Author Archive

Legislative Accomplishments: Eliminating Interest on Rollback Tax & Protecting the Unborn

June 9, 2021

This is my second installment on accomplishments in the recent Texas legislative session that adjourned May 31st.  Much good work has been overlooked.  However, there was also much left undone.  So, when I finish this series, I’ll layout some things I believe the Texas Legislature must accomplish in the special sessions coming later this summer and early fall.

One bill to highlight is also one that I was honored to author, HB 3833. It turned out to be the only significant property tax cut passed this year.  I’m also excited to share with you several bills to protect the unborn.  Texas is now the largest state in the nation to pass such bold pro-life initiatives. 

  
HB 3833 – Eliminating Interest On The Rollback Tax

In 2019, we were able to significantly reduce a huge penalty on landowners when they would change the use of their open space land from agricultural, for example, to another purpose such as building a home or opening a business.  For decades, the rollback tax held back land development and penalized family property owners.  It’s worked like this.  Say you bought or inherited land that had been out in the country.  Years later you decided to convert it to a business purpose or maybe just build your new home.  Well, on whatever acreage you converted from “ag exempt” you’d pay five years back property taxes, at full market value, with interest compounded at 7%!     Last session, in 2019, Texas passed legislation to reduce that five year clawback to three years and the interest from 7% to 5%.  That was a good start but not enough.   

This session I authored HB 3833 which was the only property tax savings to make it to Governor Abbott’s desk and it will do two things.  First, it eliminates the 5% interest when a change of property use occurs.  According to the Legislative Budget Board, this will reduce property taxes $472 million over just the next five years.  Second, we harmonized statute to include certain remaining types of properties that had been left out of the 2019 property tax rollback rate cut. 


Protecting the Unborn – SB 8, Texas Heartbeat Act and HB 1280, Pre-Ban on Abortion

Effective September 1, abortion will be prohibited after a fetal heartbeat is detected!  Current law bans abortion after 20 weeks but the Heartbeat Act will ban abortion at six weeks, probably earlier.  Texas now leads the nation in protecting the life of the unborn.  Tragically, in 2020 alone, over 50,000 abortions were performed in our state. 

The legislature also passed a pre-ban (trigger bill) on abortion which would allow Texas to fully ban all abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.  Rather than waiting for the next legislative session, this new law allows Texas to immediately take action to protect lives. 

In our state budget we also included $100 million in funding for Alternatives to Abortion programs.  Funding for women’s health programs was also increased to a total of $352.6 million for the biennium.  
I’ll continue this series with another installment in just a few days.   

Legislative Accomplishments: Fair Funding of Elections & Supporting Texas Oil & Gas

June 7, 2021

Friends, 

This is my first installment on accomplishments in the recent Texas legislative session that adjourned May 31st.  Much good work has been overlooked.  However, there was also much left undone.  So, when I finish this series, I’ll layout some things I believe the Texas Legislature must accomplish in the special sessions coming later this summer and early fall.

These first two bills, of which I am especially proud, are ones that I was also honored to carry in the House.  

HB 2283 – Fair Funding Of Elections

During the 2020 general election, a $250 million donation from Mark Zuckerberg was given to the Center for Tech and Civil Life which then dispersed (soon called “Zuck Bucks”) to local government election offices for “COVID resources & protocols.”  For example, $10 million was given to Harris County and $15 million to Dallas County where it was used without adequate public oversight and transparency.  This is a very slippery slope and threatens election integrity.  We must maintain the public’s confidence in the election process and safeguard our elections.  HB 2283 will stop the unregulated private funding of county elections offices and its potential for undue influence on the election process.    

SB 13 – Supporting Texas Oil & Gas Industry

The oil and gas industry accounts for 35% of Texas’ economy and Texas is America’s best hope for sustained energy independence.  Yet there is a powerful growing movement calling for financial institutions and large companies to essentially boycott businesses in Texas’ fossil fuel industry.  Environmental activists increasingly demand that large corporations and lenders base their business decisions on environmental/political factors rather than fiduciary considerations. SB 13 will prohibit hundreds of billions in state funds (public retirement funds, etc.) from being invested in entities with anti-Texas agendas geared to hurt America’s energy independence and our Texas economy. 

I’ll continue this series with another installment in just a few days.

