Houston, Texas Today, Representative Allen Fletcher, Vice Chair of the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee in the Texas House of Representatives, issued the following statement concerning the deaths of four Houston Firefighters in the line of duty:
“I join my fellow Texans in mourning the tragic passing of four of Houston’s finest who gave their lives in the line of duty fighting a massive fire in Southwest Houston.
“Captain EMT Matthew Renaud (35) of Station 51, Engineer Operator EMT Robert Bebee (41) of Station 51, Firefighter EMT Robert Garner (29) of Station 68, and Probationary Firefighter Anne Sullivan (24) of Station 68 join the rolls of thousands of first responders who have made the ultimate sacrifice protecting the lives and property of the people of Texas.
“As a retired Houston Police Officer, I have witnessed many tragedies and the selfless heroism of our first responders as they have rushed towards danger as others fled, but this is the first time in the history of the Houston Fire Department that four firefighters have been killed in the line of duty in responding to the same incident.
“My most sincere thoughts and prayers are with not only the friends and family of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice today but are also with those other firefighters who were injured and to all of the members of the Houston Fire Department as they mourn their friends and colleagues.”
Excerpted from http://www.reaganhighway.org
“We in government should learn to look at our country with the eyes of the entrepreneur, seeing possibilities where others see only problems.” – President Ronald Reagan
President Reagan would be proud. The Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway was created by the Texas Legislature with the directive that all costs associated with the construction of highway signs designating the new name of U.S. Highway 290 within Harris County be paid for by private donations from private citizens. Thanks to the Friends of the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway, we have accomplished our initial goal.
Please join us this Thursday, November 1st, at 3:00 p.m. for TxDOT’s official unveiling of the new Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway signs that will be erected along the U.S. 290 corridor between Beltway 8 and the Waller County line. The event will take place at the northwest quadrant right-of-way of the Beltway 8 and U.S. 290 interchange, with special guests State Senator Dan Patrick, State Representative Dwayne Bohac, State Representative Allen Fletcher, TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson and area Harris County elected officials. Directions and parking information are listed in the official media advisory below.
This is an exciting milestone in a memorial effort that began in 2005 to honor our 40th President, Ronald Wilson Reagan. It is our hope that this public-private partnership between our donors and TxDOT to fund this project will be a model for future efforts that will save taxpayer dollars and allow the private sector to take ownership and serve the best interests of the community.
During his last major address in Houston in 1992, President Reagan shared “My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.” As Texans now get to drive down the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway, they can be reminded not only of a great leader for our country, but of the ideals that make our country great.
We look forward to seeing you at the event!
November 6: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Early Voting in Texas:
October 22 – October 26: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
October 27: 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
October 28: 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
October 29 – November 2: 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Early Voting Locations for Harris County:
The Texas Legislative Council is a nonpartisan legislative agency that provides bill drafting, computing, research, publishing, and document distribution services to the Texas Legislature and the other legislative agencies. The council also serves as an information resource for state agencies, the citizens of Texas, and others as time and resources allow.
The Texas Legislative Council has produced an analysis of each proposed amendment which will be on the November 8,2011 ballot.
Over the many years I spent with the Houston Police Department, several of them were in the Office of the Inspector General. While working this assignment, I witnessed and investigated many acts of barratry. Many of these were lawyers or non-lawyers hired as agents for a lawyer pursuing potential clients because of an event they overheard on a police scanner or from information relayed from within the dispatch call center. Barratry, also known as ambulance chasing, was a topic I pursued since taking office.
After presenting a barratry bill during my freshman term in office, the bill did not pass but was considered as an interim charge. The committee determined that barratry was a serious problem occurring statewide. Senator Duncan and I teamed up to pass Senate Bill 1716. Senate Bill 1716 allows a client who was solicited unlawfully to void the contract with the lawyer and recover any actual damages, fees, and expenses. In addition, a person who was solicited but did not sign a contract may recover a civil penalty of $10,000. The bill also gives an innocent lawyer a safe harbor. I am pleased that this legislation passed because it will prevent unscrupulous lawyers and their agents from preying on those negatively affected by unpredictable event.
This session had many bills addressing gang activity stemming from the southern border. I authored two pieces of legislation which became law addressing homeland security issues.
As the Chair of the Law Enforcement Subcommittee, I met with the Department of Public Safety and toured the border to speak with those officers combating illegal immigration and drug smuggling. I was shown videos of drug smugglers deploying spike stripes against pursuing officers endangering not only the officers but everyone else on the road. I took this information and passed legislation enhancing evading arrest penalties if a caltrop or a spike strip is deployed against a pursing law enforcement vehicle.
Cartels and Gangs smuggle billions of dollars in cash and assets across our border and according to state law, the seized assets go into the General Revenue. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) actually spends more money than they receive in the seizures under current law. The result is the DPS contacts the federal government to do the seizure, which takes much of that money out of the state.
I authored legislation, which passed, to incentivize DPS seizures along our border which will keep 100% of the seized assets within the state, granting 40% of those seizures to the DPS to further fund their anti-smuggling operations.
During the Special Session, we passed a measure requiring proof of citizenship or legal residency status to obtain a driver’s license.
In addition, the budget includes a significant increase in border security in the next biennium by as much as $100 million. This includes an increase for the Department of Public Safety of about $70 million.
*Will Be Proposed Amendment Number 1 on the ballot November 8, 2011*
With only ten minutes remaining in the Texas House for consideration of non-local Senate Bills, Speaker Straus recognized Representative Bonnen for an important motion.
“I make the motion to move to suspend all necessary rules to take up and consider Senate Bill 516. Senate Bill 516 is Representative Fletcher’s bill, and it is appropriate to get this done tonight. It’s to support our veterans who have given so much to us, so I move to suspend all necessary rules to pull this bill up,” Representative Bonnen motioned.
Current Texas Tax Code regarding the business franchise tax references the 1987 Standard Industrial Classification Manual published by the Federal Office of Management and Budget. The problem with this publication is that it was published in 1987 and by the Federal Government, over a decade prior to the business margins tax being implemented in the state of Texas. This publication was never intended to be used in such a way.
The state provides different methods to calculate the business margins tax based upon the classification. Service Industries use one method, retail another, and other trades a third. Although the manual accurately classifies the industries, for purposes of using it to steer taxing policy is not efficient or fair.
Independently owned auto repair shops in Texas are taxed at the service industry rate which is twice as much as dealerships who too have a garage and do auto work. This is because a dealership is classified as retail according to the manual. Independent auto repair shops have a much higher cost of goods sold as a barber shop who is also considered a service industry. Auto dealerships, Wal-Mart, Sears, and Firestone also fall into the retail category creating an unfair tax advantage over the independently owned auto repair shops who must charge higher prices to help offset their increased taxes.
Representative Fletcher has been approached by multiple owners of auto repair shops and expressed their concern over these unfair tax advantages that big businesses inadvertently have over their smaller competition.
Fletcher drafted House Bill 429 to reclassify auto repair shops as retail trade for purposes of the franchise tax. This will ultimately result in a lower cost to car owners seeking auto repairs and a more level playing field among businesses engaged in the same activity.
The Houston Chronicle ran a story about this bill on February 6, 2011
HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Quirk in state tax law favors large businesses »