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Huberty updates Chamber on Legislation

HIGHLANDS– State Representative Dan Huberty paid a visit to a district that he will probably not represent after the courts certify the redistricting lines. Huberty said he expected that decision in November, but was glad to visit with the Highlands-Lynchburg Chamber in the meantime.

His talk at the regular luncheon meeting of the Chamber was about the bills that passed or did not, in the 82nd Legislature that finished in April. Huberty was a freshman legislator, representing District 127, everywhere from his home in Kingwood to Highlands.

Because he had served on the school board in the Humble ISD, he was appointed to two committees: Public Education, and State Affairs. He said that he was comfortable and knowledgeable in both areas, and thought these were good appointments.

The legislature originally considered over 6000 bills, and finally passed 1387, but it spent much of its time working to balance the budget and avoid a shortfall in the two-year budget. Originally the shortfall seemed to be about $27 billion bienally, but after cost reductions and the comptroller certifying additional revenue, the shortfall came down to $4 billion. The total budget for two years ended up at $172 billion. Some costs were met by tapping in to the Economic Stabilization Fund, or so-called “rainy day” fund. This was originally $9 billion, but only $5 billion now remains for future emergency needs.

Huberty said that some of the important legislation that passed included the following:

— Voter ID bill, which will require voters to show a photo ID

— Eminent Domain bill, giving property owners additional protection from government “taking” of their property

— Nuisance Abatement bill, providing additional strength to existing laws

— Loser Pay bill, meaning that a loser in a court lawsuit will have to pay the legal fees of both parties. This is meant to discourage frivolous suits

— Fracking bill, requiring Oil Company E & P divisions to disclose what is being injected into the soil to recover shale oil

— Silt bill, restricting illegal sand mining on the San Jacinto River, which is filling up our reservoirs

Huberty noted that a number of bills passed that were not as serious as the previously mentioned laws. In particular, he said the following were necessary but in many cases humorous:

— HB2189, Catfish bill, allows “noodling” or fishing for catfish with only your hands

— HB713, Ferol hogs may now be shot from helicopters

— Dominoes bill, making this the official State Game of Texas

— HB250, permitting the continued manufacture and sale of conventional light bulbs inside the state of Texas, in spite of a federal regulation that will outlaw them nationally in a few years.