Grapevine resident Bella Austin graduated from Colleyville Heritage High School last spring, and is set to begin her college career at Texas A&M University, with a major in physics.
In August, Rep. Capriglione met Bella at an office supply store where she was working when she thanked him for sending a congratulatory letter for her acceptance to the NASA High School Aerospace Scholar (HAS)program, where she spent a week at NASA working with their engineers and scientists to create a mission to Mars. She shared how the program has allowed her to attend Texas A&M to pursue a degree in physics.
After visiting with her for a few minutes, Rep. Capriglione was so impressed by her ambition that he decided he wanted to a create a special scholarship for students residing in District 98 that wish to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering or math. Rep. Capriglione also has a degree in physics and is a member of the Innovation & Technology Caucus of the Texas House. He says “students like Bella are paving the way for our future. They will make important discoveries and have an incredible impact on our lives. I want to support students like her through the establishment of this scholarship.”
As a Colleyville Heritage Panther, Bella participated in organizations such as the chemistry club, National Honor Society, and the student advisory board. After teaching herself competitive swimming techniques by watching YouTube videos and practicing in her apartment complex pool, she became captain of her water polo team where she was recently named MVP, and was a member of the high school swim team all four years.
Bella Austin is an incredible young woman and is the inspiration for this scholarship. Students interested in receiving a 2017 District 98 STEM Scholarship should contact the district office for more information. Congratulations Bella and best of luck at Texas A&M University.
—Press Release from Rep. Capriglione’s Office
September 1, 2016 by FOIFTexas
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in an occasional series of opinion pieces on legislators and other Texans who are openly committed to sustaining government transparency and accountability. The articles are being prepared and distributed by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and the Texas Press Association.
By DAVE MONTGOMERY
During the 2015 Texas Legislature, while most other transparency and ethics reform proposals were headed toward the trash heap, Rep. Giovanni Capriglione secured near-unanimous passage of a new law that has enabled the public to see who benefits financially from dealings with the government.
His victory in pushing through House Bill 1295, requiring the disclosure of interested parties in state and local government contracts, cemented Capriglione’s stature as one of the state capitol’s leading advocates of government accountability. Now, with the approach of the 2017 Legislature, Capriglione hopes to build on his success by seeking to blunt the impact of state court decisions that rolled back access to public records.
The 43-year-old Southlake Republican has made transparency a key ingredient in his legislative agenda since winning election to the House in 2012. He sums up his outlook by recycling a quote from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis more than 100 years ago: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”
“Transparency is one of those principles that you can never have enough of,” Capriglione said. “Accountability in government is of fundamental importance. And that accountability starts with the ability to see how the government spends your money.”
Capriglione, who is seeking re-election to a third term over a Democratic challenger in his heavily Republican northeast Tarrant County district, is targeting two Texas Supreme Court rulings as he looks toward the 85th Legislature that starts on Jan. 10.
Both rulings, made in 2015, have tightened access to public records held by private and non-profit entities. The court ruled that the non-profit Greater Houston Partnership was not required to disclose its financial records even though it performed economic development duties for the city of Houston and was partly supported by public funds.
Public access watchdogs have also deplored the court’s ruling in favor of a Boeing Aerospace company operating in San Antonio. The 7-1 court majority ruled that Boeing and other private entities doing business with the government can block the release of information that the companies contend would give an advantage to competitors.
Capriglione said he plans to introduce legislation to effectively undo the court rulings through changes in the Texas Public Information Act, thus restoring access to documents that previously were considered public. The two bills would be the first measures he introduces for the 2017 session, he said.
Describing what he called the “chilling” decision in the Boeing case, Capriglione said it allows private entities that don’t want information disclosed “to basically shut down that access.”
“We’ve got to get back to where I think people want to be. If you’re going to have access to public dollars, you should have to disclose that information,” he said.
Capriglione’s success with House Bill 1295 contrasted with the collapse of nearly two dozen other accountability and transparency measures, many of them contained in a polarizing omnibus bill, despite Gov. Greg Abbott’s pledge to dedicate the 2015 session to ethics reform. Described by the Texas Tribune as “a leading advocate of ethics reform in the notoriously unrestrained Texas Legislature,” Capriglione secured passage with a unanimous vote in the House and only one dissenting vote in the Senate.
Signed into law in June 2015, the measure requires the disclosure of “interested parties,” those with a financial benefit, in government contracts of $1 million or more. So far, more than 5,200 certificates with the required information have been posted on the Texas Ethics Commission website, which offers customized searches to look for interested parties, government entities and businesses.
