The 84th Legislature had over 20 Freshman Republican Members, all of them come to the Capitol with new ideas, old experiences, and a will to work hard and succeed. Running for elected office is not easy, and once you are elected your challenges are even greater. Representative Dennis Paul took on these challenges with great pride and the result was an impressive session as a freshman Member.
Representative Paul played an important role in the overall success of the 84th Legislature, at the same time he was able to address many specific issues that he felt are most important to District 129 and the state of Texas. The House passed a conservative budget that keeps spending less than 2 percent per year, and stays well beneath the constitutional spending cap, while providing nearly $4 billion in tax relief to Texas homeowners and businesses. This session the legislature also made significant improvements to transportation by proposing a constitutional amendment that will dedicate a portion of general sales tax revenue to the State Highway Fund, which provides a stable revenue source to address the state’s transportation needs without raising taxes or fees and is not to be used for toll roads. Also, Republicans ended all gas tax diversions so that all of the money in the State Highway Fund will be used for transportation instead of the dollars going toward other programs.
Representative Paul authored House Bill 3310, which requires public retirement systems to test and verify that pensions are actuarially sound. It will help retirement systems focus on finding solutions to meet their long-term obligations. Systems that are not actuarially sound would be required to work with the sponsoring government entity to develop a plan to make the retirement fund actuarial sound. With the public sector employing more than 1.6 million people across Texas, Representative Paul found it vital that Texas take proactive steps to avoid the pension management problems that other states and cities have experienced.
In addition to his legislative success this session, Representative Paul also was instrumental in starting the Aerospace Legislative Caucus in the Texas Legislature and is now the Chairman of that Caucus. He told me that “The Aerospace Legislative Caucus is making an effort to tell other states and other businesses around the country that we want Texas to be the space state. If you want to operate a space business, come here and let it grow.” Being an engineer Representative Paul knows what it takes to envision, design, and construct the essential items for Texas to grow from space to roads and infrastructure.
Being an elected official is hard work and requires a tremendous amount of dedication, which is not new to Representative Paul and his wife. When he was just 11 years old, Representative Paul’s father passed away tragically, and his mom was left to raise four boys on her own. His family faced many struggles, and overcame difficult obstacles. Likewise, his wife has an incredibly remarkable story of survival. Mrs. Paul’s family escaped Communist China before she was born and settled in Hong Kong, where they built a new life and had four daughters and a son. When Hong Kong became Communist territory again, Mrs. Paul’s family picked up everything to move their family to the United States to seek freedom.
His upbringing and his wife’s incredible story have been influential in the formation of his conservative values, but so has his love and appreciation for history. “We’re really all Americans, its people from different nations and generations all through our history coming to America with a desire to come here
and participate in our freedom. The Constitution is the well water of our freedom; it’s what we’re about. It is a constant throughout our history helping America become a great place, where all God’s children can thrive and prosper. We’re all part of that one unifying constitutional culture that America is. We all have our different dreams and aspirations, but we’re still part of this one nation,” said Representative Paul.
After getting to know Representative Paul, it is no surprise that he would be willing to make the sacrifice to serve as an elected official. Prior to his first term in the Texas House, Representative Paul has volunteered for years with groups like the Knights of Columbus and Rotary, and has been a Republican Party activist for over 20 years. He has also served on the Republican Party of Texas Executive Committee for 8 years prior to his election as State Representative.
“You have to have a will to serve. You have to come here with a servant’s heart and want to serve your community, and that is what I am doing,” Representative Paul said. “You have to want to come and serve your community. Working in the Texas House gives me an opportunity to still be in my community, living in that community, working and serving, and then coming up to Austin part-time, it really is a citizen legislature, and that is works best.”