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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.

Capitol Update: Comittee Assignments and State of the State Address

February 5, 2021

I hope many of you were able to catch Governor Abbott’s State of the State address this past Monday.  Gov. Abbott laid out 5 emergency items for the Legislature to begin addressing.  These emergency items are (1) expanding broadband internet access, (2) ending the practice of defunding the police, (3) reforming Texas’s bail system, (4) ensuring election integrity, and (5) providing civil liability protections for businesses relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are clearly not the only issues that will be addressed during this legislative session, but they are the issues Gov. Abbott has given the Legislature a head-start on.

The House of Representatives took an important step this week, with Speaker Dade Phelan announcing committee appointments on Thursday.  I am pleased to announce that Speaker Phelan has appointed me as Chairman of the State Affairs Committee.

The State Affairs Committee has very broad jurisdiction, ranging from regulating electric generation and transmission, telecommunications providers, and pipelines; to overseeing general governmental operations and administration; to cybersecurity, and several other important issues.

One of the important issues this session will be expanding broadband internet access to rural Texas.  This is an issue that I have been working on throughout the interim and look forward to leading the charge as the Chairman of the State Affairs Committee.

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.

PADDIE APPOINTED TO CHAIR INFLUENTIAL STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

February 4, 2021
AUSTIN – State Representative Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) has been appointed as Chairman of the State Affairs Committee.
“I am excited to be working on issues that are vitally important to East Texas,” said Rep. Paddie. “This committee chairmanship will allow our district to have influence on many of the important issues that will be addressed by this legislature. Now that we have committee assignments, I am looking forward to getting to work and tackling the many issues facing our state.”
The State Affairs Committee has jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to questions of state policy and administration of state government; the operation, powers, and management of state departments, agencies, and institutions; except where jurisdiction is granted to some other committee; access of the state agencies to scientific and technological information; regulation and deregulation of electric utilities and the electric industry; regulation and deregulation of telecommunications utilities and the telecommunications industry; regulation of pipelines, pipeline companies, and all others operating as common carriers in the state; advances in science and technology, including telecommunications, electronic technology, or automated data processing, by state agencies, including institutions of higher education; cybersecurity; and the following organizations and state agencies: the Council of State Governments, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Office of the Governor, the Texas Ethics Commission, the Texas Facilities Commission, the Department of Information Resources, the Inaugural Endowment Fund Committee, the Sunset Advisory Commission, the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and the Office of Public Utility Counsel.
“The State Affairs Committee has very broad jurisdiction and handles a wide range of issues that are important to East Texas. One of the most critical issues currently facing rural Texas is access to broadband internet. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the digital divide that exists in our state. This lack of access is one of the most important issues that will come before the State Affairs Committee and I look forward to leading the charge to bring broadband internet, and the economic development that comes with it, to East Texas.”

Capitol Update: Beginning the 87th Legislative Session

February 1, 2021

January 28, 2021

The first few weeks of every session are usually slower than the end of each session.  In fact, the Texas Constitution prevents the Legislature from passing any legislation during the first sixty days of a legislative session, unless the Governor has deemed the legislation an emergency item.

The Governor has historically set forth these emergency items in the State of the State address he gives at the beginning of each legislative session.  Due to COVID-19, Governor Abbott will not be giving this address directly to the Legislature, but rather will be making a televised address this coming Monday, February 1st at 7:00p.m.  I would encourage you to tune into this address, which can be viewed locally on KTAL-TV or it can be streamed live online.

I am also pleased to let you know that Longview has been named as a COVID-19 vaccination hub.  This means that we should have a greater supply of vaccines available closer to home.  I have heard from many folks asking where to go to get the vaccine and how the process will work.  While there are still limited vaccine doses available, supply is increasing and the East Texas Representatives and Senators are working hard to make sure that we get a fair allotment of doses.

If you would like to get more information on how to get the vaccine, I would encourage you to go to  tdem.texas.gov or if you would like to schedule an appointment to receive a vaccine, you should go to vaccinate.christushealth.org.

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.

REP. PADDIE TO PROVIDE MEALS FOR FIRST RESPONDERS AND MEDICAL WORKERS; MAKES MATCHING DONATION TO MISSION CARTHAGE FOOD PANTRY

May 5, 2020

MARSHALL – Rep. Chris Paddie invites Panola County first responders and healthcare providers to come by the Texas Tea Room to pick up a meal as a small token of our community’s appreciation for all that they are doing during these difficult times.

