Author Archive

Update From This Week In The Texas Legislature

May 5, 2017

Removing Impediments To Your Right To Bear Arms

This week, the Texas House of Representatives passed very important legislation removing impediments to your right to bear arms. SB 16, a bill I carried in the House, drastically reduced the state fee for a License to Carry (LTC). I had discovered that Texas had the 3rd highest fee in the nation with a $140 application fee and $70 renewal fee. As passed, the application and renewal fee would be set at $40, or $8 per year, the approximate cost to the state for managing the criminal history check and licensing process.

To read more about this legislation, CLICK HERE.

HB 3784 will allow the classroom portion of the LTC instruction and the written test to be taken online. In addition to passing the written portion, HB 3784 requires at least 1 hour of live range training with a certified instructor. This bill will give citizens another option and eases access to the written portion of the exam while providing beneficial handgun training on the firing range.

Governor Abbott Signs HB 89, Anti-BDS Legislation Into Law

I have been working on this legislation for over a year and am delighted that it is the first bill signed into law this session of the Texas Legislature. Governor Greg Abbott signed into law House Bill 89, known as Anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions) bill, which prohibits all government agencies from contracting with, and certain public fund from investing in, companies that discriminate against Israel. The signing was hosted at the Shalom Austin Jewish Community Center on May 2, which also marks Israel’s Independence Day.

Texas now has the strongest Anti-BDS law in the nation. As our 4th largest trading partner, friend and ally, this bill’s passage reaffirms that Texas stands with Israel.

The official signed bill and pen used by Governor Abbott which I will be delivering to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Convention Of States Legislation

Today, SB 21 was passed out of the Texas House. This important legislation was added as an emergency item by Governor Abbott.As many of us would agree, the federal system of government that must respect and defer to the inherent rights of the states is broken. Washington is spending beyond the means of its citizens, seizing power from the states, and taking liberty from the very people to whom it is accountable.

Also passed today on the emergency calendar was SJR 2 – which is the resolution that actually calls for the Article V convention of states.

Alongside SJR 2, which is the formal application to Congress for a convention of states, SB 21 provides structural guidelines and procedures by which Texas delegates would be chosen and how those delegates would operate if a convention of states were called.

This bill is particularly critical for Texas as we have no current standards under which to act in the event of a convention of states actually being convened.

Texas Ranks #9 in Economic Outlook, Money for Public Schools and Protective Vests for Law Enforcement

April 20, 2017

Texas Ranks #9 in Economic Outlook

In the 10th edition of Rich States, Poor States that was published this week, Texas is ranked #9 in Economic Outlook in the country. That’s the best ranking for Texas in the decade of this report being published – and an improvement of 10 spots. (from 19th in 2010).

Check out this interactive website that navigates the 10 years of Rich States, Poor States data and details Texas’ ranking.

SB 12 – Protective Vests for Law Enforcement – Heads to House Floor

Tuesday, my committee laid out and voted on SB 12, legislation that creates a grant program that will equip law enforcement across Texas with protective vests. This legislation will allow law enforcement agencies to apply for a grant that can be used to purchase protective vests. I am proud to be the House author of this legislation and bring it before the full house. It was voted out unanimously from committee.

Funding For Public Schools

Yesterday we passed on the house floor HB 21, a school finance bill that increased funding for Texas public schools. Below is a one pager on the legislation. This legislation is a step in the right direction for much needed school finance reform.

Visit with Weatherford Student Who Served as House Page

Budget Update!

April 5, 2017

Appropriations Update

The approved budget and supplemental budget are up for consideration before the full House of Representatives this Thursday, April 6th. Over 400 amendments were pre-filed and will be debated. We expect to be on the floor until the early hours on Friday – possibly working through amendments and amendments to the amendment for over 18 consecutive hours. For every amendment that someone puts on the budget, it will take money from somewhere/someone else. We have a “put and take” rule. This means if you try to appropriate more money or additional funding, you have to cut from somewhere else in the budget.

Please pray for members to be alert, to have wisdom and to be courteous as we deliberate very serious issues that effect all Texans.

Summary of House Budget

The House has exercised leadership in crafting a conservative, responsible budget that spends $106.8 billion in available revenue. Despite revenue challenges, and very significant population and inflation growth, the House biennium budget is $1 billion less than the current budget.

Despite the very real budget cuts, the House budget still makes significant investments in critical priorities. Our proposal includes nearly $1.5 billion in new money for public education. We are addressing the foster care crisis in Texas by investing $433 million of additional funds to child protective services. In addition, the House is dedicating $62.6 million in new funds to eliminate waiting lists for community mental health services across the state and maintains our commitment to border security funding. The house budget also proposes fully funding health care for retired teachers.

