Archive for March, 2015

Representative Murr Announces District Office in Kerrville

March 27, 2015

By Rep. Andrew Murr

Earlier this week, Representative Andrew Murr finalized an agreement with the City of Kerrville to open his first district office at 715 Water Street in Kerrville. The city-owned property is currently vacant but previously housed the Kerrville Business Programs Office, including the Main Street Program. Murr said he is excited to establish a permanent presence in the heart of District 53’s largest city near city hall & the Kerr county courthouse.

Murr noted, I have focused on locating our Kerrville office as close as possible to local government because I believe that local governments’ voice in Austin is very important. Additionally, public accessibility is key to my relationship with all Hill Country residents. I’m excited about this great location.”

Following some routine preparations, the office will be ready for move-in later this spring. Murr hopes to have it staffed on a regular basis following the 84th legislative session which concludes June 1, 2015.

Office hours, telephone numbers & other contact information will be forthcoming. Representative Murr extends his sincere appreciate to the staff & officials with the city of Kerrville for working diligently to finalize the district office location.

Regan Ellmer
(512) 463-0536

Four Price Thanks House Colleagues for Passing SB 219 (HB 550) – ‘Clarification Bill’ will make laws more clear for all Texans

March 26, 2015

By Rep. Four Price

Austin, TX — Today, the Texas House of Representatives passed significant legislation that will make the laws pertaining to Texas’ health and human services agencies more clear, concise, and understandable. Senate Bill 219 (House Bill 550), known as the Health and Human Services ‘Clarification Bill,’ provides clear guidance to affected agencies regarding the codes applicable to the administration of state health and human services. It also makes these laws easier to access, read and understand for all Texans. The Clarification Bill won final passage by a vote of 143 in favor and 0 opposed.

The Clarification Bill will clean-up archaic, inaccurate and obsolete language in 9 codes and 262 chapters of law. It represents over 20,000 hours of work with the staff of the Sunset Advisory Commission, attorneys of the Texas Legislative Council and counsels of the five health and human services agencies. All legislators, who are part of the Sunset Advisory Commission, supported the bill as joint authors.

After final passage of the bill, Representative Price said, “I thank my colleagues for their trust and support in passing this massive bill today on the floor of the House. I thank them and their staffs for the great discussions and feedback in the months leading up to this day. I am also appreciative of the tremendous input and support we received throughout this process from so many health care stakeholders. Last, but certainly not least, I am very grateful for the incredible and dedicated work of the Texas Legislative Council and the staff of the Sunset Advisory Commission. Texas is truly blessed to have such hardworking and gifted public servants.”

Soon, Senate Bill 219 will head to Governor Abbott for his consideration.

About Texas Citizens Coalition

March 19, 2015

Meet Gary Gates

March 19, 2015

Rep. Galindo Announces Grand Opening of District Office in South San Antonio

March 16, 2015

By Rep. Rick Galindo

AUSTIN, TX – After a comprehensive exploration of all accessible space, State Representative Rick Galindo today announced the grand opening of his district office in South San Antonio, the key population center of the Bexar County District he represents in the Texas House of Representatives. Since taking office, Rep. Galindo made establishing a South San Antonio district office his top priority.

“After responding to hundreds of constituent phone calls, letters, and capitol visits, I wanted to ensure we quickly established an office at home that was easily accessible to our neighbors, so we could better meet their needs,” said Rep. Galindo. “Whether it’s helping our veterans receive the vital health care they need, providing for our poor and indigent residents, or assisting our hard-working families as they strive daily to provide for their families, I’m here to help ensure our neighbors’ needs are fulfilled.”

At 12:00pm on Friday, March 20, Representative Galindo, the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and many state and local officials will join together in a ceremonial ribbon cutting at:

District Office of State Representative Rick Galindo
7333 Barlite Blvd., Suite 100
San Antonio, Texas 78224

All residents are invited to join Rep. Galindo at the grand opening, which will feature refreshments and the opportunity to meet and engage with our local and state elected officials about the issues most important to South San Antonio families.

“My job is to be a strong advocate for your family down in Austin, so the bad politics don’t get in the way of providing the high quality of life you deserve,” said Rep. Galindo. “Please let me know how I best serve you. That’s the reason I am here.”

