Protecting Texans and Improving Texas

May 3, 2015

The House was hard at work this week working on some very large pieces of legislation that will positively affect all Texans. In addition, we also took steps to aid the families of slain first responders and protect personal liberty.

Transportation Funding

In a vote of 138-3 the House passed a bill that will add $3 billion more to transportation funding for nontoll roads. House Bill 13 will devote more sales tax revenue to the state’s highway fund. The Senate currently has a similar plan that will need to be reconciled with House Bill 13. Since transportation infrastructure is a major need across the state, I believe the House and Senate will quickly come together on a plan to help meet the transportation needs of our growing state.

House Bill 861

I am extremely proud to be an author on House Bill 861 that was passed this week. House Bill 861 will strengthen laws to protect children from online child predators. This legislation improves upon a 2005 law passed to address this issue. The solicitation of minors by child predators is a major issue across the entire country. Texans should be proud that their Legislature is leading the charge to stop the heinous individuals who seek to commit these crimes.

Jade Helm 15

Lt. Colonel Mark Lastoria talks with the citizens of Bastrop about the Jade Helm 15 training exercise.

Questions arose this week over a military training exercise called Jade Helm 15 set to take place in Bastrop later this year. I am not overly concerned about this exercise because the military currently train in Texas everyday. We have some of the largest military bases in the United States including over 90,000 soldiers who train daily at Ft. Hood. I personally participated in drills with the Texas State Guard just last weekend.However, Governor Abbott ordered the commanding general of the Texas State Guard to monitor the training on behalf of Texas and report back regularly. This is to make sure Texans are informed about the exercise. While I understand why there are questions being asked, I also support Governor Abbott’s decision and am confident the military will conduct themselves professionally during this training exercise.

Families of First Responders

It is always tragic when a first responder loses their life in the line of duty. Many times families not only lose a loved one but also face tremendous financial hardships in the aftermath of these devastating events. Along with Rep. Charlie Geren and Rep. Allen Fletcher, I added an amendment to House Bill 1094 that increases the State of Texas line-of-duty death benefit to $500,000 for families of fallen first responders. This issue is significant to me since I spent 15 years as a police officer. I am grateful to live in a state that places emphasis on taking care of the families of police officers and firefighters who make the ultimate sacrifice for their communities.

Capitol Happenings

I had the privilege of explaining the legislative process to my fellow state guard officers.

A view from my desk on Thursday as the sun sets on the Capitol. The State & Federal Power & Responsibility Committee had a meeting that lasted until midnight this same evening.