By Ken Esten Cooke
U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith (R-21, San Antonio) visited Gillespie County last Wednesday to reacquaint himself with the area and people who will be his District 21 constituents again after final redistricting maps are settled.
Smith stands to pick up Gillespie County, currently served by U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, after giving it up in the 2005 redistricting process. The new District 21 will add Gillespie to Kerr, Kendall, Bandera, Real, Blanco and Comal counties, and include parts of Bexar, Hays and Travis counties.
"Frankly, I am very happy to get Gillespie County back," Smith said. "Fredericksburg is just such a clean, upstanding and neighborly community."
While serving the county in previous sessions, Smith helped get the post office on West Main Street constructed -- "Although no one considers it the "new' post office anymore," he joked -- and worked to secure the donation of a submarine for the National Museum of the Pacific War.
Smith is part of a conservative House bloc that seeks to reduce government spending while saying no to tax increases. In January 2011, he was elected the first Texas Republican to serve as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
"My goal when I became chairman was to try to be the most active committee in Congress, and in 2011 we succeeded by producing more bills than any of the other 20 committees," he said.
"What we are about is reducing the debt," he said, pulling up a debt clock app on his mobile phone. "We are now borrowing 40 cents on every federal dollar, and we can't continue to borrow or we will go the way of some of these European countries."
As judiciary chairman, Smith introduced a constitutional amendment to balance the budget, and also has introduced three bills on regulatory reform, particularly where the Environmental Protection Agency is involved.
"Forty percent of bills filed against medical personnel are frivolous, and it costs a lot of money, reduces the quality of healthcare and increases insurance premiums," he said.
The Congressman said he introduced a bill with Pat Leahy (D-Vermont) to get patents approved more quickly.
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