Priorities, Preparation, and Politics Today
In the midst of a fairly busy national news week, including the Presidential Inauguration, the Texas Legislature is in the organization and preparation phase of the 140-day session. While we wait for committee assignments, my staff and I have been working on our priorities, filing legislation, and preparing for the busy days ahead.
For example, this week I introduced HB 1210, which would ensure earlier notification when new wind energy projects potentially endanger military missions. There is still some work left to do on this bill, but I’m hopeful it can continue the work Texas has done to protect national security and the economic importance of military bases.
I’d also mention that despite all of the talk regarding possible protests and riots at the Texas Capitol, there were, thankfully, no major incidents. I sincerely appreciate the work of the National Guard troops and DPS officers who ensured the safety of all at the Capitol.
Looking ahead, I’ve outlined five of the big issues that I expect to consume the majority of the Legislature’s time and attention this session: the budget, redistricting, health care costs and access, the government’s response to COVID-19, and the separation of powers. I’ve given a brief overview of each issue below, but, as always, I encourage you to contact my office should you have any questions or comments.
Finally, I have left you with some thoughts I have on the sad state of discourse in American politics that was taken largely from a Senator Ben Sasse op-ed. I believe this is a very important topic and wanted to share it with all of you who read the newsletter.
May God bless you and your family,
New Session, New Speaker, New Rules
On Tuesday, January 12th, for the 87th time in the history of our great state, the Texas Legislature convened for its 140-day long, biennial legislative session. It is my honor to represent the amazing folks of Archer, Baylor, Clay, Foard, Knox, and Wichita Counties (aka House District 69) for the 5th time.This session is shaping up to be unlike any session before due to the realities of working in the midst of Covid-19. There will be difficult choices to make as we grapple with the budgetary impact of the virus – and government response to it – on the economy (and therefore state revenues). We will also be dealing with the logistical issues that arise when we have the need to stay safe and provide transparency in a situation where members have vastly different views of the risks of Covid.As always, the first day of session began in the House with the election of the Speaker of the House. Dade Phelan, my colleague from Beaumont, was overwhelmingly elected as the new Speaker. I know Dade to be a good, fair man who believes that conservative answers work best for the people of the state. Wednesday and Thursday were spent voting on the rules that will govern the Texas House during this session (as every session stands on its own).The next two to three weeks will bring a lull to most members, as the Speaker is now tasked with the incredibly important job of quickly and intelligently organizing the House into committees that will hear and act on the bills that will define the session over the coming months.My staff and I have been working during the interim on our legislative agenda and have already filed 5 bills that we hope to see passed in the coming session. Below, you will find a brief explainer for each of these bills. If you want to see more details of the bills, you can click on the link to read the text of the bill or you are welcome to reach out to my office with any questions you may have.Next week, we will provide a preview of the issues that we believe will gain the most attention over the next 137 days (but who’s counting?).
On a personal note, session always provides special challenges for my family and for the other men and women that serve in the Legislature. I would sincerely appreciate prayers for elected officials, our families, and the deliberations and decisions that will be made over the coming months.