Summit Hosts

Lone Star Legislative Summit 2016
Travis Clardy

Travis Clardy

House District 11

Travis Clardy and his wife, Judy, raised four sons in East Texas. As a father, small businessman and attorney, he understands the challenges facing our state and is a strong independent conservative voice for East Texas.

Currently, Travis serves as Vice Chair of the important Local and Consent Calendars Committee, a position which has enabled him to effectively pass legislation benefiting House District 11. As a member of the Higher Education Committee, he has championed development of new degree paths and workforce readiness programs. As a member of the State and Federal Power and Responsibility Committee, Clardy has fought to protect the constitution and protect the balance of power between our state and federal governments, and the rights of individual citizens.

The Texas District and County Attorneys Association presented its prestigious Law & Order Award to Travis for his work to facilitate prosecution for the manufacture and sale of dangerous synthetic drugs. The Texas Municipal Police Association, Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals, Texas Press Association and the Texas Hospital Association recognized Travis’ leadership for law enforcement, rural healthcare, and our Constitutional rights during the 84th Texas Legislative Session.

Travis recently joined the law firm of Kelly Hart & Hallman as the partner in charge of the Texas based firm’s office in Nacogdoches. He has over 28 years of experience in civil litigation and is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in Texas, as well as the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. He received his undergraduate degree from Abilene Christian University and his Doctor of Jurisprudence from Pepperdine University School of Law.

Travis and Judy are active members of the North Street Church of Christ. He has served on the Executive Board of the East Texas Boy Scouts and is a former president of the Nacogdoches County Bar Association. Travis is a Paul Harris Fellow of the Nacogdoches Rotary Club and a member of the Dean’s Circle for the Stephen F. Austin State University College of Fine Arts.

District: Cherokee, Nacogdoches, and Rusk

Committees: Vice Chair of Local and Consent Calendars. Member of Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence, State and Federal Power and Responsibility, and Higher Education and Higher Education Subcommittee on Post-Secondary and Workforce Readiness.

Robert Nichols

Robert Nichols

Senate District 3

First elected to the Texas Senate in 2006, Senator Robert Nichols represents 19 counties including the greater part of East Texas and Montgomery County.

During his five sessions as a state senator, Nichols authored and passed legislation to protect landowners’ rights, increase educational opportunities in East Texas and reform transportation policies. He has worked to reduce Medicaid fraud, and promote free-market principles. During his time with the Sunset Advisory Committee, he was able to help eliminate six state agencies which saved the tax payers $161.9 million. He has been named a 'Champion for Children' by the Equity Center, a 'Courageous Conservative' by the Texas Conservative Coalition, a 'Friend of County Government' by the Texas Association of Counties and a 'Champion of Free Enterprise' by the Texas Association of Business.

Before running for Senate, Nichols served as transportation commissioner for eight years where he established a reputation for increasing efficiency without compromising quality.

Nichols is a businessman from Jacksonville, Texas. In his hometown he served on city council, was elected mayor, built four successful manufacturing facilities, earned 32 U.S. patents, 128 foreign patents, and created more than 900 jobs for East Texas families.

Working his way through college by selling fireworks and ironing clothes for other students, Nichols earned a bachelor's degree from Lamar University in 1968. He married his high school sweetheart, Donna, and they are the proud parents of three children: Brittney, Joshua, and Collynn'rae. He is a member of the First United Methodist Church in Jacksonville.

District: Anderson, Angelina, Cherokee, Hardin, Henderson, Houston, Jasper, Liberty, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, Tyler. Parts of Montgomery.

Committees: Chairman for the Transportation Committee. Member of Senate Finance, Natural Resources and Economic Development, and Intergovernmental Relations Committees, and Legislative Audit Committee.

Guest Speakers

Short Bios on our Panel Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Mike Morath, Texas Commissioner of Education



Mike Morath was appointed Texas Commissioner of Education by Gov. Greg Abbott and began serving on Jan. 4, 2016. As Commissioner, he heads the Texas Education Agency, which oversees pre-kindergarten through high school education for approximately five million students enrolled in both traditional public schools and charter schools.   Commissioner Morath previously served on the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) board of trustees. In his more than four years on the board, the district saw two bond ratings upgrades, a $200 million increase in fund balance and major improvements in auditing. But his focus was on academic improvements, and it showed in the results.  By his final year, DISD had seen a 13 percentage point rise in kindergarten readiness, a nine percentage point gain in fourth grade reading proficiency on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), an 11 percentage point increase in graduation rates, and minority student performance on Advanced Placement tests that outpaced all large urban districts in the country.


