Author Archive

Capitol Update: Passing a Balanced Biennial Budget

April 29, 2021

Last week, the House passed the only bill that we are constitutionally required to pass, the state budget.  While the Legislature addresses many important issues each session, the budget is the only legislation that we are required to pass or come back for a special session.

The House continued its commitment to Texas taxpayers by passing a budget that is below the rate of population and inflation growth.  This is the measure that shows if government spending is actually growing in light of Texas’s increasing population.  The current rate of population and inflation growth is 5.0%, while the House budget only grows all spending at 2.4%.  This reflects that like Texans, the state has to tighten its belt during tough times.

Another commitment that the House made was to continue funding Texas schools at the same rate as last session, while also maintaining property tax relief for Texas property owners.  The House budget contains $6 billion in general revenue to maintain the property tax relief that was passed last session.  Further, earlier this week, the House passed HB 1525 which cleans up the school finance reform legislation from last session and directs an additional $325 million to Texas schools over the next two years.

Last week, the House also considered several other important measures, including two Sunset bills which I carried.  One abolishes the Texas Anatomical Board and the other continues the Brazos River Authority while implementing some governance reforms.  We also passed bills to help ease the burden on Texas electricity and natural gas customers as extraordinary costs from February’s storm work their way through the system.  These are common sense reforms to help Texans get through these tough times without the sudden shock of high utility bills.

The State Affairs committee continued its work this week, hearing bills ranging from increasing cybersecurity for school districts to asserting Texas’ sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution, and several measures in between.

It is great to hear from so many of you, letting me know what is important to you.  I want to encourage you to reach out to me about issues that concern you or legislation that you would like to see advanced.  I can be reached at 512-463-0556 or district9.paddie@house.texas.gov.

In addition, my district director, Joe Buck Crisp, will be spending time each month in every county to meet with you about legislative concerns and to help with issues you may be having with the state government.  Please contact our Marshall office at 903-935-1141 if you would like to meet with Joe when he is in your town.

Capitol Update: Constitutional Carry and Healthcare Reform

April 21, 2021
Last week, we welcomed the National Champion Baylor Bears men’s basketball team to the Capitol. It was great to celebrate these young men’s accomplishment! Celebrating Texans who have accomplished great feats is one of the biggest aspects missing from this session. I for one am looking forward to getting back to normal in all aspects of life.
Last week, the House debated several substantial bills. On Thursday, the House debated and passed HB 1927, the constitutional carry bill, which I am proud to co-author. This bill will allow law abiding citizens to carry firearms without getting governmental permission to do so. If this bill passes the Senate, Texas will become the 20th state to have constitutional carry. Texans will still be able to get a license to carry if they so choose. I have heard from so many of you on this issue and I glad to tell you that the House has delivered results.
The House also passed some significant healthcare reforms. HB 4 ensures that Texans on Medicaid are able to utilize telemedicine services. These services improve healthcare access and outcomes, especially for many in rural Texas in areas lacking medical resources. These services allow doctors to be more efficient and see more patients and allow those patients to avoid lengthy travel and wait times. The advances in telemedicine are one of the results of the pandemic that is here to stay. We also passed HB 18 which uses the state’s buying power to negotiate discounts on prescription drugs for uninsured Texans, similar to the discounts negotiated by insurance companies for their clients.
The State Affairs Committee continued holding hearings last week, again tackling a wide range of issues. We heard a bill relating to protecting Texas businesses producing firearm suppressors from federal regulations and another which states that local governments cannot issue emergency orders in conflict with those issued by the governor, as we saw many cities and counties try to go beyond Governor Abbott’s emergency orders in the past year.
We also heard several bills which would regulate the influence of China in our power grid and on Texas energy projects. It is important that we work to minimize Chinese influence in our critical infrastructure. We also continued hearing bills which would strengthen the Texas Public Information Act, ensuring that Texas government if accountable and transparent to Texans.
It is great to hear from so many of you, letting me know what is important to you.  I want to encourage you to reach out to me about issues that concern you or legislation that you would like to see advanced. I can be reached at 512-463-0556 or district9.paddie@house.texas.gov.
In addition, my district director, Joe Buck Crisp, will be spending time each month in every county to meet with you about legislative concerns and to help with issues you may be having with the state government. Please contact our Marshall office at 903-935-1141 if you would like to meet with Joe when he is in your town.

Capitol Update: Passing the Heartbeat Bill and Constitutional Carry

April 12, 2021

Last week was a busy one in Austin, with House debates heating up and committee hearings running late.

Last week saw movement on three bills which are important many East Texans. HB 1515, the Heartbeat Bill was heard in the Public Health Committee on Wednesday, with the hearing going well into Thursday morning.  The Heartbeat Bill would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, providing needed protections for our unborn.

