Senate OKs bill

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, May 13, 2017

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House Bill 2194, which will grant Wise County voting representation on the Weatherford College board, passed through the State Senate Wednesday.

The bill, originally proposed by State Rep. Phil King and sponsored in the Senate by State Sen. Craig Estes, passed in a 25-5 vote. The bill’s next stop is the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott, who will choose whether to sign it into law. Wise County Judge J.D. Clark is hopeful that Abbott will sign the bill.

“The fact that it’s made it out of the House and the Senate says a lot,” Clark said.

If passed, HB 2194 will allow the commissioners court of Wise County to appoint one member to the board for a two-year term starting Dec. 1. The appointee must be named by Nov. 30. A committee composed of Clark, Commissioner Kevin Burns, Auditor Ann McCuiston and commissioners’ attorney Thomas Aaberg has been formed to suggest a nominee to the commissioners court.

The bill that passed through the Senate is essentially the same as the version that passed the house – if made into law, the county will get one voting representative who may participate in the board’s decision-making except in matters regarding the imposition of a tax and issues that only affects a campus in the junior college district. The Wise County representative will not count toward quorum or serve as an officer.

“I think it’s going to be huge to build better relationships and grow the college here,” Clark said. “And we get tax representation for our citizens.”

Wise County is the only county with a branch campus that currently pays a maintenance tax to Weatherford College.

The college board is undergoing a change in leadership right now, as board Chairman Frank Martin, who opposed Wise County receiving a voting seat, was voted out of office in the May 6 Parker County election. Sue Coody, who won Martin’s seat, was vocal in her support of giving Wise County a voice on the board prior to the election, according to the Weatherford Democrat. College President Kevin Eaton also announced this week he’ll be stepping down (see a related story above).

“With all those things happening, it’s even more important to have representation,” Clark said.

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