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.

3
Oct

Are All Politics Dirty?

Politics is what one has to go through to get to Government. You might say it is the road that leads to seeing your vision for your community-whether that be a neighborhood association, municipal utilities district, city, school district, county, state or nation-put into place. And politics is something we love to hate.

I was in a meeting recently when one member of the group said, “I just hate all the dirty politics.” I asked what she considered “dirty politics.” When she had no answer I asked her if a comparison advertisement that compares one candidate to another such as voting record, community involvement, education and the like would qualify as “dirty politics?” She replied that in her opinion it would.

Another member of the group said he thought comparison ads were fair game as long as they are honest. Then he reminded the group of a cowardly and dishonest anonymous letter that was sent out during a recent Sugar Land race smearing a candidate with thinly veiled bigotry and racism. The group agreed that the letter qualified as dirty politics in several ways. First, the author and whoever may have helped send it weren’t courageous enough to put their names on it. Second, the content of the letter was misleadingand dishonest. Finally, the letter personally attacked the candidate. The sad thing about that incident is that Sugar Land is really better than that.

Most people do not take the time or know how to really research candidates in elections. And it is impossible for a candidate to meet every voter in his voting area. That leaves political advertising. Whether it is a newspaper advertisement, radio or television ad or a direct mail piece, the candidate must introduce himself and, often, differentiate himself from the other candidates. We all agree, I think, that saying something that is untrue about your opponent would be dishonest and “dirty politics.”

Comparison ads, however, if done honestly can actually educate the voter. Let’s say you are a candidate for a position. You have lived in the voting district for 28 years. Your opponent moved into the district in order to run 6 months ago. Is it fair to compare the years you have lived there to the time your opponent has lived there? I think it is fair because it is a provable fact. Or perhaps you have voted in the Primary Election of a particular party for 20 years. Your opponent has never voted in that Party’s Primary election but claims to be a staunch member of that Party. Would it be fair to point that out? Again, I think it is because your voting record is public information. While we cannot know for whom you voted we can know that you voted.

I think we can all agree that candidates who use comparison ads should compare themselves with their opponents honestly. But what if a candidate is dishonest about whom they are?In a recent race in Fort Bend County one candidate claimed to be a conservative, even telling some people she was a Republican. A check of the Texas Ethics Commission website and the Federal Elections Commission website showed that this “conservative” had contributed thousands of dollars to President Barack Obama, thousands of dollars to the Fort Bend Democratic Party, thousands more to Democratic Clubs and a whopping $15,000 to Emily’s List- the organization dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic Women. One wonders how the prominent Pro-Life Catholic Republicans who supported her felt when this information was discovered? The voters would probably not know about this hypocrisy were it not for political advertising.

The General Elections are to be held November. Traditionally the campaign season begins after Labor Day. As your mailbox begins to fill up with political mail take the time to look at the pieces. Decide for yourself if the information appears honest, useful and appropriate. When you receive a comparison advertisement look at the comparisons. Are they comparing relevant facts? Do they cite the source of the information?

3
Oct

Dirty Politics and the End of Non-partisan Races

As I see it….

By Gary Gillen

Dirty Politics and the End of Non-partisan Races

“He supports Affirmative Action, raising taxes and amnesty for illegal immigrants…”

“He’s a Tea Party Republican”

In our last issue I discussed political advertising and what constitutes “dirty politics.” I encouraged you to look for “provable” statements in political advertising. Read the two lines above again. Both lines sound like honest, provable statements. It is entirely plausible that a liberal Democratic candidate might state publicly that he supports all three issues in the first line when appealing to party faithful.A Democratic candidate might want to send this message to likely Democratic voters.

The second line, too, might be a position a conservative Republican candidate would publically state when addressing his supporters.If you are a conservative and support the ideals of the Tea Party movement the second line might make you vote for the candidate. Therefore, a Tea Party Republican would want Republican voters to know he identifies with that party and its beliefs.

And both statements might be honest and provable statements in a political race. In fact, both statements were used in a recent race for City Council of Missouri City.

What if we reversed the intended recipients of each message? In mail pieces and automated phone calls sent to Republican voters the first line was used to describe a candidate. Certainly conservative voters would not want to support a candidate who wants to raise taxes and give amnesty to people who broke our laws to get here.The second line went to Democratic households who, presumably, would not support a member of the Tea Party, seen in Texas as conservative.

You might recall that political communications in Texas must carry a political disclaimer so that the reader will know who funded the communication. I reviewed several political mailers in this race and they did not have the required political disclaimer so we cannot tell who sent them. The automated telephone calls did not inform the person receiving the call who originated them. Simply said, voters, who might consider the source of a message in determining its credibility, received these messages by phone and mail with no way to determine the likely accuracy and honesty of the message. The sender, in violation of Texas law, is a mystery. And it is little wonder why these vicious and mean spirited people would hide behind secrecy.

