Residents of Lewisville are represented in the Texas Legislature by one State Senator and one State Representative. For Lewisville, we are in Senate District 12, served by Senator Jane Nelson. Two State Representatives cover different parts of Lewisville.
District 12 State Senator Senator Jane Nelson (R, Flower Mound). Capitol Office: CAP 1E.5 Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0112 Capitol Address: P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station Austin, TX 78711 District Address: 1235 S. Main St., Suite 280 Grapevine TX 76051 Phone: (817) 424-3446 State District Offices Email: Submit a form
District 63 State Representative Tan Parker (R, Flower Mound) Capitol Office: EXT E2.602 Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0688 Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910 Austin, TX 78768 District Address: 800 Parker Square, Ste. 245 Flower Mound TX 75028 Phone: (972) 724-8477 Email: Submit a form
District 65 State Representative Ron Simmons (R, Carrollton) Capitol Office: EXT E2.420 Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0478 Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910 Email: Submit a form
Here's one I've been meaning to tell you about, but fell behind in my reporting. As you know I served on the City of Lewisville's Ad-Hoc Gas Drilling Ordinance Committee, which worked with city staff and representatives of all of the local gas drillers to come up with ordinances that work for our city. Our biggest accomplishment was making sure that gas drillers cannot drill too close to homes, schools, parks, day cares, and other protected uses. None of us are anti-drilling; I want to stress that. We just believe that our investments in our homes dictate that we don't allow gas wells right in the middle of residential neighborhoods. We wouldn't want lead smelters, slaughterhouses, paint factories, or any other heavy industry in a place where it is not zoned.
A bill filed in the Texas House of Representatives by Rep. Van Taylor - R, Plano (who does not live where drilling takes place) seeks to undo the careful regulations of cities like Lewisville, Flower Mound, and just about every other city in North Texas that sits on the Barnett Shale.
House Bill 1496 would subject cities to litigation from gas drillers if city regulations cause a gas driller to miss out on the speculated value of the property they have bought or leased to drill on. The loss of value would be labeled a "taking", and the gas company could sue the governmental entity for the value of the "loss".
The only regulations allowed under the bill would be a "reasonable standard established by the political subdivision for oil or gas wells relating to: visual aesthetics; noise abatement; or hours of operation".
Homeowners who could then get stuck with a polluting gas or oil well within 200 feet of their residence may lose property value or suffer safety consequences, but have no recourse. Since the homeowners are only represented by their locally elected city council, instead of highly paid lobbyists bearing campaign contributions, they would not be compensated, as the oil and gas companies want to be.
In Lewisville, the bare minimum distance from a well to an occupied dwelling or protected use is 300 feet from the nearest equipment to the nearest outside wall. This number was set because HUD regulations do not allow home lending on homes closer than that to an oil or gas well. A driller could only go this close with unanimous property owner approval and 3/4ths of the City Council approving. Distances of between 500 and 800 feet are allowed with 3/4ths City Council approval, and distances over 800 feet are allowed with a standard permit.
House Bill 1496 would override the basic rights of a city to control its own zoning and set the highest and best use of property. It would be a win for the drill-at-all-costs oil and gas industry, at the direct expense of homeowners and citizens who get stuck with these wells in their back yards. It removes incentives for drillers to work with cities and with neighborhoods to seek the best solutions for the cleanest, safest operations that fairly protect the most property rights.
The Flower Mound Town Council has passed a resolution opposing the bill. The City of Lewisville needs to do the same. The State of Texas needs to respect the rights of cities to keep heavy industrial sites out of residential neighborhoods. Please contact your state legislators and urge them to put a stop to this bill.
Update 6/16/11: I have received a response from Rep. Parker. It is now included in this post below the original letter.
Dear Representative Parker,
We have met briefly a few times before, but I’ll reintroduce myself just in case. My name is Brandon Cooper, and I grew up in a part of Lewisville that currently lies in House District 63. While I was in school for my undergraduate degree at the University of North Texas, I came to you with some concerns regarding tuition deregulation in Texas. Though we approached the subject from different perspectives, you and your staff were gracious enough to ask me to come to Austin to talk about the issue to the House Committee on Higher Education. A couple of years later, when I was applying for graduate school, your office was nice enough to provide a letter of recommendation for me. I greatly appreciate your support as well as your staff’s in these ventures.
I write to you today not to pick on any partisan issue, but rather to discuss the subject of voter registration. Of course, I have been a registered voter since I became eligible at age 18. Since then, however, my address has changed a few times and I have had to re-register, as is the case in most states. The process in Texas is, to say the least, awkward.
To get to my major concern: there is no online voter registration in Texas.
This is my open letter to my State Rep., Tan Parker, and my State Senator, Chris Harris, regarding public school funding.
Rep. Parker, schools in Texas are already struggling due to a flawed funding formula that failed to take growth and inflation into account. Expensive state and federal mandates have made it more expensive than ever to educate our children. Our local district, Lewisville ISD is already running lean, and there is little left to cut that will not affect the classroom. Under HB 1, Lewisville ISD stands to lose from $44 to $64 million in state funding it is entitled to under current funding formulas the state committed to for so-called "property tax relief".
