Bryan Hughes by wanghonghx

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									                                 Bryan Hughes
                                 C A P I T O L U P D AT E
                                                           Texas House District 5
    December 2003




                                                                                                                   E:
                                                                                                          T OFFIC
                                                                                                  DISTRIC HOUSTON
                                                                                                 102 W EST
                                                                                                                 75670
                                                                                                        ALL, TX
                                                                                                 MARSH 35-1141
                                                                                                     903-9          42
                                                                                                           3-935-11
                                                                                                   FAX: 90

                 E:
         L OFFIC
  CAPITO
           X 2910
   P.O. BO     68-2910
      , TX 787 1                           OF TE
                                                XAS
AUSTIN    63-027                    STATE         TATIVE
                                                        S
                                          PRESEN
    512-4          15
          2-463-15
                                     OF RE
  FAX: 51

                               HOUSE
                                               UGHES
                                   BRYAN H                                                            islature –
                                                                                                                  including
                                                                                         . This Leg as one of the most
                                                                              gislature
                                                                  the 78 Le               membere
                                                                                                     d              ker Tom
                                                                        th
                   :
  De ar Friends                                     ate you on will certainly be re sion, House Spea bring
                                         e to upd ssions –
                                 ing m                                                 e ses          we worke
                                                                                                                  d to
                   u for allow                 ecial se                   ning of th                                          e
      Thank yo r and the three sp tory. At the begin t Committee, where appointed me to th t
                   ula                         his                      en                        o                          c
                 g                          r
  both the re challenging in ou Economic Develop ere. The Speaker
                                                                      m                        als              ay we sele s
                                                                                                   ines the w                e
   his toric and inted me to the                       nes a  lready h courts and determ sen by my colleagu
   Craddic    k appo             help re  tain the o ees our state’s                e and w   as cho                      us in
                                                                                                              rtance to ter-
                 xas and to                  hich overs                 Committe                 ecial impo               in
   jobs to Te airs Committee, w ules & Resolutions ral Caucus is of sp ke sure that rural ur-
    Jud  icial Aff              rve  on the R              us.   The Ru              s an  d to ma             an   and sub
                  s. I also se                 ural Cauc                 rural Texa              hifts to urb              inter-
    our judge Vice-Chair of the R dress the needs of exas’ population s ke sure that rural
     to serv  e as                works    to ad             s more   of T            arder to  ma
                     e, since it               islature. A               ork even h
     District Fiv resented in the Leg exas will have to w                                                                    dget
                    p
      ests are re ose of us in rural
                                               T                                                                 Billion bu
                                                                                                  was a $9.9 ession that the
                   , th
      ban areas tected.                                                               of which                  s
                                                                         t the least               arly in the               high-
       ests are   pro                              us chall  enges, no . We also learned e his newsletter will the
                                        ith serio                 ce crisis                 ardy. T                  s facing
                           n began w                 rs’ insuran               ere in jeop               challenge
            This sessio serious homeowne Northeast Texas w nd to other major
                      nd a                       joy in                     es a
        shortfall a utility rates we en nded to these issu                                                                         e
                  ctric                      respo                                                                    g more tim
        low ele
                        the Leg   islature                                                              be spendin though the
                                                                                            m glad to is period,
         light how exas.                                                        e year, I a                                       to
                       T                                    ve en   ded for th present. During th continue to meet -
         people of                              essions ha ith the folks I re                      ucuses                     portu
                            the legisla
                                        tive s                                          s and Ca uing to look for op ern-
              Now that East Texas and vis
                                                      iting w               ommittee                                            v
                                                        ion in   Austin, C process, I am contin mit the size of go
           bac k home in ot meeting in sess ion. During this                              m,  and to li
                           is n                    e sess                     tion syste
           Legislature the next Legislativ engthen our educa                                                                 with the
                         r
           prepare fo w our economy, s
                                                    tr                                                          04 to deal
                                                                                                    in early 20 sider the various
            nities to g
                          ro                                                         ssion again meet to con
                                                                         ed into se                s                          you will
            me  nt.                                 e expec  t to be call rway as committee urvey which I hope prepare
                                          eard, w                    unde
                                                                                   ve enclose
                                                                                                das                     s we
                              ay have h                  ork is well                                        ant issue a
                As you m school finance. W public schools. I ha ghts on this import
                            blic                      our                         ou
             issue of pu ilable to us to fund at I can have your th                                                             present
                            a
             options av d return to me, so
                                                      th                                                            onor to re
                            an                                                               se. It is my high h ope that we will
              complete ial session.                                             Texas Hou                on, and I
                                                                                                                    h
              for th  e spec                               serve   you in the the Christmas seas
                                              ing me to ily are enjoying
                               u for allow                 m
                   Thank yo at you and your fa on for the season.
               you. I    hope th              ber th  e reas
                               e to remem                                       Sincerely,
                all take tim


