LOCAL OFFICIALS, AT&T COLLABORATE ON SCRAP METAL THEFT BILL, AWARD HIGHLANDS LITTLE LEAGUE

July 29th, 2015

AUSTIN–State Representative Wayne Smith and State Senator Larry Taylor will celebrate the successful passage of legislation seeking to cut down on metal theft in a press conference on Tuesday, July 28 at the Highlands Little League Kaminski Park.  Rep. Smith and Sen. Taylor will be joined by AT&T as the company donates $6,000 to the Highlands Little League to assist with their recovery from recent copper thefts.

During the 84th Texas Legislative Session, Rep. Smith and Sen. Taylor championed H.B. 2187 relating to the regulation of metal recycling entities following extensive reports of metal and copper theft in Harris County and all across the state.  Metal theft has become a major problem for many Texas communities because stolen metal can easily be recycled for cash.  Scrap metal thefts have occurred at churches, charitable organizations, schools, municipalities, businesses, etc., and recently, the Highlands Little League has suffered three major thefts of copper from the baseball park’s light poles within three months this year resulting in thousands of dollars in damages to the facilities.

H.B. 2187 will help curb the growing issue of metal theft by creating a financial paper trail and, in return, will reduce the appeal for thieves to steal metal for “quick cash.” The bill will also create a penalty for those metal recycling entities who are not reporting to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) as current law requires them to do and will further expand the list of regulated metals to include new items that are frequently being stolen for their scrap value.

“The theft of metal from the Highlands Little League, our local churches, businesses, schools and other organizations has hit too close to home for many people and communities, and I am happy to have had a part in the passage of this legislation,” Rep. Smith said.  “The tools provided by this legislation enable our law enforcement to cut down on these crimes and prosecute these criminals.  It is inspiring to see our local community and companies like AT&T stepping up to the plate to assist Highlands Little League with their recovery from back-to-back-to-back copper thefts.”

Details about the press conference are as follows:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

6 p.m.

Highlands Little League

Kaminski Park

925 East Canal Street

Highlands, Texas 77562

Contact:  Sam Tittel at 281-733-9517

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Representative Wayne Smith represents Texas House District 128, including Baytown, Deer Park, La Porte, Crosby, Highlands, Morgan’s Point and a portion of Pasadena.


Texas House Republican Caucus Statement on Abhorrent Planned Parenthood Video

July 16th, 2015

AUSTIN – The Texas House Republican Caucus issued the following statement after footage was released of a Planned Parenthood executive discussing the harvesting and sale of fetal organs and extremities.

“The Texas House Republican Caucus is outraged and deeply saddened by the video of a high-level Planned Parenthood executive discussing the harvesting and sale of fetal organs and extremities. The practice described in the video shows an absolute disregard for human life and will not be tolerated.”

“The Texas House Republican Caucus will lead on this issue and address the situation in Texas at our next opportunity. We are in full support of Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, and Attorney General Paxton in their commitment to investigate Planned Parenthood and these despicable actions.”


State Rep. Wayne Smith Announces for Reelection and Releases Early Endorsement List

July 6th, 2015

BAYTOWN, TX – Coming off what Republican Governor Greg Abbott called “the most conservative legislative session that we’ve ever seen,” State Representative Wayne Smith (R-Baytown) today announced his intention to run for re-election to Texas House District 128.

“Serving the families of District 128 has been a true honor, and today I’m humbled to announce my campaign for re-election,” said Smith. “Working with the local community, I am proud of what we’ve accomplished and I’m excited about the future.”

In making his announcement, Smith cited key accomplishments from the past legislative session which include passing the strongest border security measures in Texas history, passing a balanced state budget that grows less than population plus inflation, cutting property and business taxes by $4 billion, increasing funding for public education, allowing licensed gun-owners to open carry, and protecting Pastor’s rights to decline to perform same-sex marriages. A proud Vietnam Veteran, Smith was also honored to speak at the unveiling of the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument this session. Smith carried legislation that allowed the monument to be built on Capitol grounds.