Representative Galindo represents House District 117, the area encompassing West Bexar County including Southwest San Antonio and the cities of Helotes and Von Ormy.

Joey Parr
(512) 463-0269

Representative Murphy Files HB 2608 – Returns Municipal Pensions to Local Control

March 14, 2015

AUSTIN, TX – State Representative Jim Murphy of Houston has filed House Bill 2608 which returns municipal pensions to local control. A companion bill is expected to be filed in the Senate today.

“The bill’s concept is simple. It is about local control of expenses and taxes,” said Murphy. “Why should state legislators tell local communities what to pay their employees or what to pay in taxes?”

In returning these plans to local control, key constitutional safeguards are already in place. “The pensions of those already retired are fully protected as well as the benefits earned by those still working,” added Murphy. “We value the service of these men and women and are committed to securing their retirement benefits.”
Most local pensions in Texas are locally controlled. HB 2608 would eliminate the special treatment some plans have been given while still mandating State oversight through the Pension Review Board, whose role is to ensure actuarial integrity in local pension funds.

“We are seeing a groundswell of support from across our state and this will grow as people become aware of the benefits of HB 2608. We appreciate this help in correcting a fundamental policy flaw that is a growing threat to both taxpayers and their valued employees,” said Murphy.

State Representative Jim Murphy is serving his fourth term representing West Houston. He is chairman of the House Committee on Corrections and a member of the Ways and Means Committee.

Martha Bell Liner
(512) 463-0514

Murr Reaffirms Commitment to Budget Transparency with New Legislation

March 13, 2015

This week, State Representative Andrew Murr reaffirmed his commitment to budget transparency by joint-authoring a bill that will help end the use of accounting gimmicks to balance the state budget. House Bill 7 will clarify the appropriate uses for general revenue dedicated accounts, and it also opens up the possibility of reducing, or entirely eliminating, certain fees. On Thursday, Murr said this is important legislation aimed at reversing a disturbing trend.

“For far too long, the Texas Legislature has been playing a shell game with the budgeting process; using dedicated funds to certify the budget,” Murr said. “These Washington-style accounting tricks have no place in Texas, and HB 7 is an important step towards budget transparency and ensuring that fees that are paid by taxpayers are used appropriately.”

House Bill 7 will reduce the dependence of the legislature on using surplus account balances to certify, or “balance” the budget. It also lays the groundwork for future legislatures to lower or eliminate additional fees, as the bill requires that fees be suspended or cut entirely when they exceed the amount needed for appropriations.

Murr explained, “We shouldn’t be collecting more from taxpayers than is absolutely necessary to operate state government. Fees should be collected and used for their dedicated purpose, and once that purpose is met or no longer needed, we should stop continuing to collect them. HB 7 will help shine light on the budgeting process and work to end the reliance upon unallocated dedicated funds to balance our state budget.”

Regan Ellmer
(512) 463-0536

Landgraf Proposes Texas Fuel Fleet Grant Program

March 12, 2015

AUSTIN – Thursday, State Representative Brooks Landgraf proposed the creation of a new grant program encouraging Texas state agencies, counties, and municipalities to dedicate more of their vehicle fleet to Texas fuel vehicles.

“This innovative grant program uses left-over funds appropriated from the last legislative session for the purpose of incentivizing state and local branches of government to purchase vehicles that utilize the abundant Texas fuels that are produced right here in Texas,” Landgraf said.

Under the program, local governments with a fleet larger than 15 vehicles are eligible for grants. In addition to purchasing vehicles, the grants may also be used to construct fueling stations across the state. According to the proposal, the fuels include natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and liquefied petroleum gas.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our entire state”, Landgraf said. “Texas has long been a shining example of self-reliance and ingenuity. Texas fuels are in abundance and utilizing these domestically-produced fuel sources for fleet vehicles will be a step forward in the right direction, while simultaneously reducing long-term costs.”

If the proposed legislation passes, the funds for the new grant program administered by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, would be operational beginning September 1, 2015.

