Stalwart Strategies is pleased to offer you an easy-to-navigate brief of the week’s activity inside state government, noteworthy items for the upcoming week, and other important news.
News In State Government
Governor Abbott Prepositions State Resources as Severe Weather Targets Texas: Governor Greg Abbott today placed numerous resources on standby across the state in the event search and rescue operations are needed following the severe weather expected in Texas this week. Click here to read the full news release.
Governor Abbott Appoints Franz to Texas Lottery Commission: Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Mark Franz to the Texas Lottery Commission for a term set to expire on February 1, 2025. Click here to read this and other gubernatorial-appointments from this week.
Texas Named Best State for Business for 15th Year By CEO Magazine: For the 15th year in a row, Texas has been named the best state for business by Chief Executive Magazine. Click here to read the full news release.
Lt. Gov. Patrick Statement on the Passage of House Bill 3: “The passage of this landmark legislation is one of the proudest moments I have ever experienced in the Senate Chamber.” Click here to read the full statement.
Sales Tax Revenue Totaled $2.8 Billion in April: Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said state sales tax revenue totaled $2.8 billion in April, 3 percent more than in April 2018. Click here to read the full report.
General Land Office:
Cmr. George P. Bush Announces Hurricane Preparedness Public Outreach Campaign: Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced the Texas General Land Office (GLO) has begun a preparedness public outreach initiative to encourage Texans to be prepared and stay prepared for hurricane season, which begins June 1. Click here to read the full announcement.
Texas Mining Operator Receives Annual National Mine Reclamation Award - Creates Wildlife Habitat from Mined Acreage: A Texas coal company recognized by Railroad Commissioners for transforming mined acreage into wildlife habitat has now received a national award. Click here to read the full news release.
Texas Oil and Gas Production Statistics for February 2019: Crude oil and natural gas production as reported to the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) for February 2019 came from 176,327 oil wells and 88,212 gas wells. Click here to read the full news release.
TCEQ approves fines totaling $342,414: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality today approved penalties totaling $275,556 against 28 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations. Click here to read the full news release.
Health and Human Safety:
State Leaders Call on All Texans to Wear Pink May 14 for Women’s Health: Texas leaders have joined forces to encourage all Texans to wear pink Tuesday, May 14, in support of Texas women during National Women’s Health Week. Click here to read the full news release.
In a Surprising Turn, Texas House Opts to Delay Consideration of Sales Tax Swap Legislation Until 2021: Gov. Greg Abbott and other legislative leaders endorsed the sales tax increase, intended to help fund ongoing cuts to school district taxes. But it has been effectively killed this session. Click here to read the full Texas Tribune article.
Senate Appoints Conferees on SB2 (Bettencourt is Not Chair) as well as Conferees on HB3, School Finance: Conferees for SB2 are Chair Hancock, Bettencourt, Hinojosa, Creighton, and Perry. Conferees for HB3 are Chair Taylor Nelson, Campbell, West and Watson. Click here to view the full lists.
Texas Senate Approves School Finance Reform Bill, but Opts Not to Fund it with a Sales Tax Hike: The chambers will need to negotiate how to give teachers pay raises, whether to adjust how students take standardized tests, and how to provide long-term property tax relief for Texans. Click here to read the full Texas Tribune article.
Texas House Passes Bill to Vastly Expand Access to Medical Cannabis: The bill by state Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, is one of two which aim to expand the scope of the narrow Compassionate Use Act that have gained traction this legislative session. Click here to read the full Texas Tribune article.
Herman: The 86th Texas Legislature and the Damage So Far: May 9, 2019 is the last day for the Texas House to consider House bills on second reading. Click here to read the full Statesmen article.
Senate Confirms Abbott’s Nominee for State Office of Administrative Hearings Chief: The State Office of Administrative Hearings recently welcomed a new Chief Administrative Law Judge, following the April 24 Senate confirmation of the recommendation of its Committee on Nominations. Click here to read the full Austin Chronicle article.
