We’re almost two months in, and with only three to go, we’re seeing the beginning of some important conversations concerning the funding of our classrooms, protecting the safety of our workers, and potentially expanding the economic opportunity of our community.
You may have seen last week that my legislation to bring back El Paso dairy farmsreceived national and statewide attention on The New York Times and the Texas Tribune. Both pieces told the story of the Licon family, whose dairy and cheese factories were once a few yards apart, but are now separated by 50 miles, who have been forced to spend additional time and money within the last decade due to the current ban on dairy farming in El Paso County. I’m honored for this legislation to receive such widespread attention, and am excited to move this opportunity forward and bring back jobs to our community! You can read the stories on my proposal to restore this $40 million dollar industry back to El Paso County online here and here.
Earlier this week, Governor Perry finally came out in support of reforming standardized testing in our state. I’m glad to see that our Governor has recognized what many bipartisan lawmakers, teachers, and other education professionals have stated is necessary to change our current testing methods.
I have long recognized the issues facing standardized testing of our students, and this is reflected in the pieces of legislation I have filed to date. This week I filed House Bill 2004, which will help English Language Learners transition into our public schools. This will provide a transition time to relieve students and school districts of some of the pressure from Texas’s high stakes testing system.
Additionally, a Senate panel agreed to put more funding into our public schools this week. While our Governor continues to ignore the lack of funding for the futures of young Texans, myself and other colleagues will continue to press the urgency of these matters. As you know, our time is limited.
I also filed House Resolution 625, in remembrance of construction workers who have died in construction-related accidents. I acknowledged on the house floor workers like Santiago Arias, who fell from a roof while working on a commercial construction site, became paralyzed from the neck down, and never received workers’ compensation from his employer. Texas is the deadliest state to work in the construction industry, and only 40% of the workforce has workers compensation. I will continue to stand with workers and their families to end these needless deaths and injuries which plague our community.
Tomorrow I will be hosting an agricultural forum to discuss the future of agriculture in El Paso. It’s open to the community to discuss present-day challenges and to create proactive opportunities for the future of agriculture in El Paso County. We’ll be focusing specifically on water issues, agribusiness opportunities, and the possible return of dairy in El Paso County. It will be held from 9 am to 12 pm at the El Paso AgriLife Research and Extension Center. Because our community has such a long and rich agricultural heritage, I’m glad to have the opportunity to bring our farmers and other agricultural experts together to make sure our future is even brighter!