While serving on the DISD board, Commissioner Morath served as chairman of Morath Investments, managing a small portfolio of investments. Prior to that, he served as president and chief operating officer of Minute Menu Systems, a company that provided information systems to help manage a $2.5 billion federal child nutrition program. His company made government more efficient – reducing costs by 13 percent to agencies administering that federal program – improved the quality of nutrition offered, and helped feed roughly one million children a day at the time he sold his interest in it.



A strong advocate of public education, Commissioner Morath graduated from Garland High School in the Garland Independent School District. Thanks to a great public school education, he earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree, summa cum laude, from George Washington University in two-and-a-half years. 



While starting his first company, Commissioner Morath was asked to teach an advanced computer science class at his high school alma mater after the previous teacher resigned suddenly. He taught through the school year until a permanent teacher was hired and remains amazed at how difficult it is to teach.



With a belief system that continually calls him to serve others, Commissioner Morath has participated in numerous volunteer activities, including his church’s Missions Team, in schools and juvenile justice facilities and as a mentor Big Brother. He helped organize a trip to orphanages in southern India to set up clean running water systems, and he volunteered at an eye clinic in rural Mexico, where he met another volunteer, Dr. Laura Vondra, who is now his wife. They have a little girl, and a boy on the way.

Glenn Hegar, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts



Glenn Hegar was elected as the 33rd Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in November 2014. Hegar is Texas' chief financial officer — the state's treasurer, check writer, tax collector, procurement officer and revenue estimator.

Upon taking office, he reorganized the Comptroller's office for quicker and more effective decision-making, and reduced its size by eliminating some inefficient programs and transferring others that didn't fit its core missions.

Hegar is focused on his agency's constitutional duties and committed to improving its customer service and transparency. He believes a less-burdensome tax system will foster a better environment for job creation and business expansion, and thus a healthier Texas economy.

As CFO for the world's 12th-largest economy, Hegar monitors Texas' financial health to ensure it maintains strong fund balances. He employs sound fiscal management, invests resources wisely and approaches budgeting with a consistently conservative point of view.

In 2015, Hegar decided the state would not issue Texas Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRANs) for fiscal 2016. Texas has issued these short-term debt obligations for the last three decades to address periodic mismatches between revenues and expenditures during the fiscal year. Hegar's decision to meet these cash-flow needs with the state's substantial cash balances rather than debt was a significant departure from the status quo.

Hegar also played a pivotal role during the 2015 legislative session. His attention to the state's long-term financial obligations helped focus lawmakers on important issues affecting Texas' credit rating, such as pension obligations, deferred maintenance of state facilities, transportation needs and the state's Economic Stabilization Fund, or "Rainy Day Fund." Hegar also led the effort to repeal eight minor but burdensome taxes, resulting in an administrative savings for his agency. He was also instrumental in ensuring the Legislature cut taxes and fees by $4 billion.

Prior to becoming Texas Comptroller, Hegar served in the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate, where he worked on a wide range of common-sense solutions to problems affecting Texans in areas such as public education, transportation, tax reform, government transparency, Second Amendment rights, water issues and tort reform. As chair of the Sunset Advisory Commission, Hegar eliminated inefficiencies in state agencies and abolished six, saving Texas taxpayers more than $160 million. In his last session as a state senator, Hegar oversaw state and local revenue matters and helped cut $1 billion worth of taxes.

Hegar is a 1993 graduate of Texas A&M University and a graduate of St. Mary's University, where he earned a Master of Arts and his law degree. At the University of Arkansas, he earned his Master of Laws.

Hegar is a sixth-generation Texan who grew up farming land that has been in his family since the mid-1800s. His upbringing taught him the core values of hard work, honesty and integrity — the same values he and his wife Dara work to instill in their three young children, Claire, Julia and Jonah. Hegar's most important title throughout his years of service is the one closest to home: Dad!

Session One — 8:30 am – 9:30 am

Diversity and Race in Texas: Who were We, who are We, and who do We want to be?

Panelists: Sen. Charles Perry, Rep. Craig Goldman, Rep. Jason Isaac, Rep.Oscar Longoria, Rep. James White, Rep. Toni Rose
Moderator: Dr. Scott Sosebee, Associate Professor of History at SFASU and Executive Director East Texas Historical Association

Craig Goldman, House District 97



Craig Goldman won election to serve his first term as Texas State Representative in November of 2012. Before taking office, Representative Goldman experienced a career in both business and political fields. For nearly a decade, he and his father ran a retail gourmet food and fine wine store in Fort Worth.

Representative Goldman is extremely proud of his Texas roots as a 5th generation Texan and a 4th generation native of Fort Worth. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas in Austin and is a partner in several real estate investment companies.

Craig and his wife, Auryn, reside in Fort Worth, Texas.

Counties Represented: Tarrant (part)

Committees: Vice Chair of Elections. Member of Licensing and Administrative Procedures.

