Legislative Accomplishments: Health Care Reform and Protecting Religious Liberty

June 21, 2021

This is my seventh 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.

Health Care Reform: Expanding Access to Care and TeleHealth 

A priority this legislative session was the expansion of telemedicine and overall access to affordable healthcare services.  During the pandemic, having robust broadband and telehealth services became more critical for Texans than we had ever expected.  Although there is much left to do in improving access and affordability some very good progress was made. 

HB 4 – Expands telemedical services eligible for reimbursement. 

HB 18 – Lowers prescription costs by establishing a self-replenishing fund for prescription rebates to serve uninsured and under-insured Texans. 

HB 2056 – Allows for teledentistry practices to serve rural Texans.

SB 1137 – Requires hospitals to disclose to the public certain health care information, including a list of standard charges and shoppable services.

HB 3752 – Creates the Texas Mutual Health Coverage Plan available to individuals and small businesses who lack traditional health insurance.  This will allow cost-effective solutions and affordable health insurance to the marketplace. 

HB 3924 – Authorizes the Texas Farm Bureau to offer a health benefit plan to its members giving rural Texans better access to competitive health plans.  

Protecting Religious Liberty 

During the pandemic, we all witnessed disturbing displays of government overreach.  I was shocked to see houses of worship actually ordered closed.  Almost all Texans would agree that the First Amendment unequivocally guarantees our freedom to gather in worship and that government has no role in religious practices and should never interfere.  Yet it became apparent that we needed to reinforce this principle in Texas law.  So, four bills were passed to make it clear that religious liberty is paramount across our state. 

HB 1239, SB 581 and SB 525 were passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Abbott to ensure that going forward religious liberties would be protected in Texas.  Of greatest importance is SJR 27 which is a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution.  If approved by the voters next November it will place into the Texas Constitution a specific prohibition on the closing of houses of worship by local officials. 

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

Legislative Accomplishments: Spending Limits, Rural Broadband & Business Liability Protections

June 18, 2021

This is my sixth 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.

Spending Limits 

SB 1136 will limit the growth of state government in Texas by capping government spending.  Government spending is out of control in Washington, DC but we will not allow that to happen in Texas.  This new law will very effectively limit the rate of growth in state spending by capping each new state budget at a factor of population growth adjusted for inflation. 

Rural Broadband 

Major reforms were passed this session to address the need for rural broadband and help accelerate its deployment.  COVID-19 highlighted the critical importance of a robust broadband infrastructure network.  Remote learning, access to telemedicine, economic development and other facets of life hinge on the availability of dependable high speed internet.  HB 6 creates a broadband expansion plan to deliver high-speed internet to underserved areas in Texas.  Other measures such as HB 1505 and HB 3853 were also passed that will help expedite the process to deliver high speed internet.  

Business Liability Protections 

SB 6 amends current law relating to liability for certain claims arising during a pandemic or a disaster related to a pandemic.  This legislation will provide retroactive lawsuit protections for large and small businesses, religious institutions, non-profit entities, healthcare providers, first responders, and education institutions to assist with post-pandemic recovery efforts.   

Legislative Accomplishments: Reasserting the Tenth Amendment and Second Amendment Protections

June 16, 2021

This is my fifth 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. 

Reasserting the Tenth Amendment 

We are all “fed up” with the federal government’s overreach.  Our Tenth Amendment has remained under assault now for many decades as Congress and federal courts act in direct violation of the Constitution.  The Tenth Amendment was intended to hold Washington DC in check, preventing federal encroachment into our individual liberties and into the sovereign authority of the several states.   SCR 12, which I authored and carried in the House, reasserts Texas’ sovereignty over all powers not specifically enumerated in the U.S. Constitution and thereby granted to the federal government.  SCR 12 serves as a formal demand from Texas to Washington to halt its flagrant disregard for the U.S. Constitution and the inalienable rights of all Texans.  

