Author Archive for TonyD

In 2007 I served on a Williamson County grand jury hearing felony cases and determining if there was enough evidence for the district attorney to go forward with a trial. Including myself there were twelve citizens on the panel. One of the gentlemen I served with is named Wilbur Chapman. At the time he lived in Round Rock. His son was Nathan Chapman.

Sergeant First Class Nathan Chapman was a US Army Special Forces member and he was the first US military casualty of the war in Afghanistan. On January 4, 2002 he was killed by enemy fire while directing troops in combat. The war had hit home and touched a local family forever.

On September 11, 2006 at the very same Williamson County Justice Center where the grand jury met the county dedicated a statue honoring Nathan Chapman for his service. I remember the day well. As one would expect it was emotional. The monument now also includes markers with the names of other Williamson County residents who have lost their lives in military service during the Global War on Terror.

On one occasion as I was walking toward the Justice Center for grand jury duty I noticed Mr. Chapman admiring the likeness of his son. He reached up to the life size statue and placed his left hand on the right cheek of the bronze statue. It was a touching moment that I was glad to witness. I could feel his love and his pain.

Families that have a son or daughter in military service are called Blue Star Families. The tradition goes back to 1917 when a flag was designed to represent families who had members serving the country. When a military member loses his or her life the blue star is turned to gold. On January 4, 2002 the Chapman’s became Gold Star parents.   It is a color change that no family welcomes and that many fear.

On September 23, 2017 American Legion Post 911 in Cedar Park dedicated the Central Texas Gold Star Memorial Monument. The monument honors all Gold Star Family members. It’s construction and dedication is part of a fifty state effort to have one such monument in every state. The Cedar Park monument is the first in Texas and when it was dedicated it marked the thirteenth state to build one. About 400 people attended the dedication to include many Gold Star Family members. The keynote speaker was Woody Williams, the last surviving US Marine Corps recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. The idea to build these monuments was his.

I know quite a few Gold Star family members and while there is little we can do to assuage their anguish I believe that we have created a lasting tribute to their sacrifice. The display of gratitude reflects upon the fact that not only does the military member serve, but the families serve as well.

Every year in the Texas House Chamber a large Christmas tree is decorated with unique handmade ornaments. Each of the 150 Members of the House commissions a local artist to design an ornament. This year I asked Cedar Park artist Michelle Blankenship to design the HD-136 ornament. I want to thank Michelle for doing such a great job. She made a great representation of the Gold Star Monument.

Her ornament shows the four granite panels with the words, Family, Homeland, Patriotism, and Sacrifice. During this Christmas season I hope that all Gold Star Families are reminded and comforted to know that Central Texas embraces them. We should all pray for peace, but we must never forget our warriors and their families.

Representative Dale is Vice Chairman of the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee and is a member of the Environmental Regulation Committee and he is Chairman of the Texas House Energy Caucus. He represents southwestern Williamson County, Cedar Park, Leander, Brushy Creek, and parts of Austin and Round Rock.

 

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I look forward to 2018 with great optimism. This is also a good time of year to reflect on 2017 and to be thankful for the many blessing my family and I have received.

In 2017 I completed my third term in the Texas House. I appreciate the hard work of my colleagues and staff to help pass needed reform for the foster care system, increase penalties for inappropriate student/teacher relationships and for passing strong legislation to help the victims of sexual assault and protect kids from online predators. To the voters of Williamson County I thank you for bestowing upon me the honor to serve you.

Our oldest daughter started her senior year in high school and was accepted to six colleges. Soon our firstborn will be off to college. This is a big transition for all of us. Mary and I are proud of her.

Our youngest daughter, sign up for cheerleading, said she wanted to quit before it started, stuck with it and decided she loves it. It’s been fun to watch her grow as a person.

The Austin Business Journal at their Profiles in Power Awards lunch named Mary one of the top 20 businesswomen in Central Texas. She capped off the year buying the building that houses The Mary Dale Law Firm. Seven years ago she started her firm subletting a 10 x 10 office inside a local business. It has been so amazing to watch her grow her firm and her reputation for excellent legal representation for local businesses.

In August we took a family vacation to Port Aransas. We drove home on a sunny and calm Wednesday. Just three days later Hurricane Harvey slammed into Port A and Rockport and caused massive destruction. I was activated for nine days of state active duty with the Texas State Guard and assisted in the relief efforts. One thing I’ll never forget is the calm before the storm. On that Wednesday it was sunny and mild. The wind was so weak that we could barely keep a kite flying at the beach. It is a metaphor for how quickly things can change.

In September American Legion Post 911 dedicated the Central Texas Gold Star Families Memorial Monument. Together with a group of folks Mary and I worked on this and after nearly two years of work it became a reality. Thank you to the many volunteers and contributors who helped make this happen.

The best part of the year is that our family is intact. In the fall Maggie was a passenger in car that was in a serious auto accident. She was injured, but we are lucky she was not killed. We received a call from the Austin Police Department informing us that she was in a hospital. Imagine that. Our hearts sank. By the grace of God we are all still together and that is the greatest blessing of all.

