State Senator Robert Nichols visits East Texas college

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 1:31 PM CDT
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MARSHALL, Texas (KLTV) - District 3 Texas State Senator Robert Nichols traveled out of his district to Harrison County on Wednesday. He requested a tour of the Texas State Technical College campus in Marshall to get more information on their programs, including their four-week CDL course.

It had been quite a while since Texas Senator Robert Nichols had visited TSTC in Marshall.

“I had toured this facility about 15 or 17 years ago. It is dramatically a larger facility with much newer courses,” Nichols said.

And much newer equipment according to TSTC Individual Business Management Lead for Precision Machine Technology Daniel Nixon, who says their latest machine can “really run a piece of material that can be very complex, and do it on one machine where in the past we’d have to do it on two or three different machines.”

As a former manufacturer, Senator Nichols was interested in new industrial technology and the need to train people to run and fix it.

He also was very interested in TSTC’s CDL program. “The federal government changed the rules eight years ago,” Nichols said. “When Texas implemented those rules, DPS did not have enough facilities, so they shut down 100 out of 125. So, you could not go many places and get a commercial driver’s license.”

Nichols thinks that’s at least partially why the state faces a shortage of commercial drivers. The Senator says the rules affect the supply chain, but “Texas State Technical College has a solution. And, they didn’t tell me they had a solution; they just told me what they’re doing. But, now that I’ve seen it and know what they’re doing, I’m going to be working with some of my House members to try to get funding next session,” Nichols said.

He says the possible funding would be to get CDL courses at all 10 TSTC campuses. Nichols says this will take taxpayer money to initiate but has the potential to help solve supply chain issues.

“They’ll go from cranking out about 600 commercial driver’s license qualified drivers to probably closer to 3,000,” Nichols said.

Some of those drivers will be needed to drive big rigs to tow broken down big rigs so they can get back on the road.

Senator Nichols says his plan is to get either employers or the Texas Workforce Commission to pay for the courses, so there would be no out-of-pocket expense for students. He wants the CDL courses at TSTC to be self-sustaining.

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