84th Legislative Session Begins
On Tuesday, January 13th the Texas House of Representatives convened for the opening day of its 84th Regular Legislative Session. Along with one-hundred forty-nine fellow representatives and thirty-one senators, Greg Bonnen, MD of Friendswood took the oath of office: beginning the six month process of passing critical legislation and writing the state's budget for the next biennium.
The legislature meets every odd-numbered year for one-hundred forty days, working to craft new law which will govern the state - including the adoption of changes to taxation policy, government spending, and regulatory measures which affect the way Texans live and work. Until the Legislature's final adjournment on June 1st, there will rarely be a time when the capitol is not filled with Representatives and Senators - as well as concerned citizens - working in support of, or opposition to, any number of bills and budget proposals.
“I’m honored that my constituents chose to re-elect me and I’m looking forward to this legislative session,” said Representative Bonnen. “The 84th Legislature will face challenges that present each member with some difficult decisions; but, I feel confident that we will be able to draft legislation that benefits all Texans.”
Meet Team Bonnen
Brigitt Hartin, Chief of Staff
Brigitt is a native of Cedar Park, Texas. She majored in government at Huston-Tillotson University, and has served 12 years as a legislative staffer in the Texas House of Representatives. During this time, she has held various positions working for conservatives from across Texas, including one session staffing the House Committee on Human Services as an assistant committee clerk. The 84th Session will be Brigitt's seventh in the state capitol, and her second as Dr. Bonnen's Chief of Staff.
Justin G. Till, Legislative Director
Justin is a native of Monahans, Texas, where began his career organizing and executing long-term community development and economic diversification projects with his hometown Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Corporation, and Industrial Alliance. A 2010 graduate of Angelo State University, he served as State Chairman of the Texas Federation of College Republicans and President of the Student Body before working as a Legislative Aide to State Representative Drew Darby of San Angelo; subsequently becoming the youngest recorded Director on the Board of the ASU Alumni Association. He went on to work the campaigns of several local and state officeholders and served as the National Chairman of the Students for Rick Perry coalition during the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary contest. Prior to joining Dr. Bonnen's legislative team in 2013, Justin served as Field Director for the Office of United States Congressman Francisco Canseco along the 800 miles of US-Mexico border between El Paso and San Antonio that comprises the 23rd Congressional District of Texas.
Joshua A. Caniglia, Legislative Intern
Josh is from Del Rio, Texas, and is a recent graduate of international studies following the commerce track at Texas A&M University. Josh was a member of Squadron 3, Squadron 18, and First Wing Staff in the Corps of Cadets. During the 2014 campaign season, Josh took the opportunity to serve as a Coryell County Coordinator for then-Attorney General Greg Abbott's campaign for Governor. He is excited to further his interest in public policy and gain hands-on experience with the Texas legislative process. Josh plans to pursue a law degree after the final adjournment of the 84th Legislature.
Davis Hairston, Legislative Intern
Davis Hairston is a third year Pure Mathematics major at the University of Texas at Austin. He has a great interest in politics and is using this opportunity to learn more about the political process. After he graduates, he plans to attend law school and then go on to a life of public service. Davis is also a resident of District 24, and a graduate of Clear Springs High School. Davis will be in the office until May, at which time he will transfer to our District Office in League City.
Fay Picard, District Director
Before becoming Dr. Bonnen's District Director, Fay worked for 20 years as an office manager and marketing representative. This experience led her to become the President/CEO of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, where she worked for 10 years; also serving as treasurer for the Gulf Coast Chamber Executives in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2011. Fay has volunteered her time for many organizations, including Rotary International, the American Business Women Association and the Federation of Houston Professional Women, where in 2003 she was honored with the Women of Excellence Award. In 2002, Fay received the Ambassador of the Year award for her work with the women's crisis center "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." She also serves as Ministry Leader and Special Events Coordinator for her local church. Married to Darrel Picard for 35 years, Fay has 2 children Greg - 34 and Erika - 30. She has been blessed to be the "Gran" to 3 grandchildren; Alexis, Jaxon & Easton.
A Look Ahead
The Speaker will soon assign each Member to his and her respective Committees; followed soon after by the assignment of thousands of bills to each of those bodies for consideration, debate, and voting.
In accordance with the Constitution of this State, bills may only be brought from those Committees to the full House for final passage after the 60th day of the legislative session, which falls on Friday March 13th of 2015.
For the remainder of Session, the House and Senate will be debating legislation, amending items, reconciling their differences, and passing final bills to the Governor - all while crafting a state budget which funds our government for the next two years.
I have been drafting and perfecting my own legislative package, and will be guiding each of my proposals through this process; and I will be seeking your input on all matters that come before me during the next several months. As we move forward, please do not hesitate to contact my office or come by the capitol personally. My office is open to all, and I encourage you to help me represent Galveston County effectively.