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By George Slaughter

Katy Independent School District trustees heard a presentation for a $609 million bond package and a work study meeting held Monday night.

Keith Carmichael, chairman of the Katy ISD Community Bond Advisory Committee, and Christopher Smith, the district’s chief financial officer, gave the presentation. They said the bond would not require a tax increase.

Carmichael said that approximately $449 million, or 74%, is for six new schools. Of these proposed new schools, one is a high school, to our junior high schools, and the remainder are elementary schools. Other items covered, with approximate costs, include:

  • Component Replacements $52 million (9%).
  • Comprehensive Renovation: $21 million (3%).
  • Safety & Security Improvements $17 million (3%).
  • School Expansions $15 million (3%).
  • Technology $32 million (5%).
  • Other (buses, portables and fuel tanks) $24 million (4%).

Trustees have until August to amend or approve the proposal. If approved, the bond will be put to voters in the November 7 election.

The committee’s recommendation, made in June, followed seven meetings which began in April. At these meetings, members were briefed on various district and education-related topics.

Trustees in January approved a committee charter and encouraged applications. The 150-member committee is comprised of a broad base of community members representative of Katy ISD campuses, partner institutions, professional and civic organizations and the community at large.

Some members had served on previous bond committees, but Carmichael said that the majority of members were serving for the first time.

During the question period, Carmichael was asked about a proposal that called for removing the proposed high school from the bond package and just changing the high school attendance zones to ease overcrowding. This proposal was sent by e-mail to board members before Monday’s meeting. Carmichael said committee members discussed the idea was discussed but the high school would eventually have to be built to meet the growing number of students.

“They thought it was the better option” to proceed with approving and building the new high school, Carmichael said.

The slides from Carmichael’s presentation are on the Katy ISD web site.

While the bond proposal presentation was the key item at Monday’s meeting, the board heard three other presentations. One was on the district’s strategic design outcomes and priorities from Karen Permitti of Engage2Learn. Another was a 2017 health care update from Lance Nauman, the district’s director of risk management.

Slides from both Permitti’s and Nauman’s presentations are expected to be posted to the district web site.

The board also heard a brief report from trustee George Scott, who serves as Region 4, Position E director with the Texas Association of school boards.

The board considered the following items for final review and approval at its upcoming July 24 meeting:

  • A memorandum of understanding for operation of a juvenile justice alternative education program with Harris County.
  • A memorandum of understanding for operation of a juvenile justice alternative education program with Fort Bend County.
  • The discipline management plan and student code of conduct for the 2017-2018 school year.
  • An amendment of the 2016-2017 contract with the Harris County Department of Education for therapy services.
  • An interlocal agreement with Harris County Department of Education for therapy services for the 2017-2018 school year.
  • July 27 budget amendments.
  • The notice of public meeting to discuss the budget and proposed tax rate.
  • The proposal for the districtwide security upgrade package.
  • The method of purchase for the renovation of the Mayde Creek High School baseball field complex.
  • A proposal for a construction manager at risk contract for the comprehensive renovation Golbow and Pattison elementary schools.
  • The Katy Independent School District Katy Junior High School platt.
  • An amendment to the Stewart Builders, Inc. construction manager at risk contract for the guaranteed maximum price related to the agricultural sciences center expansion.
  • Endorsing Charles Cunningham of the Humble Independent School District for the Texas Association of school boards, district position for Region 4, Position B.
  • Approving trustee Bill Lacy as a delegate to the 2017 Texas Association of School Boards delegate assembly.

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This marks the tenth home donated across the country through the partnership between U.S. Bank and Freedom Alliance.

Baytown, TEXAS (July 13, 2017) – U.S. Bank, in conjunction with Freedom Alliance, is presenting the keys to a newly-renovated, mortgage-free home to medically retired Army Staff Sgt. Rodolfo “Javier” Munoz on Wednesday, July 26 at 10 a.m. This event is especially notable as this is the tenth home donated jointly by U.S. Bank and Freedom Alliance, a charitable organization which provides support to injured service members and military families. The home is located at 5307 Coast Line Street in Baytown.

Munoz, 38, was born in Laredo, Texas and grew up in San Antonio. He was raised in a patriotic household, as his father served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam era. In 2000, Munoz enlisted in the Louisiana National Guard and trained as a human intelligence collector.

