Trent Ashby - Working for Leon County and its People

My travels this week took me east on Hwy 7 to the office of Trent Ashby in Lufkin, Texas for a factual update / information meeting from our Texas House Representative.

I was warmly greeted by Representative Trent Ashby?s District Director, Ms. Linda Parker and proceeded with outlining my purpose for requesting the meeting. After a few minutes of meaningful dialogue we were joined by Rep. Ashby and proceeded with an extremely detailed account of the accomplishments of the 86th Legislative session and the proposed opportunities for the next session beginning January 2020.

1st Topic ? House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 2 - Property Taxes

The meeting ?kicked off? with a discussion of House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 2 which deal with property taxes and school funding. We specifically visited about compliance with local property appraisal values and the $5 Billion dollar property tax relief package.

State Law dictates that property appraisal values must comply with State guidelines as administered by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (no more than a 5 % variation in actual value). If our county is out of compliance for 3 years, the State has the ability to intervene and withhold the local school districts? funding by the amount the Comptroller has determined the local appraisal district is short on values. That?s the law.

Representative Ashby?s office has been ?flooded? with taxpayer calls requesting relief on property taxes. Your requests were heard, action occurred, and results were achieved in the 86th Legislature.

Trent Ashby and other House elected officials from all over Texas came together, brought their research, worked in committees, authored, and got the massive House Bill 3 passed and signed into law.

Topline details House Bill 3 - $5 Billion Dollars of school district property tax relief.

How? ? starting in 2020 property owners will receive an average 8 cents per $100 REDUCTION in the amount they pay towards school district maintenance and operations taxes.

In 2021 ? property owners will receive an additional average 12 cents per $100 REDUCTION in this same school district maintenance and operations tax rate.

Folks, if the math is correct property owners will receive a REDUCTION of approximately 20 cents per $100 on their school district taxes in 2020 and 2021.

Senate Bill 2 caps property tax revenue growth for cities and counties to 3.5%. The law had been 8%. If growth exceeds the 3.5% amount for this purpose, then an automatic tax rollback election for the voters is triggered. VOTER APPROVAL ? Great Plan!!!

Additionally, protection of our agricultural and timber tax exemption stays on the top priority list for Rep. Ashby and the other rural representatives. Great support!!!

That is the recap of House Bill 3 regarding property taxes, tax rate REDUCTION, and related topics.

Rep Ashby looks to next session to ?dive? into property appraisal reforms and proper taxing methods accordingly - another massive undertaking.

Increasing the statesales tax will be researched and reviewed in the next legislative sessionin order to find additional ways to lessen the property tax burden on property owners.

Think about it - if the sales tax can be slightly increased on a voluntary purchase of a consumer product then the State can increase its share of funding public education (with additional sales tax dollars) and lessen the burden on property taxes footing the bill. With the new school funding law now in effect, the state has increased its share of public education funding from 38% to 45%.

2nd Topic ? House Bill 3 ? Educational Funding

The next portion of the meeting focused on the House Bill 3 educational funding section ? a major accomplishment by our legislators and a pleasure to report.

$6.5 Billion funding for Texas education was signed into law and will be distributed to every Texas school districtbased on the new school funding formula.

$2 Billion (approximately 30 %) will be distributed to school districts and be used forsalary increases to counselors, teachers, and librarians. The school districts will distribute the monies in the most beneficial time frame for districts and employees. It is a documented fact that new teachers experience a ?burn-out?in their first 3 to 5 years partly due to lack of proper compensation for additional required duties and additional unforeseen stress factors. We need to keep these new educators in order to inject their new techniques and ideas into our educational systems. The goal ?.to enhance the learning experience of our students. New skills ?new ways to educate.

The remaining $4.5 Billion distributed to school districts to be used for additional teachers, classroom needs, facility upgrades, and new programming.

Buffalo ISD superintendent Lacy Freeman was instrumental in developing ideas on how the state could implement a merit-based teacher pay system. His knowledge of what works in a functioning school system was helpful to Trent Ashby and his fellow legislators as they listened, researched, and reacted in a positive manner.

These monies will be distributed on a proportional basis to individuals and departmental budgets on a merit basiswith a major focus on college and career readiness.

All grades will be impacted K through 12 in order to establish the proper ?building blocks? for student success.

Trade / Technological career education will get a strong boost in order to get our students trained and ready for a skill ?that somebody will pay for.? Trent Ashby?s plan would have this program installed in the school districts beginning in 7th grade, which made it into the final version of the bill.

