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Jason Villalba Grades The Texas Legislature: 'A Solid B+'

Krystina Martinez
Rep. Jason Villalba represents House District 114.

The Texas Legislature wrapped up its session, and lawmakers have returned to their districts. Jason Villalba represents much of North and East Dallas in the state House, and he’s often a singular voice in a deeply conservative Republican party.

For this week’s Friday Conversation, Villalba talked about the grade he'd give himself and his colleagues.

Interview Highlights: Jason Villalba...

…on the major issues lawmakers tackled:

“I rate this session a solid B+. I think we got some of the issues taken care of that are important to all Texans, so number one: transportation. We wanted to make sure that we addressed transportation in a meaningful way, much like we did water in the last session, we were able to do that.

The other issue we tackled was tax relief. Now, tax relief is what ordinary Texans talk about at least when it comes to their property taxes, and we were able to touch on that. We also helped businesses to have some tax relief as well so that we could continue to grow our economy and having lower taxes does definitely drive that.”

…On why he opposed the Legislature’s bill targeting same-sex marriage and the following letter Republicans signed:

“I said, ‘we’re not going to stand athwart of the federal government when the Supreme Court speaks.’ The letter was the backup plan.

93 of the 98 Republicans signed this letter…it was meaningless to me to sign some letter, particularly when it was something I generally was not in favor of.”

…On his stance on same-sex marriage:

“I represent my district, and I know I’ve walked to enough front doors and talked to enough of my constituents to know that I’m not certain my constituency is there yet.

Now I can say that because I didn’t sign that letter and I didn’t sign that bill that people know generally what my inclinations are and where my compass is pointed. Until the people speak on that issue, I’m not willing to get in out in front of it just yet.”

…On his failed bill to limit citizens filming police activity:

“That was the biggest learning moment, I think, for me as a public servant ever.

What I learned was it’s critically important to check with all stakeholders before you begin the process of whittling back anyone’s rights, perceived or real. Really think through how it’s going to impact people and if it affects any of the people’s rights, you have to be on heightened sensitivity and alert about what impact your legislation will have.”

…On finding a place in a party powered by the Tea Party movement:

“I have a grand unified theory on politics: good candidates win. What that means is as long as I’m taking care of business that the people care about, I’ll be fine. I’m not worried about the machinations of the party, I know that if every day, I work hard to ensure that my communities and my neighbor have lives that are maybe a little bit better because of actions that I’ve taken, that I’ll be elected every time. If I’m not, I’m probably not the right person to be down in Austin, or anywhere else, really.”

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.