By Allan Jamail
Houston Texas, Saturday, September 21, 2019 — In the morning at the Houston Community College Eastside, and then again in the afternoon at the Leonel Castillo Community Center, Senator Carol Alvarado gave her first State Of the District Legislative Report. Over 90 percent of her Bills have been signed into law.
Both events began with a prayer and the Posting of the Colors with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. The breakfast event began with a prayer by Father Joe Doran from St. Pius Catholic Church of Pasadena, and the Colors posted by the Chavez High School JROTC Color Guard. The lunchtime event began with a prayer by Father Tom Hawxhurst from St. Patrick Catholic Church in Houston, and the Colors were posted by the Northside High School JROTC Color Guard.
Senator Alvarado of the 6th Senate District welcomed the guests with her first legislative session results since being elected to the Texas Senate on December 11, 2018 in a Special Election. Alvarado’s guests were visibly happy and impressed when she said she was happy to report that the Governor signed into law 29 of 32 bills she authored and/or sponsored. Alvarado gave a short but detailed briefing on how the laws will affect Texans.
She was successful with bills affecting a host of issues, including but not limited to: the economy, education, environment, women’s and men’s health, mental health, property tax reform, law enforcement, incarceration, flood damage, human trafficking, Houston Ship Channel and more.
The Senator also introduced two special guests, Melody Stephens and Julie Voss, who she worked closely with to get their bills passed.
Alvarado announced that to help school districts with funding, she worked to increase the state’s share of public education funding from 38% to 45%. Also for HISD teachers and staff to get from a 3.5 to 8 percent pay increase, and for all other school employees to get an increase in the minimum wage from $12 to $14 an hour. Retired teachers will get a one-time check of $2,000.
She said there is going to be state funding for free full-day pre-K, the cost of educating low-income students, and a permanent state fund to lower school district tax rates. The law makers put a 3.5 percent per year maximum tax increase by a taxing authority on property owners.
Because of the three chemical fires — one at the Japanese owned Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) Deer Park facility (March 2019), one at the KMCO plant in Crosby (April 2019) and another at the France-based company Arkema Inc. plant in Crosby (August 2017) — citizens were forced to evacuate or shelter in place. Because of inadequate air monitoring systems being used, first responders and citizens were given confusing information as to their safety with the air quality.
To improve air monitoring equipment, Alvarado was successful in making three budget funding requests, not limited only to the ship channel industries corridor but anywhere in the vicinity and/or state where there is an emergency due to a dangerous chemical release into the air.
Alvarado worked to get $1.1 million for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state’s environmental agency for purchasing a new monitoring vehicle with ultraviolet spectrometer technology, as well as to upgrade two vans with new mass spectrometer technology, and to replace the chemical scanning electron microscope used to scan for chemicals in an environment, and to employ 15 new real-time handheld air monitors.
Senator Alvarado was able to help secure funds to assist in the University of Houston’s first medical school facility. Construction will begin this fall. She supported the acquisition of $45 million to refurbish the university’s law school building.
She worked to provide funding for the University of Houston Downtown’s “Wonderworks” that provides after-school and summer enrichment courses for high school students. Wonderworks also provides need-based scholarships in the form of full-tuition waivers for all academically-qualified Houston-area students.
Chief of Staff Alex Hammond and District Director Sara Montelogo-Oyervidez assisted by providing information to the article.
Senator Alvarado’s Houston offices are located at 8799 North Loop Frwy. East, Suite 240, Houston, TX 77029 and 4450 Harrisburg, Suite 238, Houston, TX 77011 / telephone (713) 453-5100.