I hope you all had a safe, wonderful, and memorable Summer! August was filled with fun events, scorching heat, and more rain. With the kids back in school and Election Day quickly approaching, it is time to focus on the job at hand. In this edition of the Capitol Review, we are covering the following topics:
· Events held throughout HD 29 and Texas
· Labor Day Safety
· Back-to-School District Events
· Town Halls
· Want to Volunteer?
· 85th Legislative Session Outlook
· Save the Dates
During the month of August, we attended numerous events, including the Pearland Chamber of Commerce's "Pearland Day" Kick-Off Luncheon, Alvin ISD Shadow Creek High School Tour, West Pearland Republican Women's Proudly Red Fundraiser, Alvin Republican Headquarters Grand Opening, Pearland's Prayer for Teachers, Pearland Enterprise Mixer, Coffee with Congressman Pete Olson, Alvin-Manvel Chamber of Commerce's Monthly Luncheon, Pearland ISD Convocation, the Exchange Club of Pearland's 11th Annual Spotlight Roast, Alvin ISD's Dedication Ceremony for Bill Hasse Elementary, Pearland Chamber of Commerce's BizConnect Lunch, Alvin-Manvel Chamber of Commerce Coffee Connections, and the Gulf Coast Industry Forum in Pasadena.
The Pearland Chamber of Commerce provided an opportunity for members of the chamber to meet and hear updates in a casual roundtable discussion. I was able to hear the concerns of local business owners and their priorities.
We also attended the Pearland Medical Center's Welcome Reception, Alvin Community College Convocation, Pearland Chamber of Commerce's Monthly Luncheon, Greater 288 Regional Partnership: Northern Brazoria County Luncheon Mayor's Panel, Pearland School Board Meeting honoring Virgil Gant, Pearland Chamber of Commerce's Root Beer with your Representative, Congressman Pete Olson's VA Town Hall, West Pearland Republican Women's screening of Hillary's America, Realtors Luncheon in Pearland, Alvin-Manvel Chamber of Commerce's Coffee with Congressman Weber, Pearland Parks and Recreation's Birthday Bash, Alvin ISD New Teacher Induction, the Economic Alliance Monthly Luncheon in Lake Jackson, Pearland Chamber of Commerce's Government Relations Meeting, and Pearland Police Department's Cold Treat with the Cool Cops.
On August 16th, I helped welcome over 250 new teachers to Alvin ISD during their New Teacher Orientation Breakfast. I am thankful for their service and dedication to our students and know that they will make a positive impact in their lives.
Labor Day Weekend Safety
Labor Day weekend has arrived, and whether you are spending it at home or on one last Summer vacation, I want you all to have fun, but most importantly, stay safe. In collaboration with the Texas Departments of Public Safety (DPS), Transportation (TxDOT), and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), we would like to remind you to obey traffic laws, watch out for school children, and to drink responsibly if you are going out this weekend.
With the new school year in full-swing, children will resume their daily routine of attending school in the morning and coming home in the afternoon. DPS would like to remind you that all drivers will need to be on alert, especially around school zones, for children that may be boarding or getting off of school buses. Obey school zone speed limits, stop for school buses with flashing lights, and do not text and drive in school zones during school hours. Individuals who disregard the law risk receiving traffic fines, suspension of your driver's license, and possible jail time. More importantly, you are needlessly risking a child's life. I urge you to use extreme caution at all times, but especially in our many school zones around our district and state.
TxDOT would also like to remind us that with the holiday weekend here, police officers will be on the lookout for drunk drivers in greater numbers. During the Labor Day weekend in 2015, there were 359 alcohol-related crashes, with 12 fatalities and 36 serious injuries. Drinking and driving is never acceptable, so I urge you to plan ahead. Find alternatives, such as using a ridesharing service, use mass transit, ask a family member or friend who is sober to take you home, or if it is safe, stay where you are and spend the night.
Lastly, TABC has developed a new, free app that any smartphone user can download. The app is called TABC: Mobile, and it allows you to report underage bar patrons and suspicious bartending all from the convenience of your phone. TABC relies on the public's help with complaints and violations and the Texas Legislature requires the Commission to investigate every complaint. We want you to enjoy yourselves and remain in a safe environment, so we take alcohol violations very seriously. Do not be afraid to report anything you find suspicious or illegal; it could save someone's life.
As Vice-Chair of the Land & Resource Management Committee, I attended the hearing on August 22nd to discuss coastal erosion and the state's emergency planning efforts, preparedness, and response to natural disasters. Testimony from the General Land Office and the State Emergency Operation Center provided us with a greater understanding of how all Texans can be ready for the next unexpected crisis.
Back-to-School District Events
The 2016-2017 school year began on August 22nd and I know the children in our district are very excited to get back to school, even more so if it is their first year. I had the pleasure of taking part in several back-to-school events this past month and meeting so many bright, young faces. I delivered the Convocation for Pearland ISD and attended welcoming ceremonies for both Alvin and Pearland ISD's. I also had the opportunity to tour Alvin ISD's newest high school, Shadow Creek High School; Go Sharks!
Along with academics, school athletic events are something to look forward to! As a former sports referee, I know how fun and thrilling high school sports can be. Whatever sport you enjoy watching, I encourage you to support our schools and students by attending a game or two this year. If you are interested in attending an Alvin ISD game, click here. If you would like to attend a Pearland ISD game, click here. Remember - Stay safe, have fun, and enjoy the game!
School Board Members Tiffany Wennerstrom and Cheryl Harris helped me "Get on the Bus" for the Alvin ISD Foundation. The Foundation helps raise funds for innovative grants which teachers and staff can apply to use the following year.
