Pete’s Periódico: The Census is Here, Shape Your Future

Originally published on March 10, 2020. 

There were 28,995,881 people living in Texas in 2019––or at least we think so. That was the estimated population projected from the 2010 U.S. Census, an official count of our population as a country and state. Now it’s time to count again.
Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the Census occurs every 10 years. Participating in the Census means you are participating in your future: the official population given by the Census impacts federal funding amounts, school district populations, Texas Congressional delegation size, and more.
During the last two weeks of March, you will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail at your household. The notice will give detailed information how you and your family can respond to the Census online, by phone, or by mail. By April 1––National Census Day––every home should have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census.
Information reported to the Census is safe and secure. By law, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your family, your business, or your immigration status. We need every Texan to participate in the Census. This is the time to shape your future. If you have questions, please visit the U.S. Census website: https://2020census.gov/
As populations change, so must legislative representation. New legislative districts for Congress, Texas House, Texas Senate, and more will be redrawn during the 87th Legislative Session beginning in January 2021 following the Census count. But the work begins now. The Texas Senate Redistricting Committee will host a series of field hearings, coming directly to communities across this state.
Unfortunately, the initial hearings planned for late March are being rescheduled due to public health risks associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19). As a member of the Committee, I urge all Senate District 19 constituents to participate by attending a future Redistricting Committee hearing or otherwise contacting my office to share your comments and concerns.
Texas is not standing idly by on coronavirus. Our state and local leadership is facing the threat head-on, with six public health labs ready to perform COVID-19 tests in Austin, Houston, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, and Lubbock. The remaining four labs in Tyler, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Harlingen will have testing capabilities very soon.
The state’s public health lab network will be able to test over 125 patients per day once the entire network is equipped. The ability to provide testing in Texas will help shorten the time for healthcare providers to receive test results and public health officials to take appropriate steps.
As Texas does everything in its power to stop the spread of coronavirus, so can you. I encourage all Texans follow the recommended Texas Health and Human Services practices to prevent coronavirus: Wash your hands often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds––especially before eating or after using the restroom. If soap is not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick. Always cover your cough or sneeze; clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. If you feel sick, please consult a doctor and stay home if able.
If you have any questions, I encourage you to contact the following state and federal agencies. Texas Department of State Health Services can be reached via phone at 1-877-570-9779 or email at coronavirus@dshs.texas.gov. More information can be found at the following website: https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/. A complete list of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19) local health entities can found at the following website: https://dshs.texas.gov/regions/2019-nCoV-Local-Health-Entities/. Information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention can be found at the following website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/.

Pete’s Periódico: Tales of the West

Originally published on February 10, 2020.
This year started with a trip to the western edge of Senate District 19. Our district stretches 400+ miles northwest of where I live in Pleasanton to Pecos, counting a few miles of the border with New Mexico. The West Texas tour included five events hosted by my office, plus another two hosted by other groups.
We began in Ozona for lunch where I was able to visit with constituents over burgers at the Hitchin’ Post Steak House. We went next to Ft. Stockton for a grand opening and open house of my District Office, blocks away from the library and Historic Ft. Stockton. We finished the first day with a Town Hall in Pecos.
The following morning, we drove to Alpine for a series of meetings related to oil, gas, and the energy industry at Sul Ross State University. In between events, we hosted an afternoon meet and greet in Alpine. Finally, the next morning we stopped in Marathon for a coffee and meet and greet before heading back home.
It was a great trip and a much-needed opportunity to visit with constituents. Marshal Hoak, my West Texas Constituent Liaison, is based in Ft. Stockton and serves the area composed of Brewster, Crockett, Pecos, Reeves, and Terrell counties. Please reach out to us with any concerns––it is one of my unique challenges to balance the different issues facing the variety of Senate District 19 locales: urban city, rural area, border town, energy-rich sector. Hearing from you helps me continue to serve you effectively.
I would like to congratulate two Senate District 19 public servants on appointments to statewide boards by Governor Greg Abbott–– Crystal City Mayor Frank Moreno and Pleasanton City Manager Johnny Huizar. Moreno was appointed to Governor’s Broadband Development Council and Huizar to Texas Municipal Retirement System Board of Trustees.
Additionally, Governor Abbott designated Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward to the Texas Violent Gang Task Force. The task force forms strategic partnerships among local, state, and federal criminal justice, juvenile justice, and correctional agencies to better enable those agencies to take a proactive stance towards tracking gang activity and the growth and spread of gangs statewide.
I view advocating for Senate District 19 constituents for appointments on boards and commissions as one of the most important parts of my job as a State Senator. Our communities need and deserve a seat at the table––check board positions on the governor’s website and notify my office if one aligns with your qualifications and expertise.
The Senate Redistricting Committee is about to begin a tour of field hearings around the state, with plans to visit over a dozen cities to hear from the public on this important issue. All dates and locations are still tentative, but it is likely the first of such hearings will occur in San Antonio in late March.
The decennial redistricting process is difficult. The Texas Legislature aims to make the process as efficient, transparent, and accessible as possible; these field hearings are a key part of that strategy. Myself and the other Committee members look forward to hearing from Senate District 19 constituents at this hearing. More information coming soon.

