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Capitol Comments: April 8, 2016

08 Apr Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Capitol Comments: April 8, 2016
Capitol Comments: April 8, 2016

Capitol Comments 
April 8, 2016

Kent Elementary Receives National Blue Ribbon Award
This Friday, E.L. Kent Elementary School in Carrollton was distinguished as a National Blue Ribbon School for the year of 2015.  Principal Deborah Williams has shown exemplary leadership in helping Kent Elementary achieve this great honor.  The lessons instilled by the Kent Elementary teachers have been vital in guiding students to perform  so well.  My office presented a House resolution and a flag flown over the Texas Capitol to honor the students and teachers of Kent Elementary for this feat.  Kent Elementary is a fine example of the great education in our community.   Kent Elementary, along with Country Place Elementary (also in C-FB ISD), are 2 of 28 elementary schools across the state awarded the National Blue Ribbon Award in 2015.
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LEFT: From left to right: District Director Ebony Wilson, Kent ES principal Debbie Williams, and CFB-ISD Superintendent Bobby Burns. RIGHT: Kent Elementary Students sing a song during the Blue Ribbon ceremony.

Chairmanship Appointment
During the 84th Legislation, I filed and passed House Bill 3750 in an effort to, for the first time in state history, collect data on all real property owned by the state and create a single comprehensive, transparent database.  Another provision in HB 3750 authorizes the creation of House and Senate select committees to study potential ways to ensure the state is able to identify, track, and maintain information on the location, condition, and replacement value of all real property owned by the state.  I was honored to be appointed Chairman of the House Select Committee on State Real Property Data Collection, Reporting and Assessment last Friday.

The committee will also include the Honorable Giovanni Capriglione of Southlake, the Honorable Celia Israel of Austin, the Honorable Renee Oliveira of Brownsville, and the Honorable Ed Thompson of Pearland.  The counterpart Senate committee will be chaired by the Honorable Brian Birdwell of Granbury, the Honorable Kevin Eltife of Tyler, the Honorable Jose Menendez of San Antonio, the Honorable Larry Taylor of Friendswood, and the Honorable Kirk Watson of Austin.

Autism Awareness Month in Texas
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April is recognized globally as Autism Awareness month.  It is an opportunity to recognize the unique challenges and opportunities for individuals on the autism spectrum, as well as their loved ones and health care providers providing support.  This year, Governor Greg Abbott has again declared April as Autism Awareness Month in Texas.

When diagnosed early and properly treated,  most people on the autism spectrum are capable of being productive, largely independent contributors to our society and economy.  The key is early diagnosis and proper treatment.  I am proud to say that Texas is a leading state in making sure those tools are available to its citizens.

To see the full text of Governor Abbott’s proclamation, please click here.
To see a list of the bills I filed concerning Autism in the 84th session, please click here.

Lewisville Dam
As many of you know, the Lewisville Dam’s integrity has been a contentious issue for the past few months.  I am happy to report that construction to control and monitor water seepage as well as improve safety to the spillway will begin in 2018.  Additionally, repairs to the 160-foot long hole in the side of the dam should be finished by the end of this summer.  I appreciate the work of the North Texas congressional delegation to ensure the expedited repair of the Lewisville Dam.  I look forward to continuing working with Congressman Burgess and the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure the stability of the Lewisville Lake Dam and the safety of all nearby residents.  The Army Corps’ transparency and commitment to ensuring dam safety and public awareness is very reassuring.  My office and I remain committed to the safety and well-being of the constituents of  House District 65 and the residents of Texas as a whole.

Last week I was down in Austin to attend hearings for the House Transportation Committee and the House Select Transportation Planning Committee.  Among other matters, the Transportation Committee  was updated on progress that has been made in determining how much it would cost the state to eliminate all toll roads.  As you can imagine the cost is likely to be quite high, as current estimates are north of $30 billion. However, knowing the actual cost is a necessary first step in the process before we can have realistic debates on how to reduce or completely eliminate the number of toll roads operating in this state.

The Select Committee on Transportation Planning was created by House Bill 20, a transportation reform bill I filed during the 84th Legislative Session.  TxDOT and other transportation officials provided testimony to the Select Committee regarding the implementation efforts of HB 20.  I filed HB 20 to bring more objectivity and transparency to the transportation project selection process.

Once the provisions of HB 20 are fully implemented, funding for roads will be administered based on priority and need – as opposed to the current process which favors the most “shovel ready” projects.  Additionally, each proposed project seeking state funding will receive a score based on a set of objective performance metrics, providing the public with detailed information about how and why their tax dollars are being spent.  You can rest assured my staff and I will remain very engaged as the work to implement HB 20 continues.

It is an honor to continue serving you as your State Representative.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office if I may ever be of service.

Best regards,

Ron Simmons
State Representative
House District 65

This publication was not prepared or distributed at State expense