Grid Security, Gender Modification, Teacher Retirement, Parker County Day

April 3, 2023

Governor Abbott Headlines Parker County Reagan Day Dinner

On Friday, one of the largest ever Parker County Reagan Day crowds turned out to hear from Governor Greg Abbott. I believe the strong attendance underscores the concern people have about the state of our nation and their willingness to be involved in the process. Gov. Abbott covered a number of subjects, including the need for school choice legislation. He pointed out that over 85% of local Republicans voted in support of the school choice statewide referendum that was on the GOP primary ballot last March. Gov. Abbott highlighted the legislature’s push for pay raises for teachers, a $15-$17 billion property tax cut that will be funded in large part by the state picking up a larger share of education funding, pay raises for teachers, and stronger border security. He discussed our efforts to dramatically raise the criminal penalties for illegal border entry, a measure we are certain will lead to a lawsuit from the federal government. This is a battle we want. Gov. Abbott also shared the good news on the strong Texas economy:  since March 2020, 35% of all new jobs created nationally were created in the Lone Star State.

It was great to have Gov. Abbott back in Parker County

I had the chance to catch up with Sheriff Russ Authier and his wife Linda.

It’s always good to see Charlie Gilchrist!

With Landon and Melissa Meeker

My Bill to Protect Grid Security Passes Senate Committee

In recent years we have seen an alarming number of targeted attacks on critical electric grid infrastructure, including electric substations both here in Texas and around the nation. In fact, a previous study by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) concluded that by knocking out only nine of the country’s key 55,000 electric-transmission substations, saboteurs could cause a national blackout lasting for weeks – or longer. The Department of Energy has reported that attacks on electrical substations have increased each year since 2017.  Last year, there were 18 reported incidents at electrical stations in Texas. Fortunately, none resulted in significant damage or a loss of power. However, over the past few months, alone, we have seen the impact that an attack on the electrical facilities can have.

  • In September 2022, at least six substations were attacked in Florida, resulting in power outages.
  • In November 2022, an electrical substation in Oregon was attacked, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and a loss of power to more than 6,000 people.
  • In December 2022, two electrical substations in North Carolina were attacked with firearms, resulting in a loss of power to more than 45,000 people.
  • Also in December 2022, on Christmas, four substations in Washington State were attacked, resulting in a loss of power to more than 20,000 people.  

Furthermore, presently the penalties are not commensurate with the extreme level of damage and even loss of life that these actions can cause. That is why I have authored a bill to substantially increase the penalties for committing acts of terror by knocking out power. These intentional outages can cause millions of dollars of damage from lost business and personal productivity, spoilage from food, and other inconveniences. Far more concerning is the potential loss of life from those who rely on breathing equipment or other life-saving devices.

Therefore, SB 947 creates a new criminal offense for intentionally damaging critical electric grid infrastructure.  There are penalty enhancements if the act results in the death of an individual, is committed by cyber attack, drone, firearm or an explosive, or causes more than $100,000 in actual physical damage to the infrastructure facility.  SB 947 would also allows us to charge people with manslaughter if this action causes death. This bill sends a message: if you engage in these reckless, dangerous acts in Texas, you will be in jail for a long time.

Senate Passes Ban on Biological Men Competing in Girls Sports

I updated you a couple of weeks ago of my support for SB 15, which bans the practice of biological men seeking to unfairly compete against women in college athletics.  I’m pleased to report that last week, SB 15 passed the full Texas Senate. 

Stopping this practice is a matter of fairness and safety. It’s simply indefensible that a young woman can train her entire life, aspiring to achieve her dream of winning a competition in swimming, track, or any number of sports – only to have that dream destroyed by the whims of political correctness.  It is an indisputable fact that men have significant physiological advantages over women. This bill requires collegiate athletes to compete on the team according to their biological sex, as correctly stated on the birth certificate, provides whistleblower protections for students who report violations of this bill, and permits a person to bring a civil action for injunctive relief against an institution of higher education or intercollegiate athletic team for a violation of the bill.

Banning Dangerous, Unproven Gender Modification Procedures

This past week we also took action on a bill to ban gender modification for minors in Texas.  SB 14 would prohibit people under the age of 18 from receiving hormone therapy, puberty blockers, or surgery for the purposes of transitioning from one gender to another. This shouldn’t be controversial: these are life and body altering, irreversible decisions, and we owe it to the children of Texas to ensure the highest standards of care are followed. The data to justify allowing these procedures to continue simply doesn’t exist.

There has been an enormous proliferation of clinics catering to these modification procedures, beginning with the first one in Boston about 15 years ago; today, there are more than 100 such facilities. European countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland and the U.K) which had permissive policies concerning these procedures have just recently begun reckoning with the outcomes and are walking back their advocacy of these procedures for minors.

Honoring Our Commitment to Retired Teachers

Last week, the Senate passed SB 10, continuing the Legislature’s commitment to retired teachers.  Here is an overview of the plan:

  • The bill provides a $7,500 one-time stipend to nearly 186,000 eligible retirees that are 75 years of age and older, many of whom struggle financially with rising costs across the board.  
  • The bill provides a 2% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to about 176,000 eligible retirees that retired between September 1, 2013 and January 1, 2022. 
  • Finally, we provide a 4% COLA to about 270,000 eligible retirees that retired prior to September 1, 2013. 

Parker County Day At the State Capitol

A large delegation of Parker County citizens and community leaders made their presence known at the state capitol, and it was good to see so many friends from back home. We honored the group in both the House and the Senate with resolutions and organized an evening tour of the capitol. We had good policy discussions on issues relevant to the district, and I always appreciate the opportunity to hear from those I represent. Thanks to everyone who took time out of their busy schedule to be in Austin, weigh in on local issues, and enjoy your state capitol. You are always welcome in our office.

We had an impressive turnout for Parker County Day at the Capitol. I appreciate how many local citizens take the time to be engaged and stay involved. 

Parker County Judge Pat Deen, his staff, and other leaders involved in promoting transportation solutions stopped by this week.  We discussed the possible expansion of I-20 coming out of Fort Worth.

Tammy Gazzola, President of the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce, stopped by our office recently.  She was kind enough to bring along peach cookies made by the Back Home Back Bakery and present them to me and my Chief of Staff Ashley Westenhover.  The Annual Weatherford Peach Festival will be held this year on Saturday, July 8.   Last year, more than 40,000 people attended this one day event.

I was pleased to have Colby and Riley Taylor, sons of Toby & Beth Taylor of Weatherford, serve as “Pages of the Day.”

  Judy Flanagin of my staff was in Cleburne this week, where she helped to deliver “Meals on Wheels”.