Better Broadband, Permanent Telehealth, First Visitors
From the newsletter sent March 17, 2021.
Last Friday, we gave you an overview of the 23 bills that I have filed this session. Starting this week, I want to discuss some of the many other issues that are being worked on in the Texas House. I have frequently said that while the federal government makes the news, the issues worked on by the state and local governments usually have much more impact on your day-to-day life.
The ERCOT/PUC/electric grid issue continues to rightfully make headlines and will be front and center throughout this session. While it is important that we move quickly, I hope most people understand the need to fully investigate and carefully craft any “solutions” to this very serious issue. While this issue has grabbed most of the attention, there are a myriad of other critical issues that we will be addressing over the remaining 10 weeks left in session, including election integrity, healthcare access and affordability, school funding, and the state’s unemployment system (and funding reserves). We’ll talk in detail about those topics in upcoming newsletters.
However, this week I wanted to highlight two House Speaker priority bills that I fully support: HB 4 (Telehealth Continuity) and HB 5 (Broadband Access). HB 4 would allow Texas to permanently extend telehealth options that were expanded during COVID when in-person visitation was dramatically scaled back. HB 5 creates a new state office designed to map out the areas of the state with the greatest need for broadband access and direct money towards increasing broadband development in those areas. You can read more about each of these bills below.
Finally, this week we were able to welcome a few visitors from back home. President Shipley and other officials from Midwestern State University made the trip to attend the hearing on our bill to make MSU part of the Texas Tech System. We also had the privilege of welcoming Stephanie and Gonzalo Robles from Wichita Falls. I’m hopeful that more folks from HD-69 will stop by as the session progresses.
May God bless you and your family,
James B. Frank