Senator Robert Nichols: working hard as ever
Most people may think that because the Senate is not in session, Senator Robert Nichols is not hard at work, but now is actually when the most significant work is done.
Since being first elected to the Texas Senate in 2006 he has remained busy with various projects. During his four sessions as a state senator, Nichols has authored and passed legislation to protect landowners’ rights, increase educational opportunities in East Texas and reform transportation policies. He has worked to reduce Medicaid fraud, and promote free-market principles.
During his time with the Sunset Advisory Committee, he was able to help eliminate six state agencies which saved the tax payers $161.9 million. He has been named a ‘Champion for Children’ by the Equity Center, a ‘Courageous Conservative’ by the Texas Conservative Coalition, a ‘Friend of County Government’ by the Texas Association of Counties and a ‘Champion of Free Enterprise’ by the Texas Association of Business.
To prepare for the next legislative session, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst gives the various committies charges. They in turn investigate the information and schedule public hearings and the people who are going to testify during the hearings. “It’s important for the members to listen to those who are testifying,” Nichols said. It is during these times they can hear from the people who have actually dealt with the issues or are really living them, he said. ‘This can be a real learning experience, “Nichols said.
The public is encouraged to attend the hearings. “We want participation,” Nichols said.
In the Texas Senate, Nichols serves as Chairman for both the Transportation Committee and the Committee on Transportation Funding. He expects the funding to be one of the big issues. There have been reports of trucks tearing up the roads as they work to transport their products.
He is also the Vice Chairman of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee and sits on the Health and Human Services, Natural Resources and State Affairs Committees. Nichols is a former Vice Chairman of the Sunset Advisory Committee.
But, it is not just the bills for the upcoming session they will prepare in the coming months. Nichols said they will also monitor things such as HB5. HB5 is designed to instill more flexibility in public education by enabling students to either pursue a traditional path into colleges and universities or move directly into the workforce to help fill what business leaders say is a critical skills shortage. It would reduce the number of end-of-course exams from 15 to five and eliminate a controversial requirement that the test results constitute 15 percent of a student’s overall grade. As the new law is implemted they will make sure it is working as intended, he said.
Over the next few months of hearings they will continue to gather the information needed to write the bill. By October, they will start putting their reports and bill together. In January they will file their bill.
For more information, there is a Senate Commitee webpage for a listing of Senate hearings as well as archives of past events.
The web address is: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/