                                                                                       ghes
                                                                              Bryan Hu sentative
                                                                              State Repre        IES  NS
                                                                                            COUNT
                                                                                                OLUTIO
                                                                             & WOOD      S & RES
                                                                ISON, UPSHUR FAIRS & RULE
                                                        P, HARR T, JUDICIAL AF CUS
                                              T 5: CAM         EN           CAU
                                       DISTRIC IC DEVELOPM            RURAL
                                             OM               IRMAN,
                                  TEES: ECON        V ICE CHA
                            COMMIT
        NE TX ELECTRICITY RATES STILL AMONG LOWEST IN STATE
                            Agreement Based on HB 3053 Protects NE TX
Because our area primarily uses coal and lignite for electric-
ity generation, we have the lowest electric utility rates in
the state. On average, our rates are 35-40% lower than any-
where else in Texas.

Most of Texas is currently under electric utility deregula-
tion, which began in 1999. This allows electric utility cus-
tomers to choose their electricity providers and allows the
providers to compete for the customers’ business. The pro-
gram is working fairly well in those areas of Texas where it
has been implemented. We in Northeast Texas, however,
are not presently under deregulation, because our area is
not in a position to benefit from it.                        Rep. Hughes and Sen. Ratliff discuss HB 3053 outside the Senate
                                                                 Chamber.
Because of the low rates and excellent service we enjoy, Sena-   to keep in place the current system in Northeast Texas until
tor Ratliff and I worked with a coalition of mayors across       at least 2007.
Northeast Texas to see that our area is not brought under
deregulation until the time is right. Bringing Northeast Texas   There is no question that a competitive, free market system
under the program now would almost certainly result in           works. However, the transition from a regulated system to
higher utility rates. In addition to being bad for consumers,    a deregulated one must be done smoothly and orderly, and
higher utility rates also make it more difficult for us to at-   only when our area is ready to make the change. Until that
tract new businesses and new jobs to our area.                   time and during that process, I will continue to work to pro-
                                                                 tect the low rates and dependable service we in Northeast
In response to this concern, I filed House Bill 3053, which      Texas have come to expect. For more information on HB
sought to preserve our current system until at least 2007.       3053, please visit www.house.state.tx.us, or contact my of-
As a result of HB 3053, the Public Utility Commission agreed     fice.


