Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

July 8, 2013

Senator Nichols: My five cents

AUSTIN — If you enjoy fireworks like I do then this week in Austin was a real treat. However, all the fireworks happened inside the building!

This Monday marked the beginning of the second called special session of the 83rd Legislature. Special sessions can only be called by the Governor and are usually called to resolve unfinished business. This week marks the 4th special session I have served since being elected to the Senate.

Protesters galore

On Monday thousands of protesters arrived at the Capitol to show their support or opposition to SB 1, a pro-life bill. The gathering was so big that additional security was necessary and called to the Capitol from various parts of the state. The unofficial head count by the Department of Public Safety was 3,000. The protest drew attention from both national media and the Daily Show.

There was chanting, singing, prayer circles, and dueling news conferences throughout the day. The protests were loud yet peaceful and those in the Capitol maintained decorum. Regardless of your position on the subject, it is awesome and inspiring to see democracy in action and citizens engage their elected officials in this process.

The bill will be heard in the House of Representatives this week and will be heard in the Senate next week.

Another chance for transportation funding

Lost in the shuffle of last week’s events was an opportunity to identify new transportation revenue for the first time in over a decade. My bill on transportation funding did not pass during the first special session due to a filibuster on another piece of legislation. However, within minutes of a second special session being called I filed SJR 1, a constitutional amendment that would dedicate 50 percent of all general revenue currently transferred to the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) to the state highway fund.  

According to estimates from the Comptroller’s office, SJR 1 could deposit as much as $900 million a year into the state highway fund. That number will grow over time.

This bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday July 2nd. I am hopeful the measure will pass both chambers before the clock runs out this time.

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