downtown Austin

State Representative Paul Workman—2017 Legislative Session Update

Posted by on Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 in Blog

Reported by Ann Marie Ellis

President Sara Pantin called the meeting to order at noon. Bob Bowman led the pledges and Tillery Castillo gave the invocation. James Gavin led us in reciting the “FOUR WAY TEST.” Ann Marie Ellis was our greeter at the top of the stairs and Carl Noble, our host. Sponsor Jack Wolfe introduced newest member Scott Rider, past president of the Ennis Rotary Club. Welcome, Scott!

President-Elect Julia Benkoski and Acting Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Koen presented the 2016-17 Perfect Attendance Awards to members with less than one-year up to 39 years of perfect attendance.

Jon Yates presented members with the opportunity to volunteer for Pecan Springs Literacy Night. Volunteers are needed on Monday 10/23 from 12-3 pm (to set up the Book Fair). On Thursday 10/26, volunteers are needed in shifts from 3-5 pm and 5-7 pm, and to pass out pizza and candy in shifts from 5-8 pm.

Diane Ventresca announced that members have stepped up to host five Australian group youth exchange students coming to Austin in the last two weeks in December. She now needs volunteers to host events for the students during their visit. She suggested social events in homes, visits to area State parks, etc.

Mary Reynolds reported that the EarlyAct FirstKnight Tournament of Champions event held Tuesday morning was very successful. Some 465 students said the Four Way Test perfectly, from memory. Future events will be held at Pecan Springs on 10/6, Dawson on 10/11 and Hart on 10/19. Mary requested donations of hard candy (and volunteers to distribute the candy) at the Pecan Springs Literacy Night.

President Sara announced:

  • Volunteers are needed to report and take pictures at our weekly meetings. Please contact Michael Abelson to sign up.
  • “Save the date” Wednesday 10/18 for a 5:30-7:30 cocktail Pints for Polio event to benefit polio eradication efforts. An invitation is forthcoming.
  • Next week will be time for members to sign up for the Fall cluster meetings.
  • The Scholarship Committee will meet at 1 pm next Tuesday in the Vestry Conference Room.
  • An invitation came from the University Club for a bat-watching cruise on Monday, Oct. 16th ($20).

Past President Ron Mullen introduced today’s speaker State Representative Paul Workman, also Past
President of Austin Rotary.

Rep. Workman gave members an update of the 2017 Legislative Session. Before he began his update, Rep. Workman noted the devastation of Hurricane Harvey on the Coast that destroyed homes and businesses and lost jobs. Rep. Workman’s update included the following information:

  • This was an unusual session that included three special sessions, with one special session having 21 items, 8 of which passed.
  • A $217 billion budget was passed in the regular session, below the constitutional spending limit.
  • School Funding included some backfilling for rapidly declining property values in some districts, an increase in Texas Grants, funding grants to ensure that doctors in residency will stay in the State.
  • There was some restoration of funds for therapy for Medicaid recipients, funding for new mental health facilities, and foster care reform including some assistance to relatives who foster children in conservatorship.
  • HB 3016 allows for “Letters of Non Disclosure” by courts for first-time young offenders so that they can avoid disclosing a felony in their background.
  • SB 4, the Sanctuary City Bill, is directed toward detention and deportation of aliens who have committed crimes.
  • In addition, Rep Workman supported four other bills: the ability to cut down trees on one’s property, allowing private employers to run criminal background checks on applicants, bringing UBER back to Texas, and allowing homeowners to vote on city annexation.
  • Other issues that he supported involved addressing Austin Energy’s high rates, allowing Veterans additional time for filing Homestead Exemption, and doing away with developer fees that would go to homeless housing.
  • In the Q&A session, Rep. Workman noted that the Houston flood was a 1,000-year event but it will have repercussions for loss of jobs and tax revenue. He also noted that newer structures along the coast that adhered to stricter building codes fared better in the storm. He concluded the Q&A saying that a Special Session January is not likely.

President Sara thanked Rep. Workman and presented a book in his honor that will be donated to Fulmore Middle School. She thanked our featured sponsors for the day, Karavel Shoes (Rick Ravel) and Joe Koen & Son, Jewelers (Bill Koen).

President Sara ended the meeting with a Pearl of Wisdom by Mahatma Gandhi. You must be the change you wish to see in the world. The meeting was adjourned at 1 pm.

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