                       BALANCED BUDGET WITH NO NEW TAXES
The only issue the Legislature is constitutionally required      bureacracy. State government has no higher priority than
to consider each session is a balanced budget. Unlike the        the education of Texas children, and the budget reflects that
federal government, our state constitution prohibits the leg-    priority. Funding for the Foundation School Program, which
islature from deficit spending. Even with a $9.9 billion bud-    is the statewide school fund that distributes money to school
get shortfall, we stayed true to a commitment to balancing       districts, is left largely intact, and appropriates an additional
the budget without raising your taxes. We recognized the         $1.2 billion for public schools. The budget also preserves
basic fact that when times get tough and the economy slows       funding for children with disabilities, gifted students and
down, Texas families look at their budgets and decide what       advanced placement programs. This means more money
they can cut back on, what they can cut out, and what they       will actually be going to students, not government bureau-
can do without. We decided it was time for state govern-         cracy in Austin.
ment to do the same.
                                                                 The new budget also maintains the solvency of the Teacher
For the first time since World War II, we are actually spend-    Retirement System and Health Insurance Programs, and I
ing less state money than we did in the previous budget.         am hopeful that we can do more to help our current and
We also worked to maximize federal matching funds, that          retired teachers during the upcoming special session on
is, tax money which the federal government returns to Texas      school finance. The budget also preserves Texas Grants and
for certain programs. By increasing the amount of federal        Tuition Equalization Grants, to help make the dream of col-
funds, the Legislature was able to increase services while       lege a reality for more Texans.
decreasing the amount of state money spent.
                                                                 In the area of Health and Human Services, the passage of
Using only the money the state currently receives from your      HB 2292 consolidated ten agencies into three, saving the
taxes as well as federal funding, the legislature passed a       taxpayers an estimated $1 Billion. It is important that gov-
budget that protects schools while limiting government           ernment services be delivered in the most efficient way and
                                                                 at the lowest cost to the people of Texas, and this bill goes a
                                                                 long way toward that goal. The bill also strengthened cur-
                                                                 rent law with respect to fraud and abuse of state services.
                                                                 Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program
                                                                 (CHIP) was also maintained at current levels.
                                                                 A major shift in fiscal policy took place this session. Rather
                                                                 than looking to a bigger, ever-expanding government, the
                                                                 Legislature took the approach that a leaner, more efficient
                                                                 government is better able to meet the needs of Texans, in
                                                                 both good and bad economic times. In the end, we have a
                                                                 budget which meets our responsibility both to those receiv-
                                                                 ing government services and to those paying the taxes. It is
                                                                 important to remember that government should never grow
                                                                 more than citizens’ incomes or the private sector, and like
Rep. Hughes and several members discuss legislation on the       Texas families, government should learn to operate effi-
House Floor.                                                     ciently on limited resources.
                  HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE CRISIS ADDRESSED
                                  Texas Homeowners to Save $510 Million
Soon after the 78th Texas Legislature convened in January,      This information provided a review of current and six-
Governor Rick Perry issued a proclamation declaring the         month prospective rates to inform the Legislature whether
Texas homeowner’s insurance crisis an emergency issue.          rates were just and reasonable.
This proclamation gave certain insurance legislation a          Armed with this information, the House and Senate passed
higher priority than other legislation and suspended the
                                                                SB 14, a comprehensive insurance reform package. This bill
constitutional rule that no legislation can be heard in the     regulates all current homeowner insurance companies un-
first 30 days of the legislature. As you know, homeowner’s
                                                                der a prior approval rating system, and TDI will examine
insurance was, and continues to be, a very important issue      those rates to determine if they are reasonable and fair.
across the state as families struggle to find affordable
                                                                Furthermore, the bill instructed TDI to reduce rates where
homeowner’s insurance coverage.                                 appropriate. On August 8, 2003, TDI ordered most of the
Since 1991, a rate benchmark system has been in place in        top 32 homeowner’s insurance companies to lower their
Texas by which an insurer can charge up to 30 percent more      rates. These 32 companies represent roughly 95% of the
or less than the state benchmark. In recent years,              Texas homeowner’s insurance market.
homeowner’s insurance companies, seeking to avoid rate
                                                                Rate reductions range up to 31% and will save Texans more
regulation, have shifted more and more of their business        than $510 million. In ordering rate reductions, TDI re-
toward unregulated branches. In 2001, in response to a rate
                                                                viewed each company individually and determined rate
spike following an increase in mold and water damage            reductions based on profit/loss margins, expenses, loss
claims, the Insurance Commissioner approved the use of          trends, and policy types. Unless appealed, new rates will
                                                                go into effect in 30 days and will appear on the policyholder’s
                                                                next scheduled renewal. Several companies have decided
                                                                to appeal the ruling, and a public hearing will be held at
                                                                TDI. The company may also appeal the ruling to District
                                                                Court.
                                                                The state’s largest three insurance companies, State Farm,
                                                                Allstate, and Farmers, have all been ordered to reduce rates.
                                                                State Farm must reduce rates by 12%, and Allstate has been
                                                                ordered to reduce their rates by 18.2%. Farmers was or-
                                                                dered to reduce their rates by 17.5%, in addition to the 6.8%
                                                                reduction taken by the company as a result of the $117 mil-
                                                                lion settlement reached in December 2002.
                                                                Senate Bill 14 represents a significant first step in Insurance
                                                                Reform, and I expect the Department of Insurance to imple-
Rep. Hughes presents a bill to the House of Representatives.    ment the Legislature’s intent and provide homeowners with
mandatory forms that cap certain coverage. Later, in 2002,      rate relief. As Senate Bill 14 takes effect and we move to-
the Texas FAIR Plan Association began operating as a safety-    ward a more market-driven insurance system, Texans
net provider for consumers who have been turned down at         should have more insurance providers and more choices in
least twice for residential property insurance.                 the coverage they can buy.
In the 78th Legislative Session, the Legislature passed two     More information on rate reductions can be found at the
major insurance reform bills, SB 310 and SB 14. SB 310 re-      Texas Department of Insurance’s website,
quired insurance companies to file current and projected        www.tdi.state.tx.us
rates and supporting data with the Insurance Commissioner.


