10
Feb

Why Local Races Matter

As I See It…

By Gary Gillen

Why Local Races Matter

I am occasionally surprised to meet an individual who consistently votes in Presidential elections but does not vote in Party Primaries or Local races. I think we all understand why it is important to educate ourselves and vote in the Presidential race but let’s talk about local races today.

The local level of government has more effect on your daily life than any other. From the location of Stop Signs to speed limits on city streets to where your children go to school it is the local level of government: City Councils, School Boards and, yes, even Home Owner’s Associations that dictate so much of our lives. They determine the taxes you pay on your home and the dues you pay your homeowner’s association. Yet it is these races that are often decided by a very few people.

There are many local and down ballot races and it is so easy to meet these candidates because they go to church with us, shop with us, eat with us. I suspect if you e-mail or telephone any of the local candidates they will gladly come to visit you because they want your vote. As Christians and citizens it is our obligation to let our voices be heard and most important we must educate ourselves, find candidates with whose positions we agree and support them. This includes precinct level county races such as Constable, County Commissioner, and Justice of the Peace.

A word of warning… It isn’t reasonable to expect to find an elected official or candidate with whom we always agree. When you find a politician who agrees with you 100% of the time-be suspicious. Is he or she pandering to you or your community or truly on the same page as you? Voters who refuse to vote for a candidate they do not agree with on every single issue are often called “litmus test” voters.

These voters would rather see the opposition elected than vote for a candidate who is not “pure” enough for their taste. We saw this during the last presidential race when some people felt Mitt Romney, the Republican Candidate for President, was not conservative enough so they stayed home on Election Day and guaranteed President Obama’s re-election.

As you can see, the decisions of voters have consequences. For example, I suspect that I was not the only person surprised by a recent article in a local publication that pointed out that Katy was on the list of Sanctuary Cities. Thinking it must have been a mistake I searched the internet and found Katy listed as a Sanctuary City in several publications. Regardless of whether you think that is good or bad, that is not the reason I mention it.

I mention it because it is an example, admittedly extreme in this case, of the kinds of decisions local elected officials make and why it is important for voters to keep informed of the activities of local government officials.

If you agree with that decision, to make Katy a Sanctuary City, you should let your elected officials know that and vote to keep them in office. If you disagree, you should let your voice be heard and get involved in replacing those who chose to make Katy a Sanctuary City. It’s up to you.

Gary Gillen owns and operates Gillen Pest Control and Gillen Political Strategies in Richmond. He is the only person in history to have served on both the Richmond City Commission and the Rosenberg City Council. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County 2006-2007. He can be reached at Gary@GaryGillen.com

 

16
Nov

Why the Benghazi Hearings Matter

As I See It…

By Gary Gillen

Why the Benghazi Hearings Matter

Supporters of Hillary Clinton will tell you that the Benghazi Hearings went in her favor. They will tell you that the hearings were a waste of time and that nothing new came of them. This is the usual Clinton way of dealing with their many sorties into illegality. Delay, obfuscate then reply that the question has been asked and answered. But it hadn’t, until now.

The Benghazi hearings, capably led by Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, were refreshing in that they were able to provide the American people the facts about the tragic and unforgivable failure of the Clinton State Department to help our Ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans who died as well as the other Americans who valiantly fought for their lives.

Were it not for the hearings, we would not know that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in contravention of US Government rules, set up a server in her home in New York to shield her communications from lawful public scrutiny. All communications by government officials about their job is public information open to Freedom of Information requests by the public. That is true from your City Councilman to the President. Clinton has now admitted that she deleted some 30,000 emails she claims were personal but should she be allowed to make that decision? The FBI is investigating that breach of the law now. And most important, her private server did not have the high level of security the State Department servers do. How much sensitive or Top Secret information is now in the hands of the Chinese or Russians because of her failure to safeguard our information?

Were it not for the hearings we would not know that the Ambassador sent, literally, hundreds of requests for added security for days up to and including the day he was murdered. I don’t know which is worse, that Clinton knew about the requests and ignored them or she surrounded herself with such incompetence that they failed to inform her.

