Around the Texas Capitol: Ready to run now that election slates are set

Around the Texas Capitol: Ready to run now that election slates are set

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Note: Content below was posted and current as of Dec. 15, 2021

Around the Texas Capitol:
Ready to run now that election slates are set

By Lauren Fairbanks, Shayne Woodard and J Pete Laney
TAD Governmental Affairs

The Texas primary ballots are set – the deadline for candidates to file to run for office in Texas ended Dec. 13. We now have a complete list of who’s retiring, who wants to come back, and which new faces hope to gain office ahead of the March 1 primary election.


Many incumbents face up to five primary challengers. The Land Commissioner race is the only statewide seat that is an open race, since incumbent George P. Bush is running for Attorney General. While Republicans have held all statewide seats for more than two decades, Democrat challengers have filed in every statewide race.

Texas Senate:

This year, all 31 Senate seats are on the ballot due to the redrawing of district lines. Five of the 31 seats are open, with no incumbent on the ballot. Three incumbents will face a primary challenger: SD 25 Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), SD 8 Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) and SD 15 John Whitmire (D-Houston). Breaking it down further, 39% of senators have a general election challenge, 10% have both and 39% have no challengers at all.

Texas House:

In the 150-member House, a much higher turnover is anticipated with the possibility of as many as 40 new House members at the beginning of the next legislative session in 2023. There are 26 open House seats. Additionally, 38 incumbent House members face a primary challenger. Of the entire House, 25% of have a general election challenge, 15% have both and 37% have no challengers in either the primary or general elections. During the redistricting process, several House members were paired to account for population shifts. In all but one of those pairings, at least one of the incumbents announced their retirement or is running for higher office. In El Paso’s HD 79, two incumbents – Art Fierro and Claudia Ordaz Perez – will face off in the Democratic primary.

Click here for a complete list of candidates for each statewide and legislative race.

Note that while the filing deadline was Dec. 13, the Secretary of State’s office and both the Republican and Democrat parties are working to finalize paperwork. Any changes or corrections to the candidate filing sheet will be made as soon as they are available.

The upcoming election cycle will be an active one. Your Texas Association of Dairymen team looks forward to meeting with candidates in the months ahead to educate them on the importance of the dairy industry in Texas.

Winter Storm Uri & the state’s power grid

The fallout from Winter Storm Uri is still being felt around the state. During the last regular session, the Texas Legislature passed several measures overhauling the state’s power grid in response to the failure of the grid in February. Since being signed into law, state agencies – specifically the Public Utility Commission and the Railroad Commission – have been working to implement the new statutes through rulemakings. PUC Commissioners in particular recognize that some modifications to the grid should be made ahead of the upcoming winter to prevent another event like we saw during Uri. The need was further confirmed after ERCOT released their Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) report on Nov. 19.

The SARA report serves as an early indicator of the risk that ERCOT may need to call an Energy Emergency Alert Level 1 (EEA1) due to having insufficient operating reserves during seasonal peak electric demand periods. It uses a scenario approach to illustrate a range of outcomes based on extreme system conditions. ERCOT considered five extreme scenarios in its assessment, estimating the electricity demand of Texans and the electricity production of power plants ahead of each season. Calculations for severe risk this winter show that it wouldn’t take a storm as bad as February’s deadly winter storm to take the grid offline. While the extreme scenarios have a low chance of occurring and ERCOT estimates more power generation will be available compared to last winter, reforms are still needed and top of mind going into this winter.

The PUC is working diligently to implement several new measures before the end of the year that could alleviate some of the pressure on the grid. In October, a rule was adopted requiring power companies to use best efforts to ensure plants can operate in the winter and represents the first of two phases. More rulemakings and a wholesale electric market redesign are also currently under consideration before the Commission and final proposals are anticipated in the coming weeks.

Additionally, in late November, the RRC approved a new rule that instructs natural gas companies that are prepared to operate during an energy emergency to fill out the necessary forms. Those gas companies will be designated as critical so their power will not be shut off in future emergencies. The next phase of this rulemaking will be a mapping project to identify what natural gas infrastructure would need to be winterized. This is anticipated in fall 2022.