He also cited his work at the local level which includes cracking down on illegal game rooms that have become breeding grounds for crime, funding for the construction of Spur 330 which will help local traffic mobility, funding to repair Battleship Texas and keep it afloat, creation of the Houston Ship Channel Security District, cracking down on scrap metal and copper thieves, and protecting Lee College and San Jacinto Community College.

Smith also released an early list of endorsements for his campaign. Endorsements include Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, local Mayors, all Republican County Commissioners, former Harris County Constable Bill Bailey, U.S. Congressman Brian Babin, and dozens of community leaders and elected officials.

“I’m honored to have the support of Judge Emmett, my local mayors, and dozens of leaders and elected officials throughout this district,” said Smith. “These are the people that know me best, and to have their support says a lot about what we’ve been able to accomplish in the Texas Legislature. I look forward to running an aggressive grassroots campaign based on my local support and record of delivering results for the state and our district.”

State Rep. Wayne Smith Early Endorsement List:

Ed Emmett – Harris County Judge
Brian Babin – U.S. Congressman, District 36
Jack Morman – Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 2
Steve Radack – Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 3
Jack Cagle – Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 4
Bill Bailey – Former Harris County Constable, Pct. 8 and a member of Conservative Citizens Coalition
Phil Sandlin – Harris Co. Constable, Pct. 8 and a member of Conservative Citizens Coalition
Steve Don Carlos – Baytown Mayor, POHA Commissioner, Former Baytown Rotary Club President and current Baytown Rotary Club member
Jerry Mouton, Jr. – Deer Park Mayor
Louis R. Rigby – La Porte Mayor
Johnny Isbell – Pasadena Mayor and a member of the Conservative Citizens Coalition
Michel Bechtel – Morgan’s Point Mayor
Wayne Riddle – Former Deer Park Mayor
Barry Beasley – Former La Porte Mayor
John Manlove – Former Pasadena Mayor
Calvin Mundinger – Former Baytown Mayor, current Governor Perry Appointee and Baytown Rotary Club member
Jimmy Burke – Former Deer Park Mayor, Former POHA Commissioner and current Governor Perry Appointee
Terry Sain – Baytown Council Member, Former Baytown Rotary Club President and current Baytown Rotary Club member
Darrell Morrison – Pasadena At-large Council Member and a member of the Conservative Citizens Coalition
Steve Cote – Former Pasadena Council Member
Pete Alfaro – Lee College Regent, Former Baytown Mayor and a member of Baytown Rotary Club
Dr. Keith Coburn – Lee College Regent
Dan Mims – Chairman San Jacinto Community College Trustee
John “JR” Moon Jr. – San Jacinto Community College Trustee
Marie Flickinger – San Jacinto Community College Trustee
Tom Cottar – Republican Precinct Chair (386) and former SREC Member
Spencer Carnes, P.E. – Texas Society of Professional Engineers Member and Longtime Baytown Resident
John Saavedra, P.E. – Texas Society of Professional Engineers Member and Pasadena Resident
Chad Burke – Economic Alliance and Chair of Conservative Citizens Coalition
Eddie V. Gray – Baytown Rotary Club Member
David Kadjar – Former Baytown Rotary Club President and current Baytown Rotary Club member
Roger Elswick – Car Dealership Owner, Former Baytown Rotary Club President, current Baytown Rotary Club member and Baytown Citizen of the Year
George Watkins – Longtime La Porte Resident
Greg Angel – Local Business Owner and Lifelong Baytown Resident
Stanley Briers – Former Governor Bush Appointee to the Texas Board of Plumbing Examiners
Pam Warford – Lifetime Baytown Resident, Former Baytown Rotary Club President, and a current Baytown Rotary Club member
Doug Walker – Governor Perry Appointee, Beach City Alderman, Former Baytown Rotary Club President and current Baytown Rotary Club member
Molly Maness-Smith – Former Justice of the Peace and Pasadena Resident
Carroll Smith – Car Dealership owner in Pasadena and Pasadena Resident
The Phelps Family – John, Steve and Ken
Brian Hawthorne – Chambers County Sherriff
Rev. Roger Blackburn – La Porte Resident
John Moon – Pasadena Businessman and a member of Conservative Citizens Coalition
Victoria Fayle – Lifetime Baytown Resident
Mike Jackson – Former Texas State Senator
Foxy Matherne – Baytown Rotary Club Member
Tammie Nielsen – Pasadena Resident and Republican activist
Keith Nielsen – Pasadena Resident and Republican activist
Wanda Peters – Lifetime Baytown Resident
Dan Peters – Lifetime Baytown Resident


