Columns/Opinions

Thu
14
Feb

Governor gives lawmakers list of emergency items to tackle

Vidorian file photo

Macy, Madison, Mallory, Maryn and Merideth Chilton took overall honors in the talent competition at the Pirates Escapades.

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott named as his emergency priorities education reform, teacher pay, school safety, property tax reform, mental health services and disaster response in his Feb. 5 “State of the State” address to a joint session of the Texas Legislature.

The House and Senate may schedule committee hearings on bills related to items on the governor’s priority list before the 60th day of the legislative session, which hits on March 8. Consideration of all other legislation must wait until after that date, except for House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 2 — the state budget — which is already in the works.

Abbott gave lawmakers something to cheer about when he said, “When you combine our legislative accomplishments with our record-breaking prosperity, you have elevated Texas to rarified status and I am proud to tell you that the state of Texas has never been better.”

 

 

Thu
14
Feb

Five things happening at your capitol this week

My Five Cents…

After four weeks of hearing from every agency in the State, the Senate Finance Committee has finished the first step towards finalizing the state’s budget. We will now move into workgroups to work out the details.

Here are five things happening at your Capitol this week:

1. Rural Broadband

Beyond using it to shop online or watch Netflix, high speed internet has become an essential for everyday life and for businesses; from sales and ordering supplies, to logistics, medical recording, training and educational materials. There are large areas of rural Texas that do not have access to high speed internet or even cell phone coverage, many of them within Senate District 3.

Thu
07
Feb

Senate committee starts work on property tax reform

AUSTIN — Voters would have the power to prevent their local governmental bodies from increasing property taxes by more than 2.5 percent per year under legislation introduced in the Texas Senate and House on Jan. 31.

Senate Bill 2 and identical House Bill 2, both 116 pages in length, propose to amend the current law, in which local taxing authorities may increase taxes up to 8 percent each year before a rollback election would be required. Cries for relief are widespread, given the leeway current law affords and the fact that county appraisal districts may increase the value of property at the same time.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, said, “People desperately need property tax reform, our businesses need property tax reform, and we have set out, on this date, early in session, with a major piece of legislation. We are setting the tone for the rest of the session on this issue,” Patrick added.

 

 

Thu
07
Feb

Five things happening at your capitol this week

My Five Cents…

By Senator Robert Nichols

We have made it through the first month of session. This week, Texas Association of Counties held their legislative day, and we were able to welcome Judges and County Commissioners from Senate District 3 to the Capitol.

Here are five things happening at your Capitol this week:

1. State of the State

Each session, the Governor addresses a joint session of the Texas Senate and House to give the State of the State. In this he provides an overview of how the State is doing, as well as to list his emergency items for session. These emergency items are important, as it enables the Legislature to begin working on these issues and pass legislation during the first 60 days of session. We are constitutionally restrained from passing any other legislation until after this deadline.

Thu
31
Jan

Senate Finance panel starts work on state budget

AUSTIN • Jane Nelson, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, on Jan. 22 said she would follow an aggressive agenda to deliver a budget ready for floor debate by the end of February.

“There are a lot of things this committee and the full Senate will decide to add, subtract, change, before we actually recommend out of this committee a budget,” she said. At the top of the list are school finance and property tax relief.

Nelson, R-Flower Mound, has chaired the powerful committee for three consecutive sessions. On Jan. 15, Nelson filed Senate Bill 1, a base budget for the 2020-2021 biennium, and scheduled daily meetings for the panel to consider the particulars that go into a document that typically exceeds 1,000 pages in length.

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Thu
31
Jan

January 28, 1964

Vidorian file photo

MARKING THE BEGINNING OF THE PLACING of some 35 street markers in Vidor was the marker placed Monday morning on the corner of North Main and Bolivar. The streetmarker project is being sponsored by the Vidor Chamber of Commerce and the markers may be designated for a donation of $5 each. Participating in the placement ceremony were (l to r) County Commissioner Timer Williamson, Larry O’Brien, chamber vice-president; Jim Hill, Tommy Poole, Bill Webb and Frank Woods. Three other markers were to have been set Monday under the supervision of Commissioner Williamson.

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Thu
24
Jan

State’s top elected officials take oaths of office in Austin during inauguration

January 21, 1964

AUSTIN — Public officials and private citizens gathered at the south steps of the state Capitol on Jan. 15 to for a day’s worth of inaugural events, most notably the administering of oaths of office to Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who were reelected to four-year terms in November.

In his inaugural address, Gov. Abbott predicted the 86th regular session of the Texas Legislature, which convened on Jan. 8, would be “transformative.” He said that with the help of Lt. Gov. Patrick and newly elected House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, leadership would “usher in a new era for children, teachers and taxpayers.”

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Thu
24
Jan

Five things happening at your capitol this week

My Five Cents…

The third week of session has been a busy one, with the pace beginning to pick up. The fun is only beginning for this legislative session.

1. Committee Assignments

Late last week, Lt.Governor Patrick released the Senate committee assignments for the 86th Legislative Session. I am honored to continue to serve as Chair for the Transportation Committee, as well Vice-Chair of Business and Commerce, and a member of the Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Relations committees. I am grateful to Lt. Governor Patrick for these opportunities and look forward to working with all of my colleagues in the Senate to serve the people of Texas.

2. Senate Finance

Thu
17
Jan

Modest inventor who changed the world

Texas History

The month after bringing home the Nobel Prize for Physics, Jack Kilby found himself back in the spotlight on Jan. 16, 2001 as the Texas legislature honored the creator of the microchip.

Everyone who has ever used a calculator, cell phone, digital camera, pacemaker or the multitude of other high-tech gadgets that present-day inhabitants of this planet take for granted owes a debt of gratitude to the unassuming genius who made it all possible. But he would have been the last person to remind anybody of that.

Although many sources cite Jefferson City, Missouri as his birthplace, Jack St. Clair Kilby clearly disagreed. In the autobiographical statement requested by the Nobel Committee, he wrote, “I was born in 1923 in Great Bend, Kansas.”

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Thu
17
Jan

House elects new speaker as legislative session kicks off

AUSTIN — The 86th Texas Legislature convened on Jan. 8 with all its customary ceremonies and recognitions— chief of which was the unanimous election of a new House speaker — Angleton Republican Dennis Bonnen.

On Jan. 9, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, and Speaker Bonnen announced their joint commitment to passing legislation that would improve how public education is funded. That arduous and heretofore divisive task means rethinking and recalibrating what share of the cost would be funded by local property taxes — public education’s primary source of funding.

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