                     PPPP                HUGHES BILLS BECOME LAW P P P P
  American Heritage Education -- Rep. Hughes authored           similar program in Georgia, establishes the Texas Cares
  legislation that will have Texas’ 4 million school children   Program within the Texas Department of Aging. The goal
  in grades 3-12 studying the United States Constitution,       is to help inform senior citizens about low cost prescrip-
  Declaration of Independence, and the Founding Fathers.        tion plans offered by pharmaceutical companies. The
  The legislation, HB 1776, moves the state’s Celebrate Free-   program will also assist with paperwork required to en-
  dom Week to the week of Veteran’s Day, and reinforces         roll in the programs. The Texas Cares Program will be
  existing law which state that “a primary purpose” of          funded entirely by private donations and grants.
  public school curriculum is to prepare “thoughtful, ac-
  tive citizens who understand the importance of patrio-
  tism.” More importantly, this legislation will ensure chil-
  dren have a firm grasp on the founding and history of
  our country, as well as a working knowledge of the found-
  ing documents.
  Rural Physicians Relief Act -- Hughes, along with Reps.
  Rick Hardcastle and Wayne Christian, authored HB 1877,
  which helps rural areas like House District 5 retain more
  physicians. Studies indicate that rural physicians work
  longer hours, see more patients, treat a higher percent-
  age of indigent care patients, and receive less compensa-
  tion than do their urban colleagues.
  Texas Cares (Senior Citizen Prescription Drug Program)
  -- Rep. Hughes and Rep. Sid Miller authored HB 1090
  which will help ease the burden of high cost prescription
  drugs for our senior citizens. The bill, modeled after a Gov. Perry signs Rep. Hughes’ bills into law.
                                              SCHOOL FINANCE TASK FORCE
Prior to the session, the budget crisis prompted many                                        we must see that our teachers are paid fairly and that
to wonder if public school finance would even be dis-                                        they receive the benefits they deserve.
cussed during the 78th Legislature. As a first step,
                                                                                             Whatever funding mechanism we come up with
the Texas Legislature passed a deadline for the end
                                                                                             should result in significant property tax relief for
of the current “Robin Hood” school financing sys-
                                                                                             Texas homeowners. As we look for alternative fund-
tem. As a result of this legislation, the state must
                                                                                             ing sources, I remain completely opposed to a state
implement a new school finance plan by September
                                                                                             income tax.
1, 2004. In anticipation of a special session on school
finance, the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the
House have appointed select committees to study
school finance options.
I was appointed to the School Finance Task Force for
the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute
(TCCRI), one of the state’s leading bi-partisan public
policy think tanks. The task force is unique in that it
will be led by several Co-Chairmen from both the
House and the Senate, with both chambers of the leg-
islature working together to find real solutions to the
school finance crisis.
The Task Force is considering not only public school
finance, but also how we spend the money we put
into public education. We have no higher priority
than the education of young Texans, and they deserve                                        Rep. Hughes and Rep. Grusendorf, Chairman of the Public
the best education possible. As part of this process,                                       Education Committee, review school finance proposals.


