Farenthold touched on a few issues important to Refugio County.
He said the immigration reform bill that the Senate passed “is probably not going anywhere in the House.”
He said the House is taking this major issue and breaking it down into individual bills rather than all of the issues in one single bill.
Farenthold, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said the bills that have passed by him so far include a border security bill that will empower states. Also, the bill calls for better cooperation between the feds and local law enforcement.
Another bill was the e-verify bill, which would make this method of identification mandatory.
Also, a guest worker program bill for ag workers is another bill that is critical to Texas.
And finally, a high-skilled visas bill would make it easier for grad students to stay here for high tech jobs or for creating businesses.
Farenthold also touched on the Farm Bill.
He said the House version failed because the expected bipartisan vote did not come through.
He said most liberal Democrats voted no because of the cuts to food stamps. And he said far right Republicans voted against it because they didn’t think it was cut enough and because they don’t like supplemental payments.
Farenthold said they were in the process of thinking through another version that would be bipartisan.
“I think the farm bill is a must-pass item,” Farenthold said.
He added that the worst case scenario would be to extend what’s in place.
“I don’t think that’s the solution,” he said.
“The plan we had was to tighten up some control (over food stamps), give the states more flexibility ... the Democrats promised 40 votes and did not deliver.”
Also, Farenthold commented on the Interstate 69 corridor.
He said Refugio and Riviera are very similar towns because of the fear of a bypass.
He said the loss of traffic downtown would cause damage to businesses.
But the increased truck traffic also poses a safety issue, he said.
“Any bypass around Refugio would be one of the last segments (of I-69) built,” he said. “It is the most expensive because of land acquisition and costs. The only way to pay for a bypass is if it is tolled.”
Farenthold said a toll road would give the traveler the choice of coming through Refugio or paying a toll fee.
“That’s how I suspect it will be financed,” he said.
He also recommended that Refugio have representation on the I-69 Alliance and to stay in touch with the Texas Department of Transportation.
Farenthold said federal funding for transportation is drying up because of fuel efficient cars. The federal funding comes from a fuel tax.