Texas House Republican Caucus Statement on Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

June 28th, 2015

The Texas House Republican Caucus issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling:

The Texas House Republican Caucus is extraordinarily disappointed in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision. We believe this is a direct assault on the 10th Amendment and the sovereignty of Texas. The Supreme Court was intended to interpret the laws of the United States, not create them as a legislative body.

Texas House Republicans signed a declaration on May 15, 2015 supporting traditional marriage in Texas, and we stand by that declaration. The Texas House of Representatives also pass during the 84th Legislative Session “The Pastor Protection Act” that serves to safeguard the closely held religious beliefs of pastors. This piece of legislation is even more important now in light of the Supreme Court’s decision. We believe our position is supported by the majority of Texans, as evidenced by the passage of Proposition 2 in 2005 with support from more than 76 percent of Texans. The Texas House Republican Caucus will continue to stand firm in its support of religious liberty.


REPRESENTATIVE SMITH COMPLETES ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL LEGISLATIVE SESSION

June 19th, 2015

AUSTIN–Representative Wayne Smith (R-Baytown) and his fellow Republican legislators in the Texas House delivered one conservative victory after another in the 84th Legislature by cutting taxes, making the border region safer, improving education, funding transportation, protecting life and defending Second Amendment rights.

This session Rep. Smith worked with his colleagues to continue to keep Texas on strong fiscal ground by passing a state budget that keeps growth beneath 2 percent per year. The budget, House Bill 1, grows less than population and inflation, it stays well beneath the constitutional spending cap and it leaves more than $11 billion in the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Even as it limits spending, the budget provides additional funding for education, border security, transportation and child protection.

“Texas had a great session,” said Rep. Smith. “We delivered on tax relief, border security, the Second Amendment and many other key issues. Conservative Republicans can and should be proud of this record.”

With a budget surplus provided by the success of the private sector, House republicans worked throughout the session to deliver tax relief. Those efforts paid off as the Legislature approved nearly $4 billion in tax relief: a 25 percent reduction in the business margins tax, as well as a $10,000 increase in the homestead exemption, which will provide relief for homeowners.

The House demonstrated its commitment to border security early in the session by passing House Bills 10 and 11. House Bill 10 takes new steps to fight and eliminate human trafficking. House Bill 11, of which Rep. Smith was a co-author, provides hundreds of new state troopers along the Texas-Mexico border while strengthening efforts to fight and prosecute border-related crimes. In addition, the budget provides a historic amount of funding – more than $800 million – for border security.

The Texas population and economy are growing rapidly, straining roads and highways. The state addressed transportation this session without raising taxes, fees or tolls. The budget ends diversions of the State Highway Fund, meaning all of the money in that fund will pay for transportation instead of other programs. That change increased transportation funding by $1.3 billion over two years. Rep. Smith supported Senate Joint Resolution 5, a proposed constitutional amendment that would dedicate at least $2.5 billion of state sales tax revenue to transportation every two years. Finally, House members took the lead in making the Texas Department of Transportation more transparent and accountable by supporting House Bill 20.