Thank you,

Sine Die Session Wrap Up

June 4, 2021

Dear Friends, 

On Monday, May 31st the 87th Legislative Session came to a close. 1,159 bills made it to Governor Abbott’s desk for review.  The Governor has until June 20th to sign or veto this legislation. 

Texas is a rarity in that our Legislature meets for 140 days every odd year.  Given that we are the second largest state and the ninth largest economy in the world it’s getting more and more difficult to complete our work in that short 140 day timeframe.  Because of this the governor must often call additional 30 day special sessions.  I have attended 13 special sessions so far during my time in office. I expect at least one special session to be called by Governor Abbott this summer and another in the early fall. 

As you can imagine, COVID-19 and Winter Storm Uri further stressed the 140 day session this year.  Nonetheless, there were many, many accomplishments for Texans to be proud of that I will be detailing for you over the coming weeks.  For example, we saw huge victories in defense of the unborn and religious liberty, in securing 2nd amendment rights, advancing healthcare, codifying state government spending limits, electricity reform and business liability protection just to name a few.  However, it is not lost on me that several priority bills did not make it across the finish line. I look forward to completing that important work in the soon coming special sessions. 

Unlike the 140 day regular session, in a special the governor alone gets to set the agenda by limiting what topics can be taken up.  I will be urging Governor Abbott to not just address election integrity and bail reform as he has already noted but to add other key priorities to the call like prohibiting gender modification of children, which I believe to be child abuse.  I’ll also request one of my priority bills, SB 14, that died when the Democrats walked out, breaking the constitutional quorum on the last day of session.  SB 14 is a top priority for small business owners throughout the state. 

I want to be mindful of your time.  So, for the next several weeks, I will be sending you short summaries every few days detailing the key legislation passed this year.  As always, I really appreciate hearing from you and I am eager to listen.  Your calls and emails during session were a tremendous help.  I am looking forward to seeing everyone again in Parker and Wise counties before special session starts.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can ever be of assistance. 

 Sincerely,

Historic Week: Election Integrity, Pro-Life Victories

May 9, 2021

This week, we passed some of the strongest, most conservative pieces of legislation in Texas history.

Election Integrity

On Thursday night, the Texas House debated the election integrity priority bill, SB 7, until 3:00 a.m in the morning.  After a marathon debate with over 17 hours straight on the floor, it was finally passed on Friday, marking a huge victory for Republicans.  This bill will now convene a conference committee for both chambers to resolve any differences.

I know many of you have called to express your concerns over the security and validity of the 2020 election.  That’s why I co-authored this benchmark bill, and fought off any attempts by democrats to weaken the bill or include any loopholes.  I can confidently say this bill will go a long way in increasing transparency in our voting process and ensuring that voters can have confidence when casting their ballot.

Voting is our greatest privilege and most powerful tool we have.  It is fundamental to  healthy democracy.  SB 7 is for all Texans.  It creates consistency, produces reliability, and restores trust.
Here are a few key provisions in this bill:

  • Prohibits public officials from unauthorized altering or waiving of an election procedure or practice.
  • Ensures that voter registration is legitimate and accurate by requiring a list of deceased voters to be sent to the appropriate authority within 7 days of being created.
  • Requires elections to be conducted in a consistent manner throughout the entire state.
  • Makes certain that poll watchers are able to properly observe the activity or procedure for which they have jurisdiction and verifies that poll watchers will not disrupt the delivery of marked ballots.
  • Updates the oath of assistance to protect voters who are unable to write or see due to a physical disability from being improperly swayed by an election assistant, and provides that falsifying the oath of assistance amounts to perjury.
  • Provides additional protection to voting by mail by adding a section for voting assistants to attest that they do not receive compensation in return for assisting a voter with their ballot.
  • Prevents election fraud by prohibiting voting in more than one state, the alteration of a ballot, and vote trafficking.
  • Prohibits local governments from spending tax dollars to solicit or distribute applications to vote by mail.
  • Prioritizes cases involving election integrity and ensures these fraud cases are free from potential judicial bias by randomly assigning the cases to a court.
  • Prohibits poll watchers from harassing voters and prevents poll watchers from being removed without cause.

Historic Pro-Life Victories

Not only did we make great strides in securing our elections, but we also made monumental changes to protect life.  

SB 8 is the Texas Heartbeat Bill which bans abortion after a baby’s heartbeat has been detected.  Currently, abortions may be performed in Texas up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy.  With a fetal heartbeat potentially detected at six weeks of pregnancy, this marks a major advancement in the prohibition timeline.  Passing this bill is a huge step forward to saving lives and abolishing abortion here in Texas.

