February 1, 2010
Not that season. A different season. High school lacrosse season.
Long-time readers of the Watson Wire know that the Watson family takes its high school lacrosse pretty seriously. Preston, our eldest son, introduced us to the sport when he was in eighth grade. We followed and were active in his excellent high school career as a defenseman. But he graduated in ’08.
The good news is that Cooper is now a freshman. He’s playing attack on the junior varsity. So the fun begins again.
We had a sort of “warm up” round robin tournament on Saturday, although it was anything but warm watching them play. I actually went home between games at one point to put on some more clothes.
I’m told lacrosse is the fastest growing high school sport in Texas. I believe it. It gives a generation of Texas boys a sport they can play without having the old man tell about “how I did it when I was your age”.
Each year, Austin High has an alumni game where the graduates come back and play the varsity. This year, Preston was on the alumni team and the coach put Cooper in the game so that the brothers could play against each other. Liz got a couple of great pictures.
Of course, there were other sporting activities on Saturday. One was at the Erwin Center. I didn’t go because of the lacrosse tournament. Probably lucky I wasn’t there, since I might have done something that would have irritated a large segment of my constituency.
That’s all we’ll say about that.
Also, I’m very proud that, last week, the Texas Medical Association recognized me with an award as a “Friend of Medicine” for my work on behalf of health care in Texas.
This is an issue I get pretty passionate about. It’s going to continue to be a priority as I get ready for the next session.
Speaking of the next session …
We all remember “summer reading”, where you work over the summer (a fourth of the year) to get ready for the school year (three-fourths of the year).
The legislature basically does the opposite. We meet in a regular legislative session for about five months every two years – spending three quarters of our “biennium” preparing for the remaining quarter’s worth of activity.
(Some might say it’s nuts trying to cram two years worth of legislating into six months. Others might say it’s nuts that the legislature’s break is basically three times as long as our kids’ summer vacations. Truth is, everybody’s right – it’s nuts.
I do a ton of work, really close to full-time, during these interims to get ready for the blitz of activity that hits the January of odd-numbered years – researching issues, drafting legislation, talking with constituents about their priorities and concerns, and getting ready to fight the bad stuff that’s always out there.
So last month was a big milestone: the session is now less than a year away. And writing that sentence makes me feel like a teacher has just reminded me that I have a term paper due next week.
I’ve already been busy putting together an agenda for the next session. As in my previous terms, I’ll be filing and working to pass bills that reform our state’s insurance system, promote scientific research and clean energy, make the budget more transparent, and build on Texas’ heritage with 21st Century economic development and education systems.
But in the meantime, the legislature has just received our homework assignments. They’re called Interim Charges, and they’re issues that House and Senate committees study and make recommendations on in preparation for the next session.
Each set comes in at two dozen pages or more. And there’s plenty of stuff that you’ll find in those 57 pages that’s, let’s say, complex (that sounds better than “sleep-inducing” or “boring as the day is long”).
But there’s going to be a ton of good work going on that has the potential – I repeat, the potential – to make this a good legislative session for current and future generations of Texans.
The Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee (of which I’m Vice Chair) has a full plate of work.
Among other things, we’ll be looking at the effect of transit and other forms of alternative transportation on air quality. We get to dig into the Department of Transportation (TxDOT to its many, many fans) and its relationship with hard-working local transportation agencies and groups. And we’ll get to look at comprehensive development agreements, local funding options, and other potential transportation funding mechanisms.
Our chairman, Senator John Carona, isn’t shy about getting an early start on things. In fact, we’re meeting this morning with the House Transportation Committee to get updates on some of these issues from TxDOT, the Department of Public Safety, and a slew of local officials and transportation experts. (You can watch the meeting here; it starts at 8 a.m.).
I’ll keep you posted on the work going into these charges, along with the recommendations that come out of them. It’s an important part of the process, and will play a big part for me and everyone else who’s starting to bear down for the next legislative session.
Remember, January 11, 2011 is just 344 days away.