Flores opens Fort Stockton office

Sen. Pete Flores held a grand opening for his Fort Stockton district office on Jan. 14. The District 19 covers over 460 miles from Eagle Pass to San Antonio.While the office has been operating for a few months, Flores now has a full-time staff member working to answer constituent questions and be the local presence for the western part of his district. “I felt the office needed to be here,” said Flores. “For me, it’s about representation.” The office will be staffed by Marshal Hoak, who plans to be available weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by phone at (432) 336-8836. The office is at 612 N. Main St. Hoak may also be reached at marshal.hoak@senate.texas.gov.

Pete’s Periódico: Raising Awareness of Human Trafficking

Originally published on January 13, 2020. 
Happy New Year, Senate District 19. I hope you enjoyed your holidays; between field Redistricting Committee hearings, interim charges, other Committee meetings, constant town halls and events across the District, this year is sure to be a busy one.
During this month of January, the state of Texas is trying to raise awareness of a sad but ever-present issue: human trafficking and child exploitation. Governor Greg Abbott proclaimed January 11, 2020 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day and the entire month as Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
At any given time, our state has approximately 234,000 victims of labor trafficking with another 79,000 children who were in the sex trade, according to the Texas Attorney General’s office. These are staggering numbers and as Texans, we refuse to stand idly by.
In addition to the Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime Section of the Attorney General, I supported legislation creating the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Task Force in the Governor’s Office. This task force, composed of individuals from state agencies, trade associations, medical staff, law enforcement, and more, will serve as a place of ideas, future policy, and coordination for all forms of sexual assault and abuse. Additionally, the Texas Secretary of State established the Texas Businesses Against Trafficking; a network of businesses committed to working together to combating human trafficking.
All these divisions and more focus daily on freeing men, women, and children from modern-day slavery. In an effort to raise awareness of this issue, billboards across the state of Texas appeared towards the end of last year, featuring a trafficking victim and the simple message: “Can you see me?”
Advocates against human trafficking believe that victims are often in plain sight. Clues associated with human trafficking victims include: controlled (verbally, financially, transportation, etc.) by another person; signs of physical or substance abuse; overt lack of trust; lacks official identification or few personal belongings; bad health or malnutrition.
The billboards, displayed in English and Spanish, urge the public to report possible instances of human trafficking to the Polaris National Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 (or text at 233-733) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678.
In my work as a Texas Game Warden, I relied on the community in which I was serving to help enforce the law and preserve public safety. The same is true for human trafficking. Our law enforcement in Texas relies on us to be on the lookout, reporting suspicious activity. Please take a minute to save these numbers in your phone. Join me and millions of other Texans in the fight to end human trafficking.
This week, I will be traveling across the western part of Senate District 19, hosting town halls and attending events in Ozona, Ft. Stockton, Pecos, Alpine, and Marathon. I look forward to seeing many of you out there––visiting with constituents is one of the best parts of my job as a Texas Senator. As always, feel free to call my Capitol office or District office near you with any questions or comments.

