With more than 25.6 million people spread across roughly 260,000 square miles and two time zones, the issues important to Texans vary as vastly as the terrain. Every two years, when lawmakers gather in Austin with a list of legislative priorities, a picture of what's important where comes into focus.
Over the past month, we've traveled across the state to find out what voters hope their lawmakers will fight for on their behalf during the 83rd Legislature. Each of the pieces below focuses on the paramount issue in a specific region.
Mental Health Funding Focus for Harris County – January 10, 2013
HOUSTON, TX – With roughly a quarter of its jail population on psychotropic drugs or being treated for mental illness and not enough state money to work with, Harris County officials are trying to address what they call a 'crisis' in their community.
Midland Educators Want More Choices for Students – January 9, 2013
MIDLAND, TX – West Texas lawmakers will be talking about more than private school vouchers when the bring up choice in education during the legislative session. Legislators representing West Texas plan to file a proposal that would give students more career choices, paths that would allow schools to build relationships with local industries to teach the workforce they will need.
Coastal Texans Mobilizing to Reform TWIA – January 8, 2013
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – Instead of complaining about steep rate hikes and confusing building codes, Texas coastal residents say they'll outline ways to reform the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association in the 83rd Legislature.
The Fight to Restore Healthcare Cuts – January 7, 2013
EDINBURG, TX – Doctors in the Rio Grande Valley are leading the charge to restore cuts made during the 2011 legislative session. They want lawmakers to once again make it so that Medicare and Medicaid benefits add up to 100-percent of dual eligible patients' bills. They're expecting a fight.
State Water Woes – January 3, 2013
SPUR, TX – People in parts of West Texas know that lawmakers can't make it rain, but they hope that the legislators they send to Austin can find funding for a statewide water plan to ease the drought pain in the coming session. Several state leaders are vowing to find the money.
Valley Physicians Push for Medicaid HMO Reforms – January 2, 2013
RAYMONDVILLE, TX – Put in place 10 months ago to save the state $385 million, many doctors in the Rio Grande Valley say Health Maintenance Organizations, HMOs, are limiting patients' access to care. The Texas Medical Association is among those hoping the 83rd Legislature can find ways to streamline the current system.