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Messages from Mike - Archive for March 2009

Legislature looks at reform of public school accountability system

Posted on Friday, March 13, 2009 1:08:59 AM

Parents and educators alike point to the negative consequences associated with our state's current emphasis on standardized testing in the classroom.

Senator Florence Shapiro and State Representative Rob Eissler have authored legislation to reform the state's accountability system. The authors of the legislation state that they are attempting to shift the focus of the system from a single test to a student's overall post-secondary readiness. 

The House Committee on Public Education will hold a hearing on HB 3, by Chairman Eissler next Tuesday, March 17th. Click here to find details on the hearing.

Individuals may testify in person in Austin, or contact members of the committee to share your views on this important issue.



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Find out if you qualify for federal funds to weatherize your home

Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 7:59:41 PM

The Texas Department Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) is going to receive between $240-350 million for weatherization of homes in Texas as part of the recent federal stimulus package. This money will be distributed in San Antonio through the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG). Local contractors who are seeing a reduction in work and who are qualified to do weatherization will be able to apply for jobs through AACOG. In addition, homeowners making up to 200% of the poverty level will qualify for up to $6,500 to weatherize their home, and may apply through AACOG.

Hopefully, these funds will serve an existing need, reduce energy consumption in the long run, and also assist in immediate job creation in our community.
For more information contact the Alamo Area Council of Governments:
Alamo Area Council of Governments
8700 Tesoro Dr., Ste. 700
San Antonio, Texas 78217
Phone: (210) 362-5200 Fax: (210) 225-5937
Contact Person:
Rose Jackson

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Almost halfway there...and a lot of hard work ahead

Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 3:49:34 AM

It's hard to believe that we’re already almost halfway through the 140-day legislative session. I have been busy in non-stop hearings with the appropriations subcommittee on education and finalizing my bills on higher education and other issues before the deadline this Friday to file bills. So far I've filed 72 bills, which you can find here on the Capitol's website. As you can see, I've focused on:

The Legislature’s committees have also started to hold hearings on bills. So far I've presented two bills improving child support collection, one to help cities pay for fire stations for new developments, and another to give parents of newborns a child development guide with information on the importance of reading to kids, parenting tips, health and safety issues, and more. In the coming weeks there will be more hearings, and then bills will start to reach the full House of Representatives for a debate and vote. We are quickly approaching the end of the session on June 1, and we've got our work cut out for us between now and then.
- Mike
P.S. I’ve caught the “social networking” bug – it’s proven to be a great way for me to stay connected with constituents and friends while I’m in Austin. We’ve had some really interesting discussions on the issues. I’m able to tap into expertise from individuals around the state just by posting a question. Join me on Facebook: you can keep tabs on what I’m doing as I serve in your Texas Capitol and give me your feedback on the issues that matter to you. You can also write to me at or call our office at (210) 734-8937.

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The "Dream Team" - Move Over David Robinson and Michael Jordan

Posted on Thursday, March 5, 2009 5:30:11 AM

by Peter Clark, Legislative Director / Sports Fan

We knew that Rep. Villarreal and his four "teammates" on the House subcommittee for the state education budget have been hard at work in non-stop hearings, but could they be one of the best teams ever? 

The Austin American-Statesman recently reported that the subcommittee chair - or, point guard - compared the talent assembled on the committee to the "Dream Team."  David Robinson, Michael Jordan and the rest of the original Dream Team may have been stars on the basketball court, but Rep. Villarreal and the rest of the subcommittee could show them a thing or two about expanding financial aid for college students and making smart state investments in education!


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Join Our Campaign to End Workplace Discrimination

Posted on Thursday, March 5, 2009 3:58:58 AM

Discrimination creates an atmosphere that drives well-educated, creative professionals away, harming the state and local economy. Our state does not currently prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. H.B. 538 by State Representative Mike Villarreal gives lawmakers the opportunity to ensure that individuals who work hard and play by the rules are not treated unfairly.

Please join this important effort by signing our petition to Chairman Burt Solomons to urge his support for the legislation.


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Your feedback on our transportation work

Posted on Monday, March 2, 2009 4:51:54 PM

Great to read the lively discussion on and facebook about my transportation legislation.

I'm attaching below a summary of the legislation as it currently stands. Bexar County legislators and local stakeholders have improved this legislation since first filing. Please give your feedback so that it can continue to get better.

The purpose of this bill is to allow Bexar County voters to raise additional revenue to fund mass transit projects. The bill requires voter approval for all funding options and projects.


Mike Villarreal
State Representative


H.B. 1674 by Representative Mike Villarreal
San Antonio Transportation Local Option Bill Summary

Menu Options to Fund Local Transportation Project

  • County motor vehicle registration fee
  • New resident vehicle registration fee
  • Drivers license fee
  • Vehicle mileage fee
  • Environmental mitigation fee (based on size of engine)

* Mandates the creation of a fee reduction program for low income drivers & rebate program for those that document low miles driven in previous year

Governance Structure
  • VIA to evaluate and recommend projects and funding mechanisms to Bexar County Commissioners Court
  • Commissioners Court would hold public hearing before ordering an election
  • Commissioners Court calls election
  • The election clearly states each revenue source, proposed rate, proposed project, estimated cost and completion date, and estimated annual expenses for project
  • VIA must consult with other local transportation entities
Eligible Projects
  • No less than 80% of the revenue must be dedicated to mass transit
  • Revenue can not directly or indirectly go to supporting toll road projects
  • Projects must foster geographic equity
  • Projects must be built first in major workforce and population hubs
  • Funds may not supplant other transit revenue
  • Ensures no loss of federal or state formula funding
  • Ensures no loss of transit funding
  • Elections for approval of transportation projects and funding mechanisms must be held on regular November general election.


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