Jason Isaac, House District 45



Rep. Jason Isaac is a fourth generation Texan.  Jason, his wife, Carrie, and their two boys call Dripping Springs home. 



Since his election in 2010, Rep. Isaac has proved to be a knowledgeable and effective legislator. He has passed legislation to assist veterans, protect Second Amendment rights and strengthen election integrity.  He's dedicated to providing Texans with great schools, an efficient transportation system and reliable water infrastructure.  As a father of two children who attend public school in Dripping Springs and an advocate for Texas State University, Rep. Isaac is  committed to helping our education system operate more efficiently and effectively.  With over a decade of experience in the trucking industry, he knows that transportation is an essential part of a successful economy.



Texas Conservative Coalition has named him a "Courageous Conservative" for each session that he has served in the Legislature.  He also founded the Hill Country Caucus, an organization made up of legislators who are dedicated to promoting and preserving the unique features and resources of the Hill Country.  



During the recent session, he championed crucial water legislation for Hays County and was successful in his efforts to pass legislation for captive community propane consumers in the Dripping Springs area.

Counties Represented: Parts of Blanco and Hays

Committees: Chair of Economic and Small Business Development Sub-committee on Small Business. Member of Environmental Regulation, Local and Consent Calendars, Economic and Small Business Development.

Oscar Longoria, House District 35



Oscar Longoria is serving his second term in office. He was born in Mission and raised in South Texas. He is a product of the La Joya Independent School District. Longoria attended South Texas College for two years before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies. In 2007, Rep. Longoria graduated with his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of Texas School of Law.



Professionally, Longoria owns and operates the Law Office of Oscar Longoria, representing clients on a variety of issues. An active member of his community, Rep. Longoria has previously served on the Agua Special Utility District as a Board Member and is also a former Board of Trustee for South Texas College (STC), which serves approximately 30,000 students across the Rio Grande Valley. 



Rep. Longoria is married to Jennifer Ruiz-Longoria of Mission, and they have two beautiful daughters, Camilla Lee Longoria and Madison Lee Longoria.

Counties Represented: Hidalgo, Cameron (part)

Committees: Vice Chair of Investments and Financial Services. Member of Appropriations.

James White, House District 19



Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2010, Representative James White is a strong advocate for the residents of District 19 and committed to ensuring the people of Hardin, Jasper, Newton, Polk, and Tyler counties are well represented in their state legislature.

Rep. White is a passionate and effective advocate for the fundamental values of strong families, constitutional government, lower taxes, and economic prosperity. He puts those values into practice as a member of the Texas House of Representatives.


A native Texan, Rep. White grew up in Houston, where he attended public schools. He graduated with honors from Prairie View A&M University in 1986 with a degree in political science and military science. The United States Congress subsequently commissioned James as an officer of Infantry in the U.S. Army, where he served his country in assignments throughout the world, most notably from 1987-90 in the Berlin Brigade during the demise of the Soviet Union.



After separating from the Army with an Honorable Discharge in 1992, Rep. White began a career as a public school educator in the Houston area. He completed doctoral studies in political science at the University of Houston and has taught the social sciences on the middle school, high school, and undergraduate collegiate levels. James has also coached high school football and basketball and officiated youth sports in his spare time.

Counties Represented: Hardin, Jasper, Newton, Polk, Tyler

Committees: Vice Chair of Corrections Committee. Member of Juvenile Justice and Family Issues, Emerging Issues in Texas Law Enforcement, Transportation Planning and Mental Health.

Toni Rose, House District 110



State Representative Toni Rose was first elected in 2012 to represent Texas House District 110.


Over the course of just two legislative sessions, Representative Rose has authored legislation focusing on senior access to transportation, children's health care, access to mental health services, emergency preparedness and readiness management.



Most recently, Representative Rose was honored with the 2015 Prism Award by Mental Health America of Greater Dallas, the 2015 Mental Health Advocate Award by the National Alliance on Mental Illness - Dallas as well as the 2015 Humanitarian Award presented by the Alpha Sigma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. for her deep commitment to human capital and active role in bettering the lives of those impacted in the area of mental health or challenged by circumstance.



Representative Rose's community first philosophy has fueled her long record of serving the community by way of numerous City of Dallas Boards and Commissions including the: Planning & Zoning Commission, Judicial Nominating Commission, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center Board and the North Central Texas Council of Governments Executive Board. Other leadership roles include the NAACP Dallas Branch, League of Women Voters of Dallas, Paul Quinn National Alumni Association, Texas Coalition of Black Democrats, United Negro College Fund (UNCF), and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 



Currently, Representative Rose lends her support as a board member to several community organizations including the Moorland Branch YMCA Board, Dallas Development Board for Texan Can Academies, UNCF North Texas Leadership Council and the Dallas County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). Representative Rose is also an Executive Board member of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women (NOBEL Women) serving as Financial Secretary. 