Pete’s Periódico: Committees, Commissions, and Christmas!

Originally published on December 9, 2019. 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! This month started with two Senate Committee hearings: Health and Human Services and Finance. Both committees discussed interim charges; this is the first time either committee has met since the conclusion of the 86th Legislative Session. I was glad to be back in a committee room at the Texas Capitol, joining my other Senators to hear from government officials, stakeholders, and the public on these issues.
Health and Human Services discussed the emerging public health concern of e-cigarettes and implementation of Senate Bill 21, which raised the legal age of smoking tobacco to 21. We also examined the current status and future direction of Texas healthcare. In Finance, we discussed stronger restrictions on constitutional state spending limits, economic dynamics of current business personal tax, and implementation of House Bill 1525, related to online marketplace taxes.
I recently attended the Winter Meeting of the Education Commission of the States. This Commission is a community of state policymakers, supporting all 50 states and four territories to guide education policy. I was appointed to the Commission by Governor Greg Abbott in August and serve alongside another Senator, two Representatives, and three other government officials.
I enjoyed this time to dive in to education policy, from pre-K to college. As a member of Senate Higher Education Committee, I found it helpful to connect with other state legislators, policy groups, and other stakeholders. I couldn’t help but brag on the importance Texas places on education, sharing recent major school finance reform from the 86th Legislative Session.
The holidays are finally here, the perfect time for cookies, carols, and crime. Criminal activity tends to spike this time of year; the Texas Department of Public Safety is reminding Texans to stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement. To aide vigilance, DPS created a mobile app to make reporting quick and easy. Called iWatchTexas, the app is free and available for Apple and Android phones; Texans can also submit reports online at www.iwatchtx.org or by calling 1-844-643-2251.
While we’re talking about DPS, you may have heard the Legislature invested almost $200 million to help alieve the disastrous wait lines at DPS driver license offices. DPS aims to hire over 500 new staff members with the new funds, in addition to other reforms such as an appointment system. Keep in mind that under a year from now­––October 1, 2020––all Americans will require a REAL ID for official federal government purposes, such as boarding a domestic flight or entering a federal building. REAL IDs are denoted with a gold circle with an inset star located in the upper right-hand corner of a license. More information can be on the DPS website.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from myself, my family, and my staff. I hope you spend this time with dear friends and family, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and the end of a great year.
One gift you can give me during this holiday season: feedback. I need feedback from my constituents to serve you as a Texas Senator in the manner you deserve and expect. I ask that you complete an online survey of the issues most important to you and your family. The survey takes around find minutes and can be easily completed via computer or phone by visiting the following link: www.senate.texas.gov/SD19survey.
As always, feel free to call my Capitol office or District office near you with any questions or comments. Merry Christmas!


