Legislative Update: A View from "The Lege"
The following legislative update came in from Representative Sarah Davis (HD-134):
(The Legislature is in full swing! Every day, I am constantly reminded of what an honor it is to represent you in the Texas Legislature.
There have been many exciting developments since our last update. The House passed "Voter ID" and the Budget, West U Elementary 4th graders visited the Capitol on a field trip, and I passed my first bill!
You can always follow me daily on Twitter and Facebook, and of course, never hesitate to contact my office if you have any questions or concerns.
The Fight Against Cancer
What an amazing time it has been at the Texas Capitol in the ongoing fight against cancer. Texas is at the forefront of this battle, and every day we are making breakthroughs that will lead to our victory. Recently I met with Executive Director of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) - Bill Gimson, and we discussed the incredible work they are doing across the State and in our very own Texas Medical Center. In 2007 Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment (HJR 90) establishing the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. During the House Budget debate, an amendment was proposed that would have had a devastating impact on the research and ability for Texas to attract the best and brightest minds working to find a cure for cancer. Many legislators, including myself, stood in opposition to this amendment, and I am happy to report it did not pass! CPRIT is a fantastic institution and I will continue to fight to protect it.
I am encouraged and personally blessed by the amazing work that has be done by our very own Dr. John Mendelsohn, President of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. We are all saddened to hear that he is stepping down as president in 2011, but excited to know that he will be the new co-director of the Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy.
On February 22nd I spoke at American Cancer Society's "Light Up the Dome" event. The event was a tribute to cancer survivors and to those who have lost their battle. Illuminated bags, decorated to commemorate those who have been touched by cancer, lined the pathway leading up to the Capitol. Hearing the stories of others affected by cancer and then sharing my own in this setting was a very powerful experience.
The Breast Health Collaborative of Texas and Susan G. Komen for the Cure have both held advocacy days at the Capitol. I continue to admire the work these two groups do for women with cancer, which is why I Joint Authored HR 383, recognizing February 16, 2011, as Susan G. Komen for the Cure Advocacy Day and hosted a breakfast for the Breast Health Collaborative of Texas. I also recognized them on the House Floor.
Tuesday, April 5th was Cancer Awareness Day at the Capitol. As always, it was great to see champions of cancer advocacy visiting the Capitol (Lance Armstrong was here too!). I look forward to the future and the continued advancements toward our goal of curing cancer once and for all.
This session, I have authored several bills that will protect children, Texas history, and to limit liability when in the public interest.
HB 1891 - passed on April 7, 2011, provides law enforcement sufficient time to search for digital evidence, such as child pornography, that is stored on a computer or electronic storage device that has been lawfully seized as a result of a search warrant.
HB 1207 - helps courts identify children at risk of abduction and provides methods to prevent abduction based upon statutorily provided risk factors.
HB 1559 - preserves Texas history by granting court documents filed, presented, or produced from 1860 to January 1, 1951, temporary protection from destruction until rules can be adopted for their retention.
HB 1354 - would extend "Good Samaritan" protections to qualified municipal inspectors who have volunteered to provide disaster response services at no charge during a state declared emergency or disaster.
HB 3802 - would limit the liability of certain utilities that allow access and development of their currently restricted easements for the purpose of hike and bike trails.
The national recession hit Texas hard, and therefore to meet our constitutional requirement of a balanced budget, we had to make many difficult decisions when determining our state's budget for the next biennium.
As your Representative, I constantly strive to do what is best for District 134 and the future of Texas.
On March 31st, the House adopted House Bills 4 and 275 which allowed us to successfully balance the budget for this fiscal year. House Bill 4 implemented $1.2 billion in spending cuts and provided $600 million in new funding to compensate for a shortfall in the Foundation School Program. House Bill 275 authorized up to $3.2 billion from the Economic Stabilization Fund, i.e. the Rainy Day Fund, to close the budget shortfall from 2010-2011.
On Friday April 1st, the House began debating HB 1, our budget for the 2012-2013 biennium. The House considered a $164.5 billion budget proposal, which is around $23 billion or 12.3% smaller than our current budget. In his closing statement Sunday night, Appropriation's Chairman Jim Pitts said, "This budget does four things. It lives within the available revenue that we had to work with. It does not have to rely on new taxes to pay for government programs and services. It does not spend a dollar of the economic stabilization fund on any on-going spending obligations. Finally, it reflects on the principals of limited government."
My vote for HB1 will move the budget process forward, however my vote for the final budget, once it returns from the conference committee with the Senate, will be predicated on the following: 1) prioritizing funding for public education with an emphasis on teachers and classroom excellence; 2) prioritizing essential state services; 3) utilizing additional non-tax revenue uncovered in the budget development process; 4) prioritizing cuts to ensure a fairly balanced budget; and 5) not increasing taxes.
District Office Opening Soon!
I am thrilled to announce that our district office has been approved and should be open next week. The office is located in the heart of District 134, at 3100 Richmond Avenue, Suite 316, across the street from the Harris County Republican Party Headquarters. We will send a formal announcement as soon as it's up and running.
Thank you for all your support. I will continue working hard to represent your interests in the Texas Legislature and look forward to keeping your support!