September saw a number of committee hearings in Austin, as legislators put in the final work on interim charges prior to the 85th Legislative Session which begins in January.
Senator Uresti and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee met earlier in September on a number of issues that will have an effect on our budget next session. The first is the problems with high caseworker turnover in our Child Protective Services System. Senator Uresti once again stressed the importance of paying our caseworkers a livable wage, and ensuring we are being attentive to our children who are removed by assessing their needs on the first day. The committee also heard testimony on the Medicaid program, and heard from advocates who believe Texas must expand the program to take advantage of federal funding that is available to lower our rate of uninsured.
Last week, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development met to hear testimony on the Federal Clean Power Plan and other federal regulations. Senate District 19 contains areas in the Eagle Ford Shale, and the Permian Basin which produce abundant clean burning natural gas, along with some of the fastest growing areas of wind and solar power. District 19 could be a big winner under the clean power plan, should it survive challenges in Federal Court.
Of local concern, the Committee also studied the issue of scrap tires. On San Antonio’s Southside is a massive tire dump containing millions of tires that is operating in violation of state law. Recently, the State District Court in Austin ruled that the company must take action to clean up the site and mitigate damages. This is a step in the right direction, but will not fully address the ongoing problem. Senator Uresti has been working to make legislative advancements and, as a member of the Finance Committee, will continue the effort to devote the necessary resources to assist in the cleanup.