The House budget is fully transparent and protects the state’s investment in transportation while maintaining our long-standing commitment to using dedicated funds for their rightful purpose.

After the budget passes this week, it will then go to conference committee where members serving on that committee will debate the nuances between the House and Senate version of the budget for a final 2018-19 appropriations to be approved by Governor Abbott.

For a more detailed look at the budget, click here.

Visitors to Texas Capitol

Israeli Defense Force Reserve Members Traveling the US to speak on college campuses to educate young leaders about true nature of the conflict and attacks on Israel

Wise County retired teachers

Swearing in Bob Glenn, EVP of PlainsCapital Bank in Weatherford to Gubernatorial Appointment on Texas House Floor.

Legislative Highlights and Rainy Day Fund

March 29, 2017


Firearms – Yesterday, my committee heard two constitutional carry bills that allow the unlicensed carry of a holstered handgun where licenses are now required. We had over 300 attend to testify. Those who registered a position were almost equally distributed “for” and “against”. The hearing began at 8 am and concluded at about 9 pm. As you might imagine, there are very strong opinions on both sides of this issue.

Transgender Bathroom Legislation – I have received many, many calls, emails and Facebook messages about the “bathroom bill.” Bottom line, I don’t want any male going into the restroom with my wife, daughters or granddaughters. Period. Although this hasn’t occurred in Parker or Wise county schools, it is particularly offensive that a public school would intermix males and females in locker rooms and restrooms. I will vote “for” legislation that prohibits this in public schools and government buildings.

Voter ID – The voter ID bill, SB 5, passed the Senate this week. This will ensure integrity at the ballot box and comply with recent court rulings. I am the House sponsor of this bill and expect a hearing soon. The courts have struck down previous versions passed by the Texas Legislature.

License to Carry Fee, CSHB 300 – I am the House sponsor of this bill which is intended to lessen the burden on individuals who wish to obtain a license to carry a handgun. The bill passed out of my committee, Homeland Security and Public Safety, yesterday. It will decrease the application fee from $140 (3rd highest in the nation) and the renewal fee of $70 each to $40 (which is the actual cost to the state).

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, CSHB 200 – House Bill 200 bans partial-birth abortions and prohibits the sale of fetal tissues and organs. While partial-birth abortions are banned by federal law, state prosecutors cannot enforce federal law; this provides an enforcement mechanism for Texas to prosecute those who perform partial-birth abortions. House Bill 200 establishes a statewide ban on the sale of fetal tissue.

Anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanction, CSHB 89 – I am the House sponsor of this legislation. It prohibits the local and state government from investing public funds in companies that boycott Israel and from contracting with companies that boycott Israel. The bill passed out of the State Affairs committee today with no opposition.

Sudan, Iran, House Bill 1142 – This legislation strengthens existing state sanctions against Sudan, Iran and foreign terrorist organizations. It updates state contract law to prohibit government entities from contracting with companies engaged in active business operations with Sudan, Iran or a foreign terrorist organization. Aligns government entity contracting laws to protect American values.

Sanctuary Cities, SB 4Last week the House Committee on State Affairs heard SB 4 which would outlaw sanctuary cities. A “sanctuary” city is the common term for local governments that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities in the enforcement of immigration law. Over 600 witnesses signed up to testify with the hearing going until after midnight. Banning sanctuary cities is on the list of emergency items by declared by Governor Greg Abbott and we expect this legislation to be signed into law sometime in May.


One thing you’re sure to hear about during the remainder of the 85th Session is the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF), commonly known as our “Rainy Day Fund.” I thought it might be helpful to provide a little background information about the ESF leading up to these conversations.

The ESF was first established in the late 1980s as a result of the economic crisis in Texas caused in large part by a sharp decline in the oil industry. Facing a severe cash deficit, Texas voters approved an amendment to the Texas Constitution to create the ESF, effectively a savings account for the State of Texas. The goal of this fund was to save money for the future in case Texas ever faced another cash shortfall. The ESF is funded by Oil Production and Natural Gas Production tax revenues, one-half of any unencumbered General Revenue surplus (a revenue surplus that does not have any claims against it) at the end of each biennium, and interest earned on the ESF balance.

Today, 46 states have some version of an ESF, but since everything is bigger in the Lone Star State, Texas holds the largest. Our ESF balance for Fiscal Year 2016 is approximately $9.7 billion, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. So, what does that mean for the 85th Legislature?

Well, proposals have been floated that would spend some money from the ESF. Though not unprecedented, it is something that has not been done since 2005. Unlike bills that require a simple majority (50 percent plus one) to pass, expenditures from the ESF require a higher threshold: either a three-fifths vote of members present in both chambers in some circumstances or a two-thirds vote of members present in others. Either way, it is a difficult (though not impossible) threshold to clear.

