Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

April 8, 2013

Senator Nichols: My five cents

(Continued)

AUSTIN — Water rate bill

This week the Senate passed SB 567, a bill I authored with Senator Kirk Watson to overhaul the state's oversight of investor-owned water and sewer utilities (IOUs), and to ensure that customers have an advocate in cases over excessive rates.  

The legislation reflects the work of Senate subcommittees led by myself and Senator Watson in 2012. These subcommittees held hearings on steep increases in water and sewer rates that were imposed by IOUs. The many stakeholders working with the subcommittees have helped us to determine that the current regulatory system is broken. The one-size-fits-all treatment of large-, mid- and small-sized utilities does not work.

SB 567 is a bill which will bring needed reform on ratemaking to Texans living in rural and unincorporated areas of the state. I will make sure to keep you updated as it is considered in the House soon.

Payday loans

A bill introducing new regulations for the practice of payday loans advanced this week. Senator John Carona's SB 1247 aims to help end the cycle of debt many disadvantaged individuals face when they take out these short-term loans at incredibly high interest rates. The bill would limit the types of loans that payday lenders can offer, and would restrict the number of times a loan could be rolled over. The Senate Business and Commerce Committee passed SB 1247 Tuesday night by a 6-1 vote, sending it to the Senate floor soon.

Texas Medical Association 'First Tuesdays'

The 'First Tuesday' of each month is always a day I enjoy. On these days doctors and medical students from around the state converge on the Capitol to lobby on behalf of their profession and their patients. Referred to as the "White Coat Invasion," this practice has been going on since 2003 and is a chance for legislators to discuss bills regarding the practice of medicine with those who know it best.

This Tuesday I was pleased to be visited by many doctors from Senate District 3 who were in town for the event. These individuals provide an invaluable service to our state and I look forward to working with them for many years to come.

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