Wanting to be on active duty after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he re-enlisted as a Soldier to serve his country in a more meaningful way. Munoz completed training at Fort Sam Houston and became a combat medic. He has had three deployments from 2004-2012, serving in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. He has earned multiple awards including an Army Commendation Medal with Valor and a Combat Medic Badge. He medically retired from the U.S. Army in August 2015. Munoz is rated 90 percent disabled by the VA and suffers from nerve damage, post-traumatic stress and other combat-related injuries.

Munoz is working toward earning an associate degree at Northwest Vista College in personal fitness training. He is currently engaged to Jennifer Kirk, a retired Air Force veteran with 20 years of service. They both currently reside in San Antonio. He looks forward to receiving the home as it will assist him in continuing to pursue his dreams.

This renovated three-bedroom, two-bath house is donated by U.S. Bank through its Housing Opportunities after Military Engagement (H.O.M.E.) program, in conjunction with Freedom Alliance’s Heroes to Homeowners program. Chronos Solutions, a real estate services provider, also contributed to the cost of the repairs made to the home.

Several U.S. Bank and Freedom Alliance representatives will be present to welcome Munoz to his new home, including Patrick Law, senior vice president at U.S. Bank, and Tom Kilgannon, president of Freedom Alliance.

“We’re privileged to be able to give a little back to someone who has given so much to our country,” said Law, who is a U.S. Army veteran. “Across the country, U.S. Bank is committed to supporting our military members and veterans as an employer, community member and corporate citizen.”

In addition to partnering with military service organizations such as Freedom Alliance, U.S. Bank supports veterans and military family members through Proud to Serve, an employee-led business resource group. Through Proud to Serve, each new hire is personally welcomed by leaders who are also veterans. Employees are also encouraged to use internal social networking forums to connect, network and share stories. U.S. Bank hired more than 500 veterans in 2016 and currently employs approximately 2,000 veterans.

“Javier Munoz is an incredible young man who loves our country and loved serving in our military. He has seen and been through a great deal, lost friends and made tremendous sacrifices. This home donation will help him build a strong foundation for his future and provide security for his family. We’re thrilled to assist Javier in his transition to a fulfilling civilian life, in which he pursues new dreams and aspirations,” said President of Freedom Alliance, Tom Kilgannon. “We are proud of our partnership with U.S. Bank,” Kilgannon added, “we could not do this without them, a great company committed to America’s veterans.”


About Freedom Alliance 

Freedom Alliance is a charitable organization which provides help and support to wounded troops and military families. Freedom Alliance has awarded more than $11 million in college scholarships to the children of military heroes killed or disabled in military service and spent millions more helping injured veterans and military families with outdoor recreational therapy trips, Heroes Vacations, care packages for deployed troops, mortgage-free homes, all-terrain wheel chairs and much more. You can learn more about Freedom Alliance at and


About U.S. Bank

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), with $450 billion in assets as of March 31, 2017, is the parent company of U.S. Bank National Association, the fifth largest commercial bank in the United States. The Company operates 3,091 banking offices in 25 states and 4,838 ATMs, and provides a comprehensive line of banking, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at

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The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has awarded The Houston Launch Pad a $297,194 Self-Sufficiency Fund training grant. The Houston Launch Pad partnered with Almeda-Genoa Construction, Williams Brothers Construction and ISI Infrastructure Services to help 150 individuals transition into the workforce from either dependency on public assistance. The grant will help provide job training in carpentry, concrete finishing, construction and heavy equipment operator occupations. Grant funding from the Self-Sufficiency Fund will also assist in developing the technical education and learning environment that will lead to industry recognized certificates and credentials.

“These grants lead to skilled training and future job opportunities which expands our state’s workforce, benefiting our communities,” said state Sen. Borris L. Miles.

“This grant partnership delivers workforce solutions that will help improve workers’ job skills and is an impetus for job creation for our communities,” said state Rep. Shawn Thierry.

“Skills grants deliver customized training solutions that help Texas employers and workers succeed in the marketplace,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “This investment builds not only employee skills, but the capabilities of our community colleges to the benefit of employers and the community. We are pleased to make this investment.”

