By Rep. Trent Ashby
As we enter August and what is typically the hottest month of the year, we are experiencing severe drought and dangerous wildfire conditions across every region of Texas. Please do your part by observing any county burn bans that might be in effect and be on the lookout for any grass fires that might pop up.
I also think it’s highly appropriate and timely to take a moment to thank our firefighters, most of which are volunteers, that are working in these extreme conditions to protect our property and communities from fire devastation. We owe them a debt of gratitude, and I hope you’ll join me in praying for the safety of our firefighters and first responders.
For more information about the current wildfire situation and how you can protect your property, please visit: https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/CurrentSituation/.
With that, we’ll dive back into our examination of House interim charges.
The next interim committee we’ll explore is the House Committee on County Affairs. This nine-member committee has jurisdiction over the organization, creation, governance, and finances that apply to Texas counties. Additionally, the committee oversees regional councils of government and the cooperation between local units of government and their respective counties.
This committee also has purview over the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, which is responsible for our county correctional facilities’ construction, maintenance, and operations.
During the interim, members of this committee will actively oversee three pieces of legislation to ensure the language and provisions are working as intended. The first, HB 1545, continues the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) for an additional 12 years.
In the most recent session, TCJS underwent the Sunset Review process. The Sunset process provides the Legislature with the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of each agency and decide whether the agency should be abolished or whether improvements can be made to help the agency to better fulfill its mission. One such improvement in HB 1545 is a revision to the requirements for enforcement actions, minimum standards, and the reinspection of jails found to be out of compliance with minimum standards.
This committee also will monitor the implementation of HB 1906, which establishes a grant program to reimburse counties for the cost of cases involving family violence.
Another bill being monitored is HB 2073, legislation to ensure emergency personnel and first responders receive paid leave for any time spent in quarantine due to COVID exposure.
The House Committee on County Affairs has also been tasked with an issue that I’ve heard a lot about across our House District, which is reviewing the availability of behavioral health services within our county jails and Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities.
Finally, the Committee will hold a joint charge with the Committee on Corrections to determine best practice recommendations to increase access to treatment for individuals experiencing withdrawals from drug or alcohol abuse.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family:
Rep. Trent Ashby represents District 57, soon to be District 9, which includes Trinity County, in the Texas Legislature.