Special to the PRESS
I respectfully write to clarify comments made in a letter published on October 15 in the Port Isabel -South Padre Press, and address inaccuracies in October 8 coverage of remarks I made before the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce on October 7.
The letter’s author offers her interpretation of my remarks regarding new handgun legislation during the Legislative Update presentation I made to Chamber members. My presentation focused on the positive developments of this year’s legislative session, and how they positively affect the Laguna Madre area.
The open carry gun bill and campus carry gun bill which were referenced in the letter are two different bills passed by the legislature that go into effect at different times. Separate Press coverage of the Chamber event reflected incorrectly that it was one bill. It merits correction. I opposed both pieces of legislation for various cost and safety reasons.
The same October 8 Press story also incorrectly stated that I believe that a high sales tax rate is a reason for the success of the Texas economy. As a three-time former chairman of the tax writing House Ways and Means Committee, I know the opposite to be true. I have vigorously debated against the proposals for significantly higher sales taxes in well-publicized public forums.
My discussion regarding the sales tax dealt with those who may support a tax on all sales and services to replace our high property tax burden. A full sales and consumption tax to get rid of the property tax would require a sales tax rate of at least 19-to-21 percent on every transaction. It would be disastrous for all forms of Texas businesses, and would regressively penalize those Texans who could least afford it.
By keeping taxes lower, we allow the state’s business climate to continue to improve. In fact, this legislative session, I was the co-author of a bill that lowered Texas’ business franchise tax by 25 percent across the board.
We are blessed to live in a nation in which we have the right to disagree. While we cannot agree on every issue, I am certain that we can all agree that by working together as a region, we can continue to accomplish positive things for the Laguna Madre area.
State Representative, District 37
Chairman, House Committee on Business and Industry
Gulf Coast LNG Export, better known as the corporation seeking to turn South Texas and the Gulf of Mexico into a chemistry lab, is enthusiastically supported by State Rep. René Oliveira, whom I had supported years ago until 2008 when I became aware of the contributions from political action committees from major utility, casino, and a myriad of other special interest groups with no connection to his state representative district.
I had admired René in my youth while serving as a legislative aide to State Rep. Doyle WIllis from my hometown of Fort Worth, who served as the legislative dean with the Texas House of Representatives in 1995, where I witnessed René doing good for the people.
Sadly, I have witnessed René change over the years and I challenged his seat seven years ago and was defeated as a Democratic challenger to his position.
Now, I understand that René is announcing he will run again, and he boldly stated to “get those running shoes on” to anyone who dared stand up to him and the special interests he represents.
All a citizen has to do to find out who his financial supporters are is to go online with the Texas Ethics Commission, where anyone can view the countless special interest dollars received by his campaign over the last 30 years of his reign in Brownsville, Port Isabel, Bayview and Laguna Vista.
All of the above communities have opposed LNG and its expansion into our pristine and sensitive ecological environment, where so many depend on our precious resource, the Gulf of Mexico and the bays contained in our area for a continued way of life free from pollution and contamination.
However, René wrote a letter on July 20, 2012, to Mr. John A. Anderson, manager of natural gas regulatory activities for the U.S. Department of Energy, “enthusiastically” supporting LNG for a 25-year term to export these dangerous hydrocarbons that would be transported on our waterways that includes his district.
I as a constituent would far rather see René working to provide emergency care facilities in his district in Port Isabel and surrounding areas that require a 45-minute transport to a hospital to get trauma care than helping a multi-million dollar corporation ask for tax abatements from the Point Isabel school district that was wisely rejected by their school board.
Will someone put on those running shoes, and if so, would the people within his district care enough to vote? Where is my friend René that I saw in 1995 helping his district and its citizens? I Miss the René I once knew those years ago while serving as a young legislative aide just out of law school.
Editor’s Note: State Rep. René Oliveira submitted a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in support of Annova LNG on May 7, 2015. In it he writes, “I respectfully write to express my support for the Annova LNG Brownsville Project (Project). … As a longtime legislator from the Brownsville area, I can assure you that the project has strong support from the local community and its leaders. Given the project’s positive economic impact in terms of jobs and estimated tax revenues, I support the development of the Annova LNG Brownsville Project.”
Oliveira was one of several state elected officials who submitted letters of support to FERC before the public commenting period on the proposed projects ended.
State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. penned a similar letter on May 11, 2015, saying, “Please accept this letter of support for the Annova LNG Brownsville Project’s request to initiate the Commission’s pre-filing review of the project. … Given the project’s positive economic impact in terms of jobs and estimated tax revenues, I support the development of the Annova LNG Brownsville Project.”
In regards to Houston-based Texas LNG, State Rep. Eddie Lucio, III wrote on Sept. 4, 2015, “I understand the potential impact the Project can create for our communities and the opportunities it may establish for our workforce. I am confident the Commission and agencies involved will effectively determine the Project’s external validity is in compliance with our communities’ best interests.”
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