As we begin 2018 I wish each of you a Happy New Year. I pray that our nation will experience peace and prosperity and that our Armed Services deployed throughout the world will remain strong, prepared and safe.

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From our family to yours we wish you the blessings of a very Merry Christmas.

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Imagine working hard all your life, buying the home you always wanted, and living in a friendly neighborhood. That’s the American Dream!

But today, too many Texans are in danger of losing their homes because of rising property taxes. Too many seniors are watching their property tax bills rise, while their retirement income stays the same. No Texan should have to sell their home because the government keeps raising property taxes each year.

I believe that homeowners deserve property tax relief. My wife and I are homeowners like many of you. We are subject to the same taxation and have experienced annual increases in our property tax bill. Even while the school district, city and the county hold their tax rates steady, or even cut their tax rates, our property tax bill goes up.

Between 2014 and 2017 my property tax bill has increased over 43 percent. I believe that reform is needed to prevent people from being taxed out of their homes.

The majority of Texans also want stricter limits placed on local government’s ability to increase taxes. This past session I voted in favor of a bill to slow the growth of property taxes.

Disagreements between House and Senate negotiators resulted in the failure of the bill. This was a missed opportunity and to me it is a major disappointment. I remain committed to working with my colleagues in the House and the Senate to reach an agreement that helps homeowners with their property taxes.

Under current law if a city, school district or county raises taxes more than 8 percent, the citizens can petition for a rollback election to either approve the new tax rate or “rollback” the tax rate to the existing rate. A tax increase of 10 percent would result in an automatic election.

The House passed a bill requiring an automatic election if a local tax increase is 6 percent. When the bill was on the House floor I voted in favor of an amendment to lower that amount to 4 percent. The amendment did not pass and the final version of the House bill, which I also voted for, remained at 6 percent. When the Senate passed their version of the bill they voted for a 4 percent automatic election.

What would you recommend if the Senate bill said 4 percent and the House bill said 6 percent? Do you think offering the body the chance to vote on a 5 percent limit would be a good compromise? I certainly believe it would be acceptable, but it was not to be. The negotiators in the two chambers were not able to reach a compromise. I never got a chance to vote on a compromise bill. Due to the deadlock the bill did not pass.

The failure of the bill left homeowners without a new mechanism to keep local property taxes in check. It is true that neither version of the bill would have reduced taxes, but it would have slowed the growth of property taxes.

I want to hold government more accountable, so it taxes less, spends less, and does more to cut waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars. The best place to start is through substantial property tax relief that will allow families to afford their dream home now and in the future.

Government has no right to tax Texas families out of the home they worked their whole lives to buy. Government has no right to force seniors from their home, because of unending hikes in property taxes. I will make property tax reform priority number one in the next legislative session because our families, homes, neighborhoods, and quality of life are worth protecting.

Representative Dale is Vice Chairman of the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee and is a member of the Environmental Regulation Committee and he is Chairman of the Texas House Energy Caucus. He represents southwestern Williamson County, Cedar Park, Leander, Brushy Creek, and parts of Austin and Round Rock.

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Last month I judged the Hairy Man contest, a part of the Brushy Creek Spookyfest. This local festival raises donations of food and money for the Round Rock Serving Center. It is a worthy cause and a quirky local tradition. Other fall traditions include participating in Veterans Day ceremonies and handing out Thanksgiving meals to area veterans. These are all fun activities that I’m glad to do as a member of the community and as a state representative.

While there are things I enjoy about public service, there are times when we deal with issues that are not fun, but are of critical importance. Over the course of my career as a state legislator I’ve made an effort to focus on improving the law to help victims of sexual assault. I’m told stories about why various laws need to change. They are often difficult for the victim to tell and can be heart wrenching to listen to. It is the strength and courage of victims, and their parents and friends that helps move the law in the right direction. These people supported by law enforcement, medical personnel, counselors and prosecutors give me the information I need to put the law on the side of the victims of these horrible crimes.

A friend called me and told me that her daughter was raped while at college. After undergoing a medical exam to collect evidence for the state, her insurance was billed for the testing. After her insurance paid, she was sent a bill for the remaining balance. Imagine that. You are the victim of a violent crime and you are sent a bill. Crushing. Demoralizing. Wrong. To prevent what I consider re-victimization, I passed a new law to allow the Crime Victims Compensation Fund to cover the cost of such tests. This should never happen to the victim of such a violent crime.

I spoke with a mother who had a baby that resulted from a rape. The man who committed the crime was convicted and sent to prison, but he sued her for joint custody and visitation rights. Under the law at the time he had the ability to force the woman into court. Working with my colleagues we changed the law to allow judges to sever parental rights of convicted rapists so that this form of harassment and intimidation will cease.

When I started in the legislature I told my staff I wanted to work to improve the law for sexual assault victims. They informed me that most of the ideas I had were unconstitutional because they fell into the category of cruel and unusual punishment. I asked my staff to bring me the experts in the field. Prosecutors and rape crisis centers across Texas have joined to create an organization called Texans Against Sexual Assault (TASA). Every session I coordinate with them on their agenda and sometimes take the lead on priority legislation. I value their work in the day-to-day dealings with victims and the accused. We are working together to bring positive change to protect victims and punish the guilty.

