News Release from Senator Robert Nichols

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12, 2011
Contact: Alicia Pierce
(512) 463-0103

My five cents...

a few important things that happened this week at your Texas Capitol.

While I am not a superstitious person, this Friday the 13th is an unlucky one for some legislators at the Capitol. That is because any House bill that has not been approved by the House as of this date cannot pass this session. It is the first of many end-of-session deadlines the Legislature will face in the coming weeks. While it is the end of the line for many bills, there is still a lot of activity in the Legislature.

Five things that happened this week at your Texas Capitol are:

1. Protecting groundwater

The Legislature passed a bill I sponsored in the Senate to help protect the water supply in areas with proposed injection wells. Injection wells are when large amounts of saltwater or industrial waste are pumped into the ground. House Bill 444 by Rep. Brandon Creighton requires groundwater conservation districts to be notified when a company makes an application for an injection well. As the entity created to protect groundwater in an area, conservation districts deserve to know about the possibility of an injection well. The potential dangers of an industrial waste injection wells are devastating and irreversible. House Bill 444 now goes to the governor for final approval.

2. Prohibiting sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants in Texas

The House approved legislation banning sanctuary cities in Texas. House Bill 12 prevents cities, school districts and counties from enacting policies requiring local law enforcement to ignore immigration laws. Municipalities violating the law could risk losing certain state funds. The bill now heads to the Senate. Gov. Rick Perry has expressed his support for this policy, even adding it to the list of emergency items at the beginning of the legislative session.

3. Preventing frivolous lawsuits

The House passed a lawsuit reform bill that would require losing parties in particular lawsuits to pay the legal costs for the winning party. This would discourage the filing of frivolous lawsuits and help protect the individuals and businesses victimized by such practices. Abusive lawsuits hurt everyone. These suits clog up the court system, slow down action on legitimate cases, and increase the costs of goods and services for all consumers. By creating potential penalties for frivolous lawsuits, Texas can reduce their number and promote a fair judicial system for everyone. The bill now heads to the Senate.

4. Mapping new Senate districts

As you may know, every ten years the Legislature uses the new Census data to redraw the political districts for the state. The proposed map for state Senate districts was released this week. Senate District 3, which I represent, was changed some. Under the proposed map, District 3 would not include any of Smith County and would have less of Montgomery County. While I would be disappointed to lose any part of the district, these changes are needed in order to fairly distribute the population of neighboring Senate districts. Debate on this map will likely begin next week in the Senate.

5. Growing jobs in Texas

While our state still struggles with economic challenges from the national recession, there is good news for our state. Forbes Magazine this week released its annual list of Best Cities for Jobs, with Texas cities topping the lists for best big, mid-size and small cities for jobs. The financial magazine pointed out that delegates from California have come to our state to find out what we are doing right. I believe the reason Texas' economic outlook is improving faster than other states is that we have promoted a business-friendly environment, enacted lawsuit reform, and have kept taxes low. One thing we could do better is invest more in education for Texas' children. These are good things to keep in mind as we pass most legislation in the last few weeks of session.

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