Representative Rose spent her childhood in the Oak Cliff section of the City of Dallas. She graduated from South Oak Cliff High School, continued her education at Prairie View A & M University and later transferred to Paul Quinn College where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. She is a mental health professional, working within the Criminal Justice System prior to her election to the Texas House of Representatives.

Counties Represented: Part of Dallas

Committees: Vice Chair of Human Services. Member of Rules and Resolutions, Juvenile Justice and Family Issues, Mental Health, Health and Human Services Transition.

Charles Perry, Senate District 28



Senator Charles Perry, a practicing CPA from Lubbock, was first elected to the Texas Senate in 2014 after serving two terms in the Texas House of Representatives.

Sen. Perry currently chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs. He was the first freshman to receive a chairmanship in the Texas Senate since 1993. In the previous legislative session, Perry passed a total of 27 senate bills and 35 house bills, placing him in the top five senators for total number of bills passed. These bills included legislation to strengthen Second Amendment rights, protect our ballot box from voter fraud, stop the sale of illegal synthetic substances to our youth, and empower individuals with disabilities to save money and become more financially independent.

Additionally, Perry led the fight to put a stop to sanctuary cities which violate the rule of law through granting de-facto amnesty to criminal illegal immigrants, causing public safety concerns statewide. As a strong fiscal conservative, Perry led the way to reduce frivolous government spending by authoring legislation to enact zero-based budgeting for state agencies and limit increases in our budget to population growth plus inflation.

Perry grew up in in the district he currently represents, graduating from Sweetwater High School in 1980. In 1984, he earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting and management information systems from Texas Tech University.

Perry has been married to his wife, Jacklyn for over 32 years and together they have a daughter, Jordan, and a son, Matthew. The entire family are graduates of Texas Tech University.

Counties Represented: Baylor, Borden, Childress, Coke, Coleman, Concho, Cottle, Crane, Crosby, Dawson, Dickens, Eastland, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Hale, Hardeman, Haskell, Hockley, Irion, Jones, Kent, Kimble, King, Knox, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Mason, McCulloch, Menard, Mitchell, Motley, Nolan, Reagan, Runnels Schleicher, Scurry, Shackelford, Stephens, Sterling, Stonewall, Sutton, Taylor, Terry, Throckmorton, Tom Green, Upton, Ward, Wilbarger

Committees: Chair of Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs Committee. Member of Criminal Justice, Health and Human Services, Higher Education, Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief, Senate Select Committee on Transportation Planning, Joint Committee on Border Security

Session Two — 9:45 am to 10:45 am

Educating 21st Century Texans: Remembering the Alamo and Shooting for the Stars

Panelists: Sen. Larry Taylor, Rep. Trent Ashby, Rep. Marsha Farney, Rep. Ken King, Rep. John Zerwas, Rep. Four Price
Moderator: Dr. Steven Bullard, Interim Provost at SFASU

Trent Ashby, House District 57



Representative Trent Ashby is honored to be representing District 57 in the Texas House of Representatives. 


Rep. Ashby’s history of service includes being hired as the first ever Executive Director of the Texas Forest Country Partnership in 2003. Representing 13 counties throughout the East Texas region, the Partnership is a nonprofit organization that exists to market and promote economic development activities throughout the East Texas region. Prior to joining the Partnership, he worked in Washington as a Congressional aide. Trent is the Angelina County Chairman for Citizens National Bank. Prior to his banking career, Trent was President of a regional title company headquartered in Lufkin.



Trent graduated from Texas A&M University in 1996 with a bachelor's degree in Agricultural Economics. Trent and his wife, Nickie, live in Lufkin with their two sons - Garin and Grant.

Counties Represented: Angelina, Houston, Leon, Madison, San Augustine, Trinity

Committees: Vice Chair of Natural Resources. Member of Appropriations, House Administration, Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III.

Marsha Farney, House District 20



Representative Marsha Farney was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2012. Prior to her election to the House of Representatives, she was elected to the District 10 seat of the State Board of Education serving 16 counties and 1.8 million residents.

An award winning former classroom teacher, middle school and high school counselor, and adjunct professor at Texas A&M University, Commerce, Rep. Farney has relevant experience at every level of public education. She brings the unique perspective of a public school parent and an experienced educator to her role as a State Representative.



Rep. Farney is a fourth generation Texan with familial roots dating back to when Texas was a young Republic. She and her husband, Bryan, reside in Georgetown and enjoy spending time with their three children and two grandchildren.

Counties Represented: Burnet, Milam, and part of Williamson

Committees: Administration, Education, State Affairs. and Public Education Sub-Committee on Educator Quality.