HB 1280 is the Trigger Bill that was also passed this week.  It sets the stage for Texas to institute a prohibition on abortions upon the U.S. Supreme Court overturning its Roe v. Wade decision.  The bill states that 30-days after the courts overturn the landmark case, Texas will immediately institute a ban on the practice of abortions.  The ban will limit the procedure to being performed by licensed medical professionals, and only in times of medical emergency or necessity to save the mother’s life.  This bill is another crucial step Texas has taken and is reflective of our deep commitment to valuing life above all else.  

How to Protest your Appraisal

I know many of you just received your appraisal in the mail and have questions or are shocked by a very high increase in your appraisal.  I’d continue to encourage you to protest your appraisal.  If you are interested in learning more on how to do this, visit the appraisal district website for Parker County HERE or Wise County HERE.  There will be step by step instructions with a protest form to complete.  I also found this document Property Taxpayer Rights & Remedies helpful for what you need to know when protesting an appraisal.  

Property Tax Relief Legislation Advances to Senate 

 In an effort to reduce the property tax burden, I authored HB 3833.  Yesterday, this bill became the only property tax cut bill to be passed on the floor this session.  HB 3833 standardizes and extends the same 3 year reduced rollback tax penalty we did for open space land and timber land to all other properties that can get penalized when a change of use occurs.  In addition to that, we completely eliminated any interest from being charge in connection with a rollback tax.  This was a huge victory for landowners.   

The cost of the rollback tax is a strong deterrent for landowners to try and find the best use for their land.  It should be the landowner’s decision for what is best use of their property and it should be their decision without a penalty.  I look forward to one day completely getting rid of this excessive tax burden all together.  

Texans need and deserve tax cuts. No one should be taxed out of their home.  We will continue to look for meaningful ways to reduce this burden.  


Protecting Oil & Gas Interests

I am proud to report that on Tuesday the House passed SB 13, a bill that I carried, that will ensure Texas does not give business to financial institutions that are actively trying to harm Texas oil & gas companies.  Over the past few years, in the name of extreme environmentalism, some financial institutions have announced their intention to divest from and financially harm companies in the oil and gas sector.  This is a direct affront to the lifeblood of the Texas economy and has made it much more difficult for Texas oil and gas companies to secure financing, thus harming many hard-working Texans. 

SB 13, a bill that Senator Brian Birdwell and I authored together, will ensure that Texas does not give it’s business to firms who are complicit in harming the Texas miracle.  Next stop, Governor Abbott’s desk!

And in case you missed it, here’s an interview I did earlier this week on the bill.

Update on Priority Legislation and Education Funds

May 3, 2021

Priority Legislation

Two of my priority bills that I filed this session have passed the Texas House and are now over in the Senate.

HB 2283

Did you know that Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, poured over $350 million into the 2020 election cycle to help conduct the elections? Turns out this money was being largely funneled to urban and mostly democratic stronghold counties with essentially no transparency or accountability. Some rural jurisdictions did apply and received funding but their allotment was pennies compared to the urban jurisdictions. Dallas county received $15 million and Harris county received $9.6 million. Our elections must be fair and equal across the board and avoid any appearance of undue influence from a third party. That’s why I filed HB 2283 to prohibit private money to local election offices.

This bill is a huge victory in ensuring election integrity by preventing corporations or dark money from donating millions to our local elections. HB 2283 ensures that our elections are fairly funded, free of “ZuckBucks”, and remain a transparent and equitable process moving forward. I am proud to be the author of this very important bill, and grateful to my colleagues in the Texas Legislature for supporting it. To read more about it, click HERE.

HB 323

This bills creates a grant program to provide financial assistance to law enforcement agencies in Texas to become accredited. Accreditation will help professionalize the industry, streamline communication between the local community and officers, and ensure the highest standard of excellence in law enforcement.

Having been a police officer for almost 15 years and a reserve office for another 20+ years, I know the importance and value of having trusted, highly skilled workers in law enforcement. I authored this bill so law enforcement agencies in Texas have the funding, incentive, and tools necessary to become the leading example for all other agencies in the nation to follow. It’s time we invest in our law enforcement not defund them and ensure they become recognized for their exceptional work and service they provide.