                                     OTHER MAJOR LEGISLATIVE REFORMS
Education Achievements -- Several initiatives improved                                       Economic Development Achievements -- This session, the
efficiency at the Texas Education Agency by consolidating                                    legislature established the Texas Enterprise Fund which
administrative functions. Hughes worked during the bud-                                      provides $295 million for job creation programs and eco-
get process to move in excess of $520 million more into                                      nomic development. This fund has since been used to bring
public education than was originally in the budget. Also,                                    a large Toyota manufacturing plant to Texas, and helped
despite the very difficult budget conditions, Hughes worked                                  encourage Texas Instruments to expand its operations in
to insure an additional $1.2 billion for public schools as
                                                                                             Texas.
emergency relief.
Transportation Achievements -- HB 3588 allows TxDOT                                          Other Reforms/Achievements -- The legislature funded the
to issue up to $3 billion in revenue bonds backed by the                                     Texas Emissions Reduction Plan which helps clean the air
state to improve state roads and alleviate important rail                                    in Texas cities and keep federal transportation dollars flow-
safety issues. This bill also generates $100 million for                                     ing, consolidated health and human services agencies to
trauma care by 2004 and nearly $200 million by 2006.                                         save nearly $1 billion, strengthened fraud and abuse of ser-
                                                                                             vices laws, and enacted the first ethics and campaign fi-
                                                                                             nance reform in a dozen years.

                                                                                             School Prayer -- Beginning this school year, Senate Bill 83
                                                                                             provides that every public school student in Texas is given
                                                                                             a momemt of silence at the beginning of each school day for
                                                                                             voluntary prayer, meditation, or reflection. This long-over-
                                                                                             due bill, which Representative Hughes co-authored, takes
                                                                                             Texas law as far as the United States Supreme Court will
                                                                                             allow us to go toward restoration of voluntary school prayer.

                                                                                             Pledge of Allegiance -- Senate Bill 83 also provides that we
                                                                                             recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States Flag and
Rep. Hughes and members pause for the morning invocation with                                the Pledge to the Texas Flag at the beginning of every school
Gov. Perry.                                                                                  day in Texas public schools.




                                          Honor the Texas Flag; I pledge allegiance
                                             to thee, Texas, one and indivisible.

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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Governor Perry will likely call a special session in the
spring to deal with the issue of public school finance.
Literally dozens of different proposals are being of-
fered, and your input is important as we put together
the plans to be considered in the upcoming special
session. Listed below are a number of the concepts
being discussed, and the final plan could likely in-
clude a number of different elements. Please take a
moment to give me your thoughts on them, and also
to offer any other ideas or concerns you may have.
As always, I welcome your calls, emails, and letters
on this, and any other issues important to you.                           Rep. Hughes studying legislation on
                                                                          the House floor.




                                                                               Yes   No       Undecided

Do you support an expansion of the sales tax to include services?

Do you support an increase in the rate of the sales tax?

Do you support abolishing local property taxes and replacing them
with a statewide property tax?

Do you support a value added tax (also called a business activity
tax)?
Do you support an expansion of gambling?




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                                      STATE OF TEXAS
                                 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
                                           BRYAN HUGHES
                                          STATE REPRESENTATIVE
                                                   DISTRICT 5
                                  P.O. BOX 2910 · AUSTIN, TEXAS · 78768-2910
                    STATE OF TEXAS                                                                           PRSRT STD
               HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                                                                     U.S. Postage
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                        BRYAN HUGHES                                                                        Austin, Texas
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                       STATE REPRESENTATIVE
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Friends from Harrison County stop to take a picture with Rep. Rep. Hughes with Sen. Ratliff and a delegation of Wood County
Hughes and Speaker Craddick on Marshall Day.                  residents on Wood County Day at the Capitol.




                                 CONTACT REP. BRYAN HUGHES


             Capitol Office                                            District Offices
             P.O. Box 2910                         Harrison Co. Annex                     701 North Pacific
             Austin, Texas 78768                   102 W. Houston                         P.O. Box 450
             512-463-0271                          Marshall, Texas 75670                  Mineola, Texas 75773
             Fax 512-463-1515                      903-935-1141                           903-569-8880



                                          email: Bryan.Hughes@house.state.tx.us
                                  http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/dist5/hughes.htm

								
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