News Release from Senator Robert Nichols

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2011
Contact: Alicia Pierce
(512) 463-0103

My five cents...

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

Austin — Seven weeks into the legislative session there is an interesting phenomenon. Fewer Senate bills are being filed, about 20 percent less than last session. The decrease in bills, however, does not mean the Senate is any less busy. In fact, it may be that tackling issues like voter ID, eminent domain reform, and prenatal sonograms that results in passing more significant legislation and filing less bills.

Five things happening at your Texas Capitol are:

  1. Asking Congress to balance the budget
  2. On Wednesday, the Senate preliminarily passed a resolution asking Congress to pass a constitutional amendment that, when approved, would require a balanced federal budget. If Congress does not pass such an amendment by the end of the year, then Texas would join a petition to call a constitutional convention for the purpose of passing a balanced budget amendment.

    As a co-author on this resolution, I strongly support ending Washington's dangerous spending spree. With $14 trillion in national debt, the current spending levels of Washington cannot be sustained. The sooner the federal government learns to live within its means, the faster we can reclaim the financial future of our children and grandchildren.

    Some expressed concern that if the states called a convention, the Constitution would be open to other changes besides the balanced budget amendment. The amendment process, however, would prevent radical changes to the Constitution because any amendment would require three-fourths of states to ratify it. While possible changes to the Constitution are something to be cautious about, the risk of those changes is far less than if our federal government continues to spend our country into disaster.

  3. Addressing border insecurity
  4. Also on Wednesday, the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security held a hearing focused on border insecurity. Law enforcement, business leaders and federal officials testified to the intensifying violence in Mexico, some of which is spilling into Texas. There is a clear need for more manpower, better resources and increased communication amongst federal, state and local law enforcement to help keep Texas safe from border threats.

  5. Closing a loophole in bail bond law
  6. This week I filed a bill closing a loophole in our criminal justice system allowing bail bond agents to collect bail even if they fail to produce their client for court. As you may know, bail is a financial guarantee a suspect will stand before a court to answer for their actions. Currently, a suspect may be released on bail, arrested for another crime in a different location, and then the bail agent does not have to produce the client. In the meantime, the county or city that first held the suspect must pay for his or her return. This leaves taxpayers footing the bill for a job the bail agent failed to perform. For me this is an issue of justice. If an agent fails to produce a suspect, they simply should not reap a financial reward.

  7. FFA leaders at the Capitol
  8. This week it was great to see so many FFA members for their day at the Capitol this year. These young men and women represent Texas so well and reminding us all of how important agriculture is to our state. It is always an honor to meet with this and other organizations who are training tomorrow's Texas leaders.

  9. State of the Judiciary
  10. Each session the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court addresses a joint session of the Texas House and Senate to give the State of the Judiciary address. On Wednesday Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson called for several reforms including the way judges are elected in Texas. He advocated doing away with straight-ticket voting for judicial nominees, extending some judicial terms, and allowing judges appointed to unexpired terms to serve a full term before going up for election.

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