After a busy week meeting with constituents, attending committee hearings, and filing legislation, it's clear that the 86th Legislative Session is well under way.
As legislation starts to move through the committee process in the coming weeks and months, I want to once again encourage you to reach out to my Capitol or district office to let us know your thoughts. It's important to remember that I work for you, and hearing from the folks who have entrusted me to serve as a voice in Austin is the only way I can ensure that I am properly representing your views and interests. We look forward to hearing from you!
With that, here's an update from your State Capitol…
Public Education Hearing
The House Committee on Public Education had our first meeting this week, as we heard from Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath, who provided us with a general overview on the state of education in Texas.
While this hearing served as a primer on the many issues we'll look to address this session in public education, I look forward to diving deeper with Commissioner Morath, my colleagues on the committee, and many other interested parties to the make significant strides towards bettering our public education system in Texas.
This week I filed a number of bills aimed at protecting the private property rights of landowners from abusive eminent domain condemnation.
The first, House Bill 1242, states that a private entity may not enter on the lands or waters of any person to make an examination or survey for a proposed high-speed rail project unless the Texas Department of Transportation has determined the entity is a considered a railroad.
Current statute does not consider the proposed high-speed rail project to fall under the existing definition of "railroad," and this legislation will help provide stronger safeguards for landowners affected by the high-speed rail proposal.
Another bill I filed, House Bill 1245, provides landowners with increased disclosure of existing survey-related rights, including the right to negotiate survey terms and recover damages caused by the survey, as well as the landowner's right to refuse access to their property without a court order.
Both pieces of legislation are part of a slate of bills being proposed by legislators who support the rights of landowners and desire to strengthen protections against the abuse of eminent domain.
The mobile office is on the road this month and looks forward to seeing you on the following dates, in the following locations: Feb. 6 at the Leon County Courthouse in Centerville from 9-11 a.m., or at the Madison County Courthouse Annex in Madisonville from 1:30-3:30 p.m.; Feb. 20 at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 9-11 a.m., or at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30-3:30 p.m.; and finally on Feb. 27 at the San Augustine County Courthouse in San Augustine from 9-11 a.m..
As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can help you in any way. Our district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.
Trent Ashby represents District 57, which includes Madison County, in the Texas Legislature.