Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Panhandle Push for Eminent Domain Reform

I am traveling today with Gov. Rick Perry to Abilene and Lubbock where we are meeting with local leaders to reiterate the critical importance of eminent domain reform. The governor and the people of Texas are standing strong when it comes to a right as fundamental as private property ownership.

The Senate has passed SB 18, authored by Sen. Craig Estes and Sen. Robert Duncan, which provides private property owners more leverage when it comes to protecting their land from government takings. The bill would help ensure landowners are more fully compensated for the damages they may realize due to a taking, and includes buy-back provisions to ensure a property owner has the right to repurchase their land, if the project is cancelled.

It should go without saying these are critical steps in the right direction, but the journey is not yet over. Many members of the House, including the bill’s sponsors, Chairman Charlie Geren and Chairman Rene Oliveira, are working hard to make sure the House approves SB 18. It is still important to share your interest in eminent domain reform with your state elected officials.

To hear more of my discussion about eminent domain, watch the video below:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hollywood Star Joins The Call For Border Action

When I launched the website three weeks ago, the No. 1 goal was to raise awareness of the escalating battle on the border and force the federal government to respond to its responsibility of securing our sovereignty. Texas citizens are dodging Mexican drug cartel bullets and living in fear of violence right here on American soil.

I am grateful the website is assisting in bringing more voices to the table to sound the alarm. Hollywood actor, Texas Ranger and Texas citizen Chuck Norris recently wrote a commentary, that lays out the facts that intimidation, trespassing and close-calls along our border are increasing in number and severity. I appreciate Chuck and others standing up for our farmers and ranchers, and demanding the federal government fulfills its responsibility to defend our national security. I urge you to read Chuck's commentary and continue to check back with for updates on our battle on the border.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

EPA Needs to Study Sound Science

Today in Houston, I had the opportunity to testify before a congressional subcommittee on energy and power. My message was simple: EPA greenhouse gas regulations will cripple the $100 billion Texas agriculture industry, hinder our economy and drive up everyday costs for consumers.

The problem with the EPA’s proposed regulations is the basis on which they are formed. Simply put, political science is no match for sound science. Until a proven, positive outcome can justify costly disruptions to ag operations and household budgets, we should resist the rhetoric and question the EPA’s motives. In addition to addressing these concerns today to the congressional subcommittee, I also documented these issues in a letter to the chairman of this group.

Our farmers and ranchers are all ears when it comes to protecting the environment. After all, they depend on the earth for their livelihoods. I’d also venture to guess most consumers are in favor of preserving our resources for future generations. No one is arguing the value of good intentions, but until the price tag makes sense to farmers, ranchers and consumers, the EPA should be sent back to the drawing board.

To read my full testimony, go here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Plans to Reduce Border Resources Increase Threat to Security

This March 15, 2011 article in the Houston Chronicle reflects bi-partisan outrage at announced administration plans to reduce troop strength on the U.S.-Mexico border. It also confirms bi-partisan recognition that we have a security problem on our southern border.

With bi-partisan support, why no action? We don't need finger pointing when the safety of our citizens is at stake. Just give us more personnel to protect our people and property. You don't just have to take my word for the reality of this danger. Visit and you can see and hear first hand accounts of the violence, threats and physical harm Americans are facing from the drug cartel violence spilling on to Texas soil.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Unacceptable Speech Hampers Search for Solutions

In a debate that took a deplorable turn recently, a Kansas state lawmaker, at a Kansas House Appropriations Committee hearing about shooting feral hogs from a helicopter, suggested that shooting illegal immigrants from the air might be a viable solution to the state’s illegal immigration problem. Such comments are outright unconscionable.

Everyone should denounce a statement like this, and fortunately, from the Governor of Kansas on down, they have. Unfortunately, some late-night comedians will use this as new material. Even worse is the likelihood that highly charged individuals who don't truly seek to solve the problems of our country will use preposterous statements as propaganda to drive us further away from real policy solutions.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thanks to Our Farmers and Ranchers on National Ag Day

Today is National Ag Day – a day to recognize and celebrate the hardworking men and women who provide us with the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world.

Agriculture employs one in seven working Texans and brings more than $100 billion a year to the state’s economy. Yet few people truly understand how agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis – from the shampoo in our bathrooms to the fuel in our cars. National Ag Day is an occasion to recognize and celebrate the farmers and ranchers who contribute so much to the health, well-being and prosperity of our great state and country.

I invite Texans to take time on March 15 to celebrate National Ag Day by visiting TDA’s new Agriculture is Your Culture website. The website will show you agriculture has no boundaries and also will dispel myths that are distorting public perception about our industry. In addition to telling the true story of agriculture, the website also offers information on buying local and includes new GO TEXAN recipes.

Please join me today in extending a heartfelt thank-you to our hardworking farmers and ranchers who bring food and so much more to our daily lives.

Monday, March 7, 2011

More Wildfires Predicted for West Texas

A little more than a week after wildfires ravaged West Texas a new word of caution again goes out to our friends in that area who will be under severe wildfire weather conditions beginning at noon on Tuesday. According to the Texas Forest Service, a combination of low humidity, high temperatures and high winds will increase the threat of danger to such a severe degree that wildfires could burn the length of a football field in one minute.

