Electricity Hearings, Brown County Day, Opal Lee and more ….

February 11, 2023

Dear Friend:

Here’s a recap of some of the events from last week.   I hope these updates are helpful in providing you more insight into the work that goes on in your state capitol. 

First Meeting of Business and Commerce Committee

The Senate Business and Commerce Committee held its first hearing on Tuesday, and the topic was electricity. This hearing was the first of two which focus on identifying market distortions and how to make sure we have enough power generation for the needs of a growing Texas.  Members of this committee are tasked with ensuring a dependable, reliable grid that will be there when we need it, regardless of the weather.

We started with a briefing on the recent January winter storm, hearing that we didn’t have problems from power generation or the grid; rather it was ice that caused the problems.  After that, we had three panelists testifying about a proposed market redesign plan from the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC). 

We had a very robust discussion that lasted around six hours. We heard from three panelists:  Peter Lake, Chairman of the PUC; Zachary Ming of E3, a consulting firm hired by the PUC to study the various options and how they would impact reliability, generation sources, and costs; and finally, Carrie Bivins of Potomac Economics, our independent market monitor, who provided her view on the financial impact of the proposed PUC plan. The PUC plan is just one of many options being discussed. In the second part of the electricity hearing we will hear testimony from stakeholders on other possible market design plans.  You can listen in on the next hearing, and all other Texas Senate committee hearings, at this link HERE

State Budget 101: How is Our State Budget Crafted?

Since the Texas Legislature meets only once every two years, legislators are required by the Texas Constitution to pass a budget that covers the next two years (known as the biennium). 

The process of preparing a state budget begins long before legislators convene in Austin for the Legislative Session.  In fact, individual state agencies submit what is called a detailed legislative appropriations request (LAR) under the guidelines of the state’s Legislative Budget Board (LBB).

The Legislative Budget Board (LBB) is a permanent joint committee of the Texas Legislature that develops budget and policy recommendations for legislative appropriations, completes fiscal analyses for proposed legislation, and conducts evaluations and reviews to improve the efficiency and performance of state and local operations. Current board members include the Lt. Governor, Speaker of the Texas House, four State Senators and four Texas House Members.  

After the various agencies submit their budget requests (usually no later than the Fall prior to the next legislative session), they are then sent to the LBB, the Comptroller’s office and several other state agencies. Next, the LBB and the Governor’s Office of Budget, Planning and Policy hold hearings on these requests.  Then, shortly after the beginning of each session, the Senate and the House each present their own budget, which is a starting point for the process that will play out over the next several months.  

2024-2025 Budget 

Here is an overview of SB1, the proposed budget for the 2024-2025 biennium that was filed last month. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said upon the budget filing, “SB 1 keeps our promises to Texans and charts a course for our state’s continued prosperity. Our conservative budgeting principles applied throughout SB 1 make sure that government does not grow faster than population times inflation.”

Brown County Day at the State Capitol 

One of the highlights of the week was to meet with friends and community leaders who were in town for Brown County Day. It always invigorates me to meet and interact with the citizens that I have the privilege of representing across our eight county district. We covered a wide range of topics including the state budget, electricity, education and more.

Those who were present included Brownwood County Mayor Stephen Haynes, Republican Party Chair Robert Porter, Brownwood City Manager Emily Crawford and Brownwood Deputy City Manager Marshal McIntosh.  Also present were Kandice Harris, Executive Director of the Brownwood Chamber of Commerce and many other members of the chamber leadership. Thank you to all that organized this fun day at our Texas Capitol! 

Thank you to those who came to visit on Brown County Day at the Texas Capitol.  It’s an honor to represent this beautiful county near the geographic heart of Texas. 
It’s always good to see former Governor Rick Perry. As you know, I was recently elected to serve as chairman of Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute (TCCRI), which works to promote conservative public policy. On Wednesday evening, we gathered to kick off the session at the 2023 TCCRI Black Tie & Boots Gala, where Governor Perry spoke.

Honoring Opal Lee of Fort Worth: “Grandmother of Juneteenth”

On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Texas Senate honored 96-year old Opal Lee, who championed legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday by walking from Fort Worth to the nation’s capital. After a portrait of her was unveiled – the first new portrait to be hung in the senate chamber in more than 40 years – Ms. Lee received a standing ovation. She is an amazing woman and Tarrant County is blessed to have her. 

Other Weekly Highlights

  • On my way to Austin on Monday, I stopped in Fort Worth to catch up with County Judge Tim O’Hare.
  • As we prepare for the first meeting of the Senate Transportation Committee, we had our first meeting with senior leadership at the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT).
  • Representatives of the Texas Association of Counties were in town this week, so I had the opportunity to visit with Judge Michael Roach of Stephens County as well as county leaders. 

 Have a great weekend!

Phil King
State Senator, District 10