After a marathon hearing last week, the Elections Committee voted to send HB 6 to the full House for debate.  HB 6, the companion to SB 7, would serve to strengthen our elections process and make sure Texans have confidence in our elections.

The third issue, Constitutional Carry, which I have heard from many of you on, moved to the Calendars Committee.  I am hopeful that this bill will be on the House floor for a debate soon.  I am proud to co-author all three of these bills and look forward to working with my colleagues to pass these bills out of the House and on to the Senate for their consideration.

State Affairs met again last week and considered several bills on a wide range of topics.  We heard a bill that would close a loophole currently being exploited by the City of Austin to use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.  We also heard several bills relating to the structure of our electricity market, ranging from allowing more consumer choice in storage and home energy generation to the need, or lack of, to incentivize building additional generation facilities.  We also heard several bills which would strengthen Texas’ public information act and ensure transparency for taxpayers.

Last week, the House debated and passed HB 5, which creates the Broadband Development Office within the Office of the Comptroller.  This office will help the state understand where our deficiencies are and develop a plan to bring broadband to rural Texans.  This office will also help bring in federal dollars that are being directed to help bring broadband to rural areas.  We also passed HB 1239 which would protect churches from being shut down by executive order.  I am proud to co-author both of these important pieces of legislation.

It is great to hear from so many of you, letting me know what is important to you.  I want to encourage you to reach out to me about issues that concern you or legislation that you would like to see advanced.  I can be reached at 512-463-0556 or district9.paddie@house.texas.gov.

In addition, my district director, Joe Buck Crisp, will be spending time each month in every county to meet with you about legislative concerns and to help with issues you may be having with the state government.  Please contact our Marshall office at 903-935-1141 if you would like to meet with Joe when he is in your town.

Capitol Update: Passing ERCOT Reform and Help for Small Businesses

April 5, 2021

I hope you got to spend sometime with your families last weekend as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ!

The House took Good Friday off so the members could return home and spend some time with their families, but we are back this week as we enter the final sixty days of the 87th Legislative Session.

Last week, the House and Senate both passed important reforms to our state’s electricity system.  The House bills include several of the bills that I have discussed before, including bills which require that the members of the ERCOT Board of Directors be from Texas, require that power generators weatherize their facilities, and create an emergency alert system to improve communications with Texans in the event of an extended power outage.  The House and Senate will now go about the process of settling the differences between our legislation.  I will keep you updated on this process.

Last week, the House also considered some other bills on the floor.  I am proud to support HB 1195, which says that funds businesses received from PPP loans should not be included in a businesses franchise tax.  This is a common sense provision that makes sure there is not a tax increase on struggling businesses.  The House also passed HB 139 which would ease licensing burdens for spouses of active duty military members who are already licensed in another state.  This will bring more professionals into our workforce and provide more opportunities for military spouses when they relocate to Texas.

The State Affairs Committee met again this week, thankfully for less than 20 hours!  We heard several bills relating to fixing the financial mess created by the February storm which would provide utility companies tools to deal with the large bills that they are receiving.  We also heard bills that would protect our 2nd Amendment rights.  One prevents the enforcement of federal laws that violate the 2nd Amendment, another that prevents the state from doing business with companies that have an anti-2nd Amendment policy, and a third that prevents the closure of 2nd Amendment related businesses by executive order.

We are in the part of session where legislation is moving fast and I want to encourage you to reach out to me about issues that concern you or legislation that you would like to see advanced.  I can be reached at 512-463-0556 or district9.paddie@house.texas.gov.

In addition, my district director, Joe Buck Crisp, will be spending time each month in every county to meet with you about legislative concerns and to help with issues you may be having with the state government.  Please contact our Marshall office at 903-935-1141 if you would like to meet with Joe when he is in your town.

Capitol Update: Cutting Red Tape and Supporting Constitutional Carry

March 26, 2021

Last week saw another the marathon hearing in the State Affairs committee and the House passed its first bills of the session.  Last week also represented the half-way point of the 87th Legislative Session.

One of the first bills to pass in the House reflects one of the most well-known changes made during the pandemic:  allowing restaurants to serve alcohol to-go.  HB 1024 repeals one of the regulations that was waived in order to help restaurants survive the pandemic.  I am proud to support this legislation and many other bills which will formalize the waiver of regulations that were suspended during the pandemic.

The State Affairs Committee had another marathon hearing, starting at 8:00a.m. Thursday morning and not ending until 4:30a.m. Friday morning.  As you can imagine, the hearing covered a wide range of issues, from adding resiliency to our electric grid, protecting churches from government ordered shut downs, and ending the defunding of police in Texas.

Another committee that had a marathon hearing yesterday was the Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee.  Over several hours of testimony, they heard bills relating to constitutional carry.  I am proud to again co-author this legislation, which would allow Texans to carry their legally held firearms without a permit.