Ken King, House District 88



Representative Ken King is currently serving his second term as State Representative for House District 88.  His district includes 17 counties in the Panhandle and the South Plains of Texas. In addition to his committee assignments, Rep. King has been appointed to the House Research Organization Board of Directors as well as the Republican Caucus Policy Committee.  The HRO is an organization that provides unbiased information regarding each bill that is heard on the House floor.   The Caucus Policy Committee is tasked with making sound policy recommendations throughout the session to assist members on the House floor.   In addition to these committees, Ken is also a member of various caucuses in the House including: the Rural Caucus, the Republican Caucus, the Energy Caucus, and the Sportsman Caucus.



Prior to his election to the Texas House of Representatives, Ken served on the School Board for Canadian Independent School District for over five years presiding as President for half of that tenure.  He was a board member of the Hemphill County Appraisal District’s Executive Board for four plus years and served as Chairman of that board for over three years.  Also, he was President of the local YMCA Board and coached youth soccer and football.



Ken has been active in organizations related to his energy service businesses including:  American Petroleum Institute, Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association, Association of Energy Services Company, and the Independent Producers Association of America.  Ken King is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, a member of the Texas State Rifle Association, a member of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association as well as a member of the Texas Farm Bureau.

Counties Represented: Armstrong, Baily, Briscoe, Castro, Cochran, Donley, Gray, Hale, Hansford, Hemphill, Hockley, Lamb, Lipscomb, Ochiltree, Roberts, Swisher, Yoakum

Committees: Calendars, Environmental Regulation, House Administration, Public Education

John Zerwas, House District 28



Representative John Zerwas, M.D. is serving his fifth legislative term in the Texas House of Representatives. He proudly serves the citizens of Texas House District 28, which encompasses northwestern Fort Bend County and is currently one of the fastest growing regions in the State of Texas. 

Rep. Zerwas currently serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education. This is his first term to serve as the chair of this committee. Chairman Zerwas is an advocate for increasing access to higher education and growing opportunities for graduate medical education. Zerwas also sits on the Committee on Public Health, where he brings firsthand experience and knowledge of health care systems and policy to the committee. 



Rep. Zerwas has earned numerous accolades for his dedication to public service including being twice named one of the "Ten Best Legislators" by Texas Monthly. In 2015, the Biotechnology Industry Organization provided Dr. Zerwas with national recognition as "BIO Legislator of the Year" for writing critical legislation that will preserve patient access to innovative and cost-effective biologic medicines in Texas. He has earned numerous accolades for his dedication to public service, which include the 2014 Coalition for Texans with Disabilities Award and the 2014 American Cancer Society Cancer Action Award.


John graduated from Bellaire High School in 1973, and in 1978, he married his late wife Cindy Hughes. After graduating from the University of Houston, he earned his Doctorate in Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in 1980.

John and his wife Sylvia reside in Richmond, and together have six children and six grandchildren: Isabella, Matthew, Dashel, Oliver, Beatrice, and Tinley.

Counties Represented: Fort Bend (part)

Committees:: Chair of Higher Education. Member of Public Health.

Four Price, House District 87



Counties Represented: Sherman, Moore, Potter, Carson, Hutchinson

Committees: Chair of Mental Health and Appropriations Subcommittee on Article II. Member of Appropriations, Calendars, Human Services and Health and Human Services Transition.

Larry Taylor, Senate District 11



Senator Larry Taylor is a lifelong Texan, born in southeast Texas and raised in Friendswood. He attended Baylor University where he received his BBA in 1982. Senator Taylor and his wife Kerri have raised three children: Trudy, Carly, and Jake, and recently welcomed their first grandchild, Lila. Senator Taylor owns Truman Taylor Insurance Agency in Friendswood, an independent agency started by his father over 50 years ago.

Prior to his election to Senate District 11 in 2012, Senator Taylor served 10 years in the Texas House of Representatives representing District 24.  Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and as a member of the Senate Finance, Business and Commerce and Intergovernmental Relations Committees.  Senator Taylor also serves as a member of the Legislative Budget Board and Co-Chairs both the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability and Joint Interim Committee to Study a Coastal Barrier System Committees.  Since 2013, he has served as a member to the Energy Council and was appointed Co-Chair of the YMCA Legislative Caucus in 2015.  

Following the most recent legislative session in 2015, Senator Taylor was named a "Champion of Free Enterprise" from the Texas Association of Business for his pro-business policy support and received an "A" rating from Texas State Rifle Association for defending the 2nd Amendment. He holds a 100% voting record in support of small businesses from the National Federation of Independent Businesses and earned a 100%  rating from the Texas Right to Life in support of the unborn.

Counties Represented: Parts of Brazoria, Galveston, and Harris

Committees: Chair of Education. Business and Commerce, Finance, Intergovernmental Relations, Select Committee on State Real Property Data Collection, Reporting and Assessment.

