The big story around the state this past week was the announcement from Texas House Speaker Joe Straus that, after five sessions wielding the gavel, he will not return for the 86th Legislative Session. It’s a long time between now and January 2019, when the House will select the next Speaker, but this change of leadership will certainly be of great interest to many. Don’t forget Daylight Savings Time on Sunday, November 5, and to set those clocks back an hour. With that, here’s an update on what’s happening at your State Capitol in Austin…
Interim Charges Released
The Speaker of the House recently released the official list of more than 230 interim charges which committees will dive into over the next 14 months. Each committee was given a robust task and will report their findings to the House before members convene for the next session in Austin. I am particularly enthusiastic to begin work on the committees which I serve on, such as the House Natural Resources Committee which will study, among other things, flood mitigation issues derived from Hurricane Harvey, the need to update outdated Water Availability Models, and examine groundwater policy in Texas. No resource is more precious to East Texans than our water, and I take seriously my duty of standing for our water rights when I’m in Austin.
As discussed in a previous column, I requested that the Speaker consider certain items that may have been off his radar. I am pleased to announce that two of my requests were granted, and will be studied by the House Appropriations Committee, where I have served for three sessions. Those issues – continued sustainability of TRS-Care and a review of state funding to adult probation departments – will join 16 other critical issues such as, but not limited to, the Economic Stabilization Fund, how state agencies award contracts, and how federal changes to healthcare will impact programs at the state level.
2017 Constitutional Amendment Election
Seven of the items that were debated and voted on during the previous legislative session have made their way to local ballot boxes for your consideration. Elections on amendments to the Texas Constitution may not draw the high-profile attention of other November elections, and some topics may seem minor, but this election will have a lasting impact on Texans. Early voting began on October 23 and ends Friday, November 3. Election Day is Tuesday, November 7th.
I encourage all folks to research the ballot propositions being put forth. For brief descriptions and arguments for and against each item, please visit: http://trentashby.com/information-constitutional-amendment-election/. If you’re wondering where early voting takes place, or where to vote on Election Day, please visit: https://teamrv-mvp.sos.texas.gov/MVP/mvp.do.