Local lawmakers reflect on legislative session
State lawmakers who represent the counties in Southeast Texas gave members of the local media a wrap up of the past legislative session in Austin.
Speaking to the Press Club of Southeast Texas at its monthly meeting at Café Del Rio on Aug. 15, Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-22nd, said he was most proud of his work on House Bill 5, which reformed the state’s educational testing requirements. Under the STARS program, students had to pass 15 different tests as they advanced in grade levels. The new bill reduces the number of tests to five.
The long-time Congressman, who represents Jefferson and Orange counties, said overall the 83rd Legislature was a good one, and the most collegial between the parties since 2003. He said only the abortion issue saw a split across the aisles.
Rep. Alan Ritter, R-21st, said the best of the recently adjourned session was the progress that was made on a water bill. In 1997, he said, Senate Bill 1 set up legislation to plan for a long-term water strategy for Texas, but the law failed to prioritize projects or set up a funding plan. A plan has been developed to produce a $2 billion for investment.
From Texas 19th District in Tyler County, Republican James White said the budget work was the most important accomplishment of the session. He said the $197 billion budget did not require any money out of the state’s rainy day fund.