The restaurant will be open to the public, as they are every day, but this Thursday, May 7th, the first 100 healthcare workers and first responders will receive a free meal. The Texas Tea Room is located at 100 E Sabine Street and will be open from 11a.m. to 6p.m. First responders and healthcare workers are encouraged to bring an ID to show when they order their meal.

In addition to these meals, Rep. Paddie will make a matching donation to the Mission Carthage Food Pantry. Those who are in need of assistance can contact Mission Carthage at 903-693-4673 or https://www.missioncarthage.com/food_pantry.

“These are difficult times for many in our community. As we continue to ask many to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many folks have lost their livelihood through no fault of their own. I am making this donation to Mission Carthage to help them continue to serve our neighbors,” said Rep. Paddie. “I am also pleased to provide a hot meal for law enforcement, fire fighters, doctors, nurses, and so many more who are working diligently to keep us all safe and healthy as we make our way through these difficult times. While this is just a small token of our community’s appreciation, it is one way that we can say thank you for all that you do for us day in and day out.”

FALSE: Rumors of Destroyed Crops and Livestock

May 4, 2020

May 1, 2020

Dear State Representative:

I am writing you today to address the recent stories of farmers and ranchers dumping crops and euthanizing livestock. The Texas Department of Agriculture is aware of these issues and the spread of misinformation. The purpose of this letter is to keep you informed of what is happening in the agriculture industry during this pandemic and to assure you there is no major disruption or shortage within the Texas food supply chain.

One poultry plant in East Texas is temporarily closed due to the specialty product they supply. The main market for that plant was to sell to premium cuts to restaurants, which have been closed for about a month. We have seen labor shortages across the nation in packing plants that can be attributed to cutting back on operational hours, staff concerns on getting COVID-19, and facilities shutting down to perform cleanings or modifications.

TDA has heard claims that the government told people to “liquidate their crops and livestock”. This is simply untrue. The federal government has stated that they would compensate farmers and ranchers if they had to liquidate their crops and livestock. TDA is not dictating or paying people to kill animals or plow under crops.

In a couple of the areas in the U.S. there have been a small number of slaughter facilities that have humanely euthanized swine and poultry due to the inability to process them in a timely manner. It’s important to understand that slaughter facilities are not equipped to feed animals for a prolonged period of time once they arrive. Most animals that are shipped in, are slaughtered within 24 hours of their arrival. This facility was unable to return the animals because the farms and feeding pens had already replaced these animals and could not take any more. The slaughter facility was faced with the decision to either let the animals starve, or humanely euthanize them.

We hope this information will help clear up any concerns you and your constituents may have. TDA would like to emphasize that there is no disruption in the food supply chain. If you have any questions or concerns, or need clarification on the information above, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Sincerely,

Sid Miller

Texas Department of Agriculture

Commissioner

REP. PADDIE TO PROVIDE MEALS FOR FIRST RESPONDERS AND MEDICAL WORKERS; MAKES MATCHING DONATION TO MISSION MARSHALL FOOD PANTRY

April 17, 2020

MARSHALL – Rep. Chris Paddie invites Harrison County first responders and healthcare providers to come by the Catfish Express and Mega Bites trailers to pick up a meal as a small token of our community’s appreciation for all that they are doing during these difficult times.

The trailers will be open to the public, as they are every day, but this Saturday, April 18th, the first 100 healthcare workers and first responders will receive a free meal. The trailers are located at the Grand Plaza Shopping Center at 1203 E. Grand Ave and will be open from 11a.m. to 7p.m. First responders and healthcare workers are encouraged to bring an ID to show when they order their meal.

In addition to these meals, Rep. Paddie will make a matching donation to the Mission Marshall Food Pantry. Those who are in need of assistance can contact Mission Marshall at 903-472-4944 or missionmarshall.org.

“These are difficult times for many in our community. As we continue to ask so many to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many folks have lost their livelihood through no fault of their own. I am making this donation to Mission Marshall to help them continue to serve our neighbors,” said Rep. Paddie. “I am also pleased to provide a hot meal for law enforcement, fire fighters, doctors, nurses, and so many more who are working diligently to keep us all safe and healthy as we make our way through these difficult times. While this is just a small token of our community’s appreciation, it is one way that we can say thank you for all that you do for us day in and day out.”