From the newsletter sent May 31, 2021
Today is Sine Die, which marks the end of the 87th Legislative Session. While we have made real, important progress this session, it is definitely time to return home. I’m looking forward to spending time with family and friends and meeting with people across the district.
Backing up a bit, we passed some of the most consequential bills of session this past week (and failed to pass one really big one — more on that later). In particular, the House and Senate were able to come to an agreement and pass the budget. We provided a more in-depth overview in a previous newsletter, but some of the highlights of the budget include:
- 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
Outside of the budget, several other meaningful bills were passed this week. SB 2 will increase oversight of ERCOT, ensuring that our grid operators are held to high standards. SB 3, designed to weatherize and strengthen the electric grid, is also headed to the Governor’s desk. Additionally, SB 25 and SJR 19 passed this week establishing the right of residents in long-term care facilities to designate an essential caregiver.
Sunday night on the House floor, I was disappointed that nearly all of the Democrats chose to abdicate a basic responsibility of being a member–show up to represent your district. By leaving the House floor and the Capitol itself, these members prevented the House from having a quorum (100 members present) which means that we cannot vote on legislation. We are supposed to be here for 140 days to get our biennial work done-whether we agree with policies or not. Fortunately, this is likely to have little or no long-term impact in the larger scheme as we will certainly take up the issue of election integrity in a special session later on this year. Ultimately, I expect that the Texas House will end up passing legislation in the next few months that is every bit as strong as SB 7.
While this will be our final weekly newsletter of session, we will be sending out a special end-of-session edition at some point in the next couple weeks. We’ll give a recap of passed legislation in major policy areas, our own legislation, and provide a look-ahead at the interim.
Finally, I hope each of you had a good Memorial Day weekend, surrounded by loved ones. I’m incredibly grateful for the courageous men and women who gave their lives for our freedom. May we never forget their valiant sacrifice.
May God bless you and your family,
James B. Frank