Session Three — 11am to Noon

300 Years Later - Still " Gone to Texas!"

Panelists: Sen. Brandon Creighton, Rep. Jim Murphy, Rep. Chris Paddie, Rep. Ron Simmons, Rep. Larry Gonzalez
Moderator: Tracye McDaniel, President & CEO of the Texas Economic Development Corp.

Jim Murphy, House District 133



State Representative Jim Murphy serves in the Texas House, representing District 133 in west Houston. In the 83rd legislative session, Representative Murphy worked to pass key legislation that expands our workforce and job opportunities for Texas students and provided for critical tax incentives for research and development. Additional bills he authored and passed allowed for cost effective construction of hike and bike trails in Harris County and made for significant reforms to continue our most successful economic development progress.



Murphy grew up in west Houston and graduated from Strake Jesuit and UT Austin. He and his wife, Dr. Kathleen Murphy, have two sons, Robert and Pace. They are active members of St. John Vianney Catholic Church.

Counties Represented: Harris (part)

Committees: Chair of Corrections. Member of Ways and Means, Partnership Advisory Commission.

Chris Paddie, House District 9



Chris Paddie is the current Texas State Representative for District 9. He is a former mayor and city commissioner of Marshall in Harrison County and the current general manager of KMHT radio, for which he hosts a daily talk show. As a city elected official, he never voted to raise taxes, and as mayor he worked to make the city fiscally sound during the national recession. He is the former chairman of the Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce and president of the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Pines.

Counties Represented: Shelby, Sabine, Cass, Harrison, Marion, Panola

Committees: Member of House Administration, Transportation, Federal Environmental Regulation

Ron Simmons, House District 65



The son of public school teachers, Representative Ron Simmons was first elected to the Texas House in 2012 representing House District 65 in southern Denton County.  Prior to entering public service he was one of the founders of the $2 billion wealth management firm, Retirement Advisors of America, and still serves as its Chairman today.  

Since entering the legislature Ron has been recognized by numerous groups for his common sense conservative leadership on key issues important to Texas.  He was named the MVP of his legislative freshman class in 2013 and was selected as the House Republican Caucus Policy Chairman in 2015.  

Representative Simmons serves as the Chairman of the Transportation Subcommittee on Long Term Planning as well as Vice Chairman of the Committee on Business and Industry.  

Ron is a graduate of Dallas Baptist University and was named its distinguished alumni in 2012.  He has been married to Lisa for 35 years, and they have three adult children, Justin (and wife Amy), Daniel (and wife Aubri) and Allie Beth (and husband Timothy) and are proud grandparents of two grandsons, Peter and James.

Counties Represented: Denton (part)

Committees: Vice Chair of Business and Industry and Chair of Transportation

Larry Gonzalez, House District 52



Larry Gonzales is the Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives for House District 52, serving his second term in office. HD 52 is contained completely within Williamson County and includes Round Rock, Hutto, Taylor, and parts of Georgetown.



A strong conservative, his extensive legislative experience and knowledge of the issues facing our state makes him an effective leader for the citizens of Williamson County.



Rep. Gonzales is a 17-year resident of HD 52 and a seasoned veteran of the Texas Legislature, having worked nine regular legislative sessions before election to the Texas House, including senior staff appointments for members of the House, the Lt. Governor and Attorney General.



Most recently Rep. Gonzales served as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations for the Texas State University System (TSUS). In addition, Rep. Gonzales is the owner of a graphic design and communications company which offers a wide range of services including creative design and mediation.



Rep. Gonzales is a 1993 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Government and is working towards his Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) at Texas State University. Rep. Gonzales is active in the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce and is a certified mediator.



Rep. Gonzales was raised in Alvin, Texas, where his parents have served as pastors for over 25 years and as Chaplains for the Alvin Police Department for 6 years. He and his wife of 18 years, Marie, herself a 1990 graduate of Round Rock High School, have resided together in Round Rock since 1996, where she is employed by the RRISD serving as Department Chair of Special Education at McNeil High School. Their two young children, ages 10 and 12, are enrolled in the RRISD.

Counties Represented: Part of Williamson

Committees: Chair of Appropriations Subcommittee on Articles VI, VII, and VIII. Member of Appropriations, Local and Consent Calendars, Redistricting, Government Transparency and Operation.

Brandon Creighton, Senate District 4



On August 26, 2014, Senator Brandon Creighton was sworn in the Texas State Senate to represent the citizens of Senate District 4.

Throughout his legislative career, his priorities have distinguished him as a genuine defender of conservative values including, hammering excessive taxation, implementing tort reform, drug testing for unemployment benefits, standing up for Texas’ 10th Amendment rights and blocking the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.