An Additional $11.2 Billion in Federal Funds for Texas Schools Announced

On Wednesday, Governor Abbott announced that the state would release $11.2 billion in federal funding to public schools through grants administered by the TEA. With the release of these funds, schools will be able to address key losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds will go a long way in alleviating any learning loss from the past year and make sure that every child gets the support they need. I am extremely committed to our public schools and ensuring that Texas students teachers, and families have the tools and resources they need to succeed.

The timing couldn’t have been better. The following day after the announcement several of our superintendents from Region 11 were at the capitol to visit with legislators and we discussed what a difference these additional funds are going to make as well as other legislative priorities for public schools.

It is always great to get to see and spend quality time with community leaders such as our superintendents at the capitol during session. In attendance were Aledo ISD, Millsap ISD, Azle ISD and Boyd ISD represented from HD 61 at the capitol.

More 2nd Amendment Priority Legislation Passes Texas House

Two weeks ago the Texas House passed HB 1927, the permit-less carry bill. The Senate held a hearing on it and it is one step closer to being signed by the Governor. This past week, we passed HB 2622, that makes Texas a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary State. I supported this legislation to make sure that Texans are able to defend themselves and exercise their right to keep and bear arms.

29 Days of the 87th Legislative Session Remain

We are now in the last month of session. This next few weeks are going to be very long and arduous. We still have many priority issues to address. Now that the budget has passed both chambers and we are in conference committee working out the differences, we will start to see the very political bills hit the floor. We will likely have some very difficult and very partisan arguments in the coming weeks on issues like ending abortion, fairness in women’s sports, critical race theory, election integrity and ending taxpayer funded lobbying.

This is the time of session when emotions are high, there is a lot of pressure to get things done and we are all operating off very little sleep. I ask that you keep me and my office in your prayers. This is very serious and important work that you elected me to do and it is also the most trying time of the session. Pray for all of us to stay healthy, that I make the right choices for the district, to have patience and treat others the way we want to be treated.

As always, I really appreciate hearing from you and am eager to listen. Your calls and emails to the office are a tremendous help as I am often reviewing and voting on hundreds of measures just in one day. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can ever be of assistance.

Health Care Reform, Property Tax Appraisals and More

April 26, 2021

Health Care Reform Passes the Texas House 

We have made large strides for Texans on the path to health care reform.  Two key pieces of health care reform policy that will help Texans have more options to access care and reduce the cost of prescriptions for Texans in need have passed the Texas House.  Last session we banned surprise medical billing and this session we are building upon that success by pushing for more transparency in medical billing, more affordable plans and expanding access to care.    
 HB 18, more widely known as the Texas Cares Act, helps uninsured and underinsured Texans by lowering the cost of prescription medicines through a self-supported fund. This self-sustaining fund would be restored by annual rebates, which come from the use of existing market tools.

HB 4 ensures that Texans have the option to receive health care services through telemedicine and tele-health services.

First Meal Delivery: Tarrant Area Food Bank West in Parker County  

Yesterday I was honored to participate in the first-ever distribution of food to moms and their families with the Governor of the Day, Senator Brian Birdwell at the new Tarrant Area Food Bank West Distribution Center located in Weatherford.  We were also joined by Senator Drew Springer, Congressman Roger Williams, Mayor Paul Paschall and Mayor Marc Povero.  

Vote on Budget Amendment

I’ve been asked why I voted as I did on an amendment to the budget that came before the Texas House Thursday night. We have taken a number of important votes this week on very critical topics that range from taxes to schools to transportation to health care. But what is generating the most questions at home is one of private school funding.

The question of taxpayer funding of private schools or “school choice” came up in a roundabout way during the 250+ amendments considered yesterday as we debated the appropriations (budget) bill. I have been asked why I voted a “yes” on an amendment that said, in essence, that no taxpayer funds in this budget would be spent on private school funding.

Given the circumstances my “yes” vote was the correct vote. The budget did fully fund the only school choice program in Texas which is our charter schools, which I support. There is no other private school funding program in Texas. No bill to create a taxpayer funded school choice program—beyond that of charter schools —will be created this year. My larger concern is that we fully met our funding commitment to public schools when we have an almost $1 billion dollar deficit. At the end of the day, ALL members of the Texas House voted “yes” on the appropriations bill which included the amendment I supported.

