Primaries are over – time to look ahead at General Election races and the issues headed to the forefront of the next Legislative Session. There have already been rumors calling for a Special Legislative Session to address school violence in the wake of the Santa Fe High School shooting. In response to the tragedy, Governor Abbott recently released his comprehensive school safety plan to help prevent school shootings. Additionally, the race to replace outgoing Speaker Straus is fully underway as are preparations for Republican Party of Texas and Texas Democratic Party state conventions. Lastly, we list several important committee hearings in June.
Competitive General Election Races:
10 Texas House seats and 2 Texas Senate seats held by incumbent Republican legislators were carried by Hillary Clinton in the last General Election. These seats will be heavily targeted by the Democratic Party in November. More on these races to come in the future as campaigns progress and more campaign funds are raised.
Governor Abbott Rolls out 40-Page School Safety Program:
After holding numerous roundtables with law enforcement officers, educators, mental health experts, parents and students, Governor Abbott released his action plan to prevent school shootings. The plan aims to close gaps in current gun laws, like speeding up mental health and felony conviction reporting periods from 30 days to 48 hours. Changes to mental health monitoring and programs to train educators in active shooter situations are also included. While it is a comprehensive plan and great start to addressing the issue, it is unlikely lawmakers will be called back for a Special Legislative Session. The plan was well received and well done in response to the Santa Fe High School shooting. A copy of the School Safety Program can be found here.
Preview of Race to Replace Speaker Straus:
Traditionally, campaigning Speaker candidates visit fellow House members and ask them for a pledge of support. But things are a little different this year; the Republican Party of Texas has been asking Republican Caucus members for months to sign a Republican Caucus Speaker Selection Commitment Form. The form asks Republican Caucus members to pledge they will vote for whichever Speaker candidate wins a supermajority of votes in the Republican Caucus. By doing so, members can agree on the next Speaker as a united front before the Legislative Session begins. So far, 55 legislators have publicly signed the commitment form to vote for the Speaker nominee selected by the Republican Caucus members.
2018 State Party Conventions:
From June 11th through the 16th, the Republican Party of Texas will hold its state convention in San Antonio. The Party will vote on the direction of the Party’s Platform and elect new Party Leadership: Chairman, Vice Chair, and a State Republican Executive Committeeman and Committeewoman from each Senate District. The contested Republican Party of Texas Chairman’s race has brought up several hot button issues, like the censorship of Speaker Straus and the race itself to replace Speaker Straus. Later this month the Texas Democratic Party will meet on June 21st in Fort Worth for its state convention.
Upcoming Committee Hearings:
Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs – Monday – 06/04/2018: Review the regulatory framework of Groundwater Conservation Districts and River Authorities to ensure private property rights are protected.
House Culture, Recreation and Tourism – Tuesday– 06/05/2018: Review the impact on the tourism industry following Hurricane Harvey. Note: the hearing will be held in the Brownsville City Commission Chambers, Brownsville City Hall – Old Federal Building, Second Floor, 1001 East Elizabeth Street, Brownsville, TX, 78520.
Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs – Tuesday – 06/05/2018: Review water rights permit issuance and ensure the permitting process for surface water and groundwater in Ground Water Conservation Districts is efficient and uniform.
House Natural Resources – Tuesday: Evaluate the status of groundwater policy in Texas, including ownership. Note: The committee will meet for a public hearing to hear invited and public testimony at the Mack Dick Pavilion at Palo Duro Canyon State Park located at 11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, Canyon, TX 79015.
House County Affairs – Wednesday – 06/06/2018: Examine how emergency response activities are organized, funded, and coordinated. Review the impact of natural disasters on county finances. The committee will also evaluate whether counties have the necessary ordinance-making and enforcement authority to deal with flood risk in unincorporated rural and suburban areas of Texas.
Joint Hearing with House Higher Ed. & House Public Ed. – Thursday: Review the transparency and flexibility of Educator Preparation Programs (EEPs) so school districts have the ability to assess and meet teacher workforce needs.