State Sen. Troy Fraser and State Rep. Susan King were answering questions on campus Friday as part of the Texas Tribune’s “The Hot Seat,” a conversation series about the 83rd Legislative session.
Members of the Abilene community as well as ACU faculty and students gathered in the Hunter Welcome Center as Evan Smith, editor of the Texas Tribune, moderated questions between the two elected officials and the audience.
The Hot Seat conversation series is hosted by universities across the state. Topics included but were not limited to public education, public health, water conservation and natural resources.
Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, opened the luncheon with introductions of the speakers and a prayer.
Much of the conversation centered on the state budget and how the Senator and Representative felt about adding or removing fiscal support to and from different state departments.
After about an hour of answering questions from the moderator, the floor was opened up to questions from community members and students in the audience.
One Abilene resident, Anna Grace Sloan, presented her concerns to Fraser and King about the “Midwife Bill.” This bill proposes more regulations and financial burdens for midwives and birthing centers.
“It is obvious that Susan King really cares about what people think,” Sloan said. “She has good countenance and I was very pleased to be here.”
Members of King’s staff met with Sloan after the luncheon to follow up with her on the progress of the bill and what she can do to have her opinion heard.
Students from Lynay, the political science department and various other organizations on campus were also invited to the luncheon. Ashley Close, senior political science major from Lexington, S.C., said she felt Fraser and King gave interesting perspectives.
“I really enjoyed hearing them talk about Obamacare and healthcare in a way that wasn’t the same old rhetoric we’re used to hearing,” Close said.
Other student questions revolved around the representatives’ opinions regarding online education, budget cuts within the state education department and specifically vocational trade schools versus higher education.
“We need to do everything we can to find a course or path for people that is relevant to them and is something they want to do and how we can use taxpayers’ money to accomplish that,” King said.