AUSTIN — The Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce Vision XXI Class of 2018 took its final trip of the year to Austin to observe Legislative Day at the state Capitol on Sept. 13.
Class members were welcomed and hosted by Ryan Marquess, chief of staff for House District 54 state Rep. Scott Cosper. Marquess previously served as chief of staff for former District 54 state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock and also served as clerk of the House Committee on Public Education.
In addition to hearing from agency leaders from the railroad commission, the film commission and the chief of staff for District 24 state Sen. Dawn Buckingham, the class toured the House and Senate chambers.
State lawmakers were not in session but will begin their 86th Legislative Session on Jan. 8. The Legislature meets for 140 days every two years unless there is a special session called by the governor.
The representative from the office of the Texas Railroad Commission, Christi Craddick, told the class that the state’s efficient energy industry is driving the state’s current unparalleled economic success.
Craddick said Texas is producing about a third of the country’s oil and that adds up to 3 million barrels a day.
One-fourth of the nation’s natural gas comes from Texas.
“We haven’t seen production numbers like this since 1972,” Craddick said.
Lindsey Ashley, deputy director of the Texas Film Commission, reported that the commission has been a huge advocate of the film industry because it is a sizeable generator of jobs.
In the feature film world, it only takes a couple of months to produce a project, but there are several months of in-advance kind of work and just as many in the post-production phase, she said.
Ashley said, “We have a vibrant history of production in our state and are known as a nice iconic place to bring film and television projects. In the last 10 years, commercial production has soared.”
According to Ashley, the most exciting success story on record is when the television production “The Long Road Home” came to Fort Hood and built a 12-acre set on the post. At the time of production, it was the largest frees-tanding set in America.
“They hired hundreds of locals in the area to do crew work and spent a lot of money on supplies like paint and lumber in addition to craftsmen to put it together,” Ashley said.
The movie was based on a true story about a platoon from Fort Hood and its experiences in Iraq in 2006. The name of the film was “Black Monday.”
Travis Richmond, chief of staff for state Sen. Dawn Buckingham, told class members that her office had worked closely with Rep. Cosper in House District 54 and would continue the same level of cooperation with the next state representative — depending on the outcome of the Nov. 6 election — and the constituents of Senate District 24, which includes Bell County.
In a surprise appearance, Rep. Cosper shared parting words with the Vision XXI Class.
“I’ll be around until January, then be out of here. I have my preference of who I’d like to win but that will be decided in November,” he said.
Republican Dr. Brad Buckley won a May primary runoff against Cosper for the District 54 post in the House and will face Democratic challenger Kathy Richerson in the general election.
As Cosper led the class to the House floor for a group photo at the speaker’s stand, he expressed thanks to his staff in Austin for their dedication.
“They’re the ones who did all the technical work and kept us informed on the issues and challenges during the last session. I couldn’t have done it without them,” Cosper said.
Cosper spoke of his time serving on the Appropriations Committee. It is the budget-writing committee responsible for the $217 billion state-spending plan for the biennium for the State.
“We have to encompass all the formula needs within the agencies that represent you,” Cosper said.
The next Vision XXI meeting will be Graduation Day on Oct. 4.