Friday, March 13, 2015

My Testimony Before the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee

My name is Calvin Tillman from Aubrey, TX and I am a board member with the
League of Independent Voters of Texas.  And I support SB474. 

Madam Chair and committee members, thank you for allowing me to testify in 
support of this bill.
When you think of Texas, you think of freedom and private property rights. 
While serving as a local elected official, I was shocked to find that for profit
companies had the power to seize private property through eminent domain,
perhaps I was naive.  After listening to my constituents who had to deal with
companies that had this authority, it was becoming apparent that Texas did not
have as strong protection for private property rights as I had thought. 

Upon deeper research, I found that there were several private entities that
were given the power to condemn private property in TX.  There was also cases of
governmental agencies taking property through eminent domain and handing it to
private parties.  It appears that in Texas, you can own and peacefully enjoy
your property as long as somebody with more money doesn't want it.  

After the monumental case Kelo Vs New London CT, which stated that economic
development was a valid use of eminent domain, most states took some sort of
action including TX.  Many of the steps that the Legislature has taken, helped
improve protections in private property rights in this state.  However, the
Castle Coalition, who is a property rights advocacy group which defended Kelo,
has rated every state.  How do you think Texas ranked in this study?  Top 5? Top
10?  No, Texas ranks in the bottom half of all states regarding private property
rights, an abysmal 27th with a C- ranking.  Is that good enough for Texas?  I do
not believe that it is, and I doubt any Texan would be satisfied with that
So what separates the other states from Texas? 
Legislation like SB 474.  Many of the highest ranked property rights states have 
adopted similar legislation to SB 474.  I have personally spoke with several Texans, who have
gone through this process.  Nobody likes the eminent domain process, for one
reason is that they feel that the process in fundamentally unfair.  The legal
fees incurred by private property owners can easily outweigh the benefits.  What
they really want is a fair process, and SB 474  offers some relief in that area.
If those who use eminent domain are really trying to be fair, then this will not
impact them at all.  It does not affect their status as a condemning entity, but
would help reach a balance with property owners.  Why not take the steps to help
Texas property owners. 
I encourage you to pass SB 474.  Thank you for your time.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Calvin Tillman, Candidate for Aubrey City Council Place 4

Calvin Tillman for Aubrey City Council Place 4

I am running for Aubrey City Council Place 4.  My family and I moved to Aubrey four years ago from the small community of DISH, Texas located in western Denton County.  We have lived in Texas since 2003. While living in DISH, I served two years on the town board of commissioners and four years as mayor. 

I am a veteran of the United States Air Force.  My professional career is in aviation. I am a licensed aircraft mechanic and pilot, and have an aviation degree from the Community College of the Air Force, and a business degree from Concordia University of Texas. 

I have been married to my wife Tiffiney for 16 years, and we have 3 beautiful children: Clay, Josh and Evie.  My family attends First Rock Fellowship Church here in Aubrey. 

You can find more information at:   

Why Vote for Calvin Tillman?

§  A voice of reason and common sense in the municipal government.

§  Will work to decrease Aubrey’s over five million dollar debt.  

§  I am a regular citizen, not an Aubrey insider.

§  Believe in protecting private property rights.

§  Do not support the use of eminent domain.

§  Develop ordinances that make sense for small towns like Aubrey, abolish those that do not.  

§  I have no conflicts of interest with the local government, therefore will not profit from my service.

§  Will work for the people of Aubrey, not special interests. 

§  Proven municipal leadership.  

§  Supports local control. We do not need state or federal government infringing on our local government.

§  Will not vote for any additional municipal debt that would raise property taxes for Aubrey citizens.

§  Not afraid to rock the boat and make meaningful changes.

§  Will not support raising property taxes for any purpose.

§  Supports transparency in government. 

Accomplishments in Municipal Government. 

§  While serving as mayor in DISH, we were able to significantly cut the town’s debt, while cutting taxes and providing greater and better services.  For far too long, it appears that Aubrey has been a cash register for special interest, we have over five million dollars in debt with very little to show for it.  

§  If elected I will commit to returning the power to the people, lowering taxes, cutting municipal debt and working on behalf of every citizen, not just the few.  

§  Consistently have fought for private property rights for all Texans. 

§  Worked with county officials to repair and replace area roads, at lower costs to the taxpayers. 
§  Built a municipal park from private and public grants at no cost to the taxpayers.

§  Built a small library from private grants and very little public money.  

§  Worked with state officials on legislation that protects local control.

Why This Vote is Important?

Most people do not realize how much influence local governments have in our lives.  They set our tax rates, develop the ordinances that take away freedoms and liberties, and in many cases work for the interest of a few and not the community as a whole.  For this reason, I need you to vote Calvin Tillman for Aubrey City Council Place 4.  

