State Rep. Travis Clardy shared hard-earned wisdom and fielded numerous audience questions Thursday during a local town hall meeting he conducted to share results and implications of the Texas Legislature's 83rd session.
The recently-elected Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, described his freshman experience in the Legislature as tiring. There were two legislative sessions held in close proximity to one another. There also was the tumultuous and controversial passage of Texas Senate Bill 5, which added and updated abortion regulations in Texas.
Paraphrasing a quote from Al Pacino's Michael Corleone character in Godfather III, Clardy joked, “Every time I tried to get out, they pulled me back in.”
More than 30 Cherokee County residents attended this special evening meeting at the Norman Activity Center, during which Clardy discussed in detail the lengths to which he had to “learn the ropes” as a new state representative.
The topics addressed during the hour-and-a-half meeting – some raised by members of the audience – ranged from abortion rights to the functions of the Texas Sunset Commission. The audience included an array of notable local officials – Cherokee County Judge Chris Davis, Jacksonville ISD superintendent Dr. Joe Wardell, Jacksonville City Council members Ann Chandler and Billy McDonald and Cherokee County Precinct 3 Constable Eddie Lee.
One major topic the state representative addressed was redistricting.
In June, Clardy voted in favor of Senate Bills 2, 3, and 4, which address state senate, state house, and congressional redistricting – the boundaries of which were changed to sync with either the results of the 2010 U.S. Census or the interim redistricting plans of 2012 that were ordered by the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.
A member of the Select Committee on Redistricting, Clardy said Thursday he expects the Texas Legislature's redistricting solutions to face – but survive – judicial challenges.
“I think we have it in the bag,” he said.
Other topics included:
• Veteran's rights: An audience member emphasized the importance of veteran care and benefits. Clardy said the government's approach to veterans has drastically improved over the years.
“We have come a long way,” he said.
• Toll road fees: One audience member described current toll road fees as wasteful and out of control. While clarifying with a smile that he is “not a turnpike wonk like (Texas Sen. Robert Nichols),” Clardy expressed concern and agreed it is a situation of concern.
Clardy made a point of discussing the passage of Senate Bill 5, legislation designed to ban abortions after 20 weeks and require doctors to be registered at hospitals within 30 miles of their office.
On June 25, State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, led a ten-hour filibuster stalling passage of the bill – an effort accompanied by loud cheering and yells from political activists gathered in the capital building in protest.
A vote was taken and the bill was passed. But it was subsequently declared void because the vote took place after midnight. Texas Gov. Rick Perry called a second special session and Senate Bill 5 was re-presented, passing both the House and Senate in July.
Clardy described the entire filibuster event as chaotic – especially because of the protesters, who he said were incredibly loud.
“I'd never experienced anything like that before – other than watching 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,'” Clardy told the audience. “It was quite a show … like watching something out of Watts or watching something in Central America over a YouTube video.”