We are in the part of session where legislation is moving fast and I want to encourage you to reach out to me about issues that concern you or legislation that you would like to see advanced.  I can be reached at 512-463-0556 or district9.paddie@house.texas.gov.

In addition, my district director, Joe Buck Crisp, will be spending time each month in every county to meet with you about legislative concerns and to help with issues you may be having with the state government.  Please contact our Marshall office at 903-935-1141 to find out when Joe will be in your town.

Capitol Update: Helping Small Businesses and Reforming ERCOT

March 22, 2021

Last week, House committees continued working on several important pieces of legislation.  I laid out several bills, including the Texas Small Business Recovery Act and several of the electric reform bills that I wrote about earlier this month.

One of the bills that I laid out is HB 570, the Texas Small Business Recovery Act.  This Act, which passed the House last year, but didn’t make it through the Senate, would provide an incentive for investment funds to invest in small businesses in rural Texas.

Currently there are multiple programs that work to bring businesses to Texas, but we see the majority of those dollars going to large cities.  The Texas Small Business Recovery Act, would help our existing businesses accelerate growth by encouraging investments in businesses that are actually creating new jobs in rural Texas.

The State Affairs Committee heard from witnesses and voted on several important electric reform bills, including:

I look forward to these bills coming before the entire House for a vote very soon and advancing these important reforms to the Senate for their consideration.

I want to encourage you to reach out to me about issues that concern you or legislation that you would like to see advanced.  I can be reached at 512-463-0556 or district9.paddie@house.texas.gov.

In addition, my district director, Joe Buck Crisp, will be spending time each month in every county to meet with you about legislative concerns and to help with issues you may be having with the state government.  Please contact our Marshall office at 903-935-1141 to find out when he will be in your town.

Capitol Update: Bill Filing Deadline

March 15, 2021

Last week marked one of the first important procedural deadlines of the 87th Legislative Session: the bill filing deadline. Friday (March 12th) was the last day that members of the Legislature could file bills for consideration.  As you can imagine, that resulted in a flurry of bill filings.

The previous week, I filed several bills on a wide range of topics.  I filed two bills stemming from the Sunset process.  One would dissolve the Texas Anatomical Board and transfer their responsibilities to the Texas Funeral Services Commission.  The second reauthorizes and enhances a program that is popular with many Texans, the Texas Prepaid Higher Education Board.

I also filed a bill that would protect police officers and their children from hostile situations in schools by allowing officers to move their children out of schools and school districts where there are suspects and criminals that the officer has arrested.  This is a common sense tool to provide our police officers and their families a well-deserved measure of safety.

I also filed a bill and a constitutional amendment which would ban the implementation of a tax on financial transactions in the state of Texas.  We are seeing an increased movement in liberal states to tax stock and bond trades made by their citizens, hurting all participants in the market, including retirement funds and charities, in addition to every day citizens.  This is another way that we are differentiating Texas from high-tax states.  I hope you will be able to vote on this ban in November.

The State Affairs Committee met this week with the highlights of the hearing being an update from the Public Utilities Commission on the financial fall out from last month’s storm.  This is an issue that we are going to continue exploring and working to find solutions to protect Texas consumers.  I will keep updating you on all of the electricity reforms that we are working on.

We also heard testimony on HB 3, which would curtail the governor’s emergency powers that we have seen in play this past year.  I have heard from many of you with concerns about this bill and there was a substitute at the hearing which made several improvements to the filed bill.  I am confident that there will be additional changes that will make further improvements.  You are able to find the substitute language for HB 3 by visiting the State Affairs Committee website.

I want to encourage you to reach out to me about issues that concern you or legislation that you would like to see advanced.  I can be reached at 512-463-0556 or district9.paddie@house.state.tx.us.

In addition, my district director, Joe Buck Crisp, will be spending time each month in every county to meet with you about legislative concerns and to help with issues you may be having with the state government.  Please contact our Marshall office at 903-935-1141 to find out when he will be in your town.

Capitol Update: Reforming ERCOT

March 5, 2021

While this legislative session started out slow due to COVID concerns, it is now in full swing with last month’s winter storm bringing a flurry of action to Austin this week.

After the 25 hour joint hearing of House Energy and State Affairs committees, the committees tasked both themselves and the industries that testified to come back with solutions.  We have seen several members file legislation addressing the problem from multiple different angles.  As I said last week, I am committed to finding the best solutions to ensure that Texans never experience this type of failure again.

Bringing that promise to action, I filed HB 10 and HB 11.  HB 10 will reform the ERCOT board.  Texans were disturbed to find that many of the people on ERCOT’s board do not even live in Texas and were not experiencing the same hardships during the storm.  Many also felt that a board that nominates its own replacements, to be confirmed by another appointed board, was not accountable to Texans.

HB 10 would require that all members of the board, the CEO and President must reside within Texas.  It also changes the seats that had been held by non-Texans to appointments by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House.  Finally, it adds a board member to represent Texas consumers.

