AUSTIN, Texas — Texas State Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) announced this week that he had filed several bills for consideration during this legislative session that were in response to feedback he had received from constituents. His district is composed mostly of rural areas stretching from Lubbock to San Angelo. The new bills are the latest among the ones that Perry has filed to address specific needs of his district.
“At town hall forums and community events across the 51 counties I represent, I have heard numerous concerns from constituents and local elected officials,” Perry wrote in a press release describing the bills. “I look forward to addressing some of these concerns through the legislation I am filing today.”
Breitbart Texas reached out to Perry for comment, and he said that these bills represented some issues that were unique to the rural communities of West Texas that someone would be unlikely to consider unless they had lived in the area. Perry is a native West Texan, having grown up in Sweetwater and now runs his own CPA firm in Lubbock. He confirmed that conversations he had with constituents in his district directly inspired several of his bills this session.
“Our legislators are elected to go to Austin and represent the constituents within their districts,” Perry wrote in his press release. “Our office has an open door policy and I urge anyone with an issue they need addressed at to contact my office so that we may work to find a solution.”
Among the latest bills filed by Perry are SB 503, which allows communities affected by the closure of military bases under Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) better access to loans or grants from the Texas Military Preparedness Commission. These loans and grants are to be invested in infrastructure or job training programs. SB 504 applies the Texas’ Professional Prosecutors Law to the 132nd Judicial District, providing more resources to the Scurry and Borden County’s District Attorney’s Offices.
During the pre-filing period before the official start of the legislative session, Perry had filed several bills that address rural issues, as Breitbart Texas reported, including SB 140, which dealt with agricultural sales tax exemptions. He also filedSJR 17, which would amend the Texas Constitution to expand the number of rural counties that have the authority to assist in the repair of private roads. A number of rural counties have been requesting this power for years, because private contractors are harder to find in their areas, and poorly maintained private roads create hazards for the public and emergency services. The private landowner would be required to consent to the repair and would have to reimburse the county for the cost of the repairs.
Then, in January, Perry filed SB 395, which allows local rural school districts the discretion to move the start of the school year to as early as the second week of August, and SB 394, which directs the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to allow cities and counties that are first time offenders of a particular violation of the state’s environmental regulations, the opportunity to apply their penalties towards fixing the problem for which they are cited.
“Environmental laws and rules change so rapidly, it is hard for small rural communities to keep up and correct issues,” said Perry. “Often times, communities are unaware a problem even exists until they are assessed a big fine from the TCEQ. If a community hasn’t committed the offense before, we should give them some leniency and let them fix the problem before we hit them with a hefty fine.”
“There will be more to come,” Perry told Breitbart Texas, promising even more legislation focused on addressing rural interests.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.