This Week in Texas: August 31, 2011

Posted August 31, 2011 in The Mignon Memo

Tomorrow, many of the bills passed by the Texas Legislature take effect. Of the more than 1400 bills passed, close to half that number take effect September 1st. Those of general interest include the state budget for the next biennium; a prohibition against sexting by minors; legislation allowing employees to keep firearms in their locked cars on their employer’s property while at work; an increase in speed limits on some roads to 75 miles per hour; and legislation to legalize “noodling”, the art of catching fish with your bare hands by digging in a hole. For the complete list of the bills, follow this link:

Rep. Rick Hardcastle (R-Vernon) announced that he will not seek reelection to his House District 68 seat. Hardcastle has served in the Texas House for 14 years and most recently served as Chair of the Agriculture and Livestock Committee.

Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Nacogdoches) will face Marshall Mayor Chris Paddie in the Republican primary for House District 9. Paddie is also a radio talk show host.

Former state representative Corbin Van Arsdale announced that he will run in the newly configured House District 149 based in Williamson County. Van Arsdale represented House District 130 for three terms before being defeated in the 2008 Republican primary by Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Tomball).

T.C. Betancourt, a businessman from Edinburg will run for against Rep. Aaron Peña (R-Edinburg) in House District 40. If you recall, Peña switched political parties last year shortly after his election drawing the anger of some constituents.

Michael Pruneda, an employment lawyer in Pharr, will run as a Democrat in House District 40, a newly configured district resulting from redistricting. Rep. Veronica Gonzales (D-McAllen) who currently represents House District 41 has announced that she will run in the newly created district as well since it represents the majority of her old district.

Fort Worth School Board trustee Carlos Vasquez has announced he will challenge Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) in next year’s Democratic primary in House District 90.

James Wilson will challenge Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Houston) in the Republican primary for House District 150. Wilson, an insurance agent, previously worked at the Texas Capitol as a House staffer and for former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm as a regional director.

Daniel McCool, a Harris County deputy sheriff, will run in the Republican primary for Senate District 11, currently represented by Sen. Mike Jackson (R-LaPorte) who will run for Congressional District 36 instead of his current Texas Senate seat.

Anne Heiligenstein, the commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services, is retiring from the agency after three years as commissioner.

And for you sports fans who have been away from your computer, it’s official: Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12.