From the newsletter sent March 12, 2021.
Session has officially moved into full speed as we just passed the 60-day mark (of 140). This week, I had 4 bills that were heard in their respective committees. With any luck, we will be able to get one or more of them voted out of committee next week when bills will be voted out of committees for the first time. This week (today specifically) marks the last time that any non-local bills can be filed during this legislative session. To that end, my office actually filed 11 new bills this week (a dubious Frank all-time record). I have outlined these 11 bills below so that you will know what each one does and why I filed it. You can also look at the chart further down to track all of our bills as they move (or don’t move) through the legislative process. Next week, we will have just one bill heard in committee (the bill that would allow for MSU to join the Texas Tech System), but we will be seeking to get some of our bills voted out of committee and others to get their first hearing.
Elsewhere in the Capitol, the Legislature continues to investigate the recent power outages, with particular focus on the failures of both the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Many of you may have heard that ERCOT has fired CEO Bill Magness, and that several members of the PUC have resigned. While these personnel changes may be necessary, it doesn’t negate the need for the Legislature to examine and fix the actual policies and structural flaws that allowed our power grid to fail so badly. In a promising first step, Speaker Phelan announced a series of bills on Monday that attempt to address many of the most obvious failures. Among the bills being proposed are:
- HB 10, which contains language mandating that all members of the PUC are appointed, thereby eliminating the “unaffiliated” positions on the board.
- HB 11, which requires the weatherization of all electric transmission and generation facilities in the Texas power system.
- HB 14, which directs the Railroad Commission to adopt rules requiring gas pipeline operators to weatherize their infrastructure.
These and other proposals will be debated and refined over the coming weeks, and I remain optimistic that we will ultimately arrive at an array of common-sense solutions.
Finally, our work in both the Human Services committee and the Juvenile Justice and Family Issues committee is off to a strong start. We heard testimony on a handful of bills this week (including our Essential Caregivers Act and Child Trauma Reduction Act,) and we will hear several more bills next Monday and Tuesday.
May God bless you and your family,
James B. Frank