I hope you all had a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Can you believe that we are almost halfway through the year? Time is flying by, summer is here, and House District 29 is still action-packed as ever! I would also like to congratulate all of the high school and college graduates out there! In this edition of the Capitol Review, we are covering the following topics:
· Events held throughout HD 29 and Texas
· Summer Safety and Travel
· Preparing for the 2016 Hurricane Season
· Texas Succeeds in Immigration Enforcement
· Property Appraisals
· Texas State Republican Convention
House District 29 was full of activities and meetings throughout the month of May! We attended numerous events, including the Alvin Police Department Flag Ceremony, Pearland's National Day of Prayer Breakfast, Brazoria County Alliance's Krawfish for Kids, Alvin EMS Open House, Manvel's HCS Group Facility Dedication, Pearland Boy Scouts Spaghetti Dinner, Alvin Noon Lions Club Casino Night, and City Council Workshops with Manvel and Iowa Colony.
We also attended the Shadow Creek Ranch Town Hall, Texas New Mexico Power Visit and Tour, Alvin ISD Teacher Recognition, Dedication of the Bobby Verdine Agricultural Science Facility in Alvin, 288 Corridor Rotary's Bingo Bonanza, Pearland EMS Appreciation Luncheon, Alvin ISD Academic Banquet, Hood-Case Elementary: Learn, Grow, Eat, & Go in Alvin, Young Life Crawfish Boil in Pearland, Brazoria County Alliance Membership Meeting and Luncheon, Alvin Community College's CEWD Graduation Ceremony, Pearland Studio Movie Grill Grand Opening, Alvin-Manvel and Pearland Monthly Chamber of Commerce Luncheons, and Brazoria County Bach Barn Bash.
In addition to the events in the district, I had the opportunity to attend the Texas State GOP Convention in Dallas, a Visit and Tour of the University of Houston's Bauer Business College, meetings with members of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in Austin, Senator AR Babe Schwartz's Beach Dedication in Galveston, San Jacinto College Foundation Gala, ABC's General Contractor Expo & Crawfish Boil in Houston, an Environmental Regulation Committee Hearing in Austin, and Congressman Pete Olson's Congressional Youth Advisory Council in Missouri City as one of the invited speakers.
I attended Alvin Community College's Spring 2016 Graduation with members from the faculty, Dean's office, and the President. Congratulations to all the graduates!
Summer Safety and Travel
The summer fun has just begun and many families and friends will begin their vacations very soon! If you have plans to stay in Texas, travel the country, or take a trip abroad, I urge you to plan accordingly by taking any necessary safety measures before leaving your home, pets, and loved ones. A lot can happen when you are away from home for some time, so let people you can trust check up on your home and pets. Research all the facts before embarking on your journey; you don't want to be caught off-guard while on vacation. Lastly, check in with family to let them know you are alright. The last thing we want is for someone to worry about your safety. And of course, have fun!
If you are staying in Texas this summer, I would like to provide you with some information that you may find useful during your vacation. If you click here, you will be redirected to Texas Highways, the Travel Magazine of Texas. You can request a travel guide, map, events calendar, and bumper sticker, all for FREE!
Iowa Colony Mayor Michael Holton and the City Council received a Legislative Interim update on the State of Texas.
Hurricane season has officially arrived and it is extremely important that each and every one of us is prepared for any potential threats that head our way. Every year, we remind ourselves of the devastation and panic caused by Tropical Storm Allison, Hurricane Rita, and Hurricane Ike and some of us are still paying for the costs associated with those storms. In addition to the lives lost directly caused by the storm, many Texans lost their lives evacuating from their homes as they sought to seek shelter.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw has stated that "Texans should not wait until a storm is in the Gulf of Mexico to begin planning for a disaster. We are urging residents to get their hurricane plans and kits in order now. Early preparation can be crucial to protecting lives and property when a storm threatens our state."
This hurricane season, I join with DPS and urge you to be prepared weeks in advance for any storm that may be in our path, remain calm if an order to evacuate is given, and to stay updated on any new information presented for returning home. Here are several measures you can take now to prepare for potential storms:
· Assemble an emergency kit that includes essential documents, supplies and provisions.
· Review hurricane evacuation maps and select a route for you and your family.
· Plan how all family members and pets will evacuate safely.
· Consider any special needs for individuals with disabilities or the elderly.
· Stay informed about changing weather conditions in and around your area.