Further Reductions in Clawback Tax

Last session we were able to significantly reduce a substantial penalty on landowners when they decide to change the use of his or her open space land from agricultural uses to something else.  A “rollback tax” or what I would refer to as a clawback tax is imposed where a landowner must pay local taxing entities 5 year clawback on the market value of the property as if it never held an agricultural exemption plus 7 percent compounded interest.  We reduced that to 3 year clawback with 5 percent compounded interest.           

This clawback tax substantially hinders your property rights and there is simply no justification for this excessive penalty that prevents properties from advancing to their highest and best use. This session I filed HB 3833 that harmonizes the clawback for other types of land that also incur the clawback tax when a change of use occurs.  HB 3833 was voted out of the Ways & Means committee with unanimous consent and is heading to the House floor.  It applies to airport property, restricted use timber land and recreational, park or scenic use land.  My goal is to over time completely eliminate the rollback tax on all types of land that incur this excessive penalty.       

Appraisals and Tax Rates

Many of you have called our office to share your frustrations about your recent appraisal.  I completely understand and share your frustrations. I appealed our home and business appraisal last year and I encourage you to do the same if it is high.  Property tax bills are skyrocketing and the state is looking for ways to provide relief.  But I will remind you, the state Legislature is limited in what we can do because only local authorities can levy property taxes.    Appraisals are to be a reflection of the true market value of a property and our counties are growing very fast.  The demand is very high in our area and our supply is not keeping up with the demand so we are seeing the market value of homes increase significantly.

Last session we implemented SB 2 which limits property tax growth by setting a 3.5% cap in property tax revenue over the previous year.  We sought to clarify the property tax process and provide taxpayers more opportunities to get engaged to ensure their voices were heard in the process local elected officials follow to set tax rates which determine property tax bills.  So what is critical now is what tax rates are set at the school, city and county level.  Just because your appraisal has increased doesn’t mean the taxes you will pay should increase and that is what SB 2 is trying to ensure is limited.  Because jurisdictions are now capped on how much they can grow their revenue, jurisdictions may be in a position to reduce their tax rates providing relief to homeowners while still maintaining the same level of revenue.  Just because the appraisals are growing doesn’t mean the tax collections should continue to increase.   

We do still need additional reforms on appraisals process and making sure true market value is assessed and applied equally around the state.  The number one call I still get is how homeowners are being taxed out of owning their homes.  Much of the property taxes you are paying is school district taxes.  The state and local share of funding our schools has been a difficult balance to strike with no perfect solution.  I have filed bills over the years to completely eliminate school property taxes which is such an unfair regressive tax and swap with a consumption based tax like sales tax.    

If you have more questions about your appraisal or wish to protest your appraisal, visit the appraisal district website for Parker County HERE or Wise County HERE.  

As always, I really appreciate hearing from you and am eager to listen.  Your calls and emails to the office are a tremendous help as I am often reviewing and voting on hundreds of measures just in one day.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can ever be of assistance.  

Quick Update on My Week in the Texas Legislature

April 18, 2021

People are always surprised to learn how much work goes into being a legislator.  This is my reading and study material just for yesterday.  This week I will be presenting five of my bills in committee, three of my bills on the House floor as well as a number of floor amendments.  

Parker County Day at the Texas State Capitol 

We had a great event in Austin hosted by East Parker County Chamber of Commerce, Weatherford Chamber of Commerce and Springtown Chamber of Commerce.  We conducted a private night tour of the capitol and had an in depth legislative discussion.  Often issues that on their face seem so simple are actually very complex once you learn all the details.  The local delegation had many productive meetings with various legislative offices.  It was so great to see everyone and have friends and local elected officials come visit and see the legislative session in action. 

HB 1115 is Heard and Passed Out of Committee 

I laid out a bill to rename a portion of Hwy 114 in Bridgeport as the Sergeant Randy D White Memorial Highway to honor his life and service to the citizens of Bridgeport.  Sergeant White was killed in the line of duty and his end of watch was on April 2, 2009.  He had served 5 years with the Bridgeport PD and was a loving husband and father and a courageous officer.  The committee not only heard the bill but also voted it out of committee the same day (which is very unusual) with all members of the committee standing as they cast their vote as a sign of respect and gratitude.   I was joined by Chief Steve Stanford and Sergeant White’s widow Janet and daughter Jadyn.  

Constitutional Carry Advances to the Senate 

This week I was proud to cast my vote for House Bill 1927, the Constitutional Carry bill I co-authored to ensure our Second Amendment Freedoms. The day featured more than 7 hours of debate, and I was honored to work with gun rights organizations to help ensure passage. The bill – a top conservative priority for this session – was voted out of the Texas House, taking us one step closer to becoming the 21st state to allow permitless carry.