Pete’s Periódico: Redistricting Begins

Originally published on November 14, 2019.
On this recent Veteran’s Day, I was fortunate to spend most of the day around veterans of Senate District 19. Thank you again to all the men and women in the U.S. armed forces, fighting for our country and its liberties daily. The day served as a reminder that it only because of our armed forces do we enjoy this free Constitutional republic. Thank you all for your service.
A key to that Constitutional republic is the decennial Census; an official count of Americans and where they live. That data is crucial to a subsequent decennial event: legislative redistricting. Every ten years, states must redraw legislative districts to fit the new population according to Census results, ensuring each American is fairly represented in his or her state legislature and the U.S. Congress.
In Texas, that means counting our tremendous growth. Over the past decade, an estimated millions of people have moved to Texas––seeking the Lone Star haven of liberty, prosperity, and opportunity. That growth, in addition to newborn Texans, means the district lines drawn earlier this decade are outdated and its time for a refresh.
Redistricting must occur via legislation, passing through the Texas Legislature like any other bill––legislators “draw” maps for Congress, State Senate, and State House to reflect new populations. That will be a primary focus of the 87th Texas Legislature beginning January 2021, but the work begins now.
This summer, I was appointed to the Texas Senate Select Committee on Redistricting. This committee, composed of 17 Senators, will be the origin point for all redistricting in the Senate. We held our first committee hearing at the end of October, featuring invited testimony only from Texas Legislative Council, Texas Attorney General, U.S. Census Bureau, and various redistricting and demography focused groups.
Next year, the Redistricting Committee will travel around the state, holding field hearings to allow the public to speak before the committee and share any comments or concerns. The committee is planning over a dozen of these hearings beginning in March; dates and locations are tentative.
Additionally, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick released interim charges recently. Whether its researching specific policy or monitoring implementation of legislation passed, every Senate committee has interim charges to focus on. Committees will hold hearings to discuss certain charges in detail before the next 87th Legislative Session, seeking both public input and subject-matter expert insight. Look for more information on redistricting and interim charges field hearings in the future.
I need feedback from my constituents to serve you as a Texas Senator in the manner you deserve and expect. To aid in this goal, I ask that you complete an online survey of the issues most important to you and your family. The survey takes around find minutes and can be easily completed via computer or phone by visiting the following link: www.senate.texas.gov/SD19survey.
As always, feel free to call my Capitol office or District office near you with any questions, comments, or concerns. I serve in the Texas Senate to fight for you. Please visit my Senate website for more information: www.flores.senate.texas.gov.

Pete’s Periódico: Town Halls and Election Day

Originally published on October 15, 2019

Lytle, Ozona, Del Rio, San Antonio––this fall started with visits to all parts of Senate District 19, giving me an opportunity to continue meeting constituents, catching up with old friends, updating everybody on the good work done in the 86th Texas Legislature.
A recent district tour included a town hall in Eagle Pass, coffee and donuts in Del Rio, lunch in Brackettville, and another town hall in Uvalde. Although my calendar has been packed with events, this was among the first hosted by my Senate office to connect with you. Thank you to the hundreds of folks who came out.
We have another town hall in Castroville this week and future events in west Texas and San Antonio. As always, watch this column, my social medias, and my Senate website to remain updated on all events. If you are a part of an organization and would like me to visit, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
A big event is around the corner that we should all participate in: Election Day. November 5, 2019 is Election Day in Texas, where citizens will vote on ten Constitutional Amendments plus various municipal and county decisions, depending on where you live. Early voting begins Monday, October 21. Please contact Texas Secretary of State or your local county clerk to see a sample ballot and find polling places.
Amending the Texas Constitution is no trivial task; I encourage Texas voters to take this responsibility seriously and explore all ten propositions on the ballot. Today I want to highlight two propositions in particular.
Proposition 4 prohibits the imposition of an income tax in the state of Texas. I remain fully supportive of prohibiting an income tax, allowing Texas families to keep more of their hard-earn money and preserving the Texas model of low taxation and regulation. Voting “For” prohibits the imposition of any possible income tax in the future; voting “Against” leaves the option of a future income tax open, should the Legislature decide to do so.
Proposition 5 redirects revenue of an existing sporting goods tax to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas’ parks and historic sites; the proposition does not create a new tax. The sporting goods sales tax is already collected from bicycles, hunting equipment, fishing tackle, and related items typically enjoyed in a state or local park.
For that reason, the Legislature has historically allocated most or all of the sporting goods sales tax to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. This proposition cements that status quo, guaranteeing the revenue in the future. Voting “For” this proposition guarantees Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission will receive sporting good sales tax revenue in the future; voting “Against” leaves the option open to future Legislatures.
Have you checked your mailbox this week? My official Senate newsletter should be arriving any day now; this six-page newsletter goes into detail how my colleagues and I in the Texas Legislature worked for you, focusing on eight key policy areas from education to water rights. A hard copy of the newsletter was sent to every registered voter household in Senate District 19. The newsletter will also be available online at my Senate website, www.flores.senate.texas.gov.
Among the policy updates, the newsletter also includes the link to online survey. I need feedback from my constituents to serve you as a Texas Senator in the manner you deserve and expect. The survey takes around 5 minutes to complete; you can access the survey at the following link: www.senate.texas.gov/SD19survey.

