AUSTIN – State Representative Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) joined dozens of legislators in two letters to the Texas Sunset Commission, expressing concern over the proposal to close 87 Department of Public Safety (DPS) offices around the state.
In the letters, lawmakers noted that the Commission staff recommendation places an unfair burden on rural communities, as the majority of office closures would occur in counties with only one office, thus leaving many rural counties without a DPS presence. The proposal is reflective of a long-standing tendency to shift resources away from rural areas in a largely unsuccessful attempt to improve efficiency in high volume offices. A recent Dallas Morning News article cites an average wait time of eight hours in the DPS Carrolton ‘mega center.’
“This proposal would drastically decrease access to DPS in my district and in many other rural areas across the state,” said Ashby. “As rural legislators, it is imperative that we voice our concerns with the closure of DPS offices that both provide service and increase safety in our communities.”
Though, procedurally, the recommendations of the Sunset staff serve as a starting point for future discussion, the Legislature will maintain the authority to amend, and ultimately approve, any proposal during the upcoming legislative session. Currently, the Sunset Commission has neither approved nor denied any staff proposal to close DPS offices.
Under the current recommendation, two DPS offices in House District 57 would be affected with one reducing staff and operations, while another would be forced to close indefinitely.
“The approach the Sunset staff has taken is penny wise and pound foolish. Reducing the services, security, and emergency response capabilities that DPS provides to the citizens of Texas just doesn’t make sense. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in expressing our overwhelming opposition to this short-sighted proposal.”
Representative Ashby is the State Representative for House District 57, which encompasses all of Angelina, Houston, Leon, Madison, San Augustine, and Trinity Counties. He is currently in his third term as a member of the Texas House of Representatives and serves on the House Appropriations, Natural Resources, and Calendars Committees.