On the first day of June, the Texas House of Representatives closed out one of the most conservative legislative sessions in Texas history by delivering one victory after another for hard-working families across the state. Bosque and Johnson Counties' Representative, DeWayne Burns, proved himself to be an effective leader in advocating for ground breaking legislation both on the House floor and in the committee room.
Although just a first-term member of the legislature, Rep. Burns was instrumental in passing legislation to cut taxes, make the border region safer, improve education, provide more funding for transportation, protect the sanctity of life, and defend the Second Amendment. This was achieved while also passing a fiscally conservative budget.
Rep. Burns said of the budget, "My philosophy on the state budget is simple - tax dollars belong to taxpayers, not to the politicians and bureaucrats in Austin. That's why I'm so pleased with the budget that we passed this year. We were able to add $1.5 billion in funding for our local schools, over $1 billion per biennium in funding for building and maintaining our roadways by ending diversions from the State Highway Fund, and $840 million for additional border security to protect our citizens. We did all of this while leaving more than $11 billion in the state's Rainy Day Fund and providing $3.8 billion in tax relief to hard-working families."
During the 84th Legislative Session, Rep. Burns served on two influential committees, the Natural Resources Committee and the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, which found him on the front lines when some of the session's most important legislation was debated.
On the Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Burns shepherded one of his signature pieces of legislation through the process. House Bill 4112 will legally recognize that property owners also own the groundwater beneath their property; a position supported by the Texas Supreme Court in 2012 in the Edwards Aquifer Authority vs. Day case. Rep. Burns said the bill's aim is to codify into law a principle that has been accepted by Texans for over a century.
"Water is a precious resource, and it's imperative that as our population and economy grow, we establish the right of property owners to their fair share of the water beneath their land," Burns explained. "The Rule of Capture, or the right to pump water from beneath your own property, has been in place for over 100 years. However, in areas of the state where groundwater is regulated, it is imperative that those regulations acknowledge the rights of property owners."
On the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, Rep. Burns was responsible for oversight of law enforcement, the prevention of crime, the provision of security services by private entities, and homeland security. Some of the committee's greatest responsibilities include the defense of the state and maintaining the public safety of our citizenry; including terrorism response, disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, and overseeing various state agencies related to homeland security and public safety.
Even though Rep. Burns is only serving his first term as a Representative, he has spent his career, both in the public and private sectors, fighting for limited government and against burdensome regulations that cripple the free market system and infringe on the private property rights of all Texans. He grew up on a small farm in Johnson County near the Bosque County line and the Brazos River. After graduating from Tarleton State University in 1994, he went to work for then-Texas Ag Commissioner Rick Perry where he served as his Coordinator for Special Issues. That experience served him well later in life when he worked for his family and his neighbors in the Barnett Shale. When some private oil and gas pipeline companies operating in the area tried to strong-arm landowners with the threat of eminent domain, Burns was instrumental in educating landowners on their rights in order to create agreements that worked to their benefit.
Rep. Burns has also served the community for many years in a variety of different capacities; including as Vice President of the Cleburne ISD Board of Trustees, as President of the Johnson County Farm Bureau, as a member of the Johnson County Economic Development Commission, and as a Fire Commissioner for the Johnson County Emergency Services District #1. He can now add hard-working state legislator to his resume for the work that he did during the 84th Legislative Session.
The Texas House Republican Caucus is fortunate to count Rep. DeWayne Burns as one of its members, and the people of Bosque and Johnson Counties should be proud of the conservative victories that he helped deliver this year.