The Texas District 71 Representative is working on legislation to help the Big Country, including a bill to help fund a convention hotel in downtown Abilene. Stan Lambert, an Abilene native and former Abilene ISD board member, said the biggest issues in the Texas House revolve around money, so he's using his financial skills as a former banker to represent Taylor, Jones and Nolan counties.
When he played basketball for the Abilene Christian University Wildcats, Stan Lambert was kind of stuck in the middle because he was too tall to be a guard and too short to be a power forward. That was back in the early 70's. Today Lambert said he is in the right place for his skill set, because his financial experience as a banker plays well with the legislature's financial issues.
“Just the fact that I've had experience in working with budgets,” Lambert said. “Maybe with not the number of zeros on the end of it that the state would have, but certainly looking at prioritization and understanding what the needs are versus what some wants may be. Those are some times when we have to roll up our sleeves and try to figure out what is really essential what do we need to fund that is of high priority to keep our state moving forward and to make sure that those that are most vulnerable are going to continue to receive the services and the programs and the benefits that our state has provided in the past.”
When it comes to financial issues in Abilene, Lambert is helping the city fund a convention hotel project downtown near the Abilene Convention Center. He's only been in office for a month and has authored House Bill 1529 which allows the city to keep tax revenue usually sent to the state and put the funds toward the hotel project.
“This would put Abilene in a much better position to be able to go out and bid for these types of events, and these types of conferences,” Lambert said, “to bring more tourism, to bring more heads in the beds is a particular term that our think our tourism folks downtown would use.”
The bill applies specifically to Abilene, and Lambert said similar bills have been filed by other cities in the past, so he thinks the bill has a good chance of being accepted in the House. Another financial issue Lambert will focus on is the state's Child Protective Services which has been a key issue in this legislative session.
“We need to hire additional caseworkers, and we need to basically pay some of our existing case workers better salaries in order to keep from having such a revolving door on retention,” Lambert said. “Many times these people are hired at salaries that are so low and then to put them in a situation of responsibility where they’re having to engage in family situations and knock on doors of dysfunctional families.”
Lambert said he was involved in child protection while serving on the AISD school board. He helped make sure teachers who had been in inappropriate relationships with students were no longer eligible to teach.
“Our region has had a number of cases,” Lambert said, “and I think that in a sense creates even more awareness on the part of our general public to look for and to recognize when there may be situations where child abuse is occurring. So we've had a lot of reporting, maybe some over-reporting, but as I’ve always said, it's better to be safe than sorry. So I’m glad in a way that our region of the state is being very proactive in trying to identify and make sure that these children are protected.”
Lambert lives in Abilene with his wife, Debbie, who recently retired from Wylie ISD. Even though the legislature faces a tighter budget this session, Lambert said he plans to continue prioritizing issues that affect Taylor, Jones and Nolan counties.