June 15, 2021
Undoubtedly by now you have heard a range of opinions calling this session a significant success, to an unabashed failure. A decent respect towards the opinions of both sides requires that I do my utmost to provide an objective look at this session’s accomplishments, as well as our failings.
The bi-partisan support of Constitutional Carry (HB 1927), which allows permit-less carry to anyone over the age of 21 years of age, was one of the greatest victories I co-authored this session. We also passed: HB 2622 (Coauthor), that makes Texas a Second Amendment Sanctuary state; SB 20, which allows hotel guests to carry and store handguns in their room; HB 1069 allows first responders to defend themselves while on duty, and HB 781, which authorizes junior college school marshals to conceal carry their firearm. Additionally, HB 1500 (Coauthor) prohibits the limiting, suspending or stopping the sale or transportation of firearms during a state of declared disaster. Finally, HB 957 (Coauthor) removes suppressors from the list of prohibited items in the penal code, and any suppressor manufactured and remains in Texas is not subject to federal laws or regulations. I was proud to vote for all of these bills, and co-author the majority of them.
The Legislature provided the funding mechanism necessary to ensure winterization of Texas’ power grids, furnished securitization financing for gas utilities to recover extraordinary costs from Winter Storm Uri and requires a study of measures to mitigate similar future costs. We also reformed the governance of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), by requiring every member of the governing body to be a Texas resident. Finally, we passed SB 3 to ensure the reliability and resiliency of the ERCOT grid by addressing some of the key issues that arose during and after Winter Storm Uri. We also passed SB 1343 which empowers local leaders to make life-saving decisions during a declared state of emergency.
Sanctity of Life
SB 8, also know as the Heartbeat Bill, was signed into law which prohibits abortions after the detection of a baby’s heartbeat. The passage of SB1 also increased funding to the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program by 25%. Finally, we passed HB 1280, which would immediately prohibit abortions in the state of Texas should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.
We required that all houses of worship in the state of Texas be considered essential during declared disasters, and prohibited government disaster orders from closing them (HB 525 & HB 1239). Additionally, we prohibited HOA’s from discriminating against religious displays on private property, and placed a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would prohibit the state from ever limiting or prohibiting church services (SB 581 & SJR 27).
Other Notable Bills
We passed SB 1336, which imposed a spending cap on appropriations by the state to the average rate of population growth for the biennium. Our state Constitution prohibits running a state debt except in very limited circumstances. By the passage of SB 1336, we reaffirmed our commitment to fiscal responsibility and our future generations’ financial solvency. Additionally, my own committee of Land & Resource Management passed long awaited eminent domain reform (HB 2730 by Deshotel). Chairmen Deshotel’s bill was the culmination of 6 years of negotiations and meetings with stakeholders, and I was thankful to support reform that ensures equitable outcomes for all affected parties. Finally, Texas took a stand with many other conservative states by banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Texas schools (HB 3979). Our country has made incredible strides in fulfilling the vision of a society in which one is judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. By passing HB 3979, Texas has asserted our schools will not breed contempt for that progress.
It’s healthy to celebrate the session’s accomplishments while thinking soberly of our missed opportunities and down-right neglect of certain issues. The Republican Party of Texas issued 8 conservative priorities at the beginning of session that serve as a metric on the effectiveness of the Republican majority in the state legislature. We passed only 2 of the 8 priorities.
Election integrity, prohibiting child genital mutilation, total abolition of abortion, monument protection, school choice for all, and a ban on taxpayer funded lobbying are all priorities that died in this session.
Additionally, property tax relief was not prioritized by this Legislature and bills filed towards that goal died very early in the process. Moreover, the human trafficking and immigration problem at our southern border went largely ignored. It is due to these failures that I called upon Gov. Abbott to initiate a special session to pass these priorities for the People of Texas. It is my hope that our coming special sessions will redeem us from these short comings. I look forward to going back to Austin to finish the job you sent me there to do.
State House Representative