Breckenridge Texan

Perry, Rogers visit Breckenridge between legislative sessions

Perry, Rogers visit Breckenridge between legislative sessions
July 06
09:37 2021

By Carla McKeown and Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Last week, Stephens County’s state senator and representative visited Breckenridge to meet with their local constituents during the break between the Texas Legislature’s regular and special sessions.

Charles Perry, District 28 Senator, and Glenn Rogers, District 60 Representative, spent about an hour at the technology center on the Texas State Technical College campus on Tuesday afternoon, June 29.

Texas Senator Charles Perry

Before the legislators’ scheduled talks began, Stephens County Judge Michael Roach thanked them for their work on a bill that was passed in the recent legislative session. Senate Bill 510 and its House of Representatives counterpart HB 1471 were sponsored by Perry and Rogers, respectively, and eventually passed by the entire legislature and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, becoming law.

The bills laid out a process through which Stephens County would regain ownership of unused land around the Walker Sayle prison unit. The land was originally purchased in the early 1990s by the County and then given to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for the prison, Roach said.

At that time, the County officials thought that two prisons would be built in the same vicinity. Since only one unit was built, Roach said, the County asked that the property be returned. Stephens County Commissioner Will Warren initially brought the issue to the attention of Roach, the other commissioners and the legislators.

“What we did was we went back to them and said, if the state does not plan on utilizing this land, the taxpayers of Stephens County would like it back,” Roach said in an interview prior to Tuesday’s meeting. “With financial straits that we’re all in, having access to that property and then being able to  — what we hope to do in the future is use that to diversify revenue streams for the county, whether that’s sell the property or pay off a debt or reinvest in, maybe, some alternative energy sources.”

Texas Representative Glenn Rogers

Roach said that during the legislative session, he, Warren and Commissioner Mark McCullough went to Austin to testify at the House and Senate hearings on the bills.

The final bill was signed by the governor on June 4 and immediately went into effect. It specifies the property that was returned to the County, totaling almost 300 acres.

On Tuesday, as he introduced the legislators to the approximately 40 people attending the event, Roach expressed his appreciation for their work on the bill. “We wanted to give you a quick overview of some things that they were instrumental in helping Stephens County with,” he said. “It’s our first time to have a bill, a local bill that benefited our county. And they both helped us tremendously.”

Perry said the bill took a little longer to pass than he and Rogers expected but that in the end it was passed. “Truth of the matter is, it starts with someone with an idea on a local level,” Perry said. “We still have a representative form of government, that just a little scribbling on a napkin can get to senator’s or representative’s desk and move up the food chain. But it was an easy thing to get done at the end of the day, because it was the right thing to do.”

Following the discussion about the local bill, both Perry and Rogers talked to the crowd about the recent legislative session. They talked about topics such as COVID-19, the winter storm and the ensuing electricity problems, abortion, gun laws, the budget and some issues of particular interest to rural Texans, such as broadband access and telehealth.

Then, the legislators answered questions from those attending. The questions ranged from concerns about the border to feral hogs.

The Texas Legislature is scheduled to return to Austin for a special session beginning Thursday, July 8. When Gov. Abbott announced the special session, the news release stated that the agenda would be “announced prior to the convening of the special session,” but the legislative calendars do not yet show agendas for the session.

On their stop in Breckenridge two Texas legislators met with local citizens to discuss the recent legislative session and the concerns of their constituents. Pictured, from left, are Breckenridge community leader Mike Harris, Rep. Glenn Rogers, Sen. Charles Perry and Brian Roland, CEO of Stephens Memorial Hospital. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Rep. Glenn Rogers, from left, Sen. Charles Perry, Stephens County Commissioner Will Warren and County Judge Michael Roach talk about SB 510/HB 1471, which was passed in the recent legislative session. The bill gives almost 300 acres of land back to Stephens County after the State of Texas decided not to use it for a second prison unit in the county. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


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