Ashby?s statement ?This action will level the educational playing field and bring greater equity to our school districts. KIDS IN RURAL TEXAS ARE WORTH JUST AS MUCH AS KIDS IN THE RICHER/ URBAN AREAS AND DESERVE ACCESS TO A HIGH QUALITY EDUCATION SYSTEM.?

3rd Topic ?

Eminent Domain

As it relates to Non High Speed Rail Anti Eminent Domain legislation several bills were researched, authored, and submitted to the Land Resource Management Committee.

Senator Charles Schwertner from Georgetown has done an excellent job communicating and supporting Trent Ashby and other House Representatives on this topic.

A fewNon High Speed Rail Anti Eminent Domain bills that were introduced in the Texas Senate were passed.

The House versions did not pass due to a delay issue ? the Midland chairman did not place them on the agenda on a timely basis. The next House session starts in January 2020 and Trent Ashby is determined to achieve positive results for land owners.

4th Topic ?

High Speed Rail

There were 13 anti High Speed Rail bills authored in this session (2 bills by Trent Ashby).

Rep. Ashby has been against High Speed Rail since the beginning of his service to our counties in 2013. These bills were forwarded to the new chair of the House Transportation committee and were given a hearing by a newly created High Speed Rail Subcommittee, but ultimately, none of them made it to the House floor for a vote.

Result ? start over in the January 2020 session and Trent Ashby will also be placing a major emphasis on success.

Oh, but Rep Ashby and his fellow representatives were not defeated in this area?..legislation was passed last session to prevent ANYtaxpayer funds from being utilized to fund High Speed Rail in Texas.

Yes Sir ? mark a win on that one.

Now it is up to the land owners/ tax payers / VOTERS ?..us? to contact the D.C. senators and representatives to do the same / right thing. Send a firm / clear message.

That will leave only the private investors/ companies to fund High Speed Rail In Texas.

Think about it ??if High Speed Rail is continuously delayed and the investors do NOT get a quick return on their investments ?..how long will they wait?

Or will they invest their monies somewhere else for a more timely return???? Hmmmm??..

Trent Ashby is not against progress and new ideas / methods to help our residents/ landowners but the end result should not do harm and cause injury to hard working / honest people.

Alternative methods and different transportation routes should be explored, researched, and proposed for the benefit of all concerned.

5th Topic ? Health Care in Our County

This area of concern continues to be at the top of analysis after analysis of what rural county citizens need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and promote growth in their region.

Trent Ashby authored House Bill 1065 that deals with this issue head on and makes a tremendous amount of sense for progress toward a solution to this problem.

It is a loan repayment program that will provide financial incentives for physicians that perform their residency in small, rural counties. The bill stipulates that the physician lives in the community for a minimum of 5 years where he or she begins their practice to be eligible. Obviously, they will become an important component of the community and hopefully receive acceptance by their patients / fellow citizens. This is a major step for rural counties that have no doctor, trauma emergency care center, and /or hospital.

The bill has received approval and now needs funding that will be proposed in the next Legislative session that begins January 2020.

Leon County - the healthcare bill/ ball has been put into play and it is up to us to come together at city, county, and state levels to enhance the healthcare for our residents.

This accomplishment will be a major factor in the proper growth and prosperity of our county and region. Nice job, Rep Ashby.

As an additional note ? this reporter is totally impressed and appreciative of the way that our representatives andsenators, regardless of political party are working together for betterment of our Texas. Thank You.

6th and Final

Topic ? Census

As the 2020 census looms on the horizon it is imperative that every citizen understand its importance and impact on our county, region, state and country.

Congressional boundary lines will be redrawn based on population numbers and virtually every State and Federal elected official in Texas (exception U.S. Senators ? we have only 2) and our citizens could/ would be impacted.

I have heard people say, ?I don?t want the government to know anything about me or my stuff.?

Well?Do you file and pay income taxes, have a driver?s license, have a bank account, pay insurance, pay property taxes, have an agriculture or timber tax exemption, and/ or have a credit card? If you have or have done any these I assure y?all that the government knows more about you than you realize.

Fill out the census ? record your residency ??.no excuses?. if you want what?s best for your community, county, state, and country you will ?do the right thing.?

As I close this lengthy article, I want to thank Representative Trent Ashby and District Director Linda Parker for an extensive open, frank, and straight forward discussion on issues and events that directly impact Leon County and its residents.

Any person or persons that say that y?all are not accomplishing anything, not focused on what is best for the landowners/ voters, and do not listen to your district residents are totally uninformed and out of touch with what is going on in our ?real world?.

We look forward to the next Legislative session that begins January 2020 and what the future holds for the residents of Leon County.

Thank you Rep. Ashby and Ms. Parker for what y?all do and what y?all stand up for in our county, state, and nation. God Bless you and yours.