Aubrey is over five million dollars in debt, with very little to show for it.  I believe that debt is excessive for a town of this size.  A small town like Aubrey does not get into that kind of debt on accident and this debt most certainly benefited some more than others.  It is my belief that there is more debt planned for the city.  This course must be stopped and I will work to do that.

Growth is coming to Aubrey whether we want it or not, the next ten years will be critical to Aubrey’s future.   

Election Information

Election Day is May 9, 2015 and the Aubrey election will be held at the Aubrey Library - 226 Countryside Dr., Aubrey, TX 76227.

Contact Information

Calvin Tillman
1001 Jerry St.
Aubrey, TX 76227
(940) 453-3640

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Texas Senate Hearing on Eminent Domain Bill

There will be a hearing with the Texas Senate, State Affairs Committee, on Monday March 9, 2015 at 9:00 AM.  Senate Bill (SB) 474 is on the agenda for this hearing.  SB 474 deals with eminent domain, and requires the condemning authority to pay the legal fees of the victims.  This bill could certainly be stronger, but it does go a long way in protecting people from eminent domain abuses.  Also, this is probably our only chance in getting something like this passed this session, and there seems to be broad support for this bill.  Below is a copy of the bill, along with the agenda that shows the location of the hearing. 
If possible we need as many people as possible to testify in support of this bill.  If you are unable to make it to the hearing, please consider picking up the phone and calling the committee members listed below in support of this legislation.  Please share with your list, so that maybe we can actually come out of this session with something positive. 

84R7147 AJA-F
  By: Kolkhorst S.B. No. 474
  relating to the recovery of costs and fees in connection with
  certain eminent domain proceedings.
         SECTION 1.  Section 21.047, Property Code, is amended by
  adding Subsection (a-1) to read as follows:
         (a-1)  If the amount of damages awarded by the special
  commissioners is at least 10 percent greater than the amount the
  condemnor offered to pay before the proceedings began or if the
  commissioners' award is appealed and a court awards damages in an
  amount that is at least 10 percent greater than the amount the
  condemnor offered to pay before the proceedings began, the
  condemnor shall pay:
               (1)  all costs as provided by Subsection (a); and
               (2)  any reasonable attorney's fees and other
  professional fees incurred by the property owner in connection with
  the eminent domain proceeding.
         SECTION 2.  The change in law made by this Act applies only
  to an eminent domain proceeding commenced on or after the effective
  date of this Act. An eminent domain proceeding commenced before the
  effective date of this Act is governed by the law applicable to the
  proceeding immediately before the effective date of this Act, and
  that law is continued in effect for that purpose.
         SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2015.

COMMITTEE:    State Affairs 
TIME & DATE:  9:00 AM, Monday, March 09, 2015 
PLACE:        Senate Chamber 
CHAIR:        Senator Joan Huffman 

To consider the following:

SB 60         Nelson
Relating to children's advocacy centers.

SB 450        Schwertner
Relating to the liability of a political subdivision of this state for certain claims relating to land acquired by the political subdivision under certain circumstances.

SB 462        Huffman | et al.
Relating to authorizing a revocable deed that transfers real property at the transferor's death.

SB 474        Kolkhorst
Relating to the recovery of costs and fees in connection with certain eminent domain proceedings.

SB 512        Zaffirini
Relating to the promulgation of certain forms for use in probate matters.

SB 610        Perry
Relating to limited liability for an agritourism entity involved in an agritourism activity.

SB 779        Huffman
Relating to the access to certain medical test results by a grand jury.

At the Chair's discretion, the Committee may also consider any pending business.

Public testimony will be limited to 3 minutes. If submitting written testimony, please provide 20 copies to the committee clerk with your name on each.

Senate State Affairs Committee

Clerk: Ashley Brooks
Phone: (512) 463-0380
Sen. Joan Huffman
District: 17
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0117
District Phone: (281) 980-3500
Vice Chair:      
Sen. Rodney Ellis
District: 13
Capitol Office: CAP 3E.6
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0113
District Phone: (713) 236-0306
Sen. Brian Birdwell
District: 22
Capitol Office: EXT E1.706
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0122
District Phone: (254) 772-6225

Sen. Brandon Creighton
District: 4
Capitol Office: EXT E1.606
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0104
District Phone: (409) 838-9861
Sen. Craig Estes
District: 30
Capitol Office: CAP 3E.18
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0130
District Phone: (940) 689-0191
Sen. Troy Fraser
District: 24
Capitol Office: CAP 1E.12
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0124
District Phone: (254) 939-3562
Sen. Jane Nelson 
District: 12
Capitol Office: CAP 1E.5
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0112
District Phone: (817) 424-3446
Charles Schwertner
District: 5
Capitol Office: EXT E1.806
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0105
District Phone: (979) 776-0222
Sen. Judith Zaffirini
District: 21
Capitol Office: CAP 1E.14
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0121
District Phone: (956) 722-2293