Brandon is an eighth-generation Montgomery County resident, where he resides with his wife, Fawn, and two children: Presleigh (12) and Cannon (5). Brandon is a graduate of the University of Texas and holds his Doctor of Jurisprudence from Oklahoma City University School of Law. In his spare time, he enjoys Texas history, sports, and being outdoors.

Counties Represented: Chambers, Jefferson and part of Galveston, Harris and Montgomery

Committees: Vice Chair of Business and Commerce. Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs, Criminal Justice, State Affairs, Senate Select Committee on Property Texas Reform and Relief.

Session Four — 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm

Healthy, Wealthy & Wise - The Future of Healthcare in Texas

Panelists: Chris Traylor, Executive Commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, Rep. Donna Howard 

Moderator: Scott Street, CEO of Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital

Chris Traylor, Texas Health and Human Services Commission Executive Commissioner



Chris Traylor was selected by Governor Greg Abbott to serve as the Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner effective July 1, 2015.  Traylor has served for decades in leadership roles for the State of Texas, including most recently as Health and Human Services chief deputy commissioner. In his new role, Traylor will lead the administration of the five health and human services agencies and programs.

Traylor previously served as commissioner of the Department of Aging and Disability Services, and within HHSC as the associate commissioner for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, chief of staff, and deputy commissioner of governmental relations. In 2004, he helped oversee the consolidation of the 15 health and human services agencies into the current five. 

Traylor is a graduate of Texas Tech University.

Giovanni Capriglione, House District 98



First elected to serve in the Texas House of Representatives in 2012, Giovanni Capriglione has lived the American dream. After receiving his BS in Physics he pursued his MBA in Finance from Santa Clara University. After school Giovanni went on to work for a DFW based venture capital/private equity firm. Giovanni is now the owner and President of his own small business, Texas Adventure Capital LLC, where he provides business services to various investment fund managers and business owners.

Rep. Capriglione has been married for 15 years to his wife Elisa and has three children.

Counties Represented:
Tarrant (part)

Committees: Chair of Investments and Financial Services Sub-committee on Bond Indebtedness. Member of Appropriations, Local & Consent, and Investments & Financial Services

Donna Howard, House District 48



Representative Donna Howard has served in the Texas House of Representatives since 2006. A native of Austin, Donna earned a Bachelor’s degree in nursing and a Master’s degree in health education from the University of Texas. She worked as a critical care nurse at Brackenridge and Seton hospitals, and served as Austin’s first hospital-based Patient Education Coordinator. 



Representative Howard is married to attorney Derek Howard, is the mother of three adult children and grandmother to one perfect grandson, and is active in her neighborhood and church communities.

Counties Represented: Travis (part)

Committees: Vice Chair of Higher Education. Member of Appropriations and the Subcommittee on Article III, House Administration, Government Facilities, Partnership Advisory Commission.

Lois Kolkhorst, Senate District 18



In December 2014, Senator Lois Kolkhorst was elected to the Texas Senate in a special election, after previously serving fourteen years in the Texas House.

Known for common sense solutions, Sen. Kolkhorst has led many statewide initiatives and written bills that impact every code of Texas law. She made national news for organizing resistance to the Trans-Texas Corridor network of foreign-owned toll roads. Her fight to remove regulatory barriers for small food producers has in recent years sparked a "food freedom" movement across Texas that was featured in Forbes Magazine. Her longtime efforts to promote Texas tourism earned her the Texas Tourism Industry Association's statewide Silver Spur Award.

To fight human smuggling and drug trafficking, she has helped secure over $900 million for border security, and has served on the Texas Sunset Commission, where she cut government waste and worked with law enforcement officials to reform and realign the Texas Department of Public Safety. She has frequently collaborated with CASA and has received their statewide award for her efforts to protect foster children.

Married to her high-school sweetheart Jim, together they have two children, Lois Kate and Jake. Her hobbies include hunting, fishing and gardening. She also coaches Youth Basketball and is a volunteer at her church.

Counties Represented: Aransas, Austin, Burleson, Calhoun, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Goliad, Gonzales, Jackson, Lavaca, Lee, Matagorda, Refugio, Victoria, Waller, Washington, Wharton. Parts of Fort Bend, Harris, and Nieces

Committees: Health and Human Services Vice Chair. Member of Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs, Education, Finance, Transportation

Session Five — 3 pm to 4 pm

Roots, Boots, Blues and Rock: How Music Shapes Us as Texans

Panelists: Brendon Anthony, Director of the Texas Music Office, Office of the Governor, Sen. Kirk Watson, Rep. Kyle Kacal, Rep. Poncho Nevàrez, Rep. Richard Raymond, Brendon Anthony, Texas Music Office Director

Moderator: Brad Maule, SFASU

Kyle Kacal, House District 12




Representative Kacal was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2012. Over the years, Representative Kacal has worked to cut over $1 billion in taxes as well as ending millions of dollars in tax diversions. He has prioritized efforts on addressing the critical needs of our state and upholding its constitutional responsibilities. He has also supported efforts to increase governmental transparency and accessibility to the voters of Texas.



