This past week, many Americans became fixated on a certain groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to tell them whether it’s going to be a long winter or an early spring. I must confess that since I was a little kid, I wake up on that day each year with great anticipation and excitement about seeing America’s favorite marmot, Phil, perform his prognosticating duties. Not to be outdone, in recent years, Texas has searched far and wide to find our own famous four–legged forecasters. If you’re not already aware, Prairie Dog Pete and Bee Cave Bob, an armadillo, are quickly developing a loyal following across the Lone Star State.
With that light-hearted look at the weather, here’s an update from your State Capitol in Austin…
It was a week of exciting announcements starting with the Governor outlining the emergency items for the current legislative session followed by the Speaker providing each member with their much-anticipated committee assignments. I was tapped to serve on the House Committees on Appropriations and Transportation, two powerful committees that have a profound and direct impact on every single resident in House District 57.
Leading all Texans in the effort to maintain our state’s ranking as the best place to live in America, Governor Abbott delivered his biennial “State of the State” address this past Monday. The Governor touched on the hardships that Texans have endured since the last legislative session and then laid out his list of priority items for the 87th Session of the Texas Legislature. From access to healthcare and providing our children with a quality education, to keeping small businesses open, the challenges we’ve faced over the last year magnified another need—statewide accessibility to the internet. As Governor Abbott stated, broadband access is no longer a luxury, but an essential tool for Texans as they pursue the opportunities which this great country affords. I applaud the Governor for designating this issue an emergency item. As mentioned in last week’s column, my office has filed House Bill 1446 which offers a pragmatic and comprehensive solution to address the digital divide in the State of Texas.
In addition to increasing opportunities for Texans with the expansion of broadband, the conservative and American ideals of life and liberty are at the forefront of state leadership’s vision for Texas. On life, I am confident lawmakers will maintain and build upon Texas’s strong pro-life stance by prioritizing unborn lives. On liberty, the legislature will aim to pass laws that make permanent the regulatory relief the Governor authorized during the pandemic, as well as protect small businesses from frivolous lawsuits that threaten their livelihoods. We must also discuss limiting the power of the executive office in times of a disaster—a subject on which I have received a lot of feedback from constituents. In a representative democracy such as ours, governmental overreach should be checked at all times to ensure our constitutional rights and liberties are not infringed upon.
The official “Emergency Items” for the 87th Legislative Session also include: halting any defund-the-police movements in Texas cities, reforming the state’s bail system to keep dangerous criminals off the streets, ensuring election integrity at the ballot box, and providing civil liability protections for businesses open during the pandemic. Over the next few weeks, I expect the House to work aggressively to move bills on these topics to the House floor, from their respective committees, where all members will be allowed to have their voices, and more importantly, that of their constituents, heard on these matters.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762.