Texas already has faced the perils of wildfire this year as crews have responded to 287 fires burning nearly 195,000 acres. To date, nearly 282 structures have been lost, while 8,200 have been saved. On Feb. 27, more than 850 homes were evacuated in West Texas. The losses have been heavy for those impacted, but the destruction was comparatively minimal thanks to the readiness and response of our state and citizens.

With dangerous conditions ahead, residents should avoid outdoor activities that could generate a spark or open flames, and be ready to evacuate if needed. Residents are also advised to clear combustibles away from their homes.

For updates on the current wildfire situation, click here.

Friday, March 4, 2011

This week, I celebrated Texas Independence Day on the Texas Mexico border working with Texas landowners to document stories of drug cartel violence and the resulting threat to U.S. sovereignty and Americans' food security. While I was on the border, I introduced a new website called in an effort to motivate the federal government to take immediate action to secure our border and safeguard our national food supply. The site profiles the harrowing stories of Texas farmers, ranchers and other citizens who, in some cases, are literally being run off their properties by armed drug runners who are terrorists - plain and simple.

After visiting with these farmers earlier this week, I can assure you the stories of trespassing, threats and intimidation amount to a new war on terrorism. And while our local and state law enforcement and exisiting border patrol are doing the best they can to protect our citizens, they need additional resources. We hope this website will wake-up Washington, and get them to acknowledge this crisis as a national security threat. Until that happens and the federal government responds accordingly with increased protection, our citizens, food supply and national sovereignty will remain in clear and present danger.

Americans don’t like being dependent on foreign oil; we cannot become dependent on foreign food.

I invite you to visit and help us raise awareness on the real border war taking place on Texas farms and ranches. Let’s speak up on behalf of Texas and hope Washington hears our call.

Driving For A Solution

I am very encouraged to hear we are one step closer to reestablishing a cross-border trucking program with Mexico and the retaliatory tariffs on many U.S. agriculture products may soon be lifted. President Obama and President Calderón announced today that significant progress has been made in negotiations AND a resolution is in sight. The White House states the agreement is, “built on the highest safety standards that will authorize both Mexican and United States long-haul carriers to engage in cross-border operations under NAFTA.”

Mexico has indicated it will suspend its retaliatory tariffs through a 50 percent reduction at the signing of the agreement and suspend the remaining 50 percent when the first Mexican carrier is approved to participate in the program. Once the program is normalized, Mexico will terminate all current tariffs. For too long, Texas farmers and ranchers have paid a heavy price for broken negotiations by Washington.

In my meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Texas agriculture industry officials last week, agreement was unanimous on the importance of trade to our broader economy. I commend Ambassador Kirk for working to move this deal forward. Texas farmers and ranchers export more of their products to Mexico than anywhere else. A strong trade relationship with Mexico is critical to the viability of agriculture in our great state.

The United States Department of Transportation and USTR will seek Congressional support and allow for a period of public comment once the proposed agreement is agreed upon as early as this Spring.

The proposal will allow Texas farmers and ranchers to sell their products on a fair playing field. And that's all we ask for, because Texans can go toe to toe with any else and come out on top.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Salute to the Lone Star State on Texas Independence Day

Today is Texas Independence Day, marking the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Four days later, the Alamo fell and nearly seven weeks after that, on April 21, the Texian army led by Gen. Sam Houston defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto and Texas won its independence

Texas is a proud state born of grit, courage and sacrifice. It is shaped by culture, can-do spirit and southern generosity. Our Lone Star flag waves as a symbol of independence, respect and fierce determination. Here in Texas, we are the envy of many and rivaled by few.

So, join me today in taking a moment to reflect on our fearless freedom fighters who founded this great state against overwhelming odds. Their legacy lives large in the Lone Star State and I couldn’t be more proud to live in the land they fought so hard to win and call home.

Happy Texas Independence Day!

A Republic at Work

Yesterday I testified before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources about two important water bills. The committee hearing was a great opportunity to participate in our representative form of government, and it drove home the fact that public input is crucial to keeping our government in check so the individual and property rights of the people are not supplanted by government regulation.

Senate Bill 332 by Chairman Troy Fraser (Horseshoe Bay) and Senate Bill 667 by Chairman Robert Duncan (Lubbock) were filed in response to numerous groundwater rights lawsuits - one of which is currently pending before the Supreme Court of Texas. The bills offer differing perspectives and help encourage public dialogue about the management of our water resources – an issue that impacts every Texan.

I commend and appreciate the leadership Chairman Fraser and Chairman Duncan have shown in filing these bills and leading the public discussion, and most importantly, I thank the many people who took time from their work and families to testify on the bills and engage in the legislative process.

Without a doubt, the discussion on water will continue, and yesterday’s hearing set the tone – leadership by our elected representatives, thoughtful comments by stakeholders and a general agreement that Texas’ policy must be fair and equitable for all our water users.

It was a good day to be a Texan and witness elected leaders who truly listen to the people of our state.