Just like that, 2019 is almost in the rearview.
While some may be spending the waning days of 2019 focusing on how the last 12 months have changed their lives, I'm looking ahead to the potential of 2020.
For even the casual observer, the 2019 legislative session clearly shows that momentum is heading in a positive direction. After 30 years of mostly fruitless debates, the members of the 86th Texas Legislature found common ground on issues like providing more funding for public schools, raising teacher pay and placing a cap on property tax increases without voter approval.
We also passed major mental health reforms, recommitted the state's promise to retired teachers, and took a major step toward rectifying years-long inadequacies in our investigations and protections for victims of sexual assault.
Make no mistake: there is still work to be done. And clearly, the best way for elected officials to serve the people of Texas is by finding more common ground – within their districts, with other elected officials, and for the sake of Texas, within the legislative process.
In the Lone Star State, that means spending the next year in interim hearings discussing key issues. These discussions will lay the foundation for legislation to be filed in 2021.
While Dentonites wait for the new Driver's License Office to open in a year's time, the Select Committee on Driver's License Issuance and Renewal will discuss the bills passed this last session and further study transferring operations from the Texas Department of Public Safety to the Department of Motor Vehicles. For anyone who is passionate about this issue, I suggest you follow the committee's activities and prepare to attend the forthcoming public hearings.
For myself, the interim will be spent working with the Appropriations and Higher Education committees reviewing such issues as:
- Legislation to crack down on human and sex trafficking
- Evaluating the implementation of HB 3, which added $9 billion in funding for public education
- Reviewing funding formulas for colleges and universities, with a particular interest in resources and research into the causes and cures for degenerative and debilitating brain and nervous system conditions.
- Monitoring the Higher Education Coordinating Board's process for implementing SB 16, the bill I helped author and pass to create a tuition repayment program to recruit new peace officers across the state
- Reviewing the 60X30TX plan to ensure 60 percent of Texans have some form of higher education or skilled training by 2030.
Our success is greater when we are working together. Only when we come together around common issues and have informed discussions will we see the momentum shift.
Fortunately, the momentum is heading in the right direction. That's why my resolution for 2020 is to continue working with my neighbors to find common ground on the issues that will truly improve our quality of life. It worked for the driver's license office. It worked for school finance. Where is the next area where we can find common ground and work together to find solutions?
Bring your ideas to my District or Capitol Office (940-243-0230, or 512-463-0582) and let's keep 2020 moving in the right direction.
Lynn Stucky, D.V.M., is state representative for Texas House District 64, serving the cities of Denton, Krum, Corinth, Shady Shores, Hickory Creek, Lake Dallas, and rural northwest Denton County.