The Self-Sufficiency Fund provides funding to eligible training providers including nonprofit 501(c)(3) community-based organizations, Texas public community or technical colleges or the Texas Engineering Extension Service. The Self-Sufficiency Fund pays for curriculum development, instructor fees and certifications, training materials, certain work-related expenses for trainees and some training equipment for the six targeted industry clusters, including construction, logistics and transportation.

A team of experts from TWC’s Office of Employer Initiatives provides technical assistance at no charge to help streamline Self-Sufficiency Fund project development. The Outreach and Project Development Consultants work directly with grant applicants and training providers, Workforce Development Boards and economic development partners throughout the development of the project to ensure that participants receive specific, customized training that is required for occupations. For more information, contact the Outreach and Project Development Consultants at 877-463-1777, or locate resources on the TWC’s Self-Sufficiency Fund webpage.

The Houston Launch Pad contact: Program Director Prentice Goods, 281-507-6742 or


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Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo leadership presented 70 Texas FFA students with $1.4 million in scholarships during the Texas FFA State Convention in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Wednesday, July 12.

Chartered in 1929, the Texas FFA Association contributes to a model of secondary agricultural education in which students take part in classroom instruction and supervised agricultural experiences.

“When the very first Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarship was presented to a Texas FFA member in 1957, a special tradition began between two great organizations,” said Joel Cowley, Show president and CEO. “Texas FFA prepares students for future success through a diverse offering of educational programs, many of which involve some facet of agriculture, and we are pleased to contribute to the development of our future leaders.”

Of the 2017 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Texas FFA recipients, 62 percent are female and 38 percent are male, with many students from cities with populations less than 500 people. In the fall, these students will major in 31 different fields of study ranging from agricultural economics to nutrition, and biomedical engineering to pre-law.

Each scholar receives a $20,000 college scholarship, payable over four years.

This is the fourth and final 2017 scholarship presentation, for a Show total commitment over the summer of nearly $14.3 million in scholarships to Texas youth. These scholarships represent a portion of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s annual commitment of more than $26 million to scholarships, research, endowments, calf scramble participants, junior show exhibitors, School Art participants and other educational programs. For more information on the Show’s educational support, visit

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a Section 501(c)(3) charity that benefits youth, supports education, and facilitates better agricultural practices through exhibitions and presentation. Since its beginning in 1932, the Show has committed more than $430 million to the youth of Texas. For more information, visit and connect with #RODEOHOUSTON online via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for all of the latest news. The 2018 Show is scheduled for Feb. 27 – March 18. 

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™

2017 Texas FFA Scholarship Recipients (by FFA chapter)

as of July 12, 2017



Molly Edmondson

Kendalia, Texas


Julia Garcia

Bridgeport, Texas

Reginald Lane

Bridgeport, Texas


Kailey Clarke

Bullard, Texas

Hannah Lloyd

Bullard, Texas

Chapel Hill Northeast

Jace Henry

Mount Pleasant, Texas

City View

Kaitlin Raber

Iowa Park, Texas


Emily Stewart

Columbus, Texas

Copperas Cove

Kayla Ayala

Copperas Cove, Texas

Cross Plains

Grace Goode

Cross Plains, Texas


Caitlin Cox

Daingerfield, Texas


Rylan Wade

Dawson, Texas

East Central


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AUSTIN, TX – On Monday Senator Bob Hall filed Senate Bill (SB) 14 to protect the private property rights of landowners from political subdivision rules, regulations, and ordinances that interfere with a private property owner’s right to plant, transplant, and remove, trees and vegetation from their own property.

This bill addresses an issue within the scope of the special session called by Governor Abbott last month. “It’s difficult to find a perfect solution to this issue,” remarked Sen. Hall.  “Yet one thing remains clear – local government overreach in Texas has become a persistent and serious problem. It is my intent to ensure that the final version of this bill unequivocally upholds private property rights by prohibiting, in additional to the removal aspect, other heavy-handed local regulation of trees and vegetation on private property.”

The bill and its House companion, filed by Representative Paul Workman, would prohibit any city, municipality, or other political subdivision from restricting a private property owner’s right to remove a tree or plant from his or her property.  There is an exception for “clear-cutting” live oak trees in unincorporated areas of a county.

