Ashby Joins Rural Colleagues in Letters to Sunset Commission

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

AUSTIN – A proposal to close 87 Texas Department of Public Safety Offices throughout the state has resulted in dozens of legislators expressing their concern to the Texas Sunset Commission.

State Representative Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) joined many of his colleagues in the Texas House in voicing their opinions on the proposals to the Commission in a pair of letters

According to a press release from the state representative’s office, “… lawmakers noted that the Commission staff recommendation places an unfair burden on rural communities, as the majority of office closures would occur in counties with only one office, thus leaving many rural counties without a DPS presence.”

“The proposal,” the press release continued, “is reflective of a long-standing tendency to shift resources away from rural areas in a largely unsuccessful attempt to improve efficiency in high volume offices. A recent Dallas Morning News article cites an average wait time of eight hours in the DPS Carrolton ‘mega center.’”

Ashby commented, “This proposal would drastically decrease access to DPS in my district and in many other rural areas across the state. As rural legislators, it is imperative that we voice our concerns with the closure of DPS offices that both provide service and increase safety in our communities.”

House District 57, represented by Ashby, encompasses all of Angelina, Houston, Leon, Madison, San Augustine, and Trinity Counties.

Under the current recommendation, two DPS offices in House District 57 would be affected with one reducing staff and operations, while another would be forced to close indefinitely, the press release indicated.

The office tapped for closure is based in Centerville, a member of Ashby’s staff reported, while the DPS office in Madisonville would have its staffing reduced.

“The approach the Sunset staff has taken is penny wise and pound foolish,” Ashby stated. “Reducing the services, security, and emergency response capabilities that DPS provides to the citizens of Texas just doesn’t make sense. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in expressing our overwhelming opposition to this short-sighted proposal.”

Though, procedurally, the recommendations of the Sunset staff serve as a starting point for future discussion, the Legislature will maintain the authority to amend, and ultimately approve, any proposal during the upcoming legislative session. Currently, the Sunset Commission has neither approved nor denied any staff proposal to close DPS offices.

Of note, the Texas Rainy Day Fund has nearly $10 billion.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.