Were it not for the hearings we would not know that, with our facility and its people under siege fighting for their lives, Clinton didn’t rush to the White House Situation Room to direct efforts to save them. She didn’t stay at her desk at the State Department to monitor the event. She went home. And worse, we learned that the President jetted off to Las Vegas for a Democratic fundraiser. All this while Americans fought for and, in four cases lost, their lives.

Were it not for the hearings we would not know that shortly after issuing a press release blaming a video for a “spontaneous protest” she emailed her daughter the truth. The next day, while the Obama Administration continued to blame the video she emailed the Prime Minister of Egypt with these words, “We know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack. Not a protest.”
Even more disgusting, days later, as the bodies of these American heroes arrived in the US, she and the President told the assembled family members the ultimate lie, that the video was to blame. Of course, he had an election coming up and truth was less important to them than winning.

It is rich that the Democrats on the committee railed against the $5 Million cost of the committee as if spending your money bothered them. The cost of finding the truth about what happened at Benghazi was less than the transportation cost of even one of President Obama’s Hawaiian vacations.

Were it not for these hearings, we would not know the truth.

Gary Gillen owns and operates Gillen Pest Control in Richmond. He is the only person in history to have served on both the Richmond City Commission and the Rosenberg City Council. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County 2006-2007. He can be reached at Gary@GaryGillen.com

14
Sep

Does Trump’s Border Wall Make Sense?

As I See It…

By Gary Gillen

Does Trump’s Border Wall Make Sense?

While Donald Trump, who very much wants to be the Republican candidate for President, is not the first person to suggest building a wall along the entire United States border with Mexico, he has certainly brought it back into the conversation in America. Whether you agree with Trump on building the wall or not, every nation has the right, I believe the responsibility, to control its borders. The US/Mexico border from the sister cities of Brownsville, Texas/Matamoros, Tamaulipas to San Diego, California/Tijuana, Baja California is 1,952 miles long. There are 14 pairs of sister cities that push hard against the border. American property rights and Mexico’s lax building codes in these cities have allowed development right to the line in many, if not most, cases.

In these areas where high density and close construction make securing the border difficult, a vehicle and pedestrian barrier makes sense. In fact, it is really the only way to control a border that just a generation ago was merely a formality. It is predominantly in these areas that the United States has erected the costlier pedestrian/vehicle versions of the approximately 650 miles of various barriers built to date at a cost of $2.4 Billion. The variety of barrier along the border ranges from the simple and relatively inexpensive vehicle barriers in New Mexico to the massive triple fence complex east of San Ysidro, California. In Texas the Rio Grande generally serves as the dividing line but with the region’s voracious appetite for water even the river proves a minor obstacle to illegal immigrants. Geography, population density and location make certain barriers advantageous.

In highly crowded settings where border crossers can quickly blend into the local population, very expensive bollard or high steel fence barriers are needed. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel simply cannot respond quickly enough in these areas to stop lawbreakers without the expensive pedestrian/vehicle barriers. But there are hundreds of miles of U.S./Mexico border that are demarcated by a five strand barbed wire fence, if anything at all. There are areas of our border that are so treacherous that the land itself becomes the barrier. It is in these areas, the majority of the border in fact, that building a wall makes little practical and no financial sense at all.

Technology is changing our world and border control is no different. Just as technology allows us to x-ray entire trucks for contraband at the border and check incoming shipments for radioactive material, it also allows us to see people traversing the desert for hours, sometimes days, before they arrive at the border. Ground sensors can alert border guards of approaching vehicles with plenty of time to respond. Balloons, drones and aircraft give agents a view of illegal crossers from the sky. These technologies allow those protecting our border to do more than ever before with fewer personnel at a lower cost than an ultimately breachable fence or wall.

It isn’t the lack of a wall that keeps us from securing our border with Mexico. It is an administration that talks about controlling our borders while actually encouraging this invasion from the south with its policies. While some may try to frame those who want us to control our own borders as racists or anti-Mexican, the real national security dimensions come into focus when viewing the average of 441 Other Than Mexican (OTM) illegal border crossers apprehended EVERY DAY.

And that’s just the ones who got caught.