“Government has a responsibility to protect the rights of its citizens,” said Governor Abbott in a statement released earlier.  “Unfortunately, local governments throughout Texas are infringing on private property rights and prohibiting Texans from being able to do what they want with their own land.  That is why I have added this item to my special session call, and I’m grateful to Sen. Hall and Rep. Workman for their efforts to end this regulatory overreach.”

The bill would also prohibit all Texas property owners associations (POAs) from including or enforcing any documents subjecting real property to restrictive covenants, bylaws, or similar instruments regarding tree removal on private property from the effective date of the bill going forward.

“Texas has always championed private property rights and eschewed government overreach,” concluded Sen. Hall. “SB 14 is about making sure that it stays that way for future generations.”


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Delivers floor speech calling for the release of Dr. Liu Xiaobo; passage of his legislation to rename the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. as ‘Liu Xiaobo Plaza’ 

Dr. Liu Xiaobo

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two weeks ago, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) demanded China release imprisoned Chinese human rights activist Dr. Liu Xiaobo before the end of the July 4th Senate recess. Today, Sen. Cruz delivered a speech on the Senate floor calling for Dr. Liu Xiaobo’s release, and for the passage of his legislation to rename the street in front of the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. as ‘Liu Xiaobo Plaza.’

Watch Sen. Cruz’s floor speech in its entirety here. The full text of his remarks are below:

“Mr. President, I stand here today on behalf of a hero of freedom and democracy in the People’s Republic of China. Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia are the faces of liberty in China today, having sacrificed comfort and normalcy to chart a path toward political liberalization. For that, they have been detained, imprisoned, and abused.

“In 2008, Liu Xiaobo coauthored ‘Charter 08,’ a manifesto that shined a light on the Communist Party of China and its totalitarian abuse of power. Though many brave souls signed their names, and their fates, to this document, Dr. Liu’s name was at the top.

“For this reason, he received a Nobel Peace Prize, and he also received charges of ‘inciting subversion of state power,’ and an 11-year prison sentence.

“It is impossible to neglect this stark irony: a man, dedicated to non-violence, imprisoned for promoting peace.

“Motivating Dr. Liu’s tremendous courage and self-sacrifice was a determination to remember what the PRC desperately wants the world to forget: Tiananmen Square.

“A poet, author, and political scientist, Dr. Liu was in 1989 a visiting scholar at Columbia University. But when the pro-democracy protests broke out in Beijing in June of that year, he raced back to China to support them. He staged a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square in the midst of the historic student protests and insisted that they would remain non-violent, even in the face of the tanks, which the Chinese military deployed to smash them.

“In 1996, the party subjected him to three years of ‘reeducation through labor’ for continuing to question China’s one-party system.

“In 2008, on the eve of the 100 year anniversary of China’s first constitution and the 30 year anniversary of Beijing’s ‘Democracy Wall’ movement, Liu dedicated his work on ‘Charter 08’ to the martyrs at Tiananmen Square.

“Today, eight years into his unjust imprisonment, Dr. Liu needs our help more than ever.

“Last month, it was revealed that Liu had contracted an aggressive, late-stage form of liver cancer. Although the PRC authorities ‘released’ him ‘on medical parole,’ both Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia linger without freedom.

“And even worse, Liu Xiaobo is dying. His condition is critical, and we are running out of time to act on his behalf.

“Although Chinese authorities compelled the Liu’s to sign an affidavit allegedly attesting to their satisfaction with the medical care they have received in China and their wish to remain there, Liu Xia has communicated to their attorney their desire to spend Liu Xiaobo’s final days in America.

“PRC doctors insist that Dr. Liu was too ill to travel, but medical experts from the U.S. and Germany, one of them being Dr. Joseph Herman of the MD Anderson Cancer Treatment Center of the University of Texas, visited Liu and attested to the contrary.

“Issuing a joint statement, they agreed that Dr. Liu ‘can be safely transported with appropriate medical evacuation care and support.’ They then issued this stark warning: ‘However, the medical evacuation would have to take place as quickly as possible.

“The urgency of this situation goes beyond Liu Xiaobo. Liu Xia’s livelihood is inextricably linked to the ability of the two of them to leave China.

