Anchia and Villalba Preview 2013 Legislative Session for Dallas Clients


More than 100 Haynes and Boone clients, attorneys and friends packed the firm's Dallas meeting rooms Jan. 11 to hear a preview of key issues facing the 83rd Texas Legislature through the eyes of two partners - one Republican, the other Democrat - who represent Dallas districts in the House of Representatives.

Newly elected District 114 Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) and veteran District 103 Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) found some common ground during the free-wheeling discussion led by Texas Tribune editor-in-chief and CEO Evan Smith.

After being welcomed by Managing Partner Terry Conner, Anchia and Villalba gave their assessments of legislation that may be introduced to address a wide array of the state's needs.

Both agreed that the 83rd will not be a venue for a lot of immigration reform debates, unlike the last biennial session. Villalba pointed out that so far there are only four bills introduced that deal with various aspects of immigration, while the 82nd considered 40 or more. Similarly, both Villalba and Anchia predicted a softening of the governor's hard line against setting up the federal Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges, now that repeal of that law is off the table.

A tax on bottled water is one way to make a small down payment on a crucial plan to address the future water needs of Texas, but both representatives conceded large swaths of the $53 billion of water infrastructure projects identified by the Texas Water Development Board have little realistic chance of ever being completed.

And, in light of the $8.8 billion in surplus revenue recently discovered by the state treasurer, both men predicted there will be pressure to replace some or all of the $5.4 billion in cuts from public education funding made during the last sessioin. Anchia said he is urging fellow legislators to consider the fact that a good private school education costs about $22,000 per year in Dallas, while state per-student spending is less than $8,000. While it is unrealistic to consider approaching private school levels, Texas must consider investing in its young people at an appropriate level to achieve success, Anchia said. Villalba, meanwhile, said he supports broadening Texas charter schools programs and expanding the intra-district publice-to-public school choice options.

The Dallas Legislative Preview event was one of two conducted this year by Haynes and Boone in association with Smith's Texas Tribune. The firm is considering more venues and additional dates for similar sessions in the future.

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