By Karen Daniels
Texas’ 83rd Legislative Session will begin on Tuesday, January 8, 2013, and Stafford has announced plans to be prepared. If you recall, the 82nd session required a special session that concluded at the end of June 2011, dealing with the shortfall and cutting 15 billion from the budget, under-cutting and under-mining Texas’ school districts.
At last week’s city council meeting, Stafford discussed their plans to hire two lobbyists, with the suggestion that a third might be necessary as well. One of the consultants mentioned was John R. Pitts. His main focus will be in education. Mayor Scarcella said that “Dr. Hindt is enthusiastic about working with him.” Marta Greytok, the other consultant discussed, has worked with Stafford many times over the years and will handle the bills pertaining to water. The additional consultant’s specialization wasn’t clarified during the December 5 meeting, but the topic of eminent domain and health were both discussed.
Councilman Cecil Willis gave his perspective on dealing with Texas politics. “We have to hire lobbyists to protect us from the politicians in Austin we’ve elected to serve us.” The cost for this protection is $7,500 per month, per consultant, for six months, which will cost between $90,000 – $135,000 depending on the final number of lobbyists Stafford decides to hire. This number could go higher if the legislature cannot complete the session by May 30 and require another special session.
In other city council news, at Stafford’s upcoming December 15 meeting, the smoking ordinance will once again be on the agenda. The City’s attorney, Art Pertile, has put together a list of recommendations from the Councilmembers. These are not final. There will be another public hearing scheduled for the citizens to voice their opinions, most likely at the beginning of 2013.