Monday, December 31, 2012

Cheers to a Prosperous 2013

We survived the Mayan apocalypse, crowded malls and fruit cake -- now it's time to get back to work and make 2013 count.

As a Texan, I'm excited about the new year. With a job market that is growing and low cost of living, Texas has never been a better place to live, work or raise a family. If you don't believe me, just ask the thousands of newcomers moving here from California and other states.

In 2013, it is imperative we continue supporting the policies of fiscal responsibility, fair regulations and low taxes that helped Texas weather the national economic downturn. As lawmakers across the state make their way to the Capitol for the upcoming legislative session, I pray they will lead with the wisdom and common sense that continues to keep Texas prosperous.

Despite all our good fortune, however, we still face many challenges. Texas has a serious water crisis, and the time is now for the private sector, municipalities, counties and the state to come together to develop long-term solutions to not only meet our water needs in 2013, but also for years to come. Last year, we were blessed to not repeat the treacherous drought of 2011, but more than 80 percent of our state still suffers from some degree of drought. Daily conservation needs to become a way of life for every Texan if we are to meet the demands of our growing state.

We also must continue to call on the federal government to secure the U.S./Mexico border. Our citizens can no longer tolerate the trespassing, intimidation and violence of Mexican drug cartels spilling over our porous border. I have heard the pleas of law enforcement and South Texans, and hopefully the federal government will finally heed the call.

No matter what 2013 has in store, Texans can overcome any challenge and turn opportunities into success. Welcome, 2013. We are ready!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Pray for Peace at Christmas

We enter the Christmas season with heavy hearts this year and a tighter grip on our families as our nation prays for peace. Be thankful this Christmas for all your blessings and mindful of your neighbors in need. Keep the faith in your fellow man, because good always overcomes.

We live in a world where actions cannot always be explained, but we also are children of a higher power who compels many to selfless deeds. Look beyond the headlines and you'll still find compassionate, caring souls who make it their life's work to heal, protect and teach. Strangers still reach out to strangers in helpful, everyday ways. Children are still cherished by the masses who view them as the angels they are.

More than anything this holiday season, take time to appreciate your true gifts - family, faith, food and shelter - and share them if you can. Kind hearts and goodness are all around us, they just work in humble ways.

Our prayers are with the families in Connecticut and those suffering around the world. We can't erase your pain, but most of us share it, because in the end, humankind is largely composed of good people -- and for that I am deeply thankful.

Let us not stand unaware in the face of the world's ills, but let us also not be blinded to the goodness of God's grace. I wish you and your families peace this Christmas and throughout the coming years. I also pray for our troops who serve apart from their families today. Merry Christmas, Texas, and God grant us peace on Earth.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lawn Whisperer Speaks Volumes

If one thing became crystal clear during last year’s historical drought, it’s the fact that our water supply has its limits. As triple-digit temperatures scorched the earth and lowered lake levels, the demand for conservation awareness skyrocketed. With the continued dry conditions in 2012, the need for thoughtful water conservation persists and remains profound. 
The Tarrant Regional Water District has done an outstanding job of raising awareness and offering practical, common-sense tips for saving water. TRA spreads the conservation message with the help of the “Lawn Whisperer” character on television and Facebook. The Lawn Whisperer brings a bit of comic relief to an otherwise serious issue. Turns out we could all learn a lot from a guy who talks to turf.
Among the Lawn Whisperer’s many words of wisdom is the message that your lawn only needs to be watered once a week or less in the fall and winter. This may come as a surprise to Texans, who often feel inclined to overcompensate for the punishing summer heat, but this sage advice comes from the Lawn Whisperer himself -- and he talks to your lawn!
Take it from the Lawn Whisperer and others who know: it’s time to tighten the faucet, Texas. Our water supply and future generations are counting on us. Take a look around your home and fix leaky faucets, water only when your lawn needs it and turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth or shaving. A few drops saved by 26 million Texans adds up to a whole lot more than just a few drops in the bucket. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Serving Texans For Decades

I like to think of anniversaries as milestones on the road to accomplishment. I also like to think of serving your state and fellow citizens as an admirable course of life.

For these reasons it gives me great pleasure each December to recognize state employees at the Texas Department of Agriculture for their dedicated public service. Day in and day out, these committed professionals rise to serve their fellow Texans in all manners of challenge, need and partnership.

While the entire TDA team makes me feel proud, I find myself especially inspired and impressed by those whose days of service number into decades. Bob Flowers and Joe Benavides are two such people. With 40 years each of service to Texans, Bob and Joe embody the kind of tireless work ethic that makes me grateful to call them colleagues.

