By SHELLY WILKISON
Liberty Hill’s State Representative met with local business leaders last week, informing them of key legislation passed in 2013 that will help the state manage growth while staying fiscally responsible.
State Rep. Marsha Farney, R-Georgetown, was the keynote speaker at a joint luncheon of the Liberty Hill Chamber of Commerce and Liberty Hill Christian Business Leaders Association on Nov. 26.
Dr. Farney, an experienced and credentialed former public school teacher with degrees from Texas A&M University Commerce and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, spoke extensively about legislative changes impacting public schools.
Additionally, she addressed infrastructure issues facing a state growing by as many as 1,200 people per day.
“Texas is the best state in the nation. We are a leader in so many ways,” she said. “Texas creates jobs because we aren’t opposed to business.”
Rep. Farney, who owns a business in Taylor and is a former realtor, offered to help Liberty Hill promote itself to businesses looking to locate in Williamson County. She represents Burnet, Milam and northern Williamson counties in the Texas House of Representatives. She was first elected in 2012 and recently announced that she will seek a second term in 2014. Dr. Farney is also a former member of the State Board of Education.
“Tell me how to promote Liberty Hill and I will do it,” she said.
Dr. Farney said the Legislature provided more than $1.3 billion in tax relief this year — the majority of which benefitted small businesses like those in Liberty Hill. Lawmakers balanced a state budget without raising taxes, she said.
“We increased spending on education, strengthened the Teacher Retirement System and created a water infrastructure plan without raising taxes,” she said.
She said Texas’ retired public school teachers had not seen a cost of living adjustment in 12 years, but in October saw an increase.
Voters approved a constitutional amendment in November that created a water infrastructure bank for local water projects. A transfer of $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund was authorized to provide funds for communities to begin construction projects in accordance with the State Water Plan.
“We have a real water crisis in lots of our communities,” she said, adding that funding will be allocated based on critical needs.
Additional legislative actions that she considered positive for Texans included reducing the margins tax burden on businesses, rejecting Medicaid expansion, preserving 2nd Amendment rights, adopting redistricting maps, passing legislation restricting abortions after five months of gestation, and improving the juvenile justice system.
Dr. Farney said she supported the Legislature’s rejection of a proposal to expand Medicaid because some providers were waiting as long as one year to be paid for their services.
“We rejected expansion until we could start seeing doctors paid for their work,” she said.
Rep. Farney spoke about House Bill 5 — legislation that included a number of changes impacting public schools.
“My fingerprints are all over that bill,” she said.
Among other things, the bill provided more flexibility on graduation requirements, and provided some relief from standardized testing by reducing the number of high school end-of-course exams from 15 to five.
She also spoke about education legislation she authored that created a personal financial literacy course to prepare students to be fiscally responsible adults.
Other bills she authored:
– Doubled the number of career and technology math courses
_ Offered Texans the chance to purchase educational license plates with proceeds benefitting public schools
– Required open-enrollment charter schools to provide students the opportunity to recide the Pledge of Allegiance to the state and national flags daily.
Rep. Farney described herself as a “common sense conservative” and said generally, there has been a “lack of common sense in the Legislature.”
She said she is interested in protecting state’s rights and individual liberties.
“I’m outraged that the federal government is telling us that we need to buy health insurance,” she said, referring to the federal Affordable Care Act.
Rep. Farney serves on the House Committes on Public Education, Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence and Local and Consent Calendars.