Senator Pete Flores’ Quiet ‘Regular Guy’ Approach Resonates on District Tour

“I’m just a regular guy meeting with regular people.”

Indeed, at first glance, one might be forgiven for taking Sen. Pete Flores’ (R-Pleasanton) word of his own self-description.

He showed up to the burger stand to meet constituents, wearing what he dubbed “lawman’s” garb — toe to head: boots, jeans, plain blue button-down, red tie, and a crisp cowboy hat. As they say…you can take the warden out of the game, but you can’t take the game out of the warden.

While Sen. Pete Flores looks to be every bit of that genuine “regular guy” he identifies as, his life experience is quite irregular…and rather remarkable.

The now-retired game warden spent his career in Texas’ Parks and Wildlife Department — with eight of those years as colonel (head warden). After such a career, most would likely prefer to enjoy a simple retirement and maybe pick up a hobby like woodworking.

Well, Flores’ hobby — he, more appropriately, dubs it a “calling” — is representing Senate District 19 in the Texas Legislature.

“It was necessary,” Flores told me of his decision to run. With his predecessor — whom Flores ran against in 2016 — being indicted for his role in a Ponzi scheme, the usually safe Democratic seat came up for grabs in a 2018 special election.

His motto, in fewer words, was “If not me, then who?”

In 2018, he won a race few thought he could win. In fact, he is the first Republican to represent SD19 since post-Civil War Reconstruction. Flores came out on top in both the general and the run-off elections.

Since taking office — citing his long history of civil service as decent preparation for what he would face in the legislature — Flores has hit the ground running.

As a freshman, Flores had a significant hand in over 30 bills that reached the governor’s desk.

What he seemed most proud of — which he co-authored — was the property tax bill. Although not going so far as to declare it a “Super Bowl”-type victory, Flores expounded on the need to focus on what he calls the “pillars” of the state government.

“It was a stacked deck,” he said referring to the property tax system in place that SB2 adjusted. Flores added, “We thought the 3.5 percent threshold was fair — allowing our cities and counties some flexibility to be able to continue to function well while also requiring them to live within their means.”

“If the need to raise it above that value is so compelling, ask the boss: we the people,” he stressed.

Another aspect of the property tax debate Flores tried to tackle during the 86th Legislature was the appraisal process. He’d like to see it become more transparent, accountable, and uniform — “rather than having 254 different ways of doing it.”

He then pointed to this as a top priority for the next session.

The current property tax system in Texas traces all the way back to the Carter administration when inflation was running rampant. And until this session, it seemed to be set in stone. But Flores didn’t see it that way: “For me, the only thing set in stone is the Ten Commandments. What the legislature creates, the legislature can also uncreate.”

As for SB2’s “brother from another mother,” HB3, Flores touted the tax relief it provided while also raising teacher’s salaries so they, in his words, “don’t have to work two or three jobs to be a teacher.”

Flores’ mindset in serving his constituents is: “It’s all about being part of, and responsive to, your community.”

As I watched the former game warden make his way around the burger joint — stopping to speak with everyone there — I noticed a quiet determination. A determination to truly reach as many of his constituents as he possibly could.

Sure enough, I’d come to learn that was exactly the case, as he told me another one of his mottos: “Face time makes miracles.”

Which leads to yesterday — another day in his post-session circuit of touring SD19 which stretches from the urban neighborhoods of San Antonio all the way out to the New Mexico border.

The events turned out to be quite civil, similar to some recent town halls but wholly unlike others.

Due to his relentless district outreach events, Flores just eclipsed 185,000 miles on his 2012 F-150. In fact, he has done so many events that he couldn’t come up with a number when I asked for a ballpark figure.

Gathered on the porch of Uvalde’s pizza and brewhouse, Broadway 830, a few dozen constituents listened intently to the senator methodically and rather thoroughly explain what was accomplished in the 86th Legislature and his priorities going forward.