 

Gary Gillen owns and operates Gillen Pest Control in Richmond. He is the only person in history to have served on both the Richmond City Commission and the Rosenberg City Council. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County 2006-2007. He can be reached at Gary@GaryGillen.com

14
Jul

Zerwas saves Texas students $160 Million, expands opportunity

As I See It…

By Gary Gillen

Zerwas saves Texas Students $160 Million, expands opportunity

 

A college education can be quite expensive. Students who apply themselves can “place out” of classes by scoring high points on AP tests. If a student knows a subject well enough, the theory goes, to score well on an AP test why should he have to take, and pay for, that class? Some institutions of higher education, for reasons of their own, began requiring such unrealistically high scores that they effectively disallowed the practice.

With single class credits averaging $284 per credit hour, parents and students paid a high price for the decisions of these institutions. Dr. Zerwas felt this was unfair. He wrote House bill 1992 to address this issue. The bill requires institutions of higher education to accept credit scores of 3 or higher unless the institution can show through evidence based research that students with a score of 3 or more are insufficiently qualified for the course. With this bill, Zerwas saved our students $160 million.

State Representative John Zerwas, M.D. worked tirelessly to bring higher education opportunities to students in the Fort Bend County area. His success will benefit the youth of our area for generations.

Recognizing the need of Katy area students for a high quality education and convenience he used his position in the leadership of the House of Representatives to make the dreams of our children a reality. Named Chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education Zerwas, well respected by his colleagues in the House and Senate, wrote House Bill 100. This bill provides authority for the University of Houston to acquire land and build a campus in the Katy area. Great news for Katy students!

The bill provides authority for institutions of higher education to issue bonds for the purpose of acquisition of land, construction of facilities and renovation of existing facilities. The $3.1 billion the bill authorizes will target 64 projects in Texas with 3 in Fort Bend County. In addition to the acquisition and construction of the University of Houston facility in the Katy area it also will allow for the construction of a new building at the popular Sugar Land campus. The University of Houston/Wharton County Junior College campus has been a victim of its popularity and is overcrowded limiting opportunities for students. An additional building will open more space for students.

With the construction of the University of Houston at Katy and the new building at the University of Houston campus at Sugar Land educational opportunities for students in Fort Bend County and west Houston improved dramatically. As our economy continues to move toward technology based jobs education becomes even more important. Dr. Zerwas’ leadership in this effort is remarkable in its vision. Recognizing that there is also a great need for skills education he also included funds in the bill for construction of a new campus for the Texas State Technical College in Rosenberg. TSTC has existed in Fort Bend County for over a decade in partnership with Wharton County Junior College at its well- attended Richmond campus. Overcrowding has hampered both institutions. The construction of the Rosenberg campus by TSTC will create room for expanded technical education and relieve overcrowding for classical education at WCJC in Richmond.

House bill 658, also written by Zerwas, created the mechanism for the TSTC campus for Fort Bend County. In order for this long time dream for many in our area to come true Zerwas wrote the bills to create the Fort Bend campus and House Bill 100 to finance construction.

Both of these bills will offer our students more opportunities to become better educated and make Fort Bend County attractive to businesses by creating a well-educated workforce. Dr. Zerwas’ vision will pay dividends in Fort Bend County and Texas for years to come.
Fort Bend County students and businesses are benefiting from the representation of John Zerwas.

Gary Gillen owns and operates Gillen Pest Control in Richmond. He is the only person in history to have served on both the Richmond City Commission and the Rosenberg City Council. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County 2006-2007. He can be reached at Gary@GaryGillen.com

14
Jul

Zerwas Brings College to Katy

As I See It…

By Gary Gillen

Zerwas Brings College to Katy

 

State Representative John Zerwas, M.D. worked tirelessly to bring higher education opportunities to students in the Katy area. His success will benefit the youth of our area for generations.

Recognizing the need of Katy area students for a high quality education and convenience he used his position in the leadership of the House of Representatives to make the dreams of our children a reality. Named Chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education Zerwas, well respected by his colleagues in the House and Senate, wrote House Bill 100. This bill provides authority for the University of Houston to acquire land and build a campus in the Katy area. Great news for Katy students!