If you or someone you know might need assistance during a disaster, please register for the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR), a free registry that provides local emergency planners and responders with additional information about needs in their communities. To register, contact 2-1-1 Texas, the state's free 24-hour helpline. No matter where you live in Texas, you can dial 2-1-1 or (877) 541-7905 for community resources. Additional information on hurricane preparedness can be found here.
Reverend Greg Han from Interfaith Ministries and me at the National Day of Prayer Breakfast in Pearland.
Texas Succeeds in Immigration Enforcement
It's no surprise that America's federal immigration system is broken and in need of reform. From a dysfunctional visa program, to the lack of enforcement of the laws of this country, the federal government has failed to do its job of protecting the American people. In addition, corruption and violence are rampant along the border towns and many Texans have been deterred from vacationing in the region for years.
The only good news regarding immigration enforcement comes from Texas and the Department of Public Safety (DPS). With the numerous failures to secure the border, the Texas Legislature made strides last year to address this important issue by including more than $800 million in the Texas State budget for border security. DPS Director Steven McCraw stated that "By using the additional air, water, and ground assets that the Legislature funded, we have moved our interdiction efforts from the area between US 83 and the (Rio Grande) river. Now, we can optimize our resources to be where we need to be." DPS works closely with federal and local partners along the border to disrupt border activities and keep Texans safe. It is a long slog, but Texas is slowly winning the fight. In this case, state action is succeeding where the federal government fails. As long as I am in the Texas Legislature, I will fight to help secure the border, while Washington continues to do nothing. If you would like to review border security statistics such as DPS operational activities, videos, and monthly briefings, please click here.
Congressman Pete Olson invited me to speak to students involved in his Congressional Youth Council. I spoke on the importance of leadership and public service.
No one enjoys paying taxes, especially property taxes. It becomes especially worrisome when you find out your home appraisal has increased and you are left wondering whether you can afford to live at your current home or if you have to relocate. This is one issue no one should ever have to fear, which is why I have decided to provide you with a brief explanation of what the issue is like at the local level, what I have done to address the problem, and a link with valuable property tax information.
The Legislature identified high property taxes as an issue that needed attention last session, but unfortunately the $10,000 exemption that passed did little to help with the bigger issue: local appraisals. If appraisals go up, our property tax also goes up, unless the local taxing units lower their tax rates enough to offset the appraisal increase. When appraisals go up, local taxing units have the ability to lower tax rates so that property taxes hold steady, or actually go down. This means that we need to stay engaged with our local elected officials to urge them to lower their tax rates when our appraisals go up.
Local entities are often forced to increase their rates based on the amount of local debt they have incurred while trying to provide those services that have been deemed necessary for local residents. I want you to know that I remain committed to helping our local entities lower their debt by finding a long term solution. In fact, during the 84th Legislative Session, I filed House Bill 2204 to provide financial assistance to fast growth school districts and districts with high I&S (interest and sinking) tax rates. The bill was left pending in committee, but rest assured that I will present this bill again next session and remain committed to being fiscally responsible and fiscally conservative, by reducing the need for an appraisal rate increase by lowering local debt.
If you have any further questions on property taxes or appraisals, I have included a link to the Texas Comptroller's website here. You will find information such as valuing property, protesting your appraisals, and your rights as a Texas property taxpayer.
I am pictured with Alvin Police Department Captain Todd Arendell and Chief Robert E. Lee. I spoke at the Alvin Police Department during National Police Week to honor and remember the officers that gave their lives to keep our families and communities safe.
Texas State Republican Convention
The 2016 Texas State Republican Convention was held in Dallas from May 12th-14th. Republicans from every corner of the state came together to listen to elected officials such as Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz to discuss the importance of keeping taxes low and remaining an example the rest of the country can follow. I voted on the new GOP platform which includes limiting the expansion of government, supporting families, protecting life, and strengthening the economy. House District 29 had a great turnout and I had the opportunity to meet with engaged constituents, young Republicans, and grassroots activists as we discussed the future of our party and nation. It was wonderful visiting with many of you and I am glad you were able to take part in the political process.
I attended the Shadow Creek Ranch Town Hall to discuss the pungent odor in the area. Representatives from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Blue Ridge Landfill, and the Pearland City Council, along with residents of the community, were in attendance.
Can I help you with a state issue you are facing? Please email me at
, call my District Office at 281-485-6565, or my Capitol Office at 512-463-0707. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated and stay in touch.
Thanks for reading, and God Bless Texas!