An Update from the Mid-point of the 87th Legislative Session
Driving to the Texas Capitol each week, I enjoy the emergence of bluebonnets across the beautiful Texas landscape. With the arrival of spring, there is another change taking place – the midpoint in your legislature that is in full swing in Austin. The Texas Legislature meets for 140 days at the beginning of odd-numbered years to debate policies to improve our Texas way of life.
Every session unfolds with specific priority items focused on the most pressing needs of Texans. The bedrock of it all is passing a budget that is written and implemented for a two-year cycle which is the only Constitutional requirement of your state legislature. For nearly three decades, Texas has maintained its fiscal discipline and budgetary restraint that continues to foster our economic vibrancy while also protecting future generations of taxpayers by passing conservative budgets without raising taxes on our citizens. This 87th Legislative Session also brings the uniqueness of the statewide redistricting process as a result of the U.S. Census conducted once each decade.
There are many other critical policy items that also must be addressed for the betterment of our citizens. This year, the horrific disaster brought by February’s winter storm quickly elevated protecting Texas’ grid to the forefront of our work in addition to the continued mitigation of the historic COVID-19 pandemic. While only a fraction of the all proposed laws will ultimately pass both chambers and be signed into law, the work behind each one must always honor our citizens while also keeping Texas the beacon of prosperity and a land of opportunity for every citizen.
This session, I authored several bills focused on solutions to improve government transparency, taxpayer protection, medical freedom, financial innovation, help retired teachers, protect life, preserve Texas’ diverse history, and safeguard our most vulnerable Texans. It is an honor to carry bills that reflect the hope, passions, and dreams of the people of HD 63. Here are the three most frequently asked about subjects in my bill package this session:
Protecting Texas’ Grid
I am continuing efforts to safeguard Texas’ grid just as I did when I started pushing for our state to formulate a plan in 2015 to identify vulnerabilities. By revising this bill that passed the House in 2017, House Bill (“HB”) 3791 ensures Texas takes action to identify all threats to enhance our security. I have also filed HB 4359/Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act to stop hostile nations like China, Iran, North Korea and Russia from owning, holding or even making investments in critical Texas infrastructure like our electric grid and water systems.
Protecting Election Integrity
Many reforms are being considered to protect the voices of every Texan. My specific bills include HB 3491 to require all general custodians of election records to retain a log of information concerning the transportation of ballots and ballots’ chain of custody. (Current statute requires the general custodian of election records to track certain information pertaining to the transportation of ballots, but there is not a uniform way of doing so.) HB 3698 protects the integrity of voting system ballots by setting uniform requirements for electronic voting systems and paper ballot printers. HB 3488 strengthens the integrity of voting by requiring applicants to use an official form when requesting and submitting a mail-in ballot with proper identity verification measures. HB 3276 provides a video surveillance system in ballot tabulation centers from the time voted ballots are delivered to the central counting station until the canvass of precinct election returns to always ensure the integrity of our elections.
Throughout my time in the legislature, I have been an early advocate to end the despicable crime of human trafficking. Each session, I continue to fight for prevention, protecting survivors, and increasing punishment for those seeking to exploit others. HB 2285 prevents predators from approaching vulnerable children at residential treatment facilities by creating a 1,000 foot perimeter. It further protects youth by disallowing anyone under the age of 18 from being on the premises of a sexually oriented business and prohibits hiring under the age of 21. HB 2300 reduces demand for prostitution by increasing penalties for solicitors. HB 2301 helps survivors by easing the process for obtaining a legitimate name change. HB 3718 creates a standardized sign containing information on resources for victims so that they may get assistance and it will be displayed in various public places such as sexually oriented businesses, hospitals and transportation hubs.
As your state representative, I am eager to keep working to ensure Texas continues to be the land of boundless opportunities. Please stay in touch on the issues that are important to you by reaching out to me at 512.463.0688 or email [email protected]. You can also find me on Facebook as well as Twitter and Instagram.