Update from Austin

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On the first day of session, I took an oath to faithfully execute the duties of the office of State Representative, and I want you to know what an honor and privilege it is to serve as your Representative. As the session moves forward, I will be sending out a weekly column to provide you with an update on what's going on here in Austin. With that said, here is the first Capitol update of the 85th Legislative Session … 

Opening Day

This past Tuesday was the opening day of the 85th Texas Legislature, and while there is plenty of work ahead, Tuesday was a day of celebration and ceremony. My family joined me in Austin for the festivities, and I enjoyed visiting with those of you who made the trip to your Capitol for this special occasion. After being sworn in, members of the Texas House unanimously re-elected Joe Straus to again be Speaker by a vote of 150-0. Speaker Straus joins former Texas House Speakers Pete Laney and Gib Lewis as the longest serving members to preside over the House of Representatives.

In his address, Straus touched on job creation, improving protective services for children, and fixing a broken school finance system. Most importantly, Speaker Straus had this to say about compromise and unity this session: "Texans are watching … and we have an opportunity: We can show that there’s still a place for thoughtful and inclusive leadership. We can show that elected officials still know how to solve problems."

Meetings and Speaking Engagements

On Wednesday, I met with the Texas Association of Community Colleges Legislative Committee to discuss the budget as it concerns higher education this session. House District 57 falls into the service area of two community colleges - Angelina College and Blinn College - that play an important role in preparing students to enter the workforce. As chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for funding education in our state, ensuring that community colleges have the resources they need to continue strengthening our workforce is a crucial component of the work we do here.

This week I also met with top officials from the Texas Department of Agriculture to discuss their priorities for the upcoming legislative session. Forestry and agriculture play such an important role in my district and representing the needs of my constituents in these areas remains a top priority for me in Austin.

Reminders

The mobile office is back on the road in January and looks forward to seeing you around the district! Here's this month's schedule: Jan. 18 from 9 to 11 a.m. in Crockett at the Houston County Courthouse Annex or from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Groveton at the Trinity County Courthouse. You can also visit us on Jan. 25 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the San Augustine County Courthouse in San Augustine. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.

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