The Legislature has repeatedly defended the rights of the unborn in recent years and continued to do so in this year’s session. House Republicans passed critical pro-life bills, further defunded Planned Parenthood and expanded funding for alternatives to abortion. House Bill 3994 reforms the judicial bypass process for minors seeking abortions. These reforms will protect and strengthen parents’ rights while also increasing oversight of the bypass process. The House also passed House Bill 3374, which requires a medical provider to furnish information about treatment options and resources for Down syndrome to new or expectant parents following a Down syndrome diagnosis. House Bill 3074, another crucial bill passed by the House, addresses end of life issues and requires artificial hydration and nutrition to be provided to patients in the natural process of death.

The Legislature also achieved two long-sought Second Amendment priorities this session with the passage of House Bill 910, which allows for the licensed open carry of handguns, and Senate Bill 11, which will expand the rights of Concealed Handgun License holders to possess their guns on college campuses. In addition, House Republicans provided the leadership needed to pass Senate Bill 2065, which protects pastors from lawsuits or criminal prosecution if they refuse to perform marriages that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. House Republicans also passed a number of bills providing needed services to Texas veterans. As a Vietnam veteran, Rep. Smith keeps the needs of his fellow veterans first and foremost in mind as he works to represent them at the State Capitol in Austin.

“The House began the session with a conservative agenda and ends the session with a conservative record of accomplishment,” Rep. Smith said. “Our work this session will create growth in the private sector while defending and expanding critical rights for the people of Texas. I believe the members of the Texas Legislature delivered the results we were sent here by our constituencies to achieve.”

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Representative Wayne Smith represents Texas House District 128, including Baytown, Deer Park, La Porte, Crosby, Highlands, Morgan’s Point and a portion of Pasadena.


Republicans Reflect on a Successful Session

June 1st, 2015

By The Texas House Republican Caucus

(Austin, Texas) Republicans in the Texas House delivered one conservative victory after another in the 84th Legislature by cutting taxes, making the border region safer, improving education, funding transportation, protecting life and defending Second Amendment rights.

House Republicans also continued to keep Texas on strong fiscal ground by passing a state budget that keeps growth beneath 2 percent per year. The budget, House Bill 1, grows less than population and inflation, it stays well beneath the constitutional spending cap and it leaves more than $11 billion in the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Even as it limits spending, however, the budget provides additional funding for education, border security, transportation and child protection.
“Conservatives had a great session,” said Rep. Tan Parker of Flower Mound, the Chairman of the House Republican Caucus. “We delivered on tax relief, border security, the Second Amendment and many other key issues. Conservative Republicans can and should be proud of this record.”

With a budget surplus provided by the success of the private sector, House Republicans worked throughout the session to deliver tax relief. Those efforts paid off as the Legislature approved nearly $4 billion in tax relief: a 25 percent reduction in the business margins tax, as well as a $10,000 increase in the homestead exemption, which will provide relief for homeowners.

The House demonstrated its commitment to border security early in the session by passing House Bills 10 and 11. House Bill 10 takes new steps to fight and eliminate human trafficking. House Bill 11 provides hundreds of new state troopers along the Texas-Mexico border while strengthening efforts to fight and prosecute border-related crimes. In addition, the budget provides a historic amount of funding – more than $800 million – for border security.

The Texas population and economy are growing rapidly, straining roads and highways. House Republicans addressed transportation this session without raising taxes. The budget ends diversions of the State Highway Fund, meaning all of the money in that fund will pay for transportation instead of other programs. That change increased transportation funding by $1.3 billion over two years. House Republicans also supported Senate Joint Resolution 5, a proposed constitutional amendment that would dedicate at least $2.5 billion of state sales tax revenue to transportation every two years. Finally, House Republicans took the lead in making the Texas Department of Transportation more transparent and accountable by supporting House Bill 20.

The Legislature has repeatedly defended the rights of the unborn in recent years and continued to do so in this year’s session. House Republicans passed critical pro-life bills, further defunded Planned Parenthood and expanded funding for alternatives to abortion. House Bill 3994 reforms the judicial bypass process for minors seeking abortions. These reforms will protect and strengthen parents’ rights while also increasing oversight of the bypass process. The House also passed House Bill 3374, which requires a medical provider to furnish information about treatment options and resources for Down syndrome to new or expectant parents following a Down syndrome diagnosis. House Bill 3074, another crucial bill passed by the House, addresses end of life issues and requires artificial hydration and nutrition to be provided to patients in the natural process of death.

