State Rep. Chris Paddie: Bill focuses on rural economic development

This week I began filing legislation and I am proud to tell you about the first bill that I filed, the Texas Rural Jobs Act.  While Texas has a number of economic development incentives, the vast majority of those dollars are directed to the urban areas of the state, leaving our rural areas to fend for themselves against better funded metroplexes.

The Rural Jobs Act provides an incentive for private investments to find their way to rural areas that have been generally overlooked.  One of the great things about this legislation is that private investors have to make their investments and meet meaningful investment and job creation metrics before they receive any money.  Many of the other economic development funds the state has are front loaded, and unfortunately, we have seen several examples of where the promised jobs never materialized and the state is left trying to recoup its investment.

This program also does not require the state to pick winners and losers, as do some of the other funds.  In this instance, private funds pick the businesses that they want to invest in, taking the state out of the business of picking winners but rather having the state set the performance criteria that investors must meet.  

I am excited by the feedback I have received in the first days after this bill was filed and am looking forward to working with a broad coalition to bring additional economic development tools to East Texas.  

This week I also had my first committee hearing as chairman of the House Energy Resources Committee.  We had a joint hearing with the Natural Resources Committee to hear from the Railroad Commission, industry, and environmental groups about technologies used to recycle and reuse water in oil and gas production. 

With breakthroughs in technology, we are getting closer to economically cleaning water by creating new water sources in areas of the state that desperately need them while reducing the waste water that is currently being produced and disposed of.  I am looking forward to continuing my work as chairman to help advance the oil and gas industry and our economy in innovative ways.

If you have questions about legislation that has been filed or have ideas for legislation, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I can be reached at 512-463-0556 or district9.paddie@house.state.tx.us.