“Due to his imprisonment, Liu Xiaobo has been unable to receive his $1.5 million prize money from the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The holdup of transferring the funds is merely routine: a signed form from Dr. Liu and an open bank account with his name on it. But China has prevented these technical steps from progressing.

“If Liu Xiaobo dies without receiving this account, Liu Xia will be left destitute with no money. I shudder to think what such a life would hold for the wife of China’s boldest political prisoner.

“Only one man stands between a dying man’s wish and his wife’s livelihood, and freedom: Xi Jinping.


“Although no one action can undo the turmoil the Liu’s have suffered over the past 28 years, it is not too late to do the right thing and to allow this man and his wife to spend their last days together according to their wishes.

“It would not be the first time Xi made a similar decision. Earlier this year, he agreed after consultations with the Trump administration to release an imprisoned Houstonian, Sandy Phan-Gillis, who was incarcerated on false charges. Although nothing could bring back the two years of separation from her family, they are now reunited, something I spent considerable time urging.

“And lest Xi forget, even Kim Jong-un, the dictator in North Korea, allowed Otto Warmbier, a young American college student from Ohio in the prime of his life before torture and abuse left him in a coma, to return home for his final hours. Surely Xi can show the same degree of humanity shown by Kim Jong-un.

“In 2015, I came to this floor and asked on three separate occasions for unanimous consent to pass my bill to rename the street in front of the Chinese embassy after Liu Xiaobo. Over and over again, sadly, Democratic senators stood up and objected, stymied this effort. Each time that I advocated on behalf of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia, my colleagues expressed procedural concerns: ‘This is counterproductive! Doing this will only antagonize China.’ Well some of us are less concerned about antagonizing Chinese communist dictators. My fellow senators assured me that they have negotiated the release of many political prisoners behind the scenes – well that is wonderful, and I encourage them to do so now in the few days and weeks Liu Xiaobo has ahead of him.

“Even so, even despite repeated Democratic objections, repeated Democratic obstructionism, ultimately the United States Senate passed my bill by voice vote in the 114th Congress, and the reason at the time was evident: China’s stubbornness wrongly imprisoning a Nobel Peace laureate required public action to force the issue.

“The end goal has never been to merely rename a street, but rather to use that action to shine light on the Liu’s and to pressure the PRC to do the right thing. No member can explain the success of this tactic better than my good friend Senator Grassley, the senior senator from Iowa, who led a very similar effort in 1984 to rename the street in front of the Soviet embassy after Andrei Sakharov, the famed Soviet dissident. Senator Grassley led that effort under Ronald Reagan, and when the street was renamed, it meant any time a Soviet had to write to their embassy, they had to write Sakharov’s name. It meant any time you had to pick up the phone and call the embassy and say ‘where exactly do find the embassy,’ they had to give the address and highlight the dissident. For the P.R.C., they do not want to highlight Liu Xiaobo because he is a powerful voice for freedom and against tyranny.


“Just as it worked against the Soviet Union and Reagan demonstrated public shaming, shining light, telling the truth can being down the  machinery of oppression, so too, can public shining light, secure Dr. Liu’s freedom.


“As we stand here today, we don’t know if Xi is going to allow Dr. Liu to come to freedom, to live out his last days in peace, and to receive the Nobel Peace prize that he was so justly rewarded. If XI does the right thing, we can all commend that action, but if not, I am announcing my intention to continue to press this bill.


“To seek its passage again in this Congress, just as the Senate passed it in the prior Congress, I intend to press forward and seek passage of this bill, and if Dr. Liu is not released, if he dies in China still under their oppression, I intend to continue to fight until the day when the street is named in front of the embassy and the Chinese communist can bow their heads in shame at their injustice. If they don’t want to be publicly shamed, there is an easy path. Don’t commit shameful acts. Truth has power. Sunshine and light has power. And so I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat, if there is an issue that should unite us all, it is that a Nobel Peace laureate speaking out for peace and democracy should not be wrongly imprisoned in communist China.


“That should bring us together, and the full force of the United States. I commend President Trump for leading on this issue and I am hopeful that China will see its way to do the right thing.”