Anywhere else in society, when someone promises to pay, then reneges, that is considered bankruptcy. The state of Texas is bankrupt due to a lack of revenue, engineered purposely, I believe to derail public education.
Not only is this bankruptcy in the fiscal sense, it's a kind of moral and spiritual bankruptcy to balance our budget on the backs of our children, and our teachers.
I think there are several things that need to be done, and I urge you to find the moral conviction and courage to do them, even though they run counter to the dogma-du-jour of your party:
I don’t know who is more delusional, the people we’ve elected, or the people who elected them. I refer, of course, to the Texas State Legislature and statewide officeholders and their supporters, who continue to insist that we can balance the state budget for the next two years without raising taxes or dipping into the “rainy day” fund, and without doing massive harm to our state and its citizens. I personally think the more conservative voters among us are the most naïve of all and that the Republican politicians are playing a small game with them to create an illusion that they are really humane after all.
Rick Perry kept telling anyone who would listen (and some who wouldn’t) during last year’s election that Texas’ economy is on sound footing and we’ve been able to weather the storms better than other states, and he continued that theme in his inaugural address. “You might say historians will look back at this century and call it the Texas century,” he blustered. He could be right, but it may be for the wrong reasons. Texas just may be blazing a trail for a race to the bottom, achieving the status of what we now call “third-world countries.” And a large part, if not most, of our citizenry will be in denial that it’s happened.
Republicans are very, very good at the game of politics. They have proven themselves to be masters at running campaigns. They just suck big time at governing.
So – at first I was surprised to read that Republicans in the House had introduced an initial bill that cuts $4 billion more than the $27 billion needed to maintain current service levels. But then it hit me that they’re likely engaged in the gamesmanship of lowering expectations so they can later restore $4 billion in funding to crucial areas that they “overcut” in the first place, then add a few more billion from the “rainy day” fund to restore funding to other areas. If I’m right, they will then tout the $8 to $10 billion that they “added” for education, health care for the poor, and other areas, ultimately diverting attention from the $21 to $23 billion that they actually cut from what is needed to maintain current levels.
If this is what Texas Republicans are doing, and I think it is, they will contend to high heaven whenever the subject is raised that they fought tooth and nail to restore the funding and that it was the “best they could do under the circumstances.” The fact that the State Senate came along a few days after the house with an initial budget proposal ($28.8 billion) that was greater than the projected deficit just reinforces my view.
We’ll see how this plays out, but Republicans are literally the best spin experts in history. Two things we do know: Poor and middle-class Texans are going to be hurt badly; and it’s going to get really deep in the BS department before this is over.
The Texas legislature has been at it for a week now. I really miss Molly Ivins at times like this. She was always amazingly upbeat and jocular in the face of the most heinous adversity perpetuated by the more moronic segments of our political culture. Her iconic statement upon the opening of a new legislative session was: “The legislature is in town, and many a village is missing its idiot.”
Unfortunately, I have been unable to work up much joviality when contemplating the likely plight of our state following the 2011 session. I just have a sick feeling that the outcome is going to be really revolting.
First, let me say that the Texas Tribune has excellent coverage of today's events in the legislature. Read their Live-Blog of the day's events.
- Joe Straus was re-elected Speaker. - Local Rep, Tan Parker voted for Tea Party favorite, Ken Paxton. Reps Crownover and Solomons both voted for Straus. In unrelated news, Tan Parker will seated as junior member of the Indian Affairs committee. ;) - Rick Perry declared an emergency over eminent domain reform and so-called "sanctuary cities", which don't actually exist, but are a term the bigoted right has made up for any city that prefers to have their local police focus on protecting citizens instead of getting bogged down in immigration checks and the impact they have on criminal law enforcement. In my book, the budget is the emergency. I don't think legislators should be allowed to discuss or vote on anything until the budget is fixed.
Quote of the day: State Rep. Mike Villarreal , D-San Antonio, countered that the additional spending largely accounts for more children in Texas public schools and colleges and other basic investments in the state's future as its population grows.
"I guess he thinks it's a dream to bother to educate our children as those before us have done," Villarreal said in response to Perry's comments. "I suppose he thinks it's a dream to graduate more Texans with high school diplomas and college degrees."
It's January of an odd-numbered year, and that means the Texas Legislature is about to kick off another session. I hope to be able to bring you some links to relevant news stories, as well as some original news and editorial content on the session.
I also want to point out what I consider to be one of the most authoritative blogs on the Texas Legislature: Capitol Annex. Writer Vince Leibowitz seems to always be among the first to know about the breaking stories, and will often carry liveblogs of the action.
Texas State Senator Kirk Watson gives this talk which should be titled "Nothing good is going to happen".
This is dry stuff, but it is the single most important thing the Legislature does every 2 years. This is the stuff that will have the biggest direct effect on our communities. We'll learn whether we'll have good schools and road maintenance, and all the other essential things the State of Texas is responsible for. Watson does a good job of explaining the situation we're in and what will probably happen.