State Senator Lois W. Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) is pointing out new laws helping El Campo, Wharton County and the rest of District 18 as the governor continues to sign the final bills from the 86th Legislature.
Her efforts include everything from helping approve the annual state budget to assistance for those battered by the storms from continued Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts to the next disaster.
“My goals this session were to provide property tax relief, deliver an overhaul of the school finance system, fully recover from Harvey, improve access to health care in rural Texas, as well as see major investments in the state and historic parks,” said Kolkhorst. “It was a long session with many twists and turns but in the end, we achieved these goals and more.”
Legislators passed a number of bills in response to 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, designed to improve preparation, response and disaster recovery.
SB 6, authored by Kolkhorst, provides for emergency management training, helping smaller agencies and providing for a $10 million disaster loan program for small communities that face a 50 percent loss of tax base due to assorted types of disaster.
SB 7, co-authored by Kolkhorst creates two funds – around $1.7 billion in flood relief.
For those who have already been battered by the storm, SB 500, co-authored by Kolkhorst, provides $3.5 billion for additional Harvey recovery efforts with $1.4 billion of that earmarked for school districts.
“One of my top missions was to address the loss of life and property from Hurricane Harvey, which severely impacted much of Senate District 18,” Kolkhorst said. “Survivors and victims of Harvey must never be forgotten and the best way to pay tribute to them is to unite as Texans helping other Texans, and creating an action plan for the next disaster.”
Following Harvey’s pounding and the floods which followed, Kolkhorst worked with Wharton County officials throughout immediate recovery efforts, especially in the City of Wharton where more then half homes saw damage.
The legislative session approved bills requiring teacher pay raises and helping with their retirement system as well.
Other bills, like SB 1621, are designed to help rural hospitals to ensure health care access and help with outpatient community mental health treatment capacity.
State parks get a boost via tax on sporting goods.
“The sporting goods sales tax is not a new tax but rather a tax that was intended to fund our state parks since 1993,” Kolkhorst said. “By constitutionally dedicating this tax, our parks can keep up with deferred maintenance and plan for the future. This legislation passed with unanimous and bipartisan support because we can all agree that these special places are vital to our economy and to our heritage, culture, and way of life.”
Kolkhorst’s bill for eminent domain reform failed for the third consecutive session.
During this legislative session, Kolkhorst served as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services as well as a member of the Finance, Transportation, Nominations and Water & Rural Affairs committees.
Kolkhorst previously served as Chair of the House Committee on Public Health for six years during while serving as a state representative.
The 86th Legislative Session was the third for Kolkhorst who won a called election for the District 18 post after it was vacated by now State Comptroller Glenn Hegar in a December 2014.
Previously, she had served 14 years in the Texas House of Representatives.
“Serving the people of Senate District 18 has and continues to be one of the greatest honors of my life, and I look forward to continue serving,” Kolkhorst said.