Around the Texas Capitol: Campaign season heats up, historic drought lingers

Around the Texas Capitol:  Campaign season heats up, historic drought lingers

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Around the Texas Capitol:
Campaign season heats up, historic drought lingers

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

Midterm elections will be here before you know it, and the first of several election deadlines are right around the corner ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

The last day to register to vote is Oct. 11. The last day to apply to vote by mail is Oct. 28. In order to register, you must fill out and submit a paper voter registration application. The only form of online registration in Texas is through the Texas Department of Public Safety while renewing your driver’s license. For more on registering in Texas, you can visit the Secretary of State’s (SOS) website, where they have put together a primer on registering in Texas. You can also check your registration status on the SOS website.

Early voting begins on Oct. 24 and runs through Nov. 4. Statewide, the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, land commissioner, agriculture commissioner and one railroad commission seat are up for election. Additionally, all U.S. representatives, state senators, state representatives and members of the State Board of Education are up for election after the redrawing of political districts. Some Texas communities also will hold elections for city, county and school board offices and local bonds or propositions. The Texas Tribune is a great resource to view the new districts you’ll vote in after redistricting. Closer to election day, most county clerk websites also provide sample ballots based on your address. The Texas Association of Dairymen (TAD) governmental relations (GR) team will have a full recap of election results in the November edition of the Dairy Dispatch.

As election season heats up, the state is slowly starting to cool down. Several regions of the state saw heavy ran in late August, and even severe flooding in some parts, spurring the governor to sign a disaster declaration. Despite the heavy rainfall, the drought is not expected to end any time soon, though conditions have started to improve. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, overall, the recent rainfall in Texas throughout the past month has started to make a significant dent in the state’s drought conditions in some areas. However, 80% of the state is still experiencing some level of drought conditions.

This is the worst drought since 2011, the worst on record, and is likely to extend late into the fall and winter due to current climate patterns that could lead to hotter and drier weather and potentially leading to a multiyear drought. As of Sept. 1, the state’s reservoirs were 20% below average levels. More than 400 cities and other public water systems have put some sort of water restrictions in place to avoid shortages, impacting 3.4 million Texans in 92 counties. Since the end of July, at least 10,700 acres have burned in wildfires across the state, primarily in Central Texas.

The agriculture industry has been hit the hardest so far, with ranchers selling their cattle for meat or to other areas because they can’t afford to keep them under current drought conditions. There’s also been significant crop losses because of lack of moisture in the ground. The recent rains have provided a much-needed boost to soil moisture and streamflow levels, though drought-related impacts within the agricultural sector include reduced crop yields as well as deteriorating pasture and rangeland conditions. The economic impacts are not immediately clear, but experts expect it to be in the billions. The 2011 drought cost an estimated $7.62 billion from crop and livestock losses.


 August 8. Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced his agency has selected data company LightBox to develop the state’s broadband availability map. The map will help the Comptroller’s Broadband Development Office (BDO) determine where to invest public funding in areas most in need of broadband connectivity as it implements the Texas Broadband Plan. LightBox will start collecting data from internet service providers throughout Texas to develop a comprehensive broadband availability map, which is expected to complete by January 2023. The map will feature addresses of all types, including homes, businesses, public schools, charter schools, governmental entities, community anchor institutions, military bases, community colleges and tribal areas.

 August 10. Producer Owned Beef, LLC (POB) announced is is building a beef processing plant in Amarillo. The plant will harvest 3,000 cattle per day and sell beef and beef byproducts both in and out of Texas. The new facility allows Texas cattle producers to access the value chain and keep hundreds of millions of dollars in Texas. The project will create more than 1,500 new jobs and generate $670 million in capital investment.

August 11. Rep. James White (R-Hillister) resigned his House seat to become executive director of the Texas Funeral Services Commission. He did not seek re-election in 2022 and instead unsuccessfully ran statewide in the Republican Primary for Texas Agriculture Commissioner. Abbott is not expected to call a special session to fill his unexpired term.

August 23. Abbott signed a disaster declaration for 23 counties impacted by flooding and provided an update on the state’s ongoing response to severe weather and flash flooding across Texas. The following counties are included in the governor’s disaster declaration, with additional counties added as needed: Camp, Culberson, Dallas, Duval, Ellis, El Paso, Henderson, Hopkins, Hudspeth, Kaufman, Kerr, Live Oak, Marion, Montague, Navarro, Pecos, Rains, Smith, Tarrant, Upshur, Van Zandt, Webb and Wood. Here is a link to the disaster declaration.


Upcoming Sunset Commission hearings for state agencies

  • Public hearing for the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners – Nov. 10
  • Report decision for Texas Commission on Environmental Quality – Nov. 10

General Election – Key Dates:

Last day to register to vote – Oct. 11
Early voting period – Oct. 24 – Nov.
Last day to apply for ballot by mail – Oct. 28
General election – Nov. 8

 88th Texas Legislature – Key Dates:

First day to pre-file legislation: Nov. 14
Session starts: Jan. 10, 2023
Last day to file legislation: March 11, 2023
Last day to pass House bills out of House: May 12, 2023
Last day to pass Senate bills out of Senate: May 25, 2023
Sine Die: May 30, 2023
Veto period ends: June 19, 2023

Additional information can be obtained via the Texas Senate, House, and Capitol websites.

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