Walle reports on legislature’s progress

Holds virtual Town Hall on internet Zoom

AUSTIN – State Representative Armando Walle held an internet Virtual Town Hall last Wednesday evening, to update all his constituents in District 140 on his actitities in the current 88th Legislative session.

There were about 20 participants, who could join in the Town Hall to listen and comment, over a Zoom app on their computer or phone. Walle said this was the first time he had used this method, but it seemed to go well as a method of communicating. The event lasted about an hour, starting with a report of Walle’s sponsored legislation, and ending with a Q and A session for listeners.

Walle started with an overview of the workings of the state House and Senate, pointing out that it started in January and would end May 31st, with about 40 days left in the session.

He pointed out committees that he was assigned to, including the important House Appropriations Committee, where he is working on the budget for Sections 6,7, and 8.

At the event, Rep. Walle discussed his legislative portfolio, including the three bills he has passed out of the House so far:

1. HB 899 – allows counties to regulate noise in unincorporated areas

2. HB 1472 – expands eligibility for the Bootstrap Program, an owner-builder loan program operated through the state, to improve access to affordable housing

3. HB 1704 – creates a $50 million revolving fund for owner-builder loan program.

Rep. Walle also gave updates on the two applications for modifications to concrete batch plant permits pending in House District 140.

1. Yellow Jacket Ready-mix (2219 Hartwick) Permit #78606 Application is to modify existing permit to reduce site production from 250 cubic yards per hour to 120 cubic yards per hour, add a fly ash silo and convert an existing fly ash silo into a cement silo.

Rep. Walle has requested a public meeting on this permit to allow constituents to provide comments and feedback. We will reach out once that meeting is scheduled this summer.

2. LS Ready Mix (9756 Veterans Memorial Drive) Permit #147696

Application is to modify existing permit to build a secondary concrete batch plant to the existing plant on-site, including a new cement silo and fly ash silo. It would also increase production from 60 cubic yards per hour to 210 yards per hour.

Rep. Walle has requested a public meeting on this permit to allow constituents to provide comments and feedback. He will reach out once that meeting is scheduled this summer.

Walle’s position on these concrete batch plants, and other environmental problems, is that the state TCEQ should have more resources to enforce compliance with environmental concerns of the public.

Walle has also sponsored a bill, which is advancing  tore name a section of Highway 59 as the Almandarez Memorial Highway, in honor of the Sheriff’s Deputy from Aldine who lost his life this year during a theft of a catalytic converter.

Walle is also co-sponsoring HB4177, a bill to provide additional funding for state parks, in the amount of $1 billion.

Walle wants to expand the PUFF fund to include other Texas universities besides UT and TAMU. This money comes from oil and gas royalties, and is now limited to funding those two.

Flooding is a concern of the legislature, and they have budgeted $500 million to study an “Ike Dike” barrier to hurricane surges at Galveston, and locally $18 million to alleviate flooding of Halls and Greens Bayous.

In the Q & A session that followed Walle’s presentation, a number of participants spoke out.

Reyes Garcia wanted to know the status of funding for Water and Sewer work in the East Aldine District, where he is chairman of that committee. Walle said that money has been received by the Airline District for that work, as well as East Aldine in the area east of US59. In addition, a large detention basin has been built in the Lauder Road area.

In response to a question about noise reduction, Walle said the HB99 will allow counties to control noise eliminating from residences.

He said that HB8 has provided more grant money for community colleges and other higher education schools.

He discussed the current impasse on Property Tax Relief, with the House and Senate split on two very different approaches to relief. He said that this will have to be resolved before the final budget is passed in May.

A lengthy discussion was held on the status of Aldine Westfield Road, especially in the area near Keith Wiess Park. Walle said that because it is a city road, our ability to move forward with improvements is limited. However, he has been working with the HGAC and City of Houston to fund improvements to the pavement, fix potholes, and clean ditches. He will continue to work on this.

Walle mentioned the planned takeover of the Houston ISD by the state TEA, and said he is not in favor of the takeover. He said that he feels the result will not be an improvement in education opportunities for students, nor an improvement in their test scores. He feels that funding of vouchers is not the answer, and it takes away funding for public schools.