From the newsletter dated February 5, 2021
From a personal perspective, the most important event of the week for me and most members was Speaker Phelan announcing committee assignments. I’m happy to report that I have been asked to serve as the Chairman of the Human Services Committee. For those who don’t know, the Human Services Committee considers and makes policies governing:
- Texas Medicaid System
- Nursing Homes & Long-Term Care Facilities
- State Hospitals
- State-Supported Living Centers
- Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services
I’ve also been appointed to the Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee, which will be a new and exciting role for me and my team. You can find a more detailed explainer on these committee assignments below.
Committee work will begin shortly, as according to the Texas Constitution, “When convened in regular Session, the first thirty days thereof shall be devoted to the introduction of bills and resolutions…During the succeeding thirty days of the regular session of the Legislature the various committees of each House shall hold hearings to consider all bills and resolutions and other matters then pending…During the remainder of the session the Legislature shall act upon such bills and resolutions as may be then pending.” That means that once we hit the 30-day mark, committees can begin to hold hearings and consider legislation. At 60 days, the House can finally vote on pending bills and resolutions.
While this mandated timeline can give the appearance that the first month of session is wasted time, it’s actually a useful window for the House to get organized, and for members to draft legislation and gain support for one’s priorities. Doing all of this work up front allows us to hit the ground running once we reach the 60-day mark.
The exception to this rule is the consideration of “emergency items.” Each session, the Governor has the opportunity to designate certain issues as emergency items, which allows the Legislature to consider bills related to those issues before the 60-day starting line. Per Governor Abbott’s recent State of the State address, this session’s emergency items are: broadband internet access, election integrity, the bail system, Covid-related liability protections, and police funding.
Finally, if you’re closely following the bill tracker each week, you’ll notice a new bill has appeared – HB 1522, which formalizes MSU Texas’s membership in the Texas Tech System. It is my sincere hope and belief that becoming part of the TTU System will help MSU Texas grow and provide more students with a great education in Wichita Falls. More details on the bill are below.
May God bless you and your family,
James B. Frank