I hope you had a great week. It's time for the February Capitol Review! I was in Austin for the Texas Public Policy Foundation Policy Orientation, where we met on a variety of topics of importance, including constitutional debt limits, EPA overreach, and school choice. While in Austin, I met with folks from the Fast Growth School Coalition, as well as with the newly appointed Executive Director of TxDOT, James Bass.
In District 29, we attended the Grand Opening Celebration for Fire Station 3 in Pearland, and meetings for the Pearland Area Republican Club, YMCA's Annual Campaign Kickoff in Alvin, Pearland's YMCA Annual Dinner, Pearland Rotary Club, Pearland Community Council, Alvin College Community Advisory Committee, Pearland Chamber Banquet, was the guest speaker for the debate class at Turner High School, and am looking forward to the Alvin-Manvel Area Chamber Awards Banquet tonight!
We also participated in the TxDOT - Houston Region Congestion Meeting, Houston Auto Show Preview Night, Brazoria County Economic Development Alliance, the Transportation Advocacy Group (TAG) Annual Meeting featuring Comptroller Glenn Hegar, the Mid-Coast ACIT and ABC Joint Membership Luncheon, toured NASA with the Aerospace Caucus, and joined in the University of Houston Peach Bowl Celebration - Go Coogs!
What a fun celebration of the Peach Bowl victory with my colleagues from the University of Houston, including alumni Rep. Carol Alvarado, Rep. Dennis Paul, and Mayor Sylvester Turner. Head Coach Tom Herman and Chancellor Renu Khator are in front of me in the photo. Go Coogs!
Student Leadership Advisory Council Update
Our impressive group of SLAC students are currently working on their bill concepts. They will submit those to us this month, we will narrow it down to the top three projects, and will have the students with the top three concepts present their ideas later this spring. We will select the top bill, and if I am re-elected, I will file the bill during the next Legislative Session in 2017!
Members of the House Aerospace Caucus at the NASA Tour. It's awesome to have such an impressive facility in our backyard! Pictured left to right are: Rep. Jim Murphy; John Elbon, the 2016 Chairman of BAHEP; Representatives Wayne Faircloth, Doc Anderson, Dennis Paul, and Carol Alvarado; Senator Larry Taylor; Representative Greg Bonnen, me, and Senator Paul Bettencourt.
The Texas Transportation Institute 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard stipulates that, on average, "Texas drivers in five of the state’s largest metropolitan areas each are losing about 52 hours and $1,200 annually due to traffic congestion." But there is good news! TxDOT is rolling out a $1.3 billion effort to improve drive times and reduce costs to Texas drivers by delivering projects at an accelerated pace that addresses gridlock in some of the state’s most congested areas. We voted to end diversions from the State Highway Fund last session so that funds collected will go for the intended purpose of maintaining our roads.
The metro areas of Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio are home to 97% of the most congested roads in Texas, as many of you are well aware. Texas Transportation Commissioner Bruce Bugg said that "TxDOT is focusing on using this funding to provide Texas drivers relief in an expedited manner. By making these improvements on an accelerated schedule, TxDOT will save $457 million versus building those roads in future years."
As mentioned above, I met with the Executive Director of TxDOT, James Bass, when I was in Austin last month. We spoke at length about the main arteries that are in our district, including SH 288, the Grand Parkway (SH 99, Segment B), SH 35, SH 6, and FM 518. These are high priority roads, as many of you can attest. I also had the opportunity to attend the TxDOT - Houston District Congestion Meeting, where I discussed the importance of improving transportation infrastructure in District 29.
The TxDOT website has a road project tracker where you can check to see the progress and status of a variety of roads. The website is linked here. You can select "view highway projects by" STATE HOUSE DISTRICT and choose Rep. Ed Thompson to view the projects in House District 29. I'd be interested to know what you think of the tracker. Please email me your thoughts!
I had the opportunity to share my thoughts on the importance of transportation infrastructure at the TxDOT Houston District Congestion meeting.
Border Security Update
The Texas Legislative Joint Committee on Border Security met late last month to discuss the implementation of House Bill 11, a bill I co-authored to strengthen Texas' border security efforts. You'll hear me say this time and again: I firmly believe it is the federal government's responsibility to secure our border with Mexico, but since they repeatedly fail to do so, the state has had to step in and fill the void.
The Executive Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Steve McCraw shared with the Joint Committee that in the last 60 days, DPS has seized $1.7 million worth of drugs and $3.1 million in cash associated with drug trafficking. DPS also made 300 “high threat” crime arrests, 2,350 total criminal arrests along the border, and Texas Rangers made 23 drug-related public corruption arrests. House Bill 11 appropriated over $800 million in funding for 250 new trooper positions, and as of right now, DPS has hired, trained, and deployed 124 new troopers to the border.
2016 Primary Election
By the time the March Capitol Review rolls around, we will have already had the Texas Primary Election. It is our right to vote, but also our duty to make informed decisions on the candidates and issues we vote on. Brazoria County residents can visit the County Elections website to see what will be on your ballot. Take the time to get to know the issues and candidates you'll be voting on!
“Two Steps, One Sticker”
2016 marks the start of the second year of the “Two Steps, One Sticker” program for vehicle inspection and registration. That means that vehicle owners can look forward to a simpler process for these two important annual vehicle requirements! Information from the DMV is below:
Beginning on March 1, 2016, the transition year ends, and vehicles will have one convenient expiration date for inspection and registration. Here is what Texans need to do from that point forward: Take a look at the date on your vehicle registration sticker and then follow the two steps.
Step 1: Pass a vehicle inspection no earlier than 90 days prior to your registration expiration and retain your vehicle inspection report. To find your nearest inspection station, visit the Texas Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) website.
Step 2: After your vehicle passes inspection, renew your registration online, by mail or in person at your county tax office, and your inspection status will be verified electronically.
More information from the DMV can be found by clicking here.
God Bless Texas!