By Texas House Speaker Joe Straus
Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – A mere two weeks remain in our 2015 Legislative Session, and many of the Texas House’s priorities are right on track. The legislative calendar is filled with deadlines that help ensure bills receive an appropriate amount of discussion and deliberation. The first key deadline hit this past Thursday. In the days ahead, the House will turn our attention to bills that started in the Senate.
Last Thursday was the last day we could give initial approval to legislation that originated in the House of Representatives.
Before the focus shifts to Senate bills, I want to highlight some of the key priorities that the House addressed with our own legislation and let you know where those bills go from here.
- We approved a balanced & disciplined budget focused on education, transportation and mental health care. The Senate also passed its own budget proposal, and members of each chamber are now meeting in a conference committee to negotiate a final product.
- We made the budget more transparent. Over the last three years, the House has worked to end the longtime practice of collecting fees for one purpose but then using those fees to count toward spending on other programs. The House has acted this session to either use fees for their intended purpose, such as trauma care and college financial aid, or to eliminate the fees. I remain hopeful that the Senate will join us in making this a top priority.
- We dealt with long-term fiscal challenges. The House addressed the long-term solvency of the state employees’ pension program, as well as a shortfall in retired teachers’ health care. We also directed new resources toward state facilities in need of repair and voted to retire state debt more quickly. We are working with the Senate to reach consensus on each of these issues.
- We addressed Border Security. With overwhelming bipartisan support, the House passed legislation that would bring consistency to our security efforts along the Texas-Mexico border while ensuring that other areas of the state are not left vulnerable. We also provided additional tools to law enforcement and prosecutors to combat drug trafficking and human smuggling. The Senate has passed similar legislation, and I believe we will agree to a solution that makes our entire state safer.
- We voted for Tax Relief. The strong performance of our private sector has given the Legislature an opportunity to reduce the tax burden on families and businesses. The House has voted for two major tax-relief proposals, and we are now working out differences with the Senate.
The House has compiled a strong record so far. But our work is not finished.
I will continue to update you on the status of key legislation as we head toward the end of our session.
I also want to hear from you, so please share your feedback by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe Straus has been Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives since January 2009. In addition to serving as Speaker, Straus represents House District 121, which includes the Bexar County communities of Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, Terrell Hills & Northeast San Antonio. Speaker Straus was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in February 2005.