By Senator Borris Miles
During the 86th Legislative Session, I worked with several organizations to pass more than 28 pieces of legislation targeted to help the many communities of Senate District 13. Many of those bills, the community had a hand to help craft. From criminal justice reforms, consumer advocacy, affordable and accessible healthcare options to jobs and economic development, my legislative package was about improving Senate District 13. I authored Senate Bill 390 to create the Northeast Houston Redevelopment District. This bill was one of the most critical bills in my legislative package.
Like many parts of low-income and economically challenged areas, there are a lack of grocery stores and abandoned shopping centers and major retailers plagued around the area. After meetings with local Northeast community leaders and local elected officials, we crafted SB 390 to give this area the help it needed to attract new businesses and jobs and breathe life back into the community.
I carefully moved this bill through the Senate Chamber, and throughout the session, the governor did not indicate any problem with the bill until May 20th, one week before the end of the session. After working with the governor’s staff and making the requested changes, his staff even provided assistance in clearing procedural hurdles to help the bill pass. After the session ended, he vetoed the bill, which made little to no sense to me.
The governor’s veto said SB 390 “goes too far.” How?! Communities like the Galleria, Upper Kirby, Midtown, Memorial City and other more affluent areas have been able to reap the benefits of these redevelopment districts for years. If the governor believed these districts went to far, then why didn’t he veto all of the special district bills that passed this session, not just the bills from three Democratic legislators.
I sent a letter to the governor detailing my thoughts and my suspicions behind his veto. I want to know if his veto was an act of retaliation because I refused to sell out my community and support his nominee for TX Secretary of State, who earlier this year attempted to purge more than 95,000 voters from the Texas voter rolls, or one of racism. I want to know it is neither or BOTH. I am awaiting his response.
While this veto eliminates a tool to help revitalize this area, it will not stop my efforts to continue working with the community to bring businesses and jobs for the people in these neighborhoods.
This article originally appeared in the African American News & Issues.