The big news in Austin this week was the unveiling of the proposed map for the 150 Texas House Districts by the Chairman of the House Redistricting Committee. The process of redrawing district lines every ten years is no easy task, but the collaborative effort of the East Texas delegation resulted in a map that leaves me confident that our region will remain well represented in Austin. With respect to our current district, the proposal keeps Angelina, Houston, San Augustine, and Trinity Counties in the same legislative district and adds neighboring Tyler and Polk Counties. While I am very pleased and excited about our new House district, I was disappointed not to keep Leon and Madison Counties after months of advocating for them. That said, I do intend to run for re-election in our new district and a formal announcement is coming soon. For now, the proposed map will go through the public hearing process and be subject to amendments, both in committee and on the House floor, before we know for certain the makeup of our legislative districts for the next decade.
With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol…
Over the next few weeks, I plan to elaborate on the upcoming proposed State Constitutional Amendments on the November 2nd ballot. Submitted by the 87th Texas Legislature, the propositions include bolstering religious freedoms, changes to judiciary eligibility, property tax exemptions, and several more. Early voting begins October 18th, so be sure to mark your calendars!
Proposition 1 proposes a constitutional amendment to allow the Professional Rodeo Associations (PRCA & WPRA) to conduct charitable raffles at their events. In 2015, voters approved a similar proposition which authorized the Legislature to permit charitable raffles by professional sports teams’ foundations. Since then, charitable raffles have raised a substantial amount of money dedicated to education, youth programs, and cancer research. The proposed amendment is strictly limited to charitable raffles and does not authorize a new form of gambling. This is a measure I believe will greatly benefit worthy charities, and state law already allows charitable raffles to be held at many professional sporting events.
Proposition 2 proposes a constitutional amendment to allow counties to dedicate additional funding to improve transportation infrastructure in underdeveloped areas. Currently, levels of state transportation funding are insufficient to keep pace with the rapid population growth. With nearly 1,000 new Texans moving here every day, Prop 2 addresses planning challenges by providing counties with a tool that cities already have and without imposing new taxes, fees, or tolls. This tool promotes investment in a defined area, or reinvestment zone, by capturing revenue from property value increases in that area to benefit local infrastructure. While there may be a few rural counties who take advantage of this tool, I think it’s most likely you will see this measure used in our urban and suburban counties of the state that are dealing with fast-growth issues and an unprecedented demand for critical infrastructure.
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/.