The Texas Lege
After spending three years in the Texas Attorney General's Office, I moved back to Alpine in the fall of 1989. In March of 1990, I became the Democratic nominee for State Representative from our region.
I served in the Texas House of Representatives from January, 1991, until January, 2013. I loved serving in the House. My timing was good. I had the opportunity to work with and get to know Ann Richards, George W. Bush, Bob Bullock, Pete Laney and many, many other people who were real characters in their own right. It was before the days of e-mail and e-filing. All the work of the Legislature was done on paper and by hand.
I learned from every Governor and Speaker that I served with. However, the years that Pete Laney was Speaker of the Texas House are and will forever be viewed by historians as the "Renaissance" period or "Golden Age" of the Texas Legislature. Speaker Laney's motto was "vote your district" - he never once encouraged members to "vote your party." He taught me a lot. I will be forever grateful.
Speaker Laney allowed me to be one of five House conferees on the Appropriations bill for five consecutive sessions - and the same time that he allowed me to be a committee chairman. I also served on the Texas Judicial Council, the Sunset Commission and several other select and special committees. I got much accomplished for the district and for Texas in those years.
I'm very proud of several of the bills I authored - the 80 mile per hour speed limit on Interstate 10; the right of a victim or relative of a crime victim to make a statement at trial; the enabling legislation for the Texas Crime Victims' Bill of Rights; the establishment of DNA databases; the reformation of line-up process used by police departments in identifying defendants; the Historic Courthouse Preservation Act (which allowed for the restoration of the courthouses in Sierra Blanca, Marfa, Fort Davis, Del Rio and Eagle Pass); and the Star of Texas Awards for first responders killed or injured in the line of duty. These are but a few examples.
At home, I created water districts to conserve and protect local water supplies, created or improved hospital districts; and funded improvements such as sidewalks, landscaping and drainage improvements in local communities. I also forced the opening of the Big Bend Ranch State Park (which had previously been designated only a "natural area") and had Indian Lodge, the Civilian Conservation Corp facility at the Davis Mountain State Park, renovated and restored. I'm also proud to have had new Department of Public Safety buildings built in Eagle Pass, Del Rio, Fort Stockton, Alpine and Van Horn.
In addition, Sul Ross State University saw serious investment. At the time I was elected, discussions were being held about the possibility of closing the university. By the time I left the Legislature, Sul Ross had expanded its presence in Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Uvalde, in addition to its enhanced presence in Alpine.
All in all, it was a good run.