Special Session Update, Important Water Projects, Gov. Abbott’s Endorsement and more!

December 5, 2023

The Christmas season is rapidly approaching, with Christmas Day only 20 days away.  I hope you’ve started your shopping for friends and family! In the meantime, here’s an update from the last few weeks.

Special Session #4:  The Texas Senate Passes All Items on the Agenda

We have been busy in the 4th Special Session, which is scheduled to conclude tomorrow. I’m pleased to announce we have passed every item on Governor Abbott’s agenda. Here is a summary of those five bills:

  • SB 1: School Choice for Parents and Families

Every child deserves a chance to thrive in an environment that is best for them. This bill introduces the Educational Savings Account (ESA) program, giving families the power to explore alternative educational avenues that would ensure success for their child.

STATUS: SB 1 has been passed by the Senate, and is awaiting House approval.

  • SB 2: Teacher Pay Raise, Increased Education Funding

This bill increases the basic allotment, gives across the board teacher raises, and adds $317 million to the teacher incentive—making it the biggest public education investment in Texas history.

STATUS: SB 2 has been passed by the Senate, and is awaiting House approval.

  • SB 3 & 4: New Border Security Measures

SB 3 provides $1.5 billion to build a border wall, as well as other border security enforcement measures, since the Biden Administration refuses to do so. SB 4 will make it harder for those in Texas illegally to stay in the state.

STATUS: SB 3 and SB 4 have been passed by both chambers and are now on the Governor’s desk for signature. 

  • SB 5: Increased School Safety Funding 

SB 5 will provide additional funds of $800 million to help school districts implement the requirements of HB 3, passed during the regular session, as it relates to the hiring of armed security officers on school campuses.

STATUS:  SB 5 has been passed by the Senate, and is awaiting House approval.
Additional Important Legislative Action: SB 6

Six lawsuits were filed in Travis County contesting the results of the November Constitutional election. Due to timing issues of lawsuits under the law, it’s possible that the amendments approved by the voters would not go into effect on January 1, 2024 as planned. SB 6 seeks to adjust those deadlines so that the amendments will be timely implemented. This measure was passed by the Senate on Thursday, and awaits action by the Texas House. 
Meeting Concerning State Funding for Important Palo Pinto Water Project

Yesterday in Austin I met with the mayor of Mineral Wells, Regan Johnson, along with other city officials and leadership from the Palo Pinto Water District. Our delegation met with Texas Water Development Board Commissioner Brooke Paup and her team concerning the construction of the Turkey Peak Reservoir and other local improvement projects. The Turkey Peak Reservoir will be located on Palo Pinto Creek immediately downstream from Lake Palo Pinto, approximately two miles northwest of the City of Santo, and upstream from the bridge over Palo Pinto Creek on FM 4. When this project is complete, the combined existing Palo Pinto lake and reservoir capacity will be about 50,000 acre-feet, or 15.9 billion gallons. This will increase storage by 83 percent and increase reliable supplies by 6,000 acre-feet per year. 
State funding was the primary point of discussion, and we received updates on the status of the applications local leaders are turning in for funding. The drought has taken a particularly hard toll on Mineral Wells, and these are the kinds of projects needed to address current critical water shortages as well as to ensure water need for future growth. To learn more about this important project, visit https://www.turkeypeakreservoir.com/.

It was a pleasure to meet with leaders from Palo Pinto County and the Texas Water Development Board to discuss the Turkey Peak Reservoir, an important project to ensure critical water supplies for the area.

Governor Abbott’s Endorsement

I am honored to receive the endorsement of Governor Greg Abbott. During my service in the House and Senate, we’ve partnered on border security, property tax reduction and so many other issues critical to Senate District 10. As a former police officer, I especially appreciate his unwavering support for law enforcement. Governor, thank you for your endorsement and let’s keep working together on behalf of all Texans. 

Meeting of Conservative Legislators From Around the Country

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) States & Nation Policy Summit in Arizona. In preparation for the next regular legislative session in 2025, almost 1,000 conservative legislators, policy experts, and stakeholders convened to discuss how to best implement public policy to benefit our constituents. 

Topics discussed were empowering parents through universal education freedom; ensuring that state pension investments aren’t influenced by those seeking to promote a liberal agenda through political motivated investing; and reducing the influence of the Chinese government. Some of the featured speakers included Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, and legendary economist Dr. Art Laffer, who is still going strong at age 83 and always provides insightful commentary.

I’ve had the honor to serve as National Chair of ALEC, an organization dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets, and federalism. I remain active as a member of the ALEC National Board.