The bill provides authority for institutions of higher education to issue bonds for the purpose of acquisition of land, construction of facilities and renovation of existing facilities. The $3.1 billion the bill authorizes will target 64 projects in Texas with 3 in Fort Bend County. In addition to the acquisition and construction of the University of Houston facility in the Katy area it also will allow for the construction of a new building at the popular Sugar Land campus. The University of Houston/Wharton County Junior College campus has been a victim of its popularity and is overcrowded limiting opportunities for students. An additional building will open more space for students.

With the construction of the University of Houston at Katy and the new building at the University of Houston campus at Sugar Land educational opportunities for students in Fort Bend County and west Houston improved dramatically. As our economy continues to move toward technology based jobs education becomes even more important. Dr. Zerwas’ leadership in this effort is remarkable in its vision. Recognizing that there is also a great need for skills education he also included funds in the bill for construction of a new campus for the Texas State Technical College in Rosenberg. TSTC has existed in Fort Bend County for over a decade in partnership with Wharton County Junior College at its well- attended Richmond campus. Overcrowding has hampered both institutions. The construction of the Rosenberg campus by TSTC will create room for expanded technical education and relieve overcrowding for classical education at WCJC in Richmond.

House bill 658, also written by Zerwas, created the mechanism for the TSTC campus for Fort Bend County. In order for this long time dream for many in our area to come true Zerwas wrote the bills to create the Fort Bend campus and House Bill 100 to finance construction.

Both of these bills will offer our students more opportunities to become better educated and make Fort Bend County attractive to businesses by creating a well-educated workforce. Dr. Zerwas’ vision will pay dividends in Fort Bend County and Texas for years to come.

Addressing a more immediate need Dr. Zerwas wrote and passed House Bill 1992. A college education can be quite expensive. Students who apply themselves can “place out” of classes by scoring high points on AP tests. If a student knows a subject well enough, the theory goes, to score well on an AP test why should he have to take, and pay for, that class? Some institutions of higher education, for reasons of their own, began requiring such unrealistically high scores that they effectively disallowed the practice.

With single class credits averaging $284 per credit hour, parents and students paid a high price for the decisions of these institutions. Dr. Zerwas felt this was unfair. He wrote House bill 1992 to address this issue. The bill requires institutions of higher education to accept credit scores of 3 or higher unless the institution can show though evidence based research that students with a score of 3 or more are insufficiently qualified for the course. With this bill Zerwas saved our students $160 million.

Fort Bend County students and businesses are benefiting from the representation of John Zerwas.

Gary Gillen owns and operates Gillen Pest Control in Richmond. He is the only person in history to have served on both the Richmond City Commission and the Rosenberg City Council. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County 2006-2007. He can be reached at Gary@GaryGillen.com

15
May

Higher Education

As I See It…

By Gary Gillen

Higher Education

Katy area State Representative John Zerwas was appointed by the Speaker of the Texas House to lead the House Committee on Higher Education. One of the most important committees in the Legislature, it puts Dr. Zerwas, now in his fifth term representing the citizens of Fort Bend County, in one of the top leadership positions in the House of Representatives.

Katy is one of the fastest growing communities in the Houston area. Surveys consistently show that people are attracted to communities with great amenities such as parks, shopping and schools. When I was Republican Party Chairman in Fort Bend County I said many times that what we want, regardless of race, religion or origin is a safe place to raise our families, good schools for our children and a good job. Katy has all that but in the competitive environment in which cities and counties operate, any extra amenity helps in the competition for residents and businesses.

Being the Chair of the Higher Education Committee, places State Representative Zerwas in a great position to help steer higher education funds and facilities to our area. In fact he has sponsored several pieces of legislation to do just that. At the time of this writing the Legislature is still in session and they have not yet adopted the budget so the fate of these bills is not yet known. By the time this column is published, assuming the Legislature has adopted a budget during the regular session, we will know if they have passed. If the Legislature has not adopted the budget by June 1, the Governor will call a special session because the Legislature MUST adopt a budget.

House Bill 100
This bill provides the opportunity for institutions of Higher Education to issue bonds for the purpose of financing construction and renovation projects. These institutions desperately need this ability to meet the needs of their students and to build for the future. Specifically this will enable the University of Houston to acquire land and construct a new building in the Katy region and build a new academic building in Sugar Land. This will provide for more educational opportunities for our students and help address workforce needs in Fort Bend County and beyond. It will also provide for the construction of a new Texas State Technical College System campus in Fort Bend County.

