It’s been a rough week for everyone and we all could probably use a break. Who’s up for a quick trip to Cancun?
TDCAA World Headquarters took a direct hit from Snowpocalypse 2021. Building power (heat, phone, internet) went down Monday morning and is only just now coming back online in fits and starts. The water is currently shut off in the hopes of avoiding flooding from potentially busted pipes, and we cannot resume heating until the good people at Trane oversee a re-start of our previously frozen rooftop equipment. (Their slogan may be “It’s hard to stop a Trane®,” but Mother Nature found a way.) Meanwhile, TDCAA staff in the greater Austin area are in still in various stages of recovery; most have power again but several still lack internet service, while city water has been out since Wednesday-ish and it may be several more days before water pressure returns to needed levels. In short: We can’t promise prompt responses to your calls, emails, or requests, but we’re doing the best we can, just like all of you. Hang in there.
A whole lotta nuthin’ got accomplished in Austin this week. (That doesn’t just describe the Lege, but we will confine our comments to it because you already know about <gesticulates wildly in every direction to indicate “this”>.) The House and Senate were required to meet this Tuesday, so they gaveled in without quorums and punted things to today, when they punted again until Tuesday afternoon (because they can only recess for a few days at a time without the agreement of their other chamber, which neither can obtain right now due to a lack of a quorum.) That leaves the schedule for the next few weeks completely up in the air. All that can be said for certain is that dozens or even hundreds of fewer bills will be passed this session due to this “lost week.”
Meanwhile, Governor Abbott added “ERCOT reform” to his list of emergency legislative items earlier this week, which means that not only has the Lege lost a week of productivity, but it now has another hot-potato issue to take up in the increasingly short time remaining to conduct business this regular session.
The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee named his subcommittees yesterday. The House members tasked with doing a deep dive on court- and prosecutor-related funding are on the Subcommittee for Articles I, IV, and V, which consists of: Mary Gonzalez (D-Clint), chair; Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), vice-chair; Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin), Justin Holland (R-Rockwall), Carl Sherman, Sr. (D-DeSoto). If any of those members are your local legislators, please call or email Rob if you’d like to know what you can do to help protect against budget cuts this session.
Here are a few state stories we read this week that we found interesting:
- “How judicial appointments in Texas will work—or not—under a Democratic president and two GOP senators” (Dallas Morning News)
- “2021: Such a disappointment” (Austin American-Statesman)
Due to this week’s work stoppages, it’s probably safe to say that if you have a bill idea that has not yet been submitted to the Legislative Council for drafting, that ship has sailed. Instead, just ask that it be filed as-is and worry about the details later. (If you need a bill draft template for doing so, contact Shannon—he has one he can share.) However, those of you with bill ideas already in the Legislative Council drafting process still have several weeks for them to be returned and filed before the March 12 deadline.
Despite the deep freeze, bills continued to be filed this week thanks to the modern miracle of electronic filing. As a result, we are now tracking 782 (29%) of the 2,725 bills filed to date, and that number of filed bills could double (or triple?) between now and the filing deadline.
To view the bills that would amend the Penal Code or Code of Criminal Procedure or that fall into our “Bills to Watch” category, use the links on the right-hand side of our Legislative page. And as always, if you ever have questions about any piece of legislation, please contact Shannon for more scoop.
Well, it will be warmer and drier, so that’s a start. House and Senate activities may resume on Tuesday afternoon, assuming no further biblical plagues are visited upon us. That likely means that most of what was to happen this week—namely, budget hearings and a roll-out of the lite guv’s legislative priorities—could get taken up next week, along with some very heated (see what we did there?) legislative hearings about the recent power failures across the state. And if you are feeling poorly about your current predicament, just remember that there is always someone worse off than you—in this case, the people who run ERCOT.
Quotes of the Week
“By, number one, not defunding the police.”
—President Joe Biden, in response to a question at a CNN town hall meeting this week asking how law enforcement can protect citizens in high crime neighborhoods.
“The ERCOT grid has collapsed in exactly the same manner as the old Soviet Union. It limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances. … It happened before and will continue to happen until Texas restructures its electricity market.”
—Ed Hirs, an energy fellow in the UH Economics Department, on the causes of the recent power blackouts around the state.
“There’s no evidence that I can see that tells me he’s vulnerable in a Republican primary, but I will also say that if he gets indicted again a second time, that changes things. … He’s in a dicey situation right now. He knows that. But I also think he’s a hell of a fighter.”
—Matt Mackowiak, GOP strategist, on the current political status of Attorney General Ken Paxton (R-McKinney), whose latest kerfuffle has arisen after he declined to reveal who paid for his trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the storming of the U.S. Capitol last month.