Finally, I want to say thank you to you-the people who work and live in Archer, Baylor, Clay, Foard, Knox, and Wichita Counties. This was the 5th regular session that I have had the honor of representing you in Austin. Even though sessions are full of hard work, long hours, and a long time away from home, I know what a privilege it is to do this and continue to appreciate the support and faith shown in me.
- Increasing public education funding to $46.5 billion for the biennium, including $664 million in programs targeted to overcoming pandemic-related learning loss
- Investing in the health of Texans by increasing funding for rural hospitals, women’s health programs, and disability services
- Significant investment in infrastructure, including new funds to repair highways and bridges and an increase in funding for the oversight of our electric grid
- Salary increases for law enforcement officers and additional funding to secure the border and combat human trafficking
Last week we crossed the first major deadline of session as we voted the final House Bills out of the chamber, and now we are rapidly approaching the last day to vote out Senate Bills (this coming Tuesday). After that deadline has passed, we will spend most of our time voting out conference reports, which are the products of the negotiations that occur when the House and Senate vote out different versions of a bill.
The biggest outstanding item is the budget. If you’ll remember, the House passed our version of the budget back in April, and negotiations have been taking place between House and Senate appropriators ever since. All signs point to these talks being successful, so I’m optimistic that we will have a balanced, conservative budget headed to the Governor’s desk on time.
Outside of the budget, we are continuing to push legislation that improves child welfare outcomes across the state. We’ve made some great progress on this issue over the last few months, and I’m hopeful that we will get a couple more bills across the finish line. Those interested can find an overview of some of these reforms below.
While I have genuinely enjoyed this session and feel that we’ve accomplished some really good things, I am looking forward to being back in Wichita Falls. One of my favorite parts of returning home is meeting with various clubs, groups, and individuals to recap the last several months and get your feedback. Anyone interested in setting up a meeting can shoot an email to Jim Johnson, my Chief of Staff, at email@example.com.
- HB 3720 seeks to improve the interest list process for Medicaid waiver programs. These waivers allow the state to use Medicaid funds for services like long-term care outside of an institution setting. Unfortunately, there’s a long wait list to receive these services. This bill would require HHSC to collect additional information from applicants in order to increase efficiency in the waitlist process, with the goal of taking another important step towards eliminating the wait lists altogether.
- HB 3691 makes several changes recommended by a Texas Tech study to improve implementation of the community-based foster care model that the legislature created in 2017. In particular, this bill makes it clear that the goal of community-based care is to strengthen and preserve families, thus preventing children from being unnecessarily placed into foster care. HB 3691 also calls for a clear focus on child welfare outcomes when evaluating how our community-based care providers are doing, rather than measuring inputs to the system.
- HB 3 is the omnibus pandemic response bill, which focuses on clarifying which powers are afforded to the state in the event of a pandemic. This bill creates a unified, cohesive response system to pandemics, while also ensuring that the rights and liberties of individuals are not taken away.
- SJR 27 is an amendment to the Texas Constitution prohibiting the state from placing restrictions or limitations on religious services. The Legislature wanted to ensure that the fundamental right to worship is protected from government overreach in the future.
She shall rejoice in time to come.
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
And let her own works praise her in the gates.
- HB 2622 is better known as the Second Amendment Sanctuary bill. In effect, it prevents state agencies and local governments from enforcing any new federal gun laws or restrictions.
- HB 19 seeks to protect commercial vehicle operators from inordinate, unfair lawsuits that often jeopardize small businesses and the transportation services Texans depend on.
- HB 2283 prohibits election administrators from accepting large donations from individuals and organizations for the purposes of administering elections.
- It asserts the right of all law-abiding citizens age 21-and-older to carry a handgun in a holster in public places where it is not otherwise prohibited;
- It maintains background checks that are required when you purchase a gun at a retail store;
- It does nothing to affect laws related to the misuse of any firearm;
- It does not affect the right of business owners and private property owners to exclude handguns on their property in the same manner they do today;