During the question and answer portion, Flores was asked about the possibility of a special session, the Texas Lottery Commission, and red flag laws.

To the first, Flores said, “There’s always a chance.” Specifically, Flores pointed to Governor Abbott’s ultimatum to Austin over its handling of the homelessness situation.

But to the third, Flores received the most pushback at any point during the day. When asked about standing firm against red flag laws, Flores pointed to the need to enforce the laws already on the books. He also added, “Under current Texas law, [there is] nothing to worry about.”

Flores expounded on this to me earlier, saying, “Let’s see what they (the committees appointed by the Governor and Lt. Governor) come back with, but let’s not start to talk about depriving lawful citizens of their property before we have that thorough analysis.”

Flores also added that in his view, “the Second Amendment is pretty clear and the laws on the books need to be enforced more vigorously.”

Dr. Alma Arredondo-Lynch, D.D.S — whom I later found out is running for Congress in District 23 — asked the question of Flores. When I spoke to her afterward, Arredondo-Lynch said she is quite happy with Flores and the job he has done. But she did take some issue with Flores’ response to this question.

“My concern is with our civil rights,” Arredondo-Lynch stated, pointing to the fact that under red flag laws a disconcerted neighbor could effectively cause someone’s guns to be taken away. “I live alone on a 240-acre ranch…and if a neighbor decides to report me, then I have to prove my innocence rather than the state prove my guilt,” she stressed.

Arredondo-Lynch stated she would like to see a special session called to address this issue — not to advance it, but rather, to crush it decisively.

Another attendee (who is also a candidate for local office), Diana Olvedo-Karau, has been very pleased with Flores’ time in the Senate. “He makes strong points but does it in a way that engages constituents and doesn’t completely offend those of the opposition,” Olvedo-Karau applauded.

Olvedo-Karau also pointed to the need for property taxes to be further addressed in the next session.

The biggest round of applause received from the crowd occurred when Flores told the group of his 100 percent attendance record, casting over 4,300 votes. Whether they agree with him on everything or not, Flores’ constituents obviously appreciate his focus on doing things the right way.

One phrase I heard throughout the day was “Vote your district.” But Flores prefaced it to me, saying, “This isn’t about getting reelected, it’s about doing the right thing.”

And part of that, Flores stressed, is avoiding the rank partisanship that permeates through most of politics these days. He emphasized the need to reach across the aisle to ensure the pillar issues are addressed.

Perhaps it’s fitting for SD19 to select a former lawman to supplant a now-convicted felon — and a man who says he’s “never had a vacation in his life.” Soft-spoken but determined, he clearly enjoys representing his constituents — making a point to ensure they have access to him, and he to them.

As Flores continues his district tour, and heads into election season, it’s fair to wonder if his already road-tested F-150 will make it through all the miles. Yet, if the man behind the wheel is any reflection on his vehicle — the results may not be flashy, but the job will get done.

Pete’s Periódico: School is back!

Originally published on September 4, 2019.