After graduating from Texas A&M University in 1992, Kacal received a Certificate of Ranch Management from Texas Christian University. Representative Kacal owns and operates a large-scale cattle business, focusing on breeding and raising beef cattle as well as a full-service hunting business during the fall and spring. Having devoted his life to preserving the land and contributing to local and state economies through his dynamic ranching business, Representative Kacal is considered to be a strong voice and leader on agriculture and rural issues. 



Representative Kacal and his wife, Marci, have two children, Carter and Kendall. The family is actively involved in the St. Thomas Aquinas church.

Counties Represented: Falls, Limestone and Robertson. Parts of Brazos and McLennan.

Committees: Vice Chair of Rules and Resolutions. Member of Environmental Regulation and Natural Resources.

Poncho Nevárez, House District 74



Representative Alfonso “Poncho” Nevárez is currently serving his second term as the State Representative for House District 74. His top priorities in the legislature are supporting children through funding public education, advocating for border issues and infrastructure, and fighting to represent the rights of the underserved.

Rep. Nevárez has a successful law practice in Eagle Pass of ten employees, specializing in personal injury litigation. He graduated from UT Austin with a Bachelor of Arts in Government in 1994 and in 1999 he received his law degree from St. Mary’s School of Law. He has always been active in his local community, serving from 2005-2009 on the Maverick County Tax Appraisal District and as a Trustee on the Eagle Pass I.S.D. School Board.


Rep. Nevárez and his wife, Rossy Guadarrama de Nevárez, are the proud parents of three children, Renata, Rominna, and Alfonso Hernan (Ponchito). The family attends Our Lady of Refuge Church in Eagle Pass.

Counties Represented: Brewster, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Kinney, Loving, Maverick, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, Terrell, Val Verde


Committees: Vice Chair of Homeland Security and Public Safety. Member of Local and Consent, Natural Resources, Natural Resources Subcommittee on Special Water Districts, Border Security.

Brendon Anthony, Texas Music Office Director



Brendon Anthony is the director of the Texas Music Office.

Anthony began playing live music with a variety of Texas acts while attending Texas A&M University, which he graduated from in 1999. In 1997, Anthony began playing full time with Pat Green, with whom he toured nationally and internationally for 15 years. During his decade and a half as a touring musician, Anthony toured both the United States and Europe, played on a gold record and was a member of the band when Pat Green received three Grammy Award nominations. In addition to being a successful touring musician, Anthony has also performed on dozens of studio recordings and produced multiple records, including Drew Womack’s “Sunshine To Rain.” In 2010, Anthony helped start OneLive Media, which began as a primary ticketing company for Texas music venues and festivals before expanding into the e-commerce industry and becoming one of the premier online entertainment sales and marketing companies in the country. Anthony is a classically-trained violinist who has played fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and banjo both in live performances and studio recordings.

Anthony was born in Dallas, raised in College Station and has now called Austin home for 16 years.

Kirk Watson, Senate District 14



Senator Kirk Watson was elected to the Texas Senate in 2006. He represents most of Travis County and all of Bastrop County in the Texas Senate. Watson's priorities center on education and higher education, health care, economic development, 21st Century energy generation, environmental protection, transportation, budget transparency, and state employees. He serves on the Senate committees overseeing Finance, Business and Commerce, Nominations, and Higher Education as well as the Joint Oversight Committee on Government Facilities.

From 1991 to 1993, Watson served as Chair of the Texas Air Control Board, the state agency that was charged with addressing air quality in Texas. He also has served as Chair of both the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Texas Advisory Board of Environmental Defense, and he has been a member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar of Texas. He has chaired the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the primary transportation planning agency for Central Texas.

As a cancer survivor, Senator Watson is passionate about making sure that all Texans — particularly children — have access to health care. He has been active in numerous health organizations, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and served on the original board of what is now known as the LiveStrong Foundation.

Senator Watson graduated from Baylor University and was first in his law school class at Baylor Law School. He has been named an outstanding young alumnus of Baylor, Young Baylor Lawyer of the Year, and the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas. He is currently a partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. Senator Watson has been married to his wife, Liz, for more than 36 years. They have two sons, Preston and Cooper.

Counties Represented: Bastrop, Travis (part)

Committees: Business and Commerce, Finance, Higher Education, Nominations, Joint Committee on Government Facilities, Select Committee on Government Facilities, Select Committee on State Real Property Data Collection, Reporting, and Assessment

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