Fewer crimes are more vile than rape. It is too widespread and underreported. For those who have been a victim, I hope you’ll know that not only is being the victim of a crime not your fault, but also there are people who care about you and can help. For example, the National Sexual Assault hotline is staffed 24/7 by trained professionals and can be reached at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). We’ll never be able to stop all crime, but I’m committed to standing with the victims and ensuring that we can achieve justice.

State Representative Tony Dale is Vice Chairman of the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee and is a member of the Environmental Regulation Committee. He is Chairman of the Texas House Energy Caucus. He represents southwestern Williamson County, Cedar Park, Leander, Brushy Creek, and parts of Austin and Round Rock.

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The Texas Association of Business (TAB) honored State Representative Tony Dale with its highest award, the Champion For Free Enterprise. This marks the third consecutive session that Representative Dale is recognized with TAB’s highest legislative award.

“I appreciate the Texas Association of Business’ recognition of me as a Champion For Free Enterprise,” said Dale. “My wife Mary and I are both small business owners and we understand the necessity for policies that promote strong job growth. I remain focused on fostering an environment that focuses on attracting jobs, promotes economic prosperity and creates a thriving workforce”.

The Texas Association of Business represents companies from small businesses to the largest multi-national corporations in nearly every community in Texas. TAB works to improve the Texas business climate and to help make the state’s economy the strongest in the world.

Representative Dale is a husband, father, U.S. Army veteran and small business owner. He and his wife Mary, owner of The Mary Dale Law Firm, live in Cedar Park where they raise their two daughters. He is Vice Chairman of the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee and is a member of the Environmental Regulation Committee. He is Chairman of the Texas House Energy Caucus. He is a member of the Cedar Park and Leander Chambers of Commerce. He represents southwestern Williamson County, Cedar Park, Leander, Brushy Creek, and parts of Austin and Round Rock.

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Less than four weeks ago American Legion Post 911 dedicated the Central Texas Gold Star Families Memorial Monument which honors the families who have lost a loved one in military service. I am among the citizens who finds great distaste in the controversy in the national news related to a Member of Congress, the President and who said what and how did they say it.
 
I hope everyone just takes a deep breath and pauses.
 
First, these families have been through a lot and have faced challenges you would not wish on anyone. They deserve our respect, gratitude and compassion. I wish there were no Gold Star Families, but there are. I know many of them and as you would imagine they each handle their loss in very individual ways. I know they also share a bond with each other as members of a group that no one wants to be a member of.
 
As it relates to the current President and former Presidents no one will ever be able to convince me that they do not feel the pain of these loses in a very personal way. I suspect it is impossible to not be greatly affected by the awesome responsibility of being commander-in-chief.
 
We as citizens should focus more on putting our arms around our Gold Star Families and supporting them. You walk among them and you may not even know it. If you really care about Gold Star Families I encourage you to donate to an organization called TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors. It is an excellent organization that helps heal Gold Star Families all across the nation. I also encourage you to visit the Central Texas Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at the Cedar Park Veterans Park and say a prayer for the families and thank their service member for the high price they paid for you and me.
 
These are our warrior’s families, our neighbors and our friends. I hope that good judgement will prevail and if you are compelled to comment perhaps you could say a word of thanks and support to our Gold Star Families instead of making political statements.
 
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Click the image to watch the KXAN story.

Last session I authored legislation to tackle the issue of inappropriate student/teacher relationships. Our schools need to be safe areas where kids can learn and adults do not prey on children. We were successful in strengthening the law as it relates to preventing teachers from being passed from school district to school district, but the bill did not address unlicensed people who work in these educational environments. I filed HB 1799 to address this issue, but it did not pass. I plan on working on similar legislation in the next session. Here is a KXAN story about why we need to address this area of concern.

 
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State Representative Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park) has been named a “Courageous Conservative” by the Texas Conservative Coalition (TCC) for his role in advancing conservative principles in the 85th Legislative Session.

“I am honored to receive the Courageous Conservative award for a third consecutive session.  I am proud of what we accomplished this past session. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to pass conservative legislation that follows the principles laid out by TCC,” said Dale.

“Representative Dale’s work to promote liberty and limited government was critical in passing conservative legislation that will give Texans more of the freedom they deserve,” said Rep. James Frank, President of TCC.  “TCC believes that the principles or our nation’s founding and our state’s founding are worth fighting for, and we’re honored that Rep. Dale stands with us.”

Courageous Conservative awards are calculated each legislative session based on about 250 votes that align with TCC’s four main principles: limited government, individual liberty, free enterprise, and traditional values.

Since its founding in 1985, TCC has served as the conservative caucus of the Texas Legislature. TCC is committed to winning legislative debates to advance conservative policies that improve the lives of all Texans. State Rep. Dale is a member of the board of TCC.

State Representative Tony Dale is Vice Chairman of the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee and is a member of the Environmental Regulation Committee. He is Chairman of the Texas House Energy Caucus. He represents southwestern Williamson County, Cedar Park, Leander, Brushy Creek, and parts of Austin and Round Rock.

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