ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - During the 84th Legislative Session, East Texans proved to State Representative Trent Ashby that when they are passionate about amendment to a law being considered in Austin that hits close to home, they will let him and his office staff know in a big way.
When Baytown area representative Wayne Smith filed House Bill 2187 in March to further regulate metal recycling businesses, it set off a fire storm in Representative Trent Ashby's six-county district.
"I had not one person to tell me they were for that bill. Everybody was against the bill that had to deal with recycling," said Linda F. Parker, Representative Ashby's District Director about House Bill 2187 filed in March by Baytown-area Representative Wayne Smith.
This amendment to toughen metal recycling businesses by getting rid of cash payments to recyclers set off a fire storm in in the six counties that make up Ashby's District 57: Angelina, Houston, Leon, Madison, San Augustine and Trinity.
Ashby's District Director said the recycling community didn't like the provision of ending cash payments to sellers and launched a signature petition and filed a record-number of phone complaints.
"I talked to well over 200 people...That's a big response. Which is what we want our constituents to do: take action about any measure they are concerned about,” Parker said enthusiastically. "Both my land lines and my cell phone rang off the wall for three days straight."
The amount of opposition was eye-opening for Ashby.
“In my time in the legislature, I have never had so much response on a single issue like this recycling bill. And it was not from just one part of my district,” Ashby recalled about the feedback that was flooding in from his district offices to his office at the capitol.
“My constituents spoke loud and clear. They were against this measure,” Ashby shared from his new office at Citizens National Bank on Loop 287 in Lufkin. “There is no way I could vote for this bill.”
He listened to his constituents and voted against every amendment, even the final compromised version delivered in the last days of the session.
“The Senate stripped off all the amendments they had tacked on, so it went back to the amended house bill that had gone over there, and so they past that," Ashby said about the end-of-session activity surrounding the bill.
Ashby said the sheriff's association and the recyclers association agreed with the compromise allowing cash payments to continue.
“These association representatives, for them to agree is one thing. That's great. That's what you want, but will it trickle down to the folks back home?" Ashby questioned.
During the next four months, he will hold listening sessions in all his counties and tell them he supported their opposition to that bill the end and review other legislative actions he took and hear from them their current and future concerns.
Both the Texas House and Senate signed the amended bill on June 1st--the last day of the session--and sent it to the governor.
He signed the bill Friday, June 19th. It becomes effective September 1, 2015.