House Bill 658
Dr. Zerwas sponsored this bill, which has passed the House and the Senate and has been sent to the Governor for his signature, to enable the Texas State Technical College System to create a campus in Fort Bend County. This will give our students additional educational opportunities and create a positive economic impact in the area.

House Bill 1992
This bill could save Texas Families $160 Million in tuition costs! Through Advanced Placement high school students can take college level courses while in high school and earn college credit before graduation from high school. At an average college class credit cost of $284 per hour, every hour earned in high school saves families a lot of money. In 2013 over 190,000 Texas students received scores of 3 or higher on AP exams, which represent 570,000 college credits. But not all universities accept a score of 3. This bill requires institutions of higher education to accept a 3 or higher unless they can show through evidence based research that these students are unprepared for secondary courses.

Katy is fortunate to have State Representative Zerwas, with his position in House leadership and foresight for our children’s future and the future of Katy.

Gary Gillen owns and operates Gillen Pest Control and Gillen Political Strategies in Richmond. He is the only person in history to have served on both the Richmond City Commission and the Rosenberg City Council. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County 2006-2007. He can be contacted at Gary@GaryGillen.com

15
May

Special Session

As I See It…

By Gary Gillen

Special Session

Because the Legislature meets for only 140 days every other year in Regular Session it is not always possible to get all the work done the Legislature needs to do. The one thing they must do is adopt a biennial budget. That is often the most contentious bill the Legislature must pass. The budget sets the course and priorities for state government and its agencies. The Federal Government is run by Secretaries of the various Federal agencies. Texas is different. Texas government is run by boards and commissions. The members of those Boards and Commissions are appointed by the Governor with the Advice and Consent of the Texas Senate. The Budget tells those individuals what the Legislature deems important.

There are so many decisions that our legislators must make in a very compressed period and many members have projects that are important to their constituents and all of these interests are trying to get their issues addressed through the budget. For this and other reasons it may be impossible for the House and Senate to agree on and adopt a budget. And even if the House and Senate agree on the budget and send it to the Governor he may veto the budget if he does not like what is in it or what is not. If the Legislature cannot agree on a budget by the end of the session or the Governor vetoes it then a Special Session must be called by the Governor.

The Governor may call a special session or several special sessions at any time the Legislature is not in session. Each Special Session has a 30 day maximum. The Governor alone decides the topics to be addressed in the Special Sessions. In 2013, you may recall that then-Governor Rick Perry called the Legislature back to Austin for three Special Sessions. After the 83rd Regular Session which ran from January 8 to May 27, 2013, He called a Special Session that began the last day of the regular session and ran until June 25th. The major topics were to adopt the Redistricting Plan as ordered by the Federal Courts; Transportation Infrastructure funding; Establish a mandatory sentence of Life with parole for a capital felony committee by a 17 year old; and Establish regulation of abortion procedures, providers and facilities.

The Governor called the legislature back into session on July 1 for a thirty day session to consider Legislation Establishing a Mandatory Sentence of Life with Parole for a Capital Felony committee by a 17 year old; Funding Transportation Infrastructure projects; and Regulating Abortion procedures, providers and facilities. Three issues from the previous Special Session.

Finally, on July 30, the last day of the Second Special Session, Governor Perry Called the Legislature back for a Special Session with one major job. To consider Transportation Infrastructure projects. They completed the task in 7 days. Perhaps they were ready to go home after having been in session 207 days.

As I write this column we do not know if a Special Session will be needed. But with a couple of weeks left in the 84th Regular Session the House and Senate must still address the Budget, School Finance, Tax Reform, handgun legislation and other issues. Both Chambers agree that tax reform is needed but each has a different plan. The House concentrating on Sales Tax reduction while the Senate wants to reduce property tax.

All of these issues are important and some or all of them may be better considered in a special session with limited issues to consider. Let’s hope a Special Session isn’t needed.

