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Legislature begins work on education

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Trent AshbyBy Rep. Trent Ashby
Representing District 9

As we approach the 50-day mark of the 88th Legislative Session, legislators are putting the finishing touches on the bills they intend to file before bill filing deadline and the hallways are bustling with visitors from across the state.

One of the highlights this week was welcoming sheriffs and Texas Game Wardens to the Capitol and recognizing them for their tireless dedication and service.

During the previous session, I authored a resolution designating the third Tuesday in February as Texas Game Warden Day, and I had the pleasure of recognizing these distinguished public servants on the House Floor for their continued efforts to preserve and protect our state parks and abundant natural and cultural resources.

With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol.

The Texas House was hard at work this week as members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III met multiple times to consider our state’s budget as it relates to higher education.

The subcommittee heard testimony from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and numerous institutions of higher learning. Each institution and agency were given the opportunity to lay out their budget requests and answer any questions members of the committee may have. The Committee on Appropriations will continue to hold similar hearings over the next several weeks as members work to finalize the House budget.

Outside of hearings on the budget, the workload in other committees is steadily increasing after the first round of bill referrals.

If you’ve been keeping up with my columns, you’re familiar with my passion for increasing access to reliable broadband access in rural areas. Last session, I was proud to author and pass House Bill 5, which established the Broadband Development Office and charged the office with developing a plan to increase access across the state.

This week, I filed House Bill 2662, which will build upon the work we accomplished through House Bill 5 by enhancing state provisions to align with federal guidelines so that Texas can maximize our potential to receive federal dollars for broadband expansion.

I’m proud to continue working on this important policy initiative and will continue to prioritize legislative efforts to expand broadband access and infrastructure this session.

The Speaker of the Texas House recently unveiled four legislative priorities for this session. While these four bills are only a starting point, the Speaker will soon announce his complete list of priorities for the House.

The first bill, HB 4, would protect Texan’s online data by cracking down on how companies collect profit from personal data.

Another bill, HB 12, extends Medicaid eligibility to new mothers for a year after the delivery of their child.

The third bill, HB 18, would give parents more control over their children’s online data privacy by requiring companies to share access and limit data collection.

The final bill, HB 300, exempts essential baby items, diapers, wipes, and feminine hygiene products from the state’s sales tax.

The mobile office is on the road again and looks forward to seeing you on the following dates, in the following locations: March 1 at the San Augustine County Courthouse from 9-11 a.m.; March 8 at the Polk County Commissioner’s Court Room in Livingston from 9-11 a.m., or at the Tyler County Courthouse in Woodville from 1:30-3:30 p.m.; March 15 at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 9-11 a.m., or at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will post regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and share information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

Trent Ashby represents District 9, which includes Trinity County, in the Texas Legislature.

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