Budget to be Heard on House Floor 

On Thursday, April 22nd, the Texas House will debate the draft budget, SB 1.  Unlike in Washington, the Texas Legislature passes balanced budgets using four Constitutional limits on spending and growth.  This keeps our spending in check every two years.  Last year, Texas was expected to have up to a $5 billion budget shortfall in response to the pandemic.  But based on the Biennial Revenue Estimate released in January, the real number is closer to $1 billion.  Below is a summary of the base budget bill we will be debating on the House floor this Thursday.

Texas’ Response to Border Crisis and This Week in the Legislature

March 27, 2021


Texas Responds to Border Crisis

The Biden administration has failed on every level to secure our border. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary admitted that apprehensions could reach levels not seen in almost 20 years. This is a rapidly growing humanitarian crisis at our border that must be addressed. With a surge of migrants, influx of COVID-19 cases, and a rising threat of drug cartels and human trafficking, Texas is stepping up (once again due to lack of federal support) to take care of our residents and the unaccompanied minors who are at severe risk of being trafficked and endangered.

Efforts to address this crisis are well underway. Texas has currently deployed over 1,000 DPS troopers, agents, and Texas Rangers as part of Operation Lone Star to help secure the border, combat human trafficking, and protect Texans. We are augmenting with tactical resources from Special Operations Groups and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle teams.  Texas has also received authorization for National Guard to establish operations along the river.  The Texas Department of Public Safety is also conducting interviews with unaccompanied minors coming into our country to identify instances of trafficking and acquire intelligence that will lead to the arrest of these heinous criminals.

We are also investigating the conditions at facilities where the migrant children are being sent to ensure they have access to safe drinking water and a suitable living environment. In addition, the Texas Department of State Health Services has been deployed to investigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19 at these migrant facilities.

In total, we have appropriated $800.6 million in Texas for border security funding to be utilized in the current biennium.  We have also added 250 new Troopers and provided over $22 million in additional funds to fight human trafficking and anti-gang activities, improve and install border cameras, and establish a new tactical training facility in Cameron County.  

While it’s clear the Biden administration has shown egregious inaction and inability to secure our border, Texas is taking tangible and substantive steps to fill the gaps and accomplish what our federal government cannot. I want you to know, we are 100% committed to keeping our citizens safe, and our families cared for. We will defend Texas from this growing threat.  And we will deploy any necessary resources to help secure the border although it is a federal responsibility.  

This Week in the Texas Legislature 

We celebrated World Down Syndrome Day at the Texas Capitol by wearing brightly colored, mismatched socks.  Traditionally it is celebrated on March 21 because people with Down syndrome have 3 copies of their 21st chromosome.   

When session adjourned my colleagues and I went to visit with Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Three of my priority bills were heard in committee this week.  One that was implementing tools for transmission and distribution utilities to help restore power in the event of widespread power outage.  The other two were law enforcement related and Chief Steve Stanford from Bridgeport PD and Sheriff Lane Akin of Wise county joined me to provide expert testimony. 

I also had a great visit in my capitol office this week with Aledo ISD Superintendent Susan Bohn to discuss upcoming education issues the legislature will be addressing.  I always enjoy my visits with constituents and leaders from the district and appreciate hearing from you through emails and phone calls to the office.  

The House Committee on State Affairs met for over 20 hours starting Thursday morning at 8:00 am and ending around 5:00 am on Friday.  Topics for discussion included disallowing local jurisdictions to defund police and a statewide preemption bill to ban homeless camping in public places.  We also heard several religious liberties bills where local jurisdictions cannot prohibit worship service at churches during a disaster.  Bills were heard to require transparency and reporting of registered lobbyists and to end taxpayer funded lobbying.  Other committees this week heard bills on police reform and 2nd Amendment rights like constitutional carry.  To date, committees in the House have heard over 580 bills.  Many have been passed out and are heading to the House floor to be debated.  

Next week the House will be hearing on the floor several emergency electricity bills that came as a result of Winter Storm Uri.  I also have three more bills that I will be laying out in committees that include other priorities such as defining antisemitism and creating a commission to combat and educate on this issue and legislation that requires divestment in public funds of companies that boycott the energy industry.  

