SENATOR FRASER VISITS LAMPASAS, GOLDTHWAITE AND HAMILTON
Austin -- State Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) visited with community leaders in Lampasas, Goldthwaite and Hamilton on Thursday. Senator Fraser discussed the upcoming property tax relief special session as well as water rights and telecommunications.
"As the Legislature begins our interim work, I always want to know how my constituents feel about all issues," Fraser said. "Obviously public school finance is important right now because of the upcoming special session, but there are other issues that are also important to each community I represent. This is one way I learn about those issues."
The Texas Legislature will convene on April 17 to address the Supreme Court ruling that the state's method of financing public schools violated the constitutional prohibition against a state property tax.
"First and foremost, the Legislature needs to focus on solving this issue so that there will be no possible interruption of school funding," Fraser said. "The Texas Tax Reform Commission proposal is a good first step to fixing our reliance on local property taxes to pay for public education. Our current tax structure does not reflect our current economy, and I have always believed financing our schools with property taxes is an unfair method of taxation."
While it is important that the business tax be restructured, the Legislature must be careful that business does not bear the full cost of the property tax reduction. "I have always supported a broad based consumption tax that will give us further property tax relief." Fraser said.
As Chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, the Senator also discussed Senate Bill 5, which was the sweeping telecommunications bill he authored and passed last year. SB 5 implements rules to allow new competitors into the video and cable business, and expands opportunities for Texans to get high speed Internet over their existing power lines.
"Senate Bill 5 is a triple play for consumers by allowing a company the ability to offer data, voice, and video services to customers," Fraser said.
"This bill creates a fair and balanced approach to creating additional competition in all aspects of the communications industry. This is a huge step forward for the Texas consumer and will bring in billions of dollars and thousands of jobs to the state."
The bill also includes a provision to allow access to the Internet through existing power lines. Broadband over power lines (BPL) is a new emerging technology which delivers Internet connections just like cable and DSL but through existing electric outlets.
"BPL gives consumers greater choices by offering them the opportunity to have phone service over the Internet via the power lines," Fraser said. "This new technology will increase competition while encouraging new competitors to enter the marketplace, and will help drive down costs while allowing all customers, including those in hard-to-serve rural Texas, more choices."
Senator Fraser also sits on the Senate Natural Resources Committee. He spoke about the importance of water to communities saying "Everyone in Central and West Texas understands that the one common thread that holds communities together is an adequate and reliable water source. In addition to municipal water supplies, the economic livelihood of rural Texas is very dependent on water for agriculture, livestock, tourism and the simple fact that when people turn on the faucet they expect water will flow."
Fraser continued by saying that he looks forward to working throughout the interim with the new chairman of the Natural Resources Committee. "It is important that we continue to work together to make sure water rights are protected while meeting the future water needs of citizens in a reliable and efficient manner" Fraser said.
Senator Fraser represents a 21-county region in the geographic center of the state. He is the Chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. He also sits on the following standings Senate Committees: Natural Resources, State Affairs, and International Relations and Trade.