House Republicans also achieved two long-sought Second Amendment priorities this session with the passage of House Bill 910, which allows for the licensed open carry of handguns, and Senate Bill 11, which will expand the rights of Concealed Handgun License holders to possess their guns on college campuses. In addition, House Republicans provided the leadership needed to pass Senate Bill 2065, which protects pastors from lawsuits or criminal prosecution if they refuse to perform marriages that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. House Republicans also passed a number of bills providing needed services to Texas veterans.

“The House began the session with a conservative agenda and ends the session with a conservative record of accomplishment,” Chairman Parker said. “Our work this session will create growth in the private sector while defending and expanding critical rights for the people of Texas. House Republicans have delivered the results we were sent here to achieve.”


House Approves Fiscally Responsible State Budget

May 30th, 2015

AUSTIN – The Texas House gave overwhelming final approval Friday to House Bill 1, a balanced and disciplined state budget for the next two years. The budget was also approved in the Texas Senate and now heads to Governor Greg Abbott.

The $209 billion budget represents growth of 3.6 percent in All Funds, or less than 2 percent per year, and it stays beneath the spending limit in the Texas Constitution. While restraining overall spending, it prioritizes education, transportation and border security. It also reflects the House’s considerable efforts to increase transparency and accountability in state spending.

House Bill 1 highlights the following priorities:

Education: The bill pays for an increase of roughly 80,000 students per year in the state’s overall public school enrollment. On top of that investment, it provides an additional $1.5 billion for public education. The budget also provides more resources for higher education, including graduate medical education and TEXAS Grants, the state’s signature financial aid program.

Transportation: Reversing a decades-old practice, the budget uses all of the money in the State Highway Fund for transportation instead of using some of those dollars for other programs. It also includes an infusion of oil-and-gas tax revenue made possible by voters’ approval of a constitutional amendment in November 2014.

Transparency: In addition to using all of the State Highway Fund revenue for transportation, the budget takes a number of other steps to use taxes and fees for their intended purpose. Using more revenue as intended allows House Bill 1 to provide additional resources for hospital trauma care, state parks and other priorities.

Border Security: House Bill 1 provides $840 million in All Funds for border security. That investment, a significant increase over the current budget, will allow for the hiring of 250 new Department of Public Safety troopers and allow a 50-hour work week for all troopers. It will also fund the implementation of House Bill 11, which will bring consistency to the state’s border security strategy.

Long-Term Obligations: The budget provides funding to address a shortfall in retired teachers’ health care and to address the solvency of the state employee pension system.

Mental Health: The budget increases funding for behavioral health and substance abuse services by $151 million, providing additional resources for both inpatient and outpatient services.


House Passes Major Conservative Legislation

May 27th, 2015

(Austin, Texas) Late last night, the Texas House of Representatives passed two major pieces of legislation, just in time to beat the midnight deadline for the House to pass Senate Bills on second reading. Republicans in the Texas House proudly fought to preserve conservative principles in Texas and were successful.

Senate Bill 11, which authorizes a concealed handgun license holder to carry a concealed handgun while on a college campus passed after hours of extensive debate. SB 11 allows for universities to establish rules, regulations, or other provisions concerning the storage of handguns in dorms or other residential facilities owned or operated by the university.

On the passage of SB 11, Allen Fletcher (R-Tomball) said, “I’m proud of the Texas House for passing strong Second Amendment legislation this session. This bill will ensure that license holders will have the right to protect themselves on college campuses the same way they are able to in any other location in the state. The Concealed Handgun License program has been successful in Texas for almost 20 years, and today the House stood behind that program and its 825,000 license holders.” To be eligible for a concealed handgun license in the state of Texas, citizens must pass state and federal background checks, pass both an educational course and shooting proficiency test, and be over the age of 21.

