Saturday, April 21, 2012

Swift Victory at San Jacinto Wins Texas Independence

The 18-minute battle that gave birth to the proud state of Texas still stands as a testament to the tenacity of our fearless forefathers. Their victory and our debt of gratitude turn 176 years old today.

Driven by a fierce desire for independence from Mexico – and fueled further by revenge following the massacre at Goliad and the fall of the Alamo – Texas freedom fighters claimed a swift and decisive victory at the Battle of San Jacinto. Led by Gen. Sam Houston and rallying beneath battle cries of “Remember Goliad!” and “Remember the Alamo!” Texas fighters staged a successful surprise attack against Santa Anna’s Mexican forces. So swift was the attack in modern-day Harris County that some 650 Mexican fatalities were counted alongside only nine fallen Texans. Another 700-plus Mexican soldiers were taken prisoner, and Santa Anna himself was captured the following day.  

Freedom is something Americans hold dear. As you enjoy this monumental day in our great state’s history, please also remember the Alamo, remember Goliad and remember the blood, bravery and sacrifice that won freedom for the Lone Star State.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Texas Youth of the Year Finalists on Track to Becoming Tomorrow’s Leaders

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with state finalists from the 2012 Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year program. The energy, dedication and character of these young adults is truly inspiring.

2012 Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year State Finalists
The finalists were selected by their local Boys & Girls Club, and state winners will be awarded scholarships as they compete at the regional and national levels for the title of National Youth of the Year.

The teens come from almost every corner of Texas and all have diverse life stories. Edwin Padilla, a high school senior from Edinburg, will be the first person in his family to graduate high school and attend college. Tavon Green, from Marshall, has a 4.1 grade point average and has been on the honor roll since first grade. Chadae Sauls, a senior at Red Oak High School near Dallas, balances school activities, academics and community service while still serving more than 1,000 hours at her local Boys & Girls Club. 

All finalists have demonstrated a strong moral character and a commitment to serve their families and communities. I am proud to have them represent Texas and look forward to hearing about their continued accomplishments as they become future leaders of the Lone Star State. If you want to have a positive impact on the future of our great state, you might consider becoming active in your local Boys & Girls Club. Texas needs leaders developing leaders! Visit

Monday, April 16, 2012

Living Within Our Means Makes Sense in More Ways Than One

In a move that makes as much common sense as fiscal sense, Gov. Rick Perry today announced his Texas Budget Compact in preparation for the 2013 legislative session. In essence, the governor called for fiscal responsibility and accountability from lawmakers, city leaders and citizens. In other words, we all must live within our means.

Low taxes, no state income tax and higher-than-average employment rates have long made Texas the envy of the nation. These attributes and many others have made Texas the best state in which to live, work, start a business and raise a family. This is no time to raise taxes or go on a governmental spending spree. A conservative approach to the state budget got us where we are and will guide us into the future.

At the Texas Department of Agriculture, we recently were faced with a state funding budget-cut directive of 40 percent. The cuts required innovative thinking and greater efficiencies in order to maintain the same quality level of services our constituents pay us to deliver. It wasn’t easy, but we are succeeding thanks to the initiatives and dedication of our employees who feel a responsibility to deliver day in and day out.

Cutting wasteful and redundant government spending is something we all can support. Keeping taxes low and employment high is also hard to argue.

Living within our means not only makes sense today, but also into the future when our children will inherit our great state. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Breaking Agriculture’s Stereotype

Anyone who thinks agriculture doesn’t touch their lives needs to watch a new video making the rounds on Facebook. As the video from Texas A&M graduate student Jasmine Dillon illustrates, we all must stand up for agriculture. Through science, chemistry, technology and other forward-thinking disciplines, agriculture touches all of our lives multiple times each day. At the Texas Department of Agriculture, we remind people of this fact through our awareness campaign called Agriculture is Your Culture. It’s a theme that echoes loudly in Jasmine’s thought-provoking video. Click here to check out the video. I think you will be impressed!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Texas Wildlife Magazine Explores ‘Beirut on the Border’

A special April 2012 issue of Texas Wildlife magazine is devoted to the stories of life along the Texas-Mexico border as told by landowners who face daily encroachment and intimidation at the hands of illegal immigrants and drug cartels. As the cover-story title, “Beirut on the Border,” makes clear, there are plenty of Texans who strongly beg to differ with Washington’s ill-informed assessment that our border is safer than ever.

No one argues the fact that there are plenty of good places along our border that may never see any of the violence and mayhem associated with the drug cartel heinous activities. However, if you are one of the landowners who have trails beaten down on your property or have been shot at or chased off your own land, you have a different story to tell.

I thank the Texas Wildlife Association for dedicating its magazine to such an important issue and shedding light on this growing national security problem. To learn more, go here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tighten the Faucet, Texas: Learn to Live Water Smart

With another heat wave around the corner following a devastating, historical drought, I traveled to Mesquite today to help kick off a water conservation initiative called Texas Water Smart.
Born of a unique public-private coalition of businesses, concerned citizens, and government leaders Texas Water Smart encourages simple, common-sense water-use habits as a means of statewide conservation. Fixing a leaky faucet or using a watering can instead of a hose may not sound like it makes much difference, but when those precious drops are multiplied by 25 million Texans, the savings are measured not only in water, but also in jobs, landscapes and commerce.
In recent months, Texas saw drinking water jeopardized, outdoor watering nearly banned and our state’s $14.6 billion horticulture industry drifting dangerously close to the drain. And let’s not forget the record-setting wildfires that further depleted reserves or our booming population that will require even more water.
It’s better to learn the hard way than never to learn at all, so let’s please take the lessons learned of last year’s drought as a reminder for the need to have Water Smart daily habits. It’s time to tighten the faucet, Texas. It’s time to be Texas Water Smart.
A big thank you goes to State Representatives Dr. Mark Shelton, Marva Beck, Tan Parker, Chuck Hopson, Kenneth Sheets, Bill Zedler for attending the Texas Water Smart press conference. I also appreciate TCEQ Chairman Bryan Shaw and Lewis H. McMahan, member of the Texas Water Development Board for joining us for the launch of this conservation education  effort.A complete list of legislators and statewide leaders supporting the Texas Water Smart consumer awareness campaign will be released soon.

To learn more about simple, responsible ways to conserve, visit