Next session, Capriglione said, he hopes to expand on information available to the public under the new law, including identifying which interested parties are elected officials. As a freshman lawmaker, Capriglione pushed unsuccessful legislation that would have required state elected officials to disclose government contracts in which they had a financial interest.
Capriglione, a private equity manager and father of three, said he recognized the need for expanded public access before he became a House member when he personally experienced challenges in unearthing information.
“I was trying to find information about local budgets, and I just found it to be very difficult,” he said. “The more information I tried to find, the more I felt it should be easier to get.”
As a candidate in 2012, Capriglione said, he discovered plenty of sympathizers while block-walking throughout House District 28, telling potential constituents of his goal to shed more sunlight on state and local government.
“After talking to a few thousand of them, it became clear that is what the average person wants,” he said.
Dave Montgomery is a Texas freelance journalist. He wrote this story on behalf of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, which hosts its state conference Sept. 8, 2016, in Austin.
By: Rep. Capriglione, Giovanni
The North Texas Special Needs Assistance Partners (SNAP) has asked Representative Capriglione to serve as their emcee and honorary chairman for the Third Annual Boots & Bling Casino Night Gala on September 24 at the Hurst Conference Center.
“We are very excited to have Representative Capriglione serve as this year’s Boots & Bling Casino Night honorary chairman and emcee. North Texas SNAP receives no federal or state funding, operating solely on benevolent gifts from fundraising events, caring individuals, businesses, organizations and foundations,” said SNAP Executive Director Brandy Schimmel. “Boots & Bling Casino Night is our largest fundraising event of the year, providing funds to sustain programs and services for individuals 17 and older living with intellectual and developmental disabilities in North Texas.”
North Texas SNAP is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization serving individuals 17 and older living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organizations mission is to create and support a variety of programs that assist these individuals in achieving and sustaining full lives.
For more information or to purchase event tickets, please visit www.ntxsnap.org.
Contact: Courtney Roberts
“Take a Veteran to School Day” event to feature State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, Keller High School alumnus and retired U.S. Army Sgt. Joe Washam
FORT WORTH, Texas – Charter Communications, Inc., (NASDAQ: CHTR), HISTORY and the students of Keller Middle School will show appreciation for local veterans with a “Take a Veteran to School Day” event featuring an appearance from State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione and keynote address from Sgt. Joe Washam, a U.S. Army veteran and 1998 graduate of Keller High School.
Dozens of local veterans from all branches of the military are expected to participate in the Veterans Day event that will combine musical performances and other tributes for those who have served in the armed forces. The program is scheduled for 2:45 p.m., Nov. 11, at Keller Middle School, 300 College Ave., in Keller.
“Take a Veteran to School Day” is a national program developed by HISTORY to link veterans with students nationwide. From class visits to school assemblies, these events provide a way for students to learn more about the history of Veterans Day. Inviting veterans to share their stories connects generations while helping young people learn about the past.
Charter Communications teamed with HISTORY to add Keller Independent School District’s Keller Middle School to the list of thousands of schools in all 50 states participating in the “Take a Veteran to School Day” program this year.
During his service with the U.S. Army and Army Reserves, Washam served as an infantryman. In 2004, he deployed to Iraq where he assisted in the search for weapons of mass destruction. On April 26, 2004, he was severely wounded in an explosion at a suspected chemical weapons site in Baghdad, suffering a shrapnel wound and third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body. He was hospitalized at Brooke Army Medical Center for 20 months, and he was awarded the Purple Heart on his 24th birthday.
Washam will share his personal experiences with students as he discusses the important purpose of Veterans Day – honoring America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
Rep. Capriglione, R-Southlake, will also address the students on the significance of Veterans Day. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2012 and is serving his second term representing District 98, which encompasses all or part of Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake, Keller, Westlake, North Fort Worth and Haslet.
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Austin, TX- Representative Giovanni Capriglione will host a town hall meeting at Keller Town Hall, 1100 Bear Creek Parkway, on Thursday, June 25, at 7 p.m.
Rep. Capriglione will discuss the main takeaways from the 84th Legislative Session, including: transportation funding, public education updates, border security improvements, and a host of other topics.
AUSTIN — House Bill 1881 passed the Texas Senate and is headed to the governor’s desk for signature. This bill allows pre-K-12 private schools to allow parents to pay for their children’s tuition through a credit or debit card instead of absorbing the fees in their school budget. Representative Giovanni Capriglione (Southlake) is the bill’s author and Senator Brandon Creighton (Conroe) is the senate sponsor.
