State Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, took a break from the special session at the state Capitol to visit the monthly Pflugerville Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday.

Israel, who represents District 50, which includes a section of Pflugerville, likens her district boundary outline on a map to a bad toupee. Also bad, she said, is a special session with nothing good for Texans. What follows are some thoughts she shared at Tuesday’s forum:

  • “I’d rather be here with your than arguing who gets to go in whose bathroom.”

  • When asked if the governor-imposed state hiring freeze was still in effect, Israel said, “I guess so. There is really no such thing as a hiring freeze. It’s not a benevolent dictatorship in Texas. The governor can make suggestions. I hear from different agencies they are in a hiring freeze until Sept. 1."

  • On politics, Israel said, “It didn’t always used to be as politically charged as it is today, and that concerns me. “When legislators work across party lines, we do good things for Texas,” she said. “It used to be OK to compromise. It was OK to be a moderate.”

  • “In my experience, visionary leaders are far and few between. The most terrible trend is our failure to participate in the voting booth. There is a downward trend in nearly every state in the union.

  • In 140 days of the legislative session, Israel had seven bills signed by Gov. Greg Abbott that were either sponsored or offered by her.

  • Israel said there are many transportation needs beyond the work being done locally and along I-35. The corridor redo would cost $4 billion for I-35.

  • “I’m a big supporter of mass transit,” Israel said. “We can’t just build roads. We have to do something different."

  • She discussed the importance of traffic sensors built into MoPac and bus transit. “There will be buses going by those caught in traffic,” Israel said. “It will be a slow change.”

Community leaders, including Pflugerville ISD board of trustees President Vernagene Mott and Pflugerville Police Chief Jessica Robledo, praised Israel for speaking up for the residents of her district.

“I love my job,” Israel said. “Representing you in the Legislature is an honor of my lifetime. If Texas needs me, I’m there in a heartbeat. The 20 or so items the governor laid out are not emergency items. [It's] all politics, and that makes me sad for Texas. It also riles me up and makes me want to work harder for Texas.”