November 1

Comptroller Glenn Hegar released a special report on Winter Storm Uri. This special edition of Fiscal Notes takes an in-depth look at Winter Storm Uri’s impacts, the immediate response and the legislative actions that followed. The storm resulted in between $80 billion and $130 billion in financial losses to the state economy and claimed at least 210 lives. View the report here.

Hegar also released his Annual Cash Report on Nov. 1. The report presents the state’s financial condition and details revenues and expenditures on a cash basis. The Consolidated General Revenue Fund ended the year with a cash balance in the state treasury of $14.4 billion, an increase of $6.6 billion, or 85.5%, from fiscal 2020. The change in the balance is largely due to an increase in federal income. Read the report in its entirety here.

November 2

The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics and Research held a hearing Nov. 2 to discuss the State of Nutrition in America. The hearing highlighted the essential role of agriculture in any conversation about nutrition. Four experts testified about nutrition in America and the challenges facing the U.S. amid an epidemic of chronic diet-related disease that has been exacerbated by COVID-19. For more on who testified and to view the hearing, click here.

November 4

Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced the release of the Certification Revenue Estimate (CRE) for the fiscal 2022-23 biennium, stating Texas will bring in almost $23 billion more in general revenue during the current two-year budget period than originally estimated. The state is now expected to end the budget period with almost $12 billion in the bank, and with a balance of $12.6 billion in the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund. View the full details here.

November 5

Texas will receive approximately $35 billion over five years after federal lawmakers passed the national infrastructure bill. The dollars will be set aside for a variety of new projects and maintenance work, from highway expansions and broadband access to modernizing public transit throughout the state. The White House also estimated that $3.5 billion will be invested to weatherize the country’s energy infrastructure, but it wasn’t immediately clear how much of that money would go to Texas or how those plans could combine with measures approved by the Texas Legislature this year. Here is the breakdown of the funds that Texas is expected to receive:

  • Federal highway programs: $26.9 billion
  • Public transportation: $3.3 billion
  • Drinking water infrastructure (and removing lead pipes): $2.9 billion
  • Airports: $1.2 billion
  • Bridge replacement and repairs: $537 million
  • Electric vehicle charging network: $408 million
  • Broadband expansion: $100 million
  • Wildfire protection: $53 million
  • Cyberattacks protection: $42 million

November 19

Gov. Abbott appointed Alecysa “Ali” Broyles, D.V.M., and Benjamin Turner, Ph.D., and reappointed Kenneth “Ken” Jordan and Coleman Locke to the Texas Animal Health Commission for terms set to expire Sept. 6, 2027. The commission works to protect and enhance the health of animal populations across the state.

November 22

House Speaker Dade Phelan announced Sunset appointments. Phelan appointed Rep. Justin Holland (R-Rockwall) as vice-chair; Rep. Keith Bell (R-Forney) to fill the unexpired term of Rep. John Cyrier (R-Lockhart), who is retiring; Reps. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) and Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches) as commission members; and Jeff Austin, vice-chair of Austin Bank, as a public member. Terms for Holland, Canales and Clardy will end in 2025, while the ones for Bell, Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) – who has served on the commission since 2019 – and Austin will end in 2023. Senate members on the commission are Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown), chair; Sens. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville), Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) and Drew Springer (R-Muenster); and Jim Lee, the public member appointed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

The Legislature uses the Sunset process as an effective oversight tool to determine if state agencies and programs are still needed, and to ensure they are operating efficiently and effectively. The Legislature sets a Sunset review date in an agency’s statute. An agency is automatically abolished on this date unless the Legislature passes a bill to continue it, creating both a unique opportunity and a strong incentive for the Legislature to closely examine an agency’s mission, purpose, programs and performance and address any problems identified. Notably, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is slated to undergo sunset review in the upcoming interim, ahead of the 2023 legislative session.

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