Vol. 9 No. 13
It is an honor to serve as your State Representative and my primary concern when in Austin for the legislative session is working on bills that will have a direct and meaningful benefit to my home district. This session was no different. I am fortunate to have a very vocal and engaged constituency, and I want to thank every one of you who contacted my office via phone, email, or stopped by for a visit. Your input is invaluable.
One item I am particularly proud of is the extension the licensing program for the STP nuclear power plant. The state law regulating certain administrative aspects of the construction of new nuclear reactors in the state was set to expire on January 1, 2015. This expiration would have made the construction of any new reactors in the state impossible. I passed H.B. 994 to extend that deadline from January 1, 2015, to 2033, preserving the option for reactors 3 and 4 at STP for twenty years. The proposed construction of two new reactors in Matagorda County could create approximately 4,000 to 6,000 construction jobs, and when the reactors are finished and online, each one will employ close to 1,000 permanent positions.
For the past four years, I have been working with city and county officials to obtain adjacent land for the expansion of our county airport. We have made great strides in accomplishing that goal by passing H.B. 2895, which allows Brazoria County the ability to purchase undeveloped state owned prison land from the General Land Office. This land is located right next to our airport, and it will enable the airport to grow and serve aviation needs of South Brazoria County including Lake Jackson, Angleton, and associated industries. The continued development of the area will require airport expansion to handle the related aviation needs of these businesses.
Healthcare is also an important issue in the country and state, and especially so in the rural areas of Brazoria and Matagorda counties. The Act creating the Angleton-Danbury Hospital District in Brazoria County passed the 60th Legislature in 1967 and was in need of being updated. The district is a rural hospital located in urban county, and this creates a difficulty recruiting and retaining doctors, which limits our access to health care. Thus, H.B. 3905 amended the original act to allow the hospital to direct-employ physicians and other health care providers. This will allow the hospital to provide the economic security needed for doctors to relocate and reside in our communities, and it will help the district recruit and retain doctors that provide medically necessary services in our area.
Session victories are not simply counted by the good bills that are passed, but also the bad bills that are defeated. I worked behind the scenes with Senator Glen Hegar to stop one such bill, S.B. 1631, from permanently cutting off much-needed water for our Matagorda County rice farmers. S.B. 1631 would have made the LCRA Emergency Orders cutting off irrigation water to the region for the past two years a permanent part of the state’s water plan as opposed to a critically reviewed process that is currently in place. This bill proposed a dangerous precedent of cementing these types of decisions into inflexible statute rather than allowing them to be made through a process of flexibility that considers many constantly changing factors. The bill authors designed the bill to do nothing more than retain water in the Highland Lakes for no beneficial use other than recreation and a nice view for residents on the lake who don’t pay a dime for the water. This flies in the face of the intended purpose of the lakes as reservoirs for water storage. I was proud to stand up for our local rice producers and the numerous agri-businesses and employees that would have been adversely impacted by this legislation.
As I continue to keep you updated through a series of post-session Insider's Reports, I encourage you to visit my website at www.dennisbonnen.com if you have missed any of my previous newsletters.