Welcome back to school! To teachers and parents, that is a happy statement––students might disagree. The Legislature certainly agrees; the 86th Legislative Session was a victory for Texas education. From pre-K to 12th grade, mental health and teacher pay, every aspect of education was addressed this session.
A system of efficient public schools is a requirement defined in the Texas Constitution. One of the main priorities this session was revamping the school finance system. Both sides of the aisle agreed that the Texas school finance system is outdated and underfunded.
In Texas, schools receive funding from three sources: state government, local school districts, and federal government. The first two share the bulk of the cost, with more of the burden falling on local government. Last budget, the state’s share of funding was 38%. We listened and responded to superintendents, principals, and teachers asking for state assistance by increasing the state share of funding to 45%.
The Texas budget appropriated $72 billion for public education, about 29% of the total state budget. This is an increase from the previous state budget of 20% — an additional $11 billion to develop Texas students. The base allotment a school district receives per student jumped from $5,140 to $6,160, the biggest increase in a decade.
We know that outside of parents, teachers play the largest impact on a child’s education. Additionally, in this booming Texas economy, it is imperative that school districts are able to compete financially and compensate their teachers well. $2 billion of the education budget is allocated to enhance compensation for teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses.
The Texas Legislature understands the importance of early education and investing in full-day pre-K for qualified, low-income students. Additionally, we are making sure schools and our children are as safe as possible. We passed legislation to strengthen emergency response protocols, improve school facilities standards, and provide schools more funding for school safety efforts. We also created a statewide registry, maintained by Texas Education Agency, that will record any school employee that engages in an inappropriate relationship with a student so the perpetrator cannot be hired at any other Texas school.
Finally on education, the Legislature established the Texas Child Mental Health Consortium to leverage higher education expertise in the state to improve the mental health care systems for Texas children. We also increased mental health training for educators and other school professionals to aid in early identification and intervention, emphasize the importance of mental health education for students, and improve access to mental and behavioral health services through school-based mental health centers and the hiring of mental health professionals.
In other news, I met last week with the leaders of the San Antonio State Hospital (SASH). SASH is beginning renovation after receiving $190.3 million in funding from the Legislature, a top priority of mine. The new building will focus on patient and employee efficiency and safety with capacity for 300 beds; this funding begins Phase II of a three phase plan. After these discussions with Health and Human Services Commission, SASH leaders, doctors, and the architect team, I am confident the renovated SASH will greatly benefit San Antonio and the surrounding communities.
A reminder Election Day for Texas Constitutional Amendments––and various municipal propositions depending on where you live––is November 5, 2019. The last day to register to vote in this election is October 7, 2019. Use the following website to check your voter registration, find polling places, and more: https://www.votetexas.gov/.

Pete’s Periódico: Want to Amend the Texas Constitution?

Originally published on August 14, 2019. 

The Texas Legislative Session is a time when Senators and Representatives, chosen by the people, come together and pass legislation on behalf of the people. Typically, legislation requires simple majority votes in both Chambers and approval from the Governor to become state law. Amending the Constitution is different.
The legislation starts similarly: denoted “joint resolution” rather than “bill,” the legislation is referred to the relevant Committee and begins the process. The biggest difference is Constitutional Amendments require two-thirds approval from both Chambers and skips the Governor, heading straight to the people of Texas. This November, Texans will have the opportunity to approve ten Constitutional Amendments.
In its history, Texas has added nearly 500 amendments to the constitution, making it one of the longest state constitutions in the U.S. The Amendment ballot order was recently announced, giving the joint resolutions official proposition numbers.
Early voting begins in October and Election Day is November 5, 2019. The last day to register to vote in the Constitutional Amendment election is October 7, 2019. Although that’s over a month away, it never hurts to be early. Voter registration is simple: use the following link to learn if you are registered, what’s on your local ballot, download a registration application, and more: https://www.votetexas.gov/.
Below are the Amendments Texans will have the opportunity to vote on:
Proposition 1 (HJR 72): “The constitutional amendment permitting a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time.”
Proposition 2 (SJR 79): “The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas.”
Proposition 3 (HJR 34): “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster.”
Proposition 4 (HJR 38): “The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual’s share of partnership and unincorporated association income.”
Proposition 5 (SJR 24): “The constitutional amendment dedicating the revenue received from the existing state sales and use taxes that are imposed on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas’ natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use taxes.”
Proposition 6 (HJR 12): “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to increase by $3 billion the maximum bond amount authorized for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.”
Proposition 7 (HJR 151): “The constitutional amendment allowing increased distributions to the available school fund.”
Proposition 8 (HJR 4): “The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the flood infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects.”
Proposition 9 (HJR 95): “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metal held in a precious metal depository located in this state.”
Proposition 10 (SJR 32): “The constitutional amendment to allow the transfer of a law enforcement animal to a qualified caretaker in certain circumstances.”
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions about voter registration, the Constitutional Amendments, or more, please contact our office or the Texas Secretary of State.