Sen. Cruz has led the effort to rename the plaza in Dr. Liu’s honor since 2014, and most recently reintroduced legislation last month with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). He has also delivered speeches on the Senate floor in SeptemberOctober, and November of 2015 to call attention to Dr. Liu’s plight and human rights abuses in communist China.



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Bill will prevent Members of Congress from receiving procedural health care exception in Senate bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today announced his intention to introduce companion legislation to U.S. Rep. Martha McSally’s (R-Ariz.) bill to eliminate a healthcare exemption for members of Congress that was required to be included in the Senate’s health care bill due to procedural requirements under the reconciliation process. 

“While this exemption was included in the Senate health care bill out of procedural necessity, we must still be diligent in ensuring that Members of Congress are treated just like other Americans under this law,” Sen. Cruz said. “This is an issue of fundamental fairness. Lawmakers are not above the laws that they pass and I believe that it is crucial that Members of Congress abide by the same laws that their own constituents follow.”

Sen. Cruz’s bill would repeal the section of the Better Care Reconciliation Act that exempts Members of Congress and congressional staff from the healthcare mandates if the BCRA becomes a law. Sen. Cruz has worked continuously with his colleagues in the Senate to help craft the BCRA, including the addition of the Consumer Freedom Amendment that would provide more choices for consumers, put people in control of their healthcare, and most importantly, lower health insurance premiums.

The full text of the bill can be viewed here.

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Chairs hearing examining partnerships between the U.S. government and commercial space industry and the reopening of the American Frontier

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, participated in the third of a series of planned hearings to explore the reopening of the American frontier in space. Today’s hearing, titled “Reopening the American Frontier: Promoting Partnerships Between Commercial Space and the U.S. Government to Advance Exploration and Settlement,” examined partnerships between the U.S. government and commercial space industry to advance America’s leadership in space, and space exploration.

Five witnesses testified at the hearing, including Mr. Robert Cabana, Director, NASA Kennedy Space Center; Mr. Tim Ellis, Co-Founder and CEO, Relativity; Mr. Tim Hughes, Senior Vice President, Global Business and Government Affairs, SpaceX; Dr. Moriba K. Jah, Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Cockell School of Engineering, The  University of Texas at Austin; Mr. Jeffrey Manber, CEO, Nanoracks.

Watch Sen. Cruz’s opening statement here and read the full text of his opening remarks below:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the trouble makers, the round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them. Glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things. They push the human race forward and while some may see them as the crazy ones we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

“That quote of course was made famous by Apple in the company’s 1997 television commercial ‘Think Different.’ Nearly three months ago this subcommittee began a series of hearings looking at the reopening of the American frontier. These hearings are in a way dedicated to the crazy ones, who not only think differently but who take risks and are looking to push the human race forward by expanding American commerce and settlement throughout the universe.

“Our national space program is on the verge of a renaissance. This renaissance is being driven by innovators who don’t accept the status quo and who are changing the very nature of space flight. This renaissance is also being driven by public private partnerships between NASA and commercial space companies. In the last few years we have witnessed the test flights and success of reusable rockets which will lower the cost for Americans to access space.

“We’ve seen the deployment of cube satellites from the International Space Station, which are not only helping maximize the utilization of the International Space Station but are expanding research opportunities for federal agencies, industry and even high schools. As our previous hearings have showcased, we also have seen an interest from American companies who are looking to expand a commercial presence to the surface of the moon and beyond. Space exploration is rapidly expanding and both commercial companies and NASA are complementing one another. A survey by the Department of Commerce found that U.S. companies had $62.9 billion in space related sales in 2012. While U.S. government programs provided much of this market, about one quarter of the sales were within the commercial sector. Public private partnerships have become the background of core NASA programs, such as the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, the COTS program, and the commercial crew program which will finally end our dependence on Russia to transport American Astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

“However, we shouldn’t be content to rest on the laurels of recent success. There is still a lot of work left that needs to be completed to ensure continued U.S. competitiveness in space. Congress needs to work to ensure that investment and innovations with in the commercial space sector isn’t effectively chilled by obsolete regulations or overly burdensome requirements that may not naturally apply to new business models. We must also continue to challenge NASA and the commercial space community to find new ways to partner to advance our national space policy goals as Congress will never be able to fund every priority within the space community. And in preparation of the expansion of commercial space activity we will also need to examine orbital debris and how it impacts exploration and space traffic management.