Gary Gillen owns and operates Gillen Pest Control and Gillen Political Strategies in Richmond. He is the only person in history to have served on both the Richmond City Commission and the Rosenberg City Council. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County 2006-2007. He can be contacted at Gary@GaryGillen.com

14
Jan

A Bill’s Perilous Journey

As I See It…

By Gary Gillen

A Bill’s Perilous Journey

With the Legislature in session it is a good time to reflect on the perilous journey a legislative bill must travel and the many ways it might die. Our government is made up of the Courts, the Executive and the Legislature. Courts can’t make law (or shouldn’t), the Executive can’t make law but must enforce it so only the Legislature, under the Constitution of Texas, can make laws. They do this by introducing a Bill. We, in Texas, have a bicameral legislature. It is composed of the Senate and the House. Bills may be introduced by members of either chamber but must pass both to reach the Governor’s desk. Each chamber has its own rules for filing a bill but they are relatively similar.

In the House a Representative may file any bill during the first 60 calendar days of the Legislative session. Bills may only be filed after the first 60 days with a 4/5th vote of the members present and voting unless it is an emergency appropriation, a local bill or an emergency matter sent over by the Governor. Once a Bill has been filed with the Clerk of the House or the Secretary of the Senate it is read to the body, by caption only then, referred by the Speaker (in the House) or the Lieutenant Governor (in the Senate) to a Committee.

The Committee is the first place a bill can die. Once the Bill is referred to a Committee it must be posted for consideration so that the public knows it is being considered. Public hearings are scheduled so the Committee can receive testimony from experts and the public about the Bill. With hundreds of Bills to hear it is not unusual to see Committees meeting well into the night. Competing interests become very evident here. Depending on the issue, public hearings may adjourn and restart many times. Testimony can take hours. I remember once testifying for 45 minutes, answering the Senators’ questions in a Finance Committee hearing while 50 other people waited to testify. And it was 11pm. Once the Committee has heard testimony and studied the Bill sufficiently, it will consider the Bill. The Committee might take no action. This effectively kills the Bill. Or it might vote to report to the Body (Senate or House) with a positive report.

A Bill reported to the House or Senate with a positive report from the Committee must be sent to the appropriate Calendar Committee. Another perilous stop on the road to becoming law! There are various Committees and Calendars. In the House there is a Committee on Calendars and a Committee on Local and Consent Calendars. The Clerk of the House refers the bill to the Appropriate Committee. The Committee then schedules a time for debate on the floor. But not every Bill makes it on the calendar and the later in the session the less likely the Bill will get on a calendar.

On debate day the caption or title of the Bill is read to the House or Senate. The Bill is then debated on the floor. It can be amended, passed or defeated. If it passes it goes to the other body and follows the same path. If both bodies vote for the Bill it goes to the Governor, who can sign it, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

The life of a Bill is tough and sometimes very short!

 

Gary Gillen owns and operates Gillen Pest Control and Gillen Political Strategies in Richmond. He is the only person in history to have served on both the Richmond City Commission and the Rosenberg City Council. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County 2006-2007. He can be contacted at Gary@GaryGillen.com

14
Jan

What Are They Doing in Austin?

As I See It…

By Gary Gillen

What Are They Doing in Austin?

As I sit here watching the Texas House of Representatives elect their Speaker, I’m reminded that in the next 140 days these men and women will see constituents from their districts, delegations from business and many other interests while attending committee meetings to hear testimony on the seven thousand to nine thousand bills that will be introduced.  It is a huge job and a short time during which to accomplish the business of Texas.

But little will happen to those bills during the first weeks of the session.  Texans have a strong mistrust of government.  Our Constitution limits the speed at which bills move through the process to slow legislation down.  In the House the only requirement is to pass a biennial budget.  That budget is usually made public in the first week of the session.  But that bill creating the budget is traditionally introduced by the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.  This session begins without an Appropriations Chairman so HB/SB 1, traditionally the Bill number of the budget, may not be filed immediately.  It is expected that the Speaker of the House, Joe Straus, will have named committee chairs by the first week of February.  Once a Chairman of the Appropriations Committee is named, the budget will be the hot button issue of the 84th Legislature.

During the period that the Speaker is deciding on Chairmen for committees, the House determines rules by which they will operate and settles many housekeeping issues.  But, I believe the real reason for the delay in appointing committee chairs is to slow the process.  With few committee chairmen in place there are fewer committees meeting. With fewer committees meeting less testimony is heard and fewer bills are considered in those committees.  That means fewer bills make it to the calendar to be heard on the floor.

