Indicating that he was still new to the political process, State Representative James Frank gave his personal views concerning his first session in the state legislature to the November Membership Luncheon of the North Texas Home Builders Association, held Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Kemp Center for the Arts.
He noted, “I enjoyed it.” He added that former Wichita Falls Mayor and State Representative Lanham Lyne had discussed what it was like to work in the legislature, so he was prepared.
Since this was his first time in politics, he had much to learn. “And I am still learning. Still, the most important thing to remember is that no one is anointed king. No one gets their way on everything.”
He added, “Knowledge is power. The more you know about the legislative process and the individual issues, the more effective you can be.”
As a member of the Republican Policy Committee, he was part of a team that combed through all of the bills that made it to the floor. “There were 6,000 bills filed, almost 1,000 that made it to the floor and 675 that actually passed. But we needed to know what was in all of them.”
He stressed that it takes a lot of effort to stay up and stay involved during the January through May session.
“We follow the state constitution closely. The only requirement is that we pass a budget for the next two years and that it be balanced.” Frank said the main source of income to the state government is the state sales tax. He said he voted against the budget bill because — in his opinion — there was too much bad stuff added to the bill.
He was proud that the legislature addressed the water issue. “We put aside $2 billion to fund the water infrastructure bank. This money came from the rainy day fund and will allow cities and counties to borrow funds for water projects. Hopefully, it will be well run. It should save money for the cities and make money for the state.”
As for education, Frank said there were 10 different bills making it easier to get tech training. They also greatly decreased required end-of-the-year tests.
He noted that the health and human services part of the budget will soon surpass education spending due to federal mandates.
Finally, Frank challenged the audience to get involved in government. He offered advice “from the point of view of someone who knew very little and now knows a little.”
His advice was to know what level of government handles each issue. “I had people call me about federal issues that I have no input on.”
He also said to be a “subject matter expert” on a specific issue. “You can’t be an expert on everything. Be an expert on one thing. If you have the facts, you will be a valuable resource.”
He also said to read a bill before you call your state representative or state senator. “And call BEFORE the vote!”
Lastly, he said that one of the best ways to participate in government is through a special interest group such as the North Texas Home Builders Association.
Approximately 80 persons attended the luncheon that was catered by MSU Catering.