Texas Rep. Allen Fletcher, a three-term legislator representing Harris County in District 130 in northwest Houston, has announced his re-election bid for a fourth term.
Fletcher started in the House in 2009. He serves on the House transportation committee, is the vice chairman of the homeland security and public safety committee, and is the chairman of the law enforcement subcommittee.
Fletcher is also the chairman of the House tea party caucus.
During the last session, 21 of the bills Fletcher authored or co-authored passed the House, the sixth most for all legislators, he said.
Fletcher is a retired Houston police officer and previously served as chairman of the Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce.
He and his wife, Penny, have lived in Tomball for seven years. The couple previously lived in Pinehurst for two decades, where they raised their three children.
Can you talk about your three terms in the Texas Legislature? How has the job been going?
To think I'm a part-time legislator is a misnomer. To me, it's like being a police officer. I am the only elected state legislative official that retired as a Texas police officer. So it's a huge responsibility. But the thing about that is when you're a police officer, you're a cop 24/7. Cops have days off, but cops are never not cops. And that's how I've done this job. I'm a legislator 24/7 and I pretty well live and breathe it, and my family understands that I do it as a full-time job.
As the chairman of the House tea party caucus, what impact has the party had in Austin?
I went up there as a freshman and there was one senator and 11 house members in the tea party caucus. In my second session, there were two senators and 26 House members. This session there are seven senators and 72 House members, and they elected me as the chair of their tea party caucus. That means a lot to me that they see me as a conservative leader for what I perceive to be the conservative business movement for our state.
One of your main goals has been to change the business franchise tax. Can you talk about that?
Business franchise tax—it's the state of Texas taxing small businesses on their gross and not their net. We took issue with that because small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. We've made a lot of strides to try to fix that, and we've gotten some great things done. We went from it being a $40,000 limit to $1 million. It used to be if you make a million and a penny, you'd have to pay taxes on the $1 million. Now you don't pay taxes on the first million, you go up to the second million. That really helps the small businesses.
Can you talk about your role as a member of the House Transportation Committee and transportation and infrastructure improvements in your district?
Last session I was the only member of the 25-person Harris County delegation to be on transportation [committee]. I passed legislation that funded the project for Hwy. 249, Hwy. 290 and the Grand Parkway Segment E. Infrastructure and transportation are huge for Texas.
I believe the Texas economy is critical to the U.S. economy, and I believe that so goes Texas, so goes America, so goes the world. Texas is the driver of the financial future of our nation.
I left my home to go to Austin to represent the people of Texas in District 130 with the belief that my No. 1 asset is that I'm a retired police officer and that I'll go up there and deal with criminal justice issues. When I got there all of a sudden I became painfully aware, I'm the only one from Harris County on the transportation committee. Transportation and infrastructure and trying to maintain our roads have become my No. 1 priority.
Why did you vote against the budget?
I am the only member of the Harris County delegation that voted against the budget. We passed a budget of $103 billion a year. TxDOT has asked for $4 billion, instead they got $450 million. That's ridiculous. What I was hoping for was that the governor would call a special session on transportation.
Can you talk about the legislation you authored increasing penalties for drivers who leave the scene of an accident?
I knew that sometimes folks make a decision not to stop and render aid because they have had something to drink. We made it a second-degree felony to leave. Now you think, I better stay and make sure no one got hurt. If I stay, I may get a DUI, but if I leave, I may go to prison.
You also authored the "campus carry" bill that would require college and university campuses to allow students with concealed handgun licenses to carry their weapons on campus. Can you talk about that?
[Concealed handgun licenses] are one of the best things that ever happened. It allows legitimate individuals with no criminal history to carry a concealed handgun.
You realize people who are carrying a gun on college campuses are committing a felony. It's about having a gun on you to protect yourself from being victimized. I didn't think they should be subjected to a third-degree felony.
What can voters expect from you if you are re-elected?
I ran based on the fact that I was a Christian conservative, and that I was Christian first and conservative second. And that when the Republican Party was no longer Christian, I would no longer be a Republican.
The community knew me, and they knew that to be true. If the good folks see fit to send me back, I have a lot more work to do. I want to go back and fight for all that didn't pass.