Statewide leaders talk up future of Deep East Texas at Lone Star Legislative Summit

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The Lone Star Legislative Summit ended Thursday in Nacogdoches with a rain storm.

The host state representative, Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, quipped the rainfall reminds visiting legislators where the precious water resource originates. At the summit, other important topics were addressed by influential state leaders, including the Speaker of the House.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, received a warm welcome at the Lone Star Legislative Summit. Then he used the term the locals in this room hate to hear.

"It's good to be behind the Pine Curtain," Straus said.

The unintentional remark sent home the true reason why the summit is held in the first place.

"You always hear the expression 'behind the pine curtain,' but they really don't have the chance to come here and see kind of people we have," Clardy said. "The quality of life that we enjoy and the level of sophistication and education."

The Speaker, while from San Antonio, says he understands how badly East Texas wants economic growth.

"The Texas economy is doing very, very well, and I think that will have ripple effects all the way to East Texas and Deep East Texas," Straus said. "I hope it does, and I know the legislature will do everything it can to continue to grow the economy and the private sector."

Straus pointed out that the Texas population has increased by 6 million people in the last 12 years. This creates pressure on education, roads, and energy. At the same time, the growth may benefit Deep East Texas.

"We're not growing at the same rate as some of the urban areas are, but I think as those areas get more crowded, people will want a better quality of life, you will see more industries coming to east Texas," said State Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville. "We're seeing it already."

And legislators from as far away as West Texas, the heads of state agencies, and the Speaker of the House are seeing Deep East Texas leaders refuse to be isolated from the rest of the state.

Next year, the Nacogdoches Chamber of Commerce will conduct the Lone Star Legislative Summit in Austin when the state legislature convenes. In off-legislative years, the summit returns to East Texas.

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