Column from Senator Robert Nichols

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 24, 2013
Contact: Mandy Morton
(512) 463-0103

My five cents...
by Sen. Robert Nichols, Senate District 3

The third week of session has been a busy one with Senate Committee assignments released, as well as several much-talked-about pieces of legislation filed. The halls of the Capitol are teaming with people, and the pace only promises to pick up in the coming weeks.

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

  1. Committee Assignments Announced

    Late last week Lt. Governor David Dewhurst announced the Senate Committee assignments for the current session. I am honored Dewhurst reappointed me to most of the same committees so I can continue the work I already started. This means I will continue to serve on the Natural Resources, Sunset, and Health and Human Services Committees, and as chair of Transportation. I will also remain as vice chair of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee, which affects local and county government.

    However, I have also been added to the State Affairs Committee, a committee dealing with everything from health insurance to workers' compensation. I am pleased to be working on such important, yet diverse, issues. House committees have not been assigned yet, but will likely come next week.

  2. Gun Bills Abound

    Following the recent encroachment of Washington D.C. on our 2nd Amendment rights, many members of the Legislature have filed bills to fight back. Two of the more high profile bills include Representative John Otto's "Second Amendment Preservation Act," House Bill 533, which invalidates federal acts in violation of the Second Amendment and prohibits the enforcement of attempts to ban firearms or the amount of ammunition that may be purchased. Representative Steve Toth also announced plans to file the "Firearms Protection Act," that would make any federal law banning semi-automatic firearms or limiting the size of gun magazines unenforceable within the state's boundaries. Anyone trying to enforce a federal gun ban could face felony charges under the proposal.

  3. "Invoicing the Federal Government Act"

    Senator Estes filed Senate Concurrent Resolution 6, "Invoicing the Federal Government Act." This would bill the federal government for the amount Texas has spent on border security in the past two years. As Senator Estes' bill explains, border security is a federal duty and the cost should not be borne by the citizens of Texas. During the 2012-2013 budget cycle, the state has spent $221.6 million on such operations.

    The federal government has delayed any meaningful action or reform on border security for quite some time, forcing Texans to foot the bill or face unimaginable consequences. An unprotected border allows for the risk of drug smuggling, human trafficking and cartel violence to infiltrate our state and beyond. Perhaps even more alarming is the ease with which members of terrorist organizations could enter the country and wreak unspeakable havoc.

  4. Important Dates for the Legislative Session

    The session may begin at a brisk pace, but as it continues, it picks up to whirlwind status. Here are a few important dates to keep in mind:

    • March 8th - This is the last date bills can be filed.
    • March 11th - Unless the Governor declares emergency legislative items, this is the first day the Legislature may vote on filed legislation.
    • May 27th - This is the final day of the 83rd regular session, which happens to fall on Memorial Day.
    • June 16th - This is the last day the governor can sign or veto bills passed during the regular legislative session.

  5. Follow the Legislature Online

    The Texas Legislature is now more accessible than ever via the internet at www.capitol.state.tx.us. The site allows you to watch hearings, look up bills by subject and keyword, review bill analyses and witness lists, and learn about fiscal implications. You may also sign up to receive e-mail notifications when bills of interest to you are assigned to committee and then advance through the process. I am an ardent advocate for transparency in government and feel this is a huge step forward in that pursuit. By keeping abreast of happenings in your state capitol, you ensure accountability and integrity for all Texans.

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