Weekly Lege Update – May 10, 2015

May 10, 2015

There are just over three weeks before the 84th Legislative Session comes to a close. The House has been hard at work this week tackling some issues that will make a positive impact on our state for years to come.

Tightening Spending Limits

The House passed House Joint Resolution 111 this week, which limits budget growth and brings greater transparency to how your tax dollars are spent. I am a proud coauthor on HJR 111 because the Legislature shouldn’t spend money it doesn’t have. HJR 111 will ensure future legislators spend tax dollars for the purpose they were originally allocated and don’t divert them to pay for other programs. It is also important to note this legislation will help the Comptroller provide a more accurate revenue forecast to future legislatures so they can know what our state can allocate toward the budget.

Hearing on Seismic Activity

The House Energy Resources Committee met this week to hear invited testimony regarding seismic activity. Experts who conducted the SMU study presented information to the committee indicating that seismic activity is tied to disposal wells in Azle and Reno. They also indicated that recent quakes in Dallas County were not linked to oil & gas production.

Just this week Johnson County experienced an earthquake measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale. As a member of the Energy Resources Committee, I can tell you the Legislature and the Railroad Commission are taking this issue very seriously. The day after the seismic activity in Johnson County, top Railroad Commission personnel were on the ground inspecting wells to ensure their integrity. The House is also fast tracking $4.4 million for the purchase of seismographs and other resources to determine the cause of exactly why these events continue to occur in North Texas.

Texas Time?

One of the more interesting debates on the House floor this week was on House Bill 150, which, had it passed, would have eliminated daylight savings time in Texas. My office has been contacted by a sizable number of constituents asking me to support this legislation. Unfortunately, it failed to pass by a vote of 56-79. An amusing part of the debate was when the House unanimously adopted an amendment that would have put our state on “Texas time” had House Bill 150 become law. In reality if the bill became law we would simply stay on Central Standard Time. Like many of you who called my office to support ending daylight savings time, I find the practice of “falling back” and “rolling forward” tedious and unnecessary. That’s why I voted for this legislation. There’s a slight chance House Bill 150 could be taken up by the House again before the session comes to a close. I will keep you updated if this issue is addressed again.

Important Session Deadlines

With 22 days left in this session, there are procedural deadlines that are important to note. House committees must report out major bills by May 11th, and the House must begin debate on these bills by May 14th. Committees have until May 23rd to report out Senate bills. May 31st is the last day for the House and Senate to adopt conference committee reports.

Honoring Dana Ables

I had the privilege of honoring Dana Ables on the House floor this week for her 47 years of service as a public school teacher. Ms. Ables, who recently retired from Millsap ISD, was a mentor to many of her students and fellow educators. I also enjoyed visiting with her colleagues who made the trip down to the Capitol. There is no doubt Ms. Ables has made a tremendous impact on the lives of countless children in House District 61, and I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

Ms. Ables (center left) and her colleagues from Millsap ISD

Looking Ahead/Update on Major Legislation

This coming week the House will take up legislation addressing:

  • The protection of traditional marriage
  • Judicial bypass for minors seeking an abortion
  • E-verify for state contractors
  • My legislation to reduce Obamacare taxes

The House and Senate are currently working to find solutions on Open Carry, tax cuts, border security, removing the Public Integrity Unit from the Travis County DA’s office and state budget. I expect all of these to pass and will continue to keep you updated on each of these items as they progress.