“There are people who are crazy enough who think they can change the very nature of space exploration and if they keep on pressing forward they just might.”



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Issues statement following the passing of Dr. Liu Xiaobo

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today issued the following statement regarding the passing of Dr. Liu Xiaobo, a pro-democracy dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner unjustly imprisoned by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Dr. Liu is most notably known for publishing “Chapter 08,” an anti-Communist manifesto calling for political freedom and human justice.

“Today the world lost a hero of liberty and freedom. Liu Xiaobo, a voice for the voiceless and defender of the oppressed in Communist China, passed away. Although the physical cause of his death was cancer, Dr. Liu’s primary battle was one of the soul. Ever since leaving the safety and comfort of America to lead the protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989, Dr. Liu sealed his fate as a persistent focus of persecution from the

authoritarian PRC. From ‘reeducation through labor’ and deprivation of property to unjust imprisonment and physical abuse, Dr. Liu bore the brunt of the Communist Party’s wrath for daring to challenge their immoral system of political oppression in his coauthoring of ‘Charter 08,’ a manifesto of Chinese freedom that reverberates today more than ever.

“As we grieve his loss, our immediate focus must be his widow Liu Xia. Because Xi Jinping refused their departure to America, their rightfully earned Nobel Prize money remains unclaimed, and Liu Xia is in danger. Although it is of no consolation regarding the death of her husband, I was pleased to hear today from Liu Xiaobo’s counsel that the Norwegian Nobel Institute has now confirmed it has found a legal way for Liu Xia to be able to inherit the $1.5 million monetary award for the Nobel Peace Prize that Liu Xiaobo was never able to collect. I intend to continue my longstanding effort to honor Liu Xiaobo and to secure Liu Xia’s livelihood, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat: if there is an issue that should unite us all, it is that the wife a Nobel Peace laureate speaking out for peace and democracy should not be kept hostage in Communist China.”

“Charter 08” can be read in its entirety here. Sen. Cruz has led the effort to rename the plaza in Dr. Liu’s honor since 2014 and most recently reintroduced legislation last May with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). Two weeks ago, Sen. Cruz demanded China release Dr. Liu before the end of the July 4th Senate recess. He has also delivered speeches on the Senate floor yesterdaySeptemberOctober, and November of 2015 to call attention to Dr. Liu’s plight and human rights abuses in communist China.



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The Central Fort Bend Chamber celebrated BBVA Compass, Richmond with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Wednesday, July 12, 2017, and welcomed them to the Chamber family. BBVA Compass is located at 1201 Jackson Street in Richmond.  Friends, BBVA Compass partners, local businesses and Chamber members enjoyed networking, delicious h’orderves and learning about what makes the BBVA Compass’ Richmond location the #1 BBVA location in all of West Houston.

Michael Yanez, Senior Vice President of BBVA Compass West Houston District praised the accomplishments of Fredric Clark, Vice President, BBVA Compass, Richmond and his staff.  Mr. Yanez described BBVA’s new mission, “Our new brand marketing strategy is to provide unique solutions to help with each customer’s individual needs; we are accessible 24 hours a day on line and offer convenient walk in hours of operation.” Mr. Yanez continued, “BBVA Compass’ mobile app has been voted number one out of all of the banking apps available 3 year’s running, this just one of the great accomplishments that sets BBVA apart from the competition.”

Mr. Yanez thanked everyone for coming and expressed his excitement with working with the Chamber, “I can’t tell you how very excited we are to team up with the Central Fort Bend Chamber and I cannot wait to see what’s to come with our involvement with your team.”

BBVA Compass understands that every individual and company has unique dreams and ambitions, needs and wants.  Stop by their Richmond location to discover how they can accommodate your banking needs.


The Central Fort Bend Chamber is a 106 year old non-profit membership organization dedicated to creating a strong local economy where businesses can prosper. The Central Fort Bend Chamber advocates for over 1,000 local businesses led by a volunteer board of directors who are dedicated to sustaining Fort Bend County’s quality of life, and keeping our community and economy vibrant.

For more information on the Chamber or its programs, call 281-342-5464 or visit