Legislative Priorities

March 21, 2021

I am sharing with you today priority legislation with statewide impact that I have authored this session.  This list is not exhaustive – I have filed several other bills including ones brought to me by local leaders.  For now, I would like to outline the most critical measures with statewide significance that I am working on.  There are many other very important and pressing issues facing Texans that the legislature will be addressing, including measures that I support like the SREC Legislative Priorities.  It truly is the tyranny of the urgent.  We are working through concrete solutions on electricity issues, election integrity, religious liberties, pro-life measures, appraisal reform, limiting government overreach, police reform, budget, school finance, border security, redistricting and so many other prominent issues of equal importance.   

HCR 14 – Claiming Texas sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution
This concurrent resolution reasserts the balance of power between the federal government and Texas.  Regardless of who is in control, reaffirming the 10th amendment sends a clear message that Texans’ rights shall not be infringed upon.  A limited, decentralized federal government has always been the intent of our founders and Texans hold the absolute authority. 

HB 2283 – Election Integrity: Fair Funding of Elections
This legislation will stop the unregulated private funding of county elections offices.  All elections would be funded only by taxpayer money through a fair and transparent process.  During the 2020 general election, a $250 million donation from Mark Zuckerberg was given to the Center for Tech and Civil Life which then dispersed the Zuckerbucks to county level elections offices for “COVID resources & protocols.”  For example, $10,000,000.00 was given to Harris County and $15.000,000.00 to Dallas County where they were used without adequate public oversight.  This is a very slippery slope and threatens election integrity.   

HB 323 – Investing in Law Enforcement: LEA Accreditation Grant Program
Investing in our law enforcement agencies by offering a grant program to facilitate professional accreditation.  Accrediting programs raise the bar in all aspects of law enforcement including recruitment, training, supervision, mission capabilities and community relations. Accreditation will help Texas law enforcement achieve the highest standards of excellence. 

HB 796 – Protecting 2nd Amendment: Critical Reforms to Texas’ Self-Defense Law – McCloskey Act
Addresses a conflict between terms used in Texas’ justified defense and aggravated assault statues and adds the offense of arson to those violent crimes where Castle Doctrine style protections would apply when force or deadly force is used.  Most recently, we have seen cases like the McCloskey family in St. Louis where merely exhibiting (not discharging) a weapon in self-defense have been charged with a second-degree felony.  Although I hope this would never happen in Texas, this clarification in statute is critical. 

HB 1848 – Delaying the Primary Election in 2022
With Census data not expected to be delivered to states until September 30, 2021, we will have a very short timeframe to redistrict political district boundaries and ensure one person/one vote per the 14th Amendment.  This bill allows the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker to agree to delay the primary election no later than July 1, 2022 to ensure the Legislature has time to redraw Congressional, Texas House, Senate and SBOE maps. 

HB 2189 – Oil & Gas Investment Protection
Environmental activists are increasingly pressuring corporations to take action on political issues instead of prioritizing fiduciary responsibility. This legislation will ensure taxpayer dollars (public retirement funds, etc.) are not invested in entities with anti-Texan agendas that discriminate against theTexas energy industry killing jobs and deterring energy independence.  

HB 2843 –Restoring Service after Widespread Outage
Widespread electricity outages can have significant impact on constituents.  Recent hurricanes and winter storm events have shown the need for a transmission and distribution utility to have additional tools to avoid or reduce the duration or impact of such outages.  The potential for physical or cybersecurity threats also establishes this need.  This legislation provides new resources to transmission and distribution utilities with which to restore service after widespread outages. 

HB 2949 – ProLife: Opt-In Written Consent for Elective Abortion by Medical Resident
One of the most tragic things happening today and mostly unknown to the general public is in the training of new physicians in their residency program requirement to perform an elective abortion.  Currently, we are in an “opt out” method culture where you have to complete this abortion training unless you choose to opt out.  This legislation will take Texas back to “opt in” method where no one is expected or pressured to complete this training unless they choose to participate in abortion procedures.  

HB 3257 – Texas Commission on Antisemitism
American Jews face a higher percentage of attacks and hate crimes than any other faith group in the country according to the Department of Justice.  This legislation adopts the international definition of antisemitism and it’s examples.  Additionally, it establishes a Commission to study and identify educational opportunities to combat and reduce antisemitism. 