But that may be best.  With bills pushed farther back in the session it is less likely that a frivolous bill will survive the gauntlet our legislature creates for them.  With seven to nine thousand bills introduced each session the process is intended to make certain that every bill the legislature passes has been thoroughly considered and the public has had an opportunity to testify to the committee hearing it or has been able to express his or her opinion on the topic to their Representative and Senator.

By spending time at the beginning of the session debating rules and carefully adopting procedures that insure the minority is heard and important issues facing Texas are addressed, the Legislature is doing what Texans want.  By pushing committee appointments back a few weeks thereby moving bills later in the session, the process keeps our Legislature from “over-Legislating”.

It may seem an inefficient (because it is) and a cumbersome (because it should be) way to make laws, but these traditions and rules enable the Legislature to address the truly important issues we face without allowing enough time for the creation of laws we do not need.

Still, it is a major sacrifice our representatives make when they are elected.  And while we may not always agree with them we do owe them our respect and gratitude.    I wish the US Congress followed the same schedule!

 

Gary Gillen owns and operates Gillen Pest Control and Gillen Political Strategies in Richmond.  He is the only person in history to have served on both the Richmond City Commission and the Rosenberg City Council.  He was the Chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County 2006-2007.  He can be contacted at Gary@GaryGillen.com

4
Dec

Senate District 18

As I See It…

By Gary Gillen

Senate District 18

The voters of the United States dealt a devastating blow to the Democratic Party and repudiated
the policies of President Barack Obama by increasing the Republican control of the United States
House of Representatives and sweeping the Democratic leadership from their control of the US
Senate by handing Republicans control of that body as well. Before the election President Obama
famously stated that while he was not on the ballot his policies were.  The voters showed him just
how they felt about those policies.  The Obama administration’s over-reaching drive to intrude
into every area of American life helped convince voters to elect even more Republican governors.
The states have long been the laboratories of democracy.  This administration’s efforts to
federalize every issue has backfired with the voters.

In Texas voters again placed Republicans in every statewide office including Senator Glenn Hegar
who was elected State Comptroller.  Republicans increased their numbers in both the Texas House of
Representatives and the Texas Senate.  Voters may feel they have done their job but there is more
to do.  As a consequence of the election of Hegar to the office of Comptroller he resigned his
Senate seat and the Governor called a special election to elect a candidate to complete the
remaining two years of Hegar’s unexpired term.

As this column went to press three candidates had announced their intentions to run for the
office.  State Representative Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham explained that “Texas Senate District 18
includes roughly half of Fort Bend County and all or parts of 20 more counties.”  From the Gulf
Coast at Corpus Christi to Caldwell in central Texas the 18th district is large and diverse.
While the election is open to any candidate from any party, the sheer size of the district will
require a formidable candidate with a well funded campaign to be able to reach voters.

In an interview, Kolkhorst explained the role her faith plays in her office of State
Representative.  “My faith serves as a compass that guides me each day.  I strive to make every
decision in the Legislature with the knowledge that He is guiding me and I often use my daily
devotion for inspiration.”

Kolkhorst has chaired the House Public Health Committee and in the 83rd Legislature fought the
expansion of Obamacare in Texas by teaming up with Governor Perry and Senators Cornyn and Cruz to
resist President Obama’s push to expand Medicaid in Texas.  She also led the battle to stop the
Trans-Texas Corridor.  Known for her history of fighting to protect property rights from eminent
domain abuse by government overreach she felt the project unduly harmed property owners and
Texans.

Kolkhorst has an impressive campaign fund and has been easily raising funds for this race.  Gary
Gates, a business man from Richmond has the ability to fund his campaign personally.  While
controversial, he has good name recognition from his past unsuccessful races for various offices.
He has run in the past for State Representative twice, school board twice and this is his second
run for Senate.  Also running but with less name recognition is Charles Gregory of Simonton.

This race will be hard fought and very quick so name recognition and money will certainly be a
benefit.  With Kolkhorst’s past experience as a State Representative, large war chest and
indefatigable spirit, she is a formidable foe for Gates and Gregory.