HB 11 will mandate that all power generation plants have industry standard weatherization.  This was a suggestion after the 2011 storm, but as we found out, many operators did not weatherize their power plants sufficiently.   This weatherization will now be required.

These are not the only bills filed in the House in response to the winter storm.  Other bills would disallow the types of variable rate plans that have resulted in consumers receiving electric bills running into the thousands and ten thousands of dollars.  We are also considering legislation that would create a statewide emergency alert system, which would allow the state to communicate with Texans and update them on coming disasters, steps they could take to protect themselves and give situational updates throughout the event.

Many of these bills will come through the State Affairs Committee, which I chair, and I am committed to giving these bills a prompt hearing and continuing to work to find the best solutions to prevent this catastrophe from happening again.

I want to encourage you to reach out to me about issues that concern you or ideas for legislation that would help make Texas an even better place to live.  I can be reached at 512-463-0556 or district9.paddie@house.state.tx.us.

In addition, my district director, Joe Buck Crisp, will be spending time each month in every county to meet with you about legislative concerns and to help with issues you may be having with the state government.  Please contact our Marshall office at 903-935-1141 to find out when he will be in your town

Capitol Update: Energy infrastructure hearings

February 27, 2021

These past several days have been trying for all Texans, from those losing power and heat to those that found themselves without water, or boiling water from previously safe sources, and many who experienced all of these conditions simultaneously.

There have been billions of dollars in property damage from weather related instances and burst pipe and water damage, but most heartbreakingly, dozens of Texans died trying to survive the cold, many inside their own homes.

This week, the House convened a joint hearing of the State Affairs and Energy Resources committees to begin determining exactly what happened.  As Chairman of the State Affairs committee, I am committed to conducting a thorough investigation and finding out what failures occurred and what solutions are necessary to make sure that we never experience such a wide ranging failure across our state’s energy and electric systems.

This hearing started on Thursday (Feb. 25th) and we had so many witnesses called and so many questions from members of both committees that the hearing continued through the following Friday.  These committees took over 25 hours of testimony from experts and industry leaders, receiving important information that will help us find solutions.

Our preliminary investigation has shown that there were failures across our entire system, from electric generators that were not properly winterized to gas production facilities that were subject to the rolling black outs, to technical errors at ERCOT, and communication failures at every step of the crisis.

These hearings are just the beginning: we must find facts before we can take effective action.  The tragedy that befell our state is unacceptable, because while the winter storm was unavoidable, our state’s failures were not.  I am angry, as I know many of you are, and I vow that we will get to the bottom of this tragedy and Texas will emerge as a stronger, more resilient state.

I want to encourage you to reach out to me with your personal story or hardship relating to this tragedy.  I can be reached at 512-463-0556 or district9.paddie@house.state.tx.us.  You are able to submit your experience, concerns, or solutions as part of the official record for the hearing by going to https://comments.house.texas.gov/.  Comments for the official record can be submitted until noon on March 1st.

Capitol Update: Passing a Balanced Budget

February 12, 2021

While the Legislature addresses many important issues every session, there is only one bill that is constitutionally mandated: every legislature must pass a balanced budget that funds state government for the next two years.

This year, the budget will originate in the Senate and will be Senate Bill 1. Origination of the budget rotates between the House and Senate every session. The House and the Senate have both filed their beginning, or base budgets, and they are surprisingly similar in both the amount and priorities of each budget. This is not always the case, with versions of the budget routinely being billions apart and spending on different priorities. These differences are worked out as we move through the budget process and ultimately one, final version of the budget is sent to the governor.

I am pleased to inform you that both budgets are below the rate of inflation and population growth, which is the method we scrutinize to determine if there is growth in government spending. These budgets represent a 3% spending reduction based on that metric. It is always important to reduce government spending, but it is even more so in times when many are suffering from the pandemic.

This is not the time to increase government spending, and thus taxes. This is the time to limit government to its basic functions. In that spirit, I was pleased to see that both versions of the base budget include the funding for public education that was passed last session, while limiting the growth of property taxes. A quality public education is one of the rights guaranteed in the Texas Constitution and I am proud to continue to work my colleagues to strengthen and improve our public education system.

I will keep you updated as the House and Senate work through the budget process, which takes several months and has many moving parts.

While the budget is the only bill we are required to pass, the Legislature addresses a myriad of issues each session. I want to encourage you to reach out to me about issues that are important to you or ideas for legislation that would help make Texas an even better place to live. I can be reached at 512-463-0556 or district9.paddie@house.state.tx.us.

In addition, my district director, Joe Buck Crisp, will be spending time each month in every county to meet with you about legislative concerns and to help with issues you may be having with the state government. Please contact our Marshall office at 903-935-1141 to find out when he will be in your town.