HB 3471 – Ban Sale of Personal Data from Certain State Agencies
Governmental entities are selling, disclosing, and allowing resale of Texans personal information.  That information can include name, address and driver’s license numbers along with vehicle registration and title information.  This legislation restricts the disclosure of personal information to essential government agencies and forbids the redisclosure or resale to marketing and technology companies. 

HB 4466 – Distortion of Market caused by Intermittent Generation Resources 
Because wind is so heavily subsidized by the federal government, renewable energy can be sold on the grid at zero or sometimes even negative prices.  This creates a disincentive in the market for any additional thermal generation, which is the most reliable energy, to be built.  Over the years, ERCOT has needed to purchase more ancillary services (back up reserve power) because wind and solar productivity is intermittent and dependent on weather.  The costs of the ancillary services are shared across the grid (aka consumers).  This legislation would attribute cost of the reserve power required to back up intermittent generation to those generation resources. 
To read more about what bills I have filed, joint authored or co-authored, click HERE.  

I really appreciate hearing from you and am eager to listen.  Your calls and emails to the office are a tremendous help as I am often reviewing and voting on hundreds of measures just in one day.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can ever be of assistance.  

HB 3 Government Powers During A Pandemic, Social Media Censorship, Antisemitism

March 15, 2021
  60th Day of Session: Bill Filing Deadline 

Friday, March 12th, marked the 60th day of our 140 day legislative session.  This is a critical deadline for the legislature as it is the last day a bill can be filed for consideration during the 87th Legislative Session.  A total of 7,467 bills were filed in the House and Senate.  This is a decline of more than 30% from what what we see during a typical legislative session.  

These last few weeks have been very busy as we have been finalizing my legislative package and attending formal committee hearings which are now in full swing.

  HB 3, Limiting Executive Powers and Pandemic Response 

This week the State Affairs Committee, on which I serve, held a hearing to receive testimony on the committee substitute to HB 3, the Texas Pandemic Response Act.  We listened to a long day of panelists, including citizens from all over Texas, as they shared their varied opinions and heartfelt reactions to this bill. 

I know many of you have called our office and expressed your opposition to HB 3 in its current form.  I’d like to give an update and provide some clarity on the status of HB 3. 

First, it is important to note, that this legislation is evolving and has not yet been voted on by our committee.  It is in the earliest stages and is very much a work in progress.  I have been in frequent communication with the bill author.  I am expecting additional changes to be made in response to expressed concerns of both committee members and the public. 

While the committee substitute to HB 3 is a step in the right direction from the original filed bill, there is still much work to be done. I hope to see a new revised committee substitute sometime this week.  For a great synopsis of the committee substitute to HB 3, please refer to the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s testimony.  It’s a very interesting read.  

I still have serious concerns with this bill.  HB 3 will need additional revisions in order to earn my vote.  For starters, it is essential that the bill prescribe a process to allow the Texas Legislature to call itself into a special session whenever a statewide disaster (such as a pandemic) occurs and continues for an extended period.  While this authority is now reserved to the Governor alone by the Texas Constitution, I believe it is important that this right be granted to the Texas House and Senate in very limited circumstances.  
My focus, as always, will be on limited government and individual liberties.  During emergencies we need clear boundaries for state and local government.  With this in mind, I really appreciate (and need) your input on HB 3.  Please submit any thoughts or recommendations here.  
 
Social Media Censoring Free Speech 

A hearing was held last week on SB 12, a bill that prohibits social media companies from censoring Texans. This is a critical bill for the legislature that I strongly support.  I know I’ve had posts wrongfully blocked or removed and many of you have had similar experiences. Just last week Newt Gingrich was locked out from Twitter for a post about the crisis on the border.  No matter what platform you use (Facebook, GAB, Parlor, Twitter, etc) we must protect all speech and viewpoints, even if it is something with which we disagree. 
 
Antisemitism – HB 3257 

American Jews face a higher percentage of attacks and hate crimes than any other faith group in the country according to the Department of Justice.  Because of this, I have filed a bill to address the growing area of crime and religious persecution.  HB 3257 adopts the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism and it’s examples.   Additionally, it establishes a Texas commission to study antisemitism and identify educational opportunities to combat and reduce antisemitism.  

  Other Legislation  

I have filed numerous other bills which I will detail in future reports.  These cover a wide variety of prominent issues in Parker and Wise counties such as pro-life, election integrity, law enforcement, 10th amendment, the recent blackouts and upholding 2nd amendment rights.  Until then, please reach out at anytime.  I always learn from your input.