Representative Brooks Landgraf was elected in 2014 to serve House District 81, which encompasses Andrews, Ector, Ward, and Winkler Counties. Landgraf resides in Odessa with his wife Shelby and works as an attorney and rancher. He also serves on the Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance Board of Directors, the Education Foundation Board of Directors, and the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute Advisory Council.

Michael D. Lozano

Chairman Tan Parker Appoints Giovanni Capriglione as Sub-Committee Chairman of State and Local Bonded Indebtedness

March 10, 2015

Southlake Lawmaker Brings Strong Financial Background Into the Debt Management Conversation

Austin, Texas – Today Representative Tan Parker, Chairman of the Investments and Financial Services Committee, appointed Representative Giovanni Capriglione to the important position of Sub-Committee Chairman on State and Local Bonded Indebtedness. Created this session, the sub-committee will have five members and be charged with considering legislative measures dealing with the authority to issue bonds, the effects of bonded indebtedness on our economy and the transparency provided to taxpayers regarding bond issuance and transactions.

In making the appointment, Chairman Parker stated, “There is no doubt in my mind that Representative Capriglione is the right man for this very critical job. Bonded indebtedness has always been a tool for state and local governments to finance certain aspects of public services, however the time has come for us to take a step back, examine our processes and see if reform is necessary. Representative Capriglione will bring a fresh and thoughtful perspective to this issue, and I look forward to working with him as the Texas House addresses debt management.”

Observers have noted that bonded debt has grown substantially in Texas since 2000. A 2012 Texas Comptroller report on local debt cited that Texas’s local debt per-person exceeded $12,400 at that time. As such, the time has come for legislators to take a serious look at this issue. Joining Representative Capriglione on the State and Local Bonded Indebtedness Sub-Committee are Representatives Dan Flynn, Brooks Landgraf, Phil Stephenson and Oscar Longoria.

“I am honored to serve as the chairman of an Investments and Financial Services subcommittee, and I thank Chairman Parker for the appointment,” Representative Capriglione commented. “My background in private equity will prove useful to the subcommittee, and I am eager to work with my colleagues to facilitate thoughtful discussions and work towards solid financial solutions for all Texans.”

Serving in his 5th term in the Texas Legislature, Representative Parker is focusing his efforts on economic development, job creation, strengthening border security, promoting fiscally responsible government spending, providing a strong education system, enhancing public safety and protecting family values. Representative Parker is the current Chairman of the Investments and Financial Services Committee. He also serves on the Ways and Means Committee, the Redistricting Committee and the Select Committee on State and Federal Power and Responsibility.

Representative Tony Dale Files Legislation To Help Law Enforcement Officers Obtain CHLs

March 9, 2015

AUSTIN – Today State Representative Tony Dale filed House Bill 2604 to ensure that law enforcement officers will obtain their Concealed Handgun License (CHL) in a more expedient manner.

Under current law, a law enforcement officer has greater restrictions placed on them to obtain a CHL than a non-licensed citizen. Presently, a licensed peace officer must submit with their application: a letter from the chief of their department giving a mental and physical description of the applicant, a list of the types of weapons the applicant has demonstrated proficiency with during the preceding year, and a recommendation from the agency head that a license be issued to the applicant. This information is required even though the applicant is a licensed peace officer who carries a handgun as a part of their normal duties.

House Bill 2604 removes the language from statute that requires a peace officer to obtain a letter from the head of their agency before applying for a CHL.

Representative Dale issued the following statement:

“Our law enforcement officers are trained to use handguns as part of their job. They put their lives on the line to protect the safety of the public everyday. It makes no sense that we would place greater restrictions to obtain a concealed handgun license on our peace officers than we do on the average citizen.”

TMPA president Mitch Slaymaker said that he looks forward to working with Representative Dale in passing this legislation. He continued, “Representing over 22,000 peace officers, TMPA would like to thanks Representative Dale for recognizing the training law enforcement officers receive and the overbearing restrictions that are currently in place for officers to obtain a concealed handgun license.”

A full text of the bill can be found here:

State Representative Tony Dale is a member of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, the House Energy Resources Committee and the Local and Consent Committee. He represents southwestern Williamson County, Cedar Park, Leander, Brushy Creek, and parts of Austin and Round Rock.

Amy Rister
(512) 463-0696

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