Commissioner Staples, Bob and Lydia Flowers
As TDA’s Warehouse Coordinator, Bob has been instrumental in keeping our agency equipped with the tools and support staff needed to handle daily tasks efficiently and comfortably. He also has been a leader in representing TDA at the State Fair of Texas year after year. Simply put, Bob helps make it possible for TDA to do its job.

As Director for Consumer Product Protection, Joe plays a pivotal role in ensuring that Texans get what they pay for at the grocery store and gas pump. Among other duties, Joe and his team regulate scales to accurately record items weighed, the quality of fuel to ensure it meets national standards, and the grade and quality of eggs sold to consumers.

To these two men and the rest of the TDA team, I say congratulations and sincerest thanks for your service to the people of Texas.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Remember Pearl Harbor

Much like we remember the Alamo here in Texas, we also should not forget Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

Seventy one years ago on December 7, the early morning Japanese ambush on the U.S. Naval fleet resulted in the loss of more than 2,000 American lives. That act of war set in motion a chain of events that has come to define America in much the same way the Alamo defines the Lone Star State.

As in other tragedies, such as 9-11, the very best of our country was revealed in the days after that terrible attack. Americans always band together during tough times to fight for our founding principles, and in the end, I believe, we come out stronger and more united.

Today, let us remember Pearl Harbor and the men and women who died on that tragic day. Let us also remember to honor the men and women in uniform who continue to fight for our enduring freedom. Their service and dedication allow us the peace and security to raise our families and pursue the success and happiness that define the American dream.

God bless America, God bless our troops and let us always remember Pearl Harbor.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Misguided Owl Protection Shoots Down Jobs

In a move that surprises probably no one, Washington politicians and environmentalists have jumped the gun and are lost in the woods.

As Michelle Malkin writes in her recent commentary, the Obama administration is effectively taking hostage more than 9 million acres of West Coast timberland in order to “save” the endangered northern spotted owl. The gesture seems noble enough, until we learn the owls are not falling victim to wild-eyed lumberjacks, but rather another, more aggressive species of … owl!

Apparently the “endangered” owl has been on the decline for more than two decades with little to no evidence of man-made destruction. In fact, the only thing being destroyed is jobs as loggers and their support industries are forced to close shop. Meanwhile, the dominant species of owl has gotten so pervasive that bureaucrats have proposed shooting them!

Of course, this isn’t the first time the Endangered Species Act has misfired or otherwise failed to alter the course of nature. Since the ESA’s inception in 1973, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has implemented regulations to “protect” 1,400 animal species from decline in population by listing them as endangered. Yet ironically, they have de-listed only 20 of those. Wouldn’t a good indicator of success for government actions be measured by how many beneficiaries of those actions reached the point of no longer needing government intervention?

So why are the federal government’s mandates not actually helping species recover their populations? Because in many cases, the killers are not greedy humans running amok through the environment, but rather Mother Nature herself.

Before Washington goes killing jobs and wasting taxpayer dollars in the name of protection and regulation, it might want to determine what truly needs saving. Let’s start with jobs and taxpayer dollars.

To read Michelle Malkin’s commentary, go here.

Hilmar G. Moore Leaves a Legacy of Service

Heroes and legacies stand tall in Texas, and Hilmar G. Moore stands along with them. A pioneer cattleman and the mayor of Richmond, Texas, for an incredible – and record-setting -- 63 consecutive years, Hilmar passed away December 4, leaving us deeply saddened, but eternally grateful.

A straight talker with a strong work ethic, contagious sense of humor and unflinching belief in serving his fellow man, Hilmar was a steward of the land. While I was fortunate to visit with Hilmar many times, just last quail season, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with him and a few friends. We listened to many entertaining stories and caught a glimpse of a force that shaped Texas.
A cattle owner since the age of 6, Hilmar would go on to serve as Chairman of the Beef Industry Council and president of the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association. He also served on the Board of Directors of the National Cattlemen’s Association; and was a charter member of the American Quarter Horse Association. To each of these roles he not only brought his own passion and expertise, but also the lessons learned from the mentors who came before him. He loved the University of Texas football, but still found time to be friends with Aggies.

A patriot and World War II veteran, family man and champion of Texas, Hilmar G. Moore leaves behind a legacy of character, service and integrity. My thoughts and many thanks are with Hilmar and his family. Rest in peace, mayor. You will be missed.