This legislative session, I set a few goals with the specific focus of representing my district. I also set personal goals to improve in my effectiveness as a legislator on behalf of the approximately 167,588 men, women and children I represent from Denton County.
On both counts, I can objectively say that we have had a successful session.
Let's answer the first question on everyone's mind: Yes, we secured funding for a new drivers license office in Denton. The budget, which still needs to be signed by the Governor, includes $8 million for a new office to ease the strain on our community. We will provide updates on planning and locations as those become available. Thank you to Sen. Jane Nelson and Rep. John Zerwas, heads of the budget for their respective chambers, for working with our office on this badly-needed local appropriation.
This session, we made a promise to address property taxes and school finance reform and delivered on both counts with $5 billion going to compress school sales tax rates and reduce recapture of local tax dollars. We also included funding to increase teacher pay, as well as shore up the Teacher Retirement System and provide a 13th check to retired teachers.
We succeeded in passing all of our local bills to improve fire safety, expand economic opportunities and help manage growth in parts of the district. These were bills brought to me and my staff by constituents who wanted help in making positive changes in their communities.
In total, I was fortunate enough to pass 11 of the 15 bills I filed and companion bills I carried working with Senator Jane Nelson's and Senator Pat Fallon's offices -- all of which were local bills. What does some of this legislation do? Here's a quick rundown of some of the key legislation we sent to the Governor:
HB 14/SB 16: We created a new recruitment tool for bringing more college-educated Texans into service as peace officers. The student loan repayment program is being heralded as a "legacy bill" for police departments across Texas.
HB 747/SB 235: The City of Corinth now has the authority to ask its citizens if they would like to allow a portion of its local option sales tax revenues pay for a new fire control, prevention, and emergency medical services district. If approved, citizens would improve public safety and see a potential decrease in insurance rates because of the district.
HB 951/SB 386: Allows hotels in the Denton area to self-assess a fee to pay for marketing and promoting the city as a destination for businesses and large conferences.
HB 1891: This bill will remove testing barriers for Texans who achieve an exceptional score on high school equivalency exams. The goal is to ease the pathway to new careers and better-paying jobs for Texans without a high school diploma.
HB 2042/HB 2082: I worked with the Comptroller's Office to help improve oversight of state agencies and improve efficiencies in certain auditing processes.
HB 2461: Allows the Denco 9-1-1 District to reorganize after the City of Carrollton requested to be removed from the district.
HB 4683/HB 4693: Establishes the Hunter and Cole Ranch improvement districts for the development of more than 6,000 acres for homes, schools and a businesses in southwest Denton. The residents of Robson Ranch may soon see improvements in the water as an offshoot of these developments. While these bills don't specifically relate to Robson Ranch, one of the benefits of their creation is the completion of a circular delivery system that should improve water delivery to Robson Ranch residents.
HB 4719/HB 4720: Two new developments planned in western Denton County are slated for creation after property owners and developers worked with county and local officials.
State Rep. Lynn Stucky represents District 64, which includes the Lake Cities area.