Second Amendment Protections 

The Second Amendment is under attack by the Biden administration.  Texas adopted several preemptive measures to ensure your right to defend yourself, your family and your property.  Tomorrow, Governor Abbott will be at the Alamo for a bill signing ceremony to officially make the policies listed below new law in Texas. 
 HB 957 – Removes federal restrictions on firearm suppressors that are manufactured in Texas.

HB 1500 – Protects gun and ammo stores from being shut down by local or state officials during a disaster declaration.

HB 1927 – Known as Constitutional Carry, this legislation allows all law-abiding Texans age 21 and older to carry a holstered handgun for personal protection while observing all safe gun practices. 

HB 2622 – Naming Texas a Second Amendment Sanctuary State, providing another layer of protection against federal overreach.

SB 19 – Prohibits state contracts with companies that discriminate against firearm or ammunition companies.

SB 20 – Prohibits a hotel from adopting a firearms policy that prohibits a hotel guest from storing a handgun or ammunition in the guest’s hotel room or vehicle. 

SB 550 – Allows one to use any type of holster when properly carrying a handgun in Texas either openly or concealed. 

Legislative Accomplishments: Electricity Reform Measures

June 14, 2021

This is my fourth 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.

Winter Storm Response: Electricity Reform Measures 

After Winter Storm Uri caused catastrophic statewide power outages the focus of the legislative session quickly shifted to the electric power industry.  Over a dozen substantive and complex bills ultimately passed that will be effective September 1, 2021 that cover a range of issues from power generation to transmission and distribution to the retail electricity market.  This included the restructuring of the Public Utility Commission and ERCOT, the entities charged with regulating and operating Texas’ power grid and electricity market.  We also directed the PUC to investigate, study and provide additional data to the Legislature needed in advance of upcoming legislative sessions.

As a member of the State Affairs Committee, I spent weeks post-storm in committee hearings and stakeholder meetings trying to identify the critical reforms necessary to improve the reliability and resiliency of our grid.  (Almost all bills dealing with this crisis passed through our State Affairs Committee.)  I carried and passed four important measures within the Winter Storm Uri response legislative package.  Those measures include: 

1. A streamlining of the process for construction of new transmission lines. This will help eliminate current impediments to power distribution (congestion) and more timely meet the need for expansion of Texas’ power grid (SB 1281);

2. A requirement for the PUC/ERCOT to study apparent distortions in Texas’ electricity market caused by a growing dependence on intermittent electricity generation resources (renewables) (stand alone bill added to SB 3); 

3.  New capabilities for transmission and distribution utilities (TDU’s such as Oncor) with which to provide emergency power during outages and with which to speed power restoration (HB 2483); and 

4. A commercial load management program for TDU’s to help reduce and/or prevent load shedding events such as those that caused the widespread outages (amendment to HB 10 and then added in SB 3).

A partial listing of additional measures passed as a part of Winter Storm Uri response include: 

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

Legislative Accomplishments: Consumer Privacy & Fighting Antisemitism

June 11, 2021

This is my third 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.

I was excited to carry SB 15 and HB 3257 in the House.  Both pieces of legislation are very critical victories for Texans and even garnered bipartisan support.

SB 15 – Consumer Privacy 

Tired of getting call after call from telemarketers?  This legislation creates new protections for Texans’ personal information contained in the state’s motor vehicle and drivers license records.  SB15 prohibits the unregulated sale of personal information for marketing and should greatly curtail pesky robocalls—-like those on your “extended car warranty.”   

HB 3257 – Fighting Antisemitism 

Texas must lead the nation in combating antisemitism at this very critical time.  Recently, Facebook shut down the Jerusalem Prayer Team page after it was flooded with antisemitic content during the rocket attacks in Israel.  Attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions are now commonly in the news.  HB 3257 adopts the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition on antisemitism for Texas and creates a nine member commission to inform and guide the Legislature on how to combat antisemitism, as well as educate and raise awareness of the Holocaust. 

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

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


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. 


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.