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story.lead_photo.caption State Rep. Gary VanDeaver speaks at a town hall meeting Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, at Texarkana College in Texarkana, Texas. Photo by Karl Richter / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Texas — State Rep. Gary VanDeaver updated constituents during a town hall meeting Thursday, including on his plans to run for re-election.

VanDeaver, R-New Boston, spoke and took questions at Texarkana College during the last of four town halls he has convened across his district in recent weeks. He reviewed this year's legislative session, provided a preview of the 10 constitutional amendments on this November's ballot, and spoke about the importance of the 2020 U.S. census.

When asked, he also said yes, he is running for a fourth term representing District 1 in the Texas House of Representatives. He will be up for re-election in 2020.

"I hope I will always certainly do everything I can to earn that trust" voters have placed in him, VanDeaver said.

He touched on the five pieces of priority legislation enacted this year in Austin: school finance reform, property tax reform, the 2020-2021 budget, school safety, and the Teacher Retirement System's pension and health care coverage.

Among the proposed constitutional amendments discussed was Proposition 4, which would prohibit "the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual's share of partnership and unincorporated association income."

VanDeaver said that because there already is no state income tax in Texas, the amendment represents a "belt and suspenders" approach to ensuring there will never be one. Even if the amendment fails, there will almost certainly not be a state income tax in the near future, he said.

Because voting "yes" on Proposition 4 would mean saying no to an income tax, some constituents have been confused and accused VanDeaver of supporting an income tax, he said, assuring the audience that he does not. Audience members expressed a desire for clearer language on election ballots.

"We need a good count," he said regarding next year's census, which will determine both state and federal election districts.

Texas House districts are expected to increase by about 33,000 people, so District 1 likely will expand from its current four counties — Bowie, Franklin, Lamar and Red River — to five or more, perhaps by adding Cass County, he said.

VanDeaver noted the trend toward population concentration in urban areas, pointing out that 74% of Texas' population lives in incorporated areas, which make up only 4% of the state's land.

"Rural Texas will continue to lose representation," he said. While he represents four counties himself, Harris County, which includes the Houston metro area, contains 25 House districts, he said.

A former public school superintendent, VanDeaver first took office in 2014 and was re-elected in 2016 and 2018.

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