from the Office of State Senator Craig Estes, District 30

For Immediate Release
January 18, 2005
Contact: Lewis Simmons
(940) 689-0191 or (512) 463-0130

Legislative Rural Caucus Begins Work of the 79th Session

AUSTIN -- The Legislative Rural Caucus held its first meeting during the opening week of the 79th Session in Austin, according to vice chairman Senator Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls.

Membership in the Rural Caucus includes more than 50 members of the Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives. Representative Robert L. "Robby" Cook, D-Eagle Lake, is chairman.

Among the topics discussed at the January 12 meeting was the mission of the Rural Caucus, said Estes, who serves nearly 700,000 constituents across the diverse 18-county Senate District 30.

"The Rural Caucus exists as an informational source for members of the Texas Legislature. Throughout this legislative session, meetings will be held and there will be briefings by guest speakers. The discussions during these meetings will provide members with valuable insight into issues that impact the rural areas of Texas," Estes said.

The Rural Caucus identified numerous issues for future meetings including school finance (both funding formulas and revenue sources), transportation, specifically toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor, agriculture tax exemptions and other finance issues, and various economic development, higher education and natural resource issues.

"Many of these issues are important to rural, urban and suburban Texas; however, the Rural Caucus exists mainly to provide information on the particular impact to rural Texas as legislative members from all parts of Texas work together to find positive solutions," Estes said.

He said members of the Rural Caucus also form coalitions to support measures that offer a positive affect on rural areas. The members strive to be a cohesive group that formulates policy to benefit all Texans, whether they reside in urban, suburban or rural areas.

"As this busy legislative session progresses, the Rural Caucus will be an important source of knowledge and information for its members," Estes said.

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