Area lawmakers scoot to meet Friday deadline
By TIM EATON
Scripps Howard Austin Bureau
San Angelo-Standard Times
March 12, 2005
AUSTIN - West Texas lawmakers filed dozens of bills during this legislative session addressing issues affecting the region and state, ranging from wind power to thinning the deer population.
While school finance dominates the session, state lawmakers found time to write thousands of other bills.
Eight legislators with districts in and around San Angelo filed a couple hundred of the more than 5,000 bills filed as of Friday's deadline. Friday sparked a flurry of bill filings because only legislation considered an emergency or pertaining to local areas can be filed after the deadline.
"My intention in legislation is trying to improve things, not think up new laws," said state Rep. Scott Campbell, R-San Angelo. "Let's try to fix the things that are broken."
The overpopulation of deer in the state is one of the problems Campbell said must be fixed.
"The deer situation is something we've been working on for a while with farmers. It's a big deal to us," Campbell said. "Farmers are losing a lot of money. And the state owns the deer. We owe it to the farmers to help them with that situation."
Other bills include a plan to fill up the state's universities, such as Angelo State University, rather than build new facilities at other institutions.
Water and brush control are constant issues, Campbell said.
"I'm trying to do little things to ensure we have a bright future out there," he said.
Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, said some of his projects include raising state judges' salaries to keep experienced judges from fleeing to the private sector, regulation of radioactive waste, brush control and workers' compensation. He said he also plans to work on renewable energy issues.
Fraser and Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, have filed bills to boost the state's reliance on renewable energy, including wind power.
Duncan said a lot of his work gets done in the committee room.
"While I have a very rich legislative package, my first priority is the budget and school finance," said Duncan, a member of the budget-writing Senate Finance Committee. "While I may not be the sponsor of these bills, I'll be involved heavily in the negotiation of those bills."
With school finance in particular, he added, it "will very important to make sure rural Texas does not get lost in the bill."
The legislative session ends May 30. Lawmakers will spend the coming weeks pushing their bills onto committee agendas, imploring committee chairmen to schedule hearings and defending their legislation on the House and Senate floors.
Last session, Gov. Rick Perry signed about one-fifth, or 1,318, of all bills, into law.
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