Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

July 22, 2013

Senator Nichols: My five cents

AUSTIN — As the world waited expectantly this week for the royal baby's arrival, we have been waiting almost as expectantly inside the Capitol for a chance to address transportation funding. With less than two weeks left in the special session, we are finally focusing attention on this important issue.

Five things that happened this week at your Texas Capitol are:

1. Texas vs. the Federal Government

You have probably heard about various lawsuits filed by our state against the federal government, but did you know we have 18 still currently pending? This is more than at almost any time in state history.

Among those 18 are suits you may be familiar with such as Texas' voter ID law and Texas' redistricting maps.

There are also  challenges to a portion of Obamacare which requires employers to provide contraception health benefits to employees, and to the Dodd-Frank Act, which allows for the liquidation of large financial institutions.

Of the 14 remaining pending lawsuits against the federal government, all in some way deal with the Environmental Pro-tection Agency (EPA).

2. Possible new buildings for Texas colleges

Tuition revenue bonds (TRBs) are something with which few Texans are familiar, but which are important to Texas universities and colleges. These special financial arrangements allow public universities to build new buildings with low financing costs covered by the state. They finance teaching and research facilities for engineering, medicine, and more.

With a growing state economy and financing costs at historic lows, many expected the regular legislative session to produce several such bond opportunities for colleges across the state.

However, the two legislative chambers could not come to an agreement on how much funding to authorize, and time ran out before any consensus could be reached.

Now university leaders and many legislators are hoping Gov. Perry will add the topic to the second special session agenda. Institutions across the state stand to benefit, including Stephen F. Austin State University, Lamar State College – Orange, Uni-versity of Texas, Texas A&M and more.  

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