Be looking for what will be strenuous discussion of the ESF as we begin the budget debate next week on the House floor.

Ethics Reform, School Finance Update and Ban on Sanctuary Cities

March 18, 2017

Ethics Reform Legislation

Our republican form of government is founded on the principle that public servants represent the interests of their constituents, serving as their voice in government. To that end, the Texas House has laid out an impressive ethics reform package to advance public trust in our elected bodies.

For more information about each bill in the House legislative package, click the following links: HB 500, HB 501, HB 502, HB 503, HB 504 and HB 505.
School Finance Update

Last week the House Committee on Public Education began hearings on HB 21. Although the Texas Supreme Court ruled last year that our school finance system is constitutional, structural flaws remain in the system. The House is committed to serious improvements in school finance. It is a very complicated issue but I am encouraged to see serious discussion and time spent on improving the system for both our students and taxpayers. This proposed legislation would provide an additional $1.6 billion for our public schools, providing more per-pupil funding for 95 percent of school districts. It would also begin to fix the flaws that make the current system inequitable by distributing education dollars more appropriately across the state.Money alone is not the solution to the struggles faced in public education. But HB 21 is a strong step toward reforming school funding. There is still a very long way to go in the process but I am hopeful we will soon make substantive progress for our 5 million Texas students.

Sanctuary Cities

This week the House Committee on State Affairs heard SB 4 which would outlaw sanctuary cities. A “sanctuary” city is the common term for local governments that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities in the enforcement of immigration law. Over 600 witnesses signed up to testify with the hearing going until after midnight. Banning sanctuary cities is on the list of emergency items declared by Governor Greg Abbott and we expect this legislation to be signed into law sometime in May.

Filing Deadline, Flat Stanley and Committee Hearings

March 12, 2017

Filing Deadline Today! Marks the 60th Day of Session

Today marks the 60th day of the 85th session which is also is the last day to file all non-emergency bills. For the next 30 days of the regular legislative session, the committees of each chamber will be holding hearings to consider all bills, resolutions and other undecided matters. Last session a total of 11,356 bills were filed (including both House and Senate). Our pace at the 45 day mark of the 85th session had increased by roughly 16 percent. If the pace keeps up, we expect to have over 13,000 bills filed this session.

House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety

The House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety, which I chair, met Tuesday morning to hear the first bills scheduled for a public hearing. We heard several bills that exempt volunteers at churches who provide security services from having to meet stringent licensing requirements. Currently, if a place of worship has volunteers who organize together for security patrol, they are required by law to become a licensed private security company. Next week we will be hearing several bills regarding subjects ranging from carrying of a weapon by first responders, driver license issues and criminal history records. I expect my committee to receive close to 200 bill referrals.

Flat Stanley Makes A Visit

The capitol was graced by a celebrity amongst elementary school circles. My granddaughter’s Flat Stanley joined us for a week under the dome full of important meetings with Speaker Straus, Attorney General Paxton, and Comptroller Hegar to name a few! He strolled the capitol lawn to smell the roses and even got to sit at Representative King’s desk.

Spring Break

Terry and I wish everyone a great and relaxing Spring Break. If you are driving through Austin, please come stop by the office in the Capitol and say hello. We always enjoy visitors from the district.

Emergency CPS/Foster Care Legislation and Voter ID

March 3, 2017

HB 4 & HB 5 – Emergency CPS/Foster Care Legislation Passes the Texas House

Without a single no vote cast, HB 4 and HB 5 passed the Texas House this week. The bills will now be considered by the Texas Senate. This legislation will implement critically needed reforms of our CPS and foster care systems.

HB 2481 – Legislation to Preserve Texas Voter ID

On Monday, I filed HB 2481 to preserve Texas’ Voter ID law by providing a declaration for voters who do not and cannot reasonably obtain acceptable photo identification. These updates are necessary to comply with the 5th Circuit ruling while ensuring the integrity of our voting process. If passed, HB 2481 would do the following:

  • Allowing voters to cast a ballot if they have an approved secondary form of identification and execute a declaration indicating they are who they say they are and do not have and cannot reasonably obtain approved photo identification for one of several specified reasons.
  • Allowing voters to use otherwise acceptable photo identification that is more than 60 days expired if they execute a declaration stating that they cannot obtain a new form of photo identification for one of the several specified reasons.
  • Establishing a criminal penalty for knowingly making a false statement on the declaration as up to a third-degree felony.
  • Allowing voters over age 70 to cast a ballot using expired, but otherwise acceptable, photo identification.
  • Requiring the Secretary of State to establish a mobile program for issuing election identification certificates.