Senate Bill 9 reforms the current method for limiting the growth of state spending. This fiscally responsible legislation was strongly supported by House Republicans, and will head back to the Senate for final approval before heading to the Governor’s desk.

“This is another great step in the House’s goal of bringing budget transparency to the process,” said John Otto (R-Dayton), Chairman of Appropriations.

For additional information, please contact Kelly Carnal, Executive Director of the House Republican Caucus, at kelly@texashousecaucus.com.


REP. WAYNE SMITH COLLABORATES WITH LEE COLLEGE ON DUAL-CREDIT LEGISLATION

May 20th, 2015

AUSTIN–Following close collaboration with Lee College, State Representative Wayne Smith (R-Baytown) authored and co-authored legislation that would increase access for high school students seeking to enroll in dual-credit courses at public colleges and universities. House Bill 505 passed both the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate and is now at the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature.

H.B. 505 amends current law relating to a prohibition of limitations on the number of dual credit courses or hours in which a public high school student may enroll. Currently in Texas, high school students may not be enrolled in more than two dual-credit courses per semester and the opportunity to participate in these courses is limited to juniors and seniors unless a student in a lower high school grade level obtains a waiver to allow participation. Studies show that students enrolled in dual credit courses are more likely to complete high school and enroll in college. State law allows both school districts and colleges to obtain state funding for dual credit courses, allowing a student to take more higher education courses at a reduced cost. H.B. 505 prohibits the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) from adopting any rule that would limit the number of dual-credit courses or hours in a which a student may enroll while in high school or in a given semester or academic year and, following an amendment by Rep. Smith, removes limitations on the grade level at which a high school student may be eligible to enroll in a dual-credit course if those students are able to meet the academic requirements currently in place.

“House Bill 505 brings Texas closer to the goal of expanding access to higher education for all students while maintaining rigorous academic qualifiers,” Smith said. “By removing limiting factors such as grade level and the maximum number of courses allowed in a given semester, Texas high school students can advance their education earlier in their academic career and thereby enter into their chosen profession timelier.”

Lee College offers a variety of dual-credit opportunities to allow high school students to gain college-level credit, and has seen the participation in the dual-credit program grow considerably in the last few years.

“Lee College and the other 49 Texas community colleges are excited about the passage of H.B. 505, co-sponsored by Representative Wayne Smith,” Dr. Dennis Brown, Lee College President, said. “Through Rep. Smith’s efforts, all Texas high school freshmen through senior students who are college-ready will be able to begin pursuing college courses through the state approved dual-credit program. Rep. Smith’s legislation will assist students in more quickly building their college transcript, and earning transfer and technical certificates and degrees much sooner.”

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Representative Wayne Smith represents Texas House District 128, including Baytown, Deer Park, La Porte, Crosby, Highlands, Morgan’s Point and a portion of Pasadena.


Texas House Passes Bill to take Public Integrity Unit from Travis County Prosecutors

April 21st, 2015

(Austin, Texas) Today, the Texas House of Representatives passed House Bill 1690, which will relocate the Public Integrity Unit from the Travis County District Attorney’s Office to the Department of Public Safety, giving the Texas Rangers the authority to investigate public integrity offenses.

“I’m proud to have supported this bill,” said Wayne Smith (R-Baytown). “It’s important that the citizens of Texas have confidence in the agency that’s responsible for upholding the public’s trust.”

The change removes the power of the Travis County District Attorney, a county elected position, to prosecute statewide elected officials, government employees, and officials elected in other districts and counties. Under 1690, the investigation process in these cases would be handled by the Texas Rangers and then referred for prosecution to the elected official’s home county.

“I’m proud to support HB 1690. We owe it to our citizens to transfer the responsibility of protecting the public trust out of one county office and vest it in our premier law enforcement agency, the Texas Rangers,” said Kenneth Sheets (R-Dallas), a joint author of the bill.

The House passed HB 1690 with a vote of 94-51, with near unanimous support from the members of the House Republican Caucus.