Currently, private schools are not allowed to charge these fees as a way to offset some of their expenses and their counterparts – public schools, public and private colleges and universities, are allowed to pass along the fee.
“H.B. 1881 provides a new avenue for parents and guardians to pay for their child’s tuition at private and parochial schools,” said Senator Creighton. “This means private schools can use every dollar they can in the classroom and no longer absorb the cost incurred by processing fees. State government should always look for opportunities to remove road blocks in the day-to-day lives of our citizens.”
“This is an issue brought to me by several constituents,” remarked Representative Capriglione. “This bill will give parents flexible payment options, as well as help private schools cover their costs, which is important for large and small schools alike. H.B. 1881 is mutually beneficial for parents and schools, and I’m pleased it has passed the Legislature.”
House Bill 1881 is strongly supported by the Texas Private Schools Association, representing more than 800 accredited private schools and 250,000 students throughout the state.
On May 14, Governor Greg Abbott announced that thanks to an offer from the Texas Enterprise Fund, Kubota Tractor and Credit Corporations, based in Torrance, California, will be moving their headquarters to Grapevine, Texas.
Kubota President and CEO, Masato Yoshikawa, when asked why the move would take place responded by saying… “[Texas’] business friendly climate, state incentives and geographical location were important factors” in the decision to relocate. The corporate headquarters relocation is expected to create at least 344 new jobs, and at least $50 million in capital investment in the state.
State Representative Giovanni Capriglione responded, “Kubota’s relocation is a significant economic development for Grapevine and for Texas. Grapevine City Council has done a great job in supporting and encouraging this venture. I’m proud to represent Northeast Tarrant County and the citizens of Grapevine, and I look forward to witnessing firsthand how the relocation will positively impact the community.”
Construction on the new facility in Grapevine will begin in 2015 and is scheduled to be complete during the early months of 2017.
Serving in his second term in the Texas House, Representative Capriglione is focusing his efforts on strengthening economic development, promoting government transparency, and finding fiscally responsible solutions. Representative Capriglione serves on the Appropriations, Investments and Financial Services, and Local and Consent Calendar Committees. He is also the chairman of the Subcommittee on State and Local Bonded Indebtedness.
Austin, TX-Representative Tan Parker, Chairman of the Investments & Financial Services Committee, has named Representative Giovanni Capriglione the Sub-Committee Chairman on State and Local Bonded Indebtedness. Created during the 84th Legislative Session, the sub-committee is made of five members: Representatives Giovanni Capriglione, Dan Flynn, Brooks Landgraf, Phil Stephenson, and Oscar Longoria. The sub-committee will consider the issue of bonded indebtedness on Texas’ economy, in regards to transparency in making transactions, and the authority to issue bonds.
“I am honored to serve as the chairman of an Investments and Financial Services subcommittee, and I thank Chairman Parker for the appointment,” Representative Capriglione stated. “My background in private equity will prove useful to the subcommittee, and I am eager to work with my colleagues to facilitate thoughtful discussions and work towards solid financial solutions for all Texans. ”
About Representative Capriglione’s appointment, Chairman Parker said, “There is no doubt in my mind that Representative Capriglione is the right man for this very critical job. Bonded indebtedness has always been a tool for state and local governments to finance certain aspects of public services, however the time has come for us to take a step back, examine our processes and see if reform is necessary. Representative Capriglione will bring a fresh and thoughtful perspective to this issue, and I look forward to working with him as the Texas House addresses debt management.”
During his second term in the Texas House of Representatives, Representative Capriglione is a member of the Appropriations, Investments and Financial Services, and Local and Consent Calendars committees.
I’m excited to announce the filing HB 974, a bill adding the online posting of a check registrar as an indicator for the School FIRST Rating Worksheet of the Texas Education Agency.
The FIRST program is designed to grade school districts on their financial integrity. Showing the taxpayers how districts are spending their money by making their check registers available online should absolutely be one of the criteria used by the TEA.
The School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas, or School FIRST, a financial accountability system for Texas school districts, was developed by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in response to legislation passed in 1999.
Transparency should be encouraged at every level of government. It is imperative that we take advantage of the 83rd session to promote transparency and accountability through legislation like HB 974.
Yesterday I filed HB 706 with several of my freshmen colleagues which would allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their handgun on college campuses.
The voters in my District and around Texas strongly support a citizen’s right to defend themselves. We have a strong certification process here in Texas and concealed handgun licensees have gone through a thorough background check. I know there is a significant amount of support in the House, from both new and senior members. If the bill makes it to the House floor, I feel confident it passes. It’s not going to be easy, but for the sake of our students, it needs to happen.