Weatherford Chamber Legislative Visit

This week we welcomed the Weatherford Chamber delegation to their state capitol for a legislative visit to Austin. We passed HR 391 recognizing February 27 2017, as Weatherford Day at the State Capitol.

CPS and Foster Care System Reform Legislation, East Parker County Chamber Day and Constituent Meetings

February 19, 2017

CPS and Foster Care System Reform

The House is making child protection the top priority of the 85th Legislation Session through funding and comprehensive reform of the system. I am fully committed to taking the necessary steps to protect children in Texas. The proposed House budget will allocate additional funding to improve salaries and hire more caseworkers. HB 4, HB 5, and HB 6 have been filed and if passed, will implement reforms that will strengthen kinship care placements, reorganize DFPS into a stand-alone agency, and allow for a transition to a community-based foster care system.

These changes are designed to drastically overhaul a failing system, and to provide the children of Texas with the protection and care that they deserve.

I support these legislative efforts that will reform the system to provide better protection for children and more efficiency in the use of taxpayer dollars. If passed, this legislation will help provide faster intervention for children in danger and increase the number of loving and stable foster homes available to them.

Constituent Meetings
We had many constituents from the district visit Austin this week to share their legislative priorities. I sat down with Northwest ISD Superintendent Dr. Ryder Warren and Jack Teddlie with the Texas Retired Teachers Association. Janet Minke, a constituent with the Texas Land & Title Association stopped by, and I shared a very pleasant visit with Pastor Franz Schemmel of Messiah Lutheran Church. Michelle Slonaker with the Chico Public Library was kind enough to make the drive south to talk with me about improving broadband access for rural libraries, and a family from Parker County visited the Capitol to spread awareness about their pitbull rescue.

East Parker County Chamber Legislative Day

Thank you to all of those that made the long drive to Austin to attend East Parker County Legislative Day! I passed HR 392 to honor the Chamber and welcome them to the Texas Capitol. We had a great time discussing legislative priorities and touring the capitol.

Committee Appointments, Stand With Israel Day, Meeting with Gov. Abbott

February 11, 2017

Committee Appointments, Stand With Israel Day, Meeting With Governor Abbott

This week the House members received committee appointments for the 85th session and interim. I am honored to serve as the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety and continue to serve on the Energy Resources Committee. Committees will be up and running soon and I look forward to addressing the many issues Texas faces.

If you would like to see the full list of committee assignments:

This was a very busy week for us at the Capitol. Among the many meetings and briefings, my office hosted a Citizens Advocacy Day in support of Israel and my anti-BDS bill, House Bill 89. Hundreds of citizens came to walk the capitol to meet their representatives and senators asking for support of HB 89. We also met with Governor Greg Abbott who conveyed his strong support for Israel and of his commitment to the passage of House Bill 89.

Also this week, leaders and students from Wise County 4H Club dropped by. And I enjoyed a meeting with Parker County’s John Thomas who is a gubernatorial appointee to the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities.

85th Session Begins – Weekly Legislative Update

January 28, 2017

85th Session Begins & Swearing In Ceremony

January 10th kicked off the first day of the 140 day session. On that day, accompanied by my wife and friends, I took the Oath of Office and was sworn in as your State Representative. Through that oath, I promise to uphold and champion the conservative values that Parker and Wise counties call on me to defend.

We are already hard at work in the Capitol office. Committee assignments will be released in the upcoming weeks, and more legislation is being filed every day. I’ve enjoyed meetings with constituents that represent various organizations and discussing legislation that may affect their industry and impact Texas. Our office is always here to listen and answer any questions you should have regarding legislation, so please feel free to reach out to us with your support or concerns. You can reach my Capitol office at (512) 463-0738.

HB 89 – Anti- Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Legislation

I am very proud to announce a bill that is a top priority for me this session that blocks discriminatory trade practices against Israel. HB 89 boosts the state’s global economy by prohibiting the state from investing public funds in companies that boycott Israel.

This bill sends a strong statement that Texas stands with its friends. Boycotts of entities and individuals on the basis of national origin, often amount to ethnic, religious, racial and/or nationality discrimination, which directly contradicts state public policy.

Israel is Texas’ fourth leading trade partner with numerous joint projects in agricultural research and development, science and technology and industrial research. The Lone Star State exports $495 million in product to Israel and in 2012, had $118 million in military contracts. Nearly 300 Texas companies do business with Israel. The state also has more than $50 million in high-rated State of Israel Bonds.

Texas is just one of a growing number of states in the country to respond legislatively to national origin discrimination.

On February 9, I will be hosting a Citizens Advocacy Day to show our support of Israel at the Capitol. If you are interested in this legislation, we encourage your attendance and hope to see you there!