Community Town Halls are a great way for elected officials to meet with the residents and neighbors who live in the surrounding area. It is an effective way to meet with office staff and to relay any concerns or suggestions you may have about the community.
I will be hosting two town halls near the end of September. The first town hall will be held on Monday September 26th at the Alvin Train Depot. We will begin at 6:00 PM and our moderator will be Donnie Marek, the Director of Risk Management at Alvin Independent School District. Our second town hall will be held the next day, Tuesday September 27th at The Commerce Center in Pearland. It will begin at 6:00 PM and our moderator will be City Council member Tony Carbone.
I hope you can all make it out there! I will be taking questions, comments, concerns, and suggestions from the audience to determine what is most important to the community going into the next legislative session. If you are unable to attend the town halls, you can follow us on our Twitter handle, @RepEdThompson, or by using #ThompsonTownHalls.
Want to Volunteer?
The general election on Tuesday November 8th is just around the corner, and we've already seen signs popping up around town! A State Representative's term is two years long, with elections taking place on even-numbered years, which means I'm up for re-election! I have a Democrat opponent this year, and in order to keep House District 29 in conservative hands, I will need your help!
Beginning this month, a great team of volunteers will help us put my campaign signs up all over the district. The signs will be placed along roadways: the background will be red, and my name and district number will be in large white letters. The campaign signs will stick around for approximately two months until the conclusion of the general election. Removing the signs will take place sometime after the election. If you are interested in supporting my campaign, either by displaying a sign at your home or business, or with volunteer hours, please visit my website www.edthompson29.com and click on "JOIN ED" to sign up!
TopGolf and Billy's Hall and the Austin Club - oh my!
We are excited to have two fundraisers in September and one in October - would sure love to have you at one of these fun events!
The Alvin-Manvel Area Chamber of Commerce allowed me to present a Legislative Update and Outlook to their chamber members on August 9th. A special treat was to have kids from House District 29 show their patriotism by reciting the National and State Pledge of Allegiance. Pictured are Communities In Schools Staff and Students - Julia Haskins, Maison Garcia, Destiny Graham, Marcus Vargas, and Matthew Vargas.
85th Legislative Session Outlook
As your State Representative, I am always looking for ways to improve the community and to make Texas the best place to live in and do business. With this in mind, I am looking forward to the 85th Legislative Session, which will begin January 10, 2017 and end May 29, 2017. It is never too early to prepare, and during the last month, I had the opportunity to speak to members of the Chambers of Commerce about what issues will be at the forefront for next session. In case you were unable to attend, I would like to share with you some of the information I presented during the meetings:
Texas Economic Forecast - If Texas were its own country, we would be the 12th largest economy in the world. As the second largest state in terms of both size and population, our economy has remained strong for many years now ever since we started diversifying in the 1990's. Despite a slowdown in the oil and gas industry and a decline in sales tax revenue, Texas for past 6 years, has consistently added money to the Rainy Day Fund in case of a financial emergency, with a current total of approximately $11 billion. As a conservative lawmaker, I strive to keep taxes low or cut them if necessary, and support having a balanced budget, which we actually have to adhere to because it's in our State Constitution.
Back the Blue - Following the horrific police shootings in Dallas in July, Governor Abbott has directed the Legislature to pass The Police Protection Act when the legislature convenes next session. The bill will make it a hate crime for anyone to commit a crime against a law enforcement officer out of bias against the police. The bill would also increase criminal penalties and it would aim to create a culture of respect for law enforcement by organizing a campaign to educate young Texans on the value law enforcement officers bring to their communities. I look forward to supporting this bill next session.
Convention of States - Governor Abbott has requested the Legislature to pass a Convention of States Resolution to reign in the overreach committed by the federal government. Some of his proposals include requiring Congress to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment, allowing a two-thirds majority of the States to override a federal law or regulation, and prohibiting administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from creating and preempting federal law. Governor Abbott's plan is known as the Texas Plan, and if you would like more information on it, please click here.
School Finance - The Texas Supreme Court earlier this Summer ruled that the States school finance system is minimally constitutional, but suggest reforms. The main problem with school finance is that property taxes do not adequately fund all school districts. It is an extremely complex issue and there will be numerous discussions on how we can best serve the needs of every young student, and I look forward to those discussions next session.
Of course, these are just a few of the many important issues affecting our state that will be discussed during the course of 140 days in the regular session. In addition, I remain committed to keeping taxes low and protecting the safety and security of all Texans.
Senator Taylor and I had the privilege of providing a Legislative Update from the 84th Session at the Pearland Chamber of Commerce Monthly Luncheon. We also provided a Legislative Outlook for the 85th Session, which will begin January 2017.
Save the Dates
Here are some important dates that are right around the corner:
· September 12, 2016 - 3:00 PM: TopGolf with State Representative Ed Thompson (Webster, TX). Click here for more information.
· September 18, 2016 - 1:00 PM: Meet and Greet with State Representative Ed Thompson (Billy's Hall, Pearland, TX). Click here for more information.
· September 26, 2016 - 6:30 PM: Alvin Town Hall Meeting (Alvin Train Depot)
· September 27, 2016 - 6:30 PM: Pearland Town Hall Meeting (Pearland Chamber of Commerce)
· October 5, 2016 - 8:30 AM: Breakfast at the Austin Club - Zilker Room (110 E 9th Street, Austin, TX 78701)
The Pearland Police Department provided a cool way to cool off from this summer heat. The 'Cold Treat with the Cool Cops' event was an opportunity for families to meet and speak about safety with officers that protect us every day.
Thanks for reading, and God Bless Texas!