It is because these illegal and dishonest political communications are talking about the same candidate! Neither of these statements is true. By sending a message stating the candidate is a liberal to Republican households and tellingDemocratic households that the candidate is an extreme conservative this dishonest shadow campaign succeeded in ousting a sitting City Councilman who, I am told, served the citizens well. Apparently the originators of this message believe the end justifies the means.They can break the law and lie as long as they win. But even if he had not been a good City Councilman, this is not the waygood people win elections. Apparently they believed their candidate could not win in an honest election. They failed to trust the voters enough to let them decide on their leadership through honest and transparent means and, instead, used deception, dishonesty and secrecy to fool the voters. And shame on the voters for accepting these statements without doing just a little homework. Now that’s dirty politics.

It is apparent that truly “non-partisan” political races are a thing of the past in Fort Bend County.   Fort Bend County Democratic Party Chairman Don Bankston, in a letter addressed to “Dear Democrats” stated, “we have

some excellent Democratic candidates” for Fort Bend School Board and City of Missouri City races. In the race for Missouri City Council “Chris (Preston) is a strong Democrat and supporter of President Obama.”   Preston beat incumbent Danny Nguyen who was the victim of the above mentioned illegal and dishonest advertising.

Fort Bend Republican Chairman Mike Gibson said the GOP “did not actively engage in the campaign because the local races were non-partisan.”   Sounds like a decision the Republicans of Fort Bend County should reconsider. That’s just how I see it.

3
Oct

Zerwas talks Budget and Healthcare

As I See It…

By Gary Gillen

Zerwas talks Budget and Healthcare

The citizens of north Fort Bend County are fortunate to have a State Representative who holds a very powerful spot in the State Legislature. Dr. John Zerwas has become a leader in the House of Representatives serving on the powerful Appropriations Committee, Chairing the Health and Human Services Subcommittee, Chairing the General Investigating and Ethics Committee and serving as a member of the House Health and Human Services Committee.

Zerwas, 59,( R ) Richmond, was first elected to the House in 2006. He has served four terms and is a candidate for reelection in November. Dr. Zerwas agreed to sit down with Katy Christian Magazine to discuss issues of real importance to Katy and north Fort Bend County.

He explained that Texas government operates under a two year budget cycle. He said, “State Agencies are already under a mandate to reduce costs and waste through a reduction of ten percent of operating budgets.” The House Appropriations Committee and its subcommittees have held several hearings during thelast several weeks in preparation for the next session.

The 2014-2015 budget is $200.4 billion with Health and Human Services at 36% ($73.8 billion) and Education at 37%. “Medicaid expenditures make up much of that $73billion and account for about 23% of our state’s General Revenue spending” said Zerwas. He explained that there has been an historical belief that our state’s health care expenditures should not exceed education spending.

According to Zerwas Mental Health is an area that is receiving a great deal of attention. “In the past, most mental health care took place in our county jails. Probably the worst place to treat mental illness” Dr. Zerwas noted. He continued, “This is a major cost driver in our budget. When treatment is not effective or accessible we see the effects outside of the Health and Human Services arena, in our public safety, criminal justice and court systems.” For this reason the 83rd Legislature expanded spending in the mental health area.

The added funding was for: elimination of waiting lists in local mental health authorities, training school-based professionals on prevention and early identification of mental health needs, collaborative, public/private partnerships to allow communities to create whole, wrap-around community endeavors targeting homelessness and behavioral health and targeting specific families at risk of entering the child protective services system including substance abuse slots and psychiatric bed slots for children.

Another area of increased concern for Zerwas is Women’s Health. He explained that there are six million women of childbearing age in Texas today. In 2012 only 71% of women 18-64 had health insurance coverage. Zerwas indicated that “more than 60% of Texas births are paid by Medicaid, and more than two thirds of our Medicaid costs for newborns are related to prematurity. Medical costs for a child’s first year are dramatically different if the child is pre-term.” He said that average medical costs for a full term child are under $500 while a pre-term baby, once he or she has left the hospital could easily exceed $50,000.

For this reason the Legislature budgeted an additional $100 million for primary health care and the health and human services enterprise agencies are working to coordinate the delivery of women’s health services in Texas.

Being a physician, one of three in the house at a time when the health and human service budget is fast growing, Dr. Zerwas is the man legislators seek out when health care is being debated. His grasp of the issues in health care, not just the medical area of which he is clearly an expert, but of the funding and delivery mechanisms of state and federal government is astounding. And with his position on the Appropriations Committee he can speak with great expertise on funding across the entire state government from Agriculture to Space Sciences.

Katy is fortunate to have a capable, hardworking and knowledgeable Representative in Austin. His growing prominence in the legislature will certainly influence the entire state government and benefit the citizens of District 28.

Gary Gillen is vice-president of Gillen Pest Control serving Fort Bend and surrounding counties.