense bill will go a long way towards eliminating existing disincentives for retired bus drivers who would like to come back to work. I look forward to continuing the discussion with my colleagues on various ways to help our school districts.

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: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/

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