Some Texas Politicians Don't Have to Live in Austin Anymore, But Most Still Will
It would appear that even some of the highest officeholders in the state appreciate a short commute to work.
Given the chance to move away from Austin following the Nov. 3 passage of Proposition 3, which repealed the state capital residency requirement in the Texas Constitution for certain statewide elected officials, reps for four of the five eligible said they would continue to live near the Capitol Complex.
“The attorney general has no plans to move,” Cynthia Meyer, spokeswoman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, said in an emailed response. Paxton maintains homes in Austin and McKinney, she said, but Travis County is his “home county.”
Lucy Nashed, in the office of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, said he too will be “staying put.”
Commuting into Austin from other cities could get expensive for the officeholders. Texas law bars elected officials and state employees from receiving reimbursement for travel between home and work, according to Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, the state’s chief financial officer.
“It’d be like if I lived in Round Rock and traveled to work every day,” Lauren Willis, Hegar’s communications director, said. “It’s our understanding, anyways, that you wouldn’t be able to be reimbursed for that.”
Willis cites a section of state law she says outlines just that; that “mileage incurred in traveling between the employee’s residence and place of employment” in a personal vehicle cannot be reimbursed.
As for her boss’ plans given his eligibility under Prop 3 to move, Hegar’s not going anywhere, she said. That’s despite the fact that his young family remains in Katy and never relocated to Austin when he won office in 2014.
“He’ll continue to split his time between here and Katy and traveling the state,” she said. “He spends a lot of time on the road anyways.”
Unlike the rest, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush has just one residence. Upon winning election, Bush sold his home in Fort Worth, according to spokeswoman Brittany Eck. Eck said Bush and his wife, Amanda, “are enjoying their new home and have no plans to move.”
David Porter, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, did not immediately respond to a Texas Tribune inquiry.
Prop 3 did not apply to the governor and lieutenant governor, who are still required to live in Austin.