Senate Panel Hears Testimony on Colony Ridge

Texas Senate chamber | Image by michelmond

Texas lawmakers have been discussing Colony Ridge, a housing development north of Houston, during the ongoing special session, but no significant legislation has been passed.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Colony Ridge has become a hot-button issue due to concerns that the housing development contains thousands of unlawful migrants, as well as reports of high crime related to drug cartel activity.

These concerns prompted Gov. Greg Abbott to direct Texas lawmakers to pass legislation during the special session to manage the area. Still, there has yet to be any significant action taken to this point, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Hearings regarding Colony Ridge have been held in both the Texas House and Senate, with the most recent hearing being held by the Senate Committee on Local Government on October 31.

The hearing lasted almost four hours and included testimonies from witnesses and the development’s owner, John Harris.

As reported by The Dallas Express, Harris previously told The Center Square that the claims about Colony Ridge are “grossly misleading and unsubstantiated.”

Witnesses who testified reportedly pushed back on the notion that the development is home to rampant crime and a large population of unlawful migrants.

These testimonies led to frustration for some of the lawmakers, with Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) calling the hearing “a complete waste of time,” as reported by the DMN.

Additionally, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) director Col. Steve McCraw testified during a hearing earlier this month and refuted the idea that Colony Ridge is considered a ​​“no-go zone,” which is an area posing high risk to outsiders or, in this case, law enforcement.

“There’s no such thing as a no-go zone in Texas,” McGraw said, as reported by The Texas Tribune.

“We obviously talked to the sheriff … and he assured us that was not the case. Certainly, our sergeant didn’t think so. Our troopers can go anywhere.”

Although Abbott has presented concerns about this housing development, only one bill that mentions Colony Ridge has been passed during the special session.

Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), was advanced by the Senate and provides $1.5 billion for building the wall on the Texas-Mexico border.

The bill also provides $40 million to the DPS for “overtime expenses and costs due to an increased law enforcement presence to preserve public safety and security in the Colony Ridge development.”

Andrew Mahaleris, a spokesman for Abbott, said in a statement that Colony Ridge is a priority for the governor due to “serious concerns” about what is going on in the development.

“The Governor looks forward to seeing the results of their legislative efforts to help address these concerns and maintain law and order in Texas,” he added in the statement, per the DMN.

Abbott also promised during a September interview that lawmakers will address “any issue that needs to be enforced, in terms of a new law in the state of Texas, to make sure we’re not going to have colonies like this in our state.”

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