Amid Protests, House Passes Bill Criminalizing Trespass, Disruption of Oil Well, Pipeline Sites: Protesters were escorted out of the Texas House gallery today as the lower chamber passed a bill that would create a criminal offense for vandalizing or interfering with the operation of a “critical infrastructure facility,” including oil and gas wells and above-ground pipelines. Click here to read the full Texas Tribune.
ERCOT: Summer Demand will Strain State’s Power Grid: On various triple-digit-temperature days this summer, it might be a good idea to turn up your air conditioner by a few degrees, switch off excess lighting and take other voluntary measures to cut back on electricity usage. Click here to read the full Statesman article.
A New Pipeline Through the Hill Country Is Pitting the Oil Industry Against Landowners: The state’s biggest industry finds itself in an unusual position: facing landowner-friendly reforms at the Texas Legislature. Click here to read the full Texas Monthly article.
I-35 Changes Dramatically in TxDOT’s Proposed $8 Billion Expansion: The Texas Department of Transportation has unveiled an $8 billion expansion plan for Interstate 35 that would add lanes to the highway through Austin and result in the construction of two levels of underground tunnels near the University of Texas. Click here to read the full Statesman article.
Engaging the Business Community in Disaster Recovery: In a report published by the Texas General Land Office (GLO) following Hurricane Harvey, titled “Hurricane Harvey: Texas At Risk,” Commissioner Bush proposed a business advisory council on disaster recovery and mitigation to obtain input from private businesses on a regular and systemic basis. Click here to read the full Victoria Advocate.
Chevron Phillips Narrowing in on Spot for Next $5.8B Petrochemical Expansion: Phillips 66 and Chevron Corp. are moving closer to deciding where to expand their chemical subsidiary on the Gulf Coast, pouring about $200 million this year in preliminary project planning and engineering, Phillips 66 Chief Executive Greg Garland said in an annual shareholders meeting Wednesday. Click here to read the Houston Chronicle article.
Sen. Kolkhorst and Rep. Zerwas’ Bill Prevents Addiction: keeps opioids from the wrong hands. Click here to read the full news release.
Renewable Energy Proponents Brace for Last-Minute Attack on Tax Breaks for Wind and Solar: For the past year, an influential conservative think tank has lobbied to make wind and solar projects ineligible for a popular local property tax abatement program. Click here to read the full Texas Tribune article.
Bill Taxing E-Cigs, Vapes Dies in Texas House: subscribers can click here to read the full Dallas Morning News article about how Gov. Abbott made a late-hour push.
State Tax Revenues are Higher than Ever, but Good Times May Not Last: Federal tax reform and the economy are boosting state coffers – for now. Click here to read the full Governing article here.
Trade Wars: Trump Says ‘No Need to Rush’ to Reach a Deal - Business Live: US has hiked the tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods to 25% overnight, from 10%, escalating the battle between the two economic powers. Click here to read the full The Guardian article.
Mark Your Calendars!
Dates to Note:
May 15th, 2019: 123rd Day: Last Day for House to Consider Consent of HB’s on 2nd & 3rd Reading as well as ALL 3rd Reading HB’s and HJR’s on Supplemental Calendar
May 17th, 2019: Last Day for House to Consider Local HB’s on 2nd and 3rd Reading
May 18, 2019: Last Day for House Committees to Report SB’s
May 21, 2019: Last Day for House to Consider 2nd Reading SB’s
May 22, 2019: Last Day for House to Consider Local and Consent SB’s and ALL 3rd Reading SB’s on Supplemental Calendar AND Last Day for Senate to Consider ALL Bills & JR’s on 2nd or 3rd Reading
May 24, 2019: Last Day for House to Act on Senate Amendments
May 26, 2019: Last Day for House to Adopt CCR’s or Discharge House Conferees and Concur in Senate Amendments AND Last Day for Senate to Concur in House Amendments or Adopt CCRs
May 27, 2019: Last Day of 86th Legislature (Sine Die) Corrections Only in House and Senate
June 16, 2019: Last Day for Governor to Act on Bills
September 16, 2019 to September 20, 2019: Energy Trade Mission to Israel 2019
September 26 - 28, 2019: The Texas Tribune Festival