Around the Texas Capitol: Primary elections underway, the lights stay on and more

Around the Texas Capitol: Primary elections underway, the lights stay on and more

Return to February 2022 newsletter
Note: Content below was posted and current as of Feb. 14, 2022

Around the Texas Capitol:
Primary elections underway, the lights stay on and more

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

As you can tell by our countdown clock (above), Texas primary elections are right around the corner on March 1. Early voting is actually underway now, through Feb. 25. Reminder: All Texas Senate and House seats plus congressional seats are on the ballot this cycle as well as seven statewide seats — governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, land commissioner, agriculture commissioner, comptroller and one of three seats on the Railroad Commission.

Recent polls show that an unprecedented number of voters are still undecided in some of those statewide races, and that uncertainty could trickle down into the other races on the ballot. With the large number of retirements and many incumbents facing challengers, March 1 could give us an indication of what the makeup of the next Legislature will look like during its next session in 2023.

Beyond March 1, May 24 is the next big election date to keep an eye on. A runoff between the top two finishers in a primary is required if the winner doesn’t get at least 50% of the vote. With only a handful of swing seats left in the Legislature, most candidates that secure their party’s nomination are a shoo-in for the November general election.

Keep an eye out for our March edition of the Dairy Dispatch, where we’ll break down the primary election results and let you know what you can expect for the May runoff. Last month we included a full slate of candidates, which can be found here.

ERCOT Keeps the Lights On

The first week of February brought back a lot of anxiety for Texans as forecasts indicated a winter weather event was headed our way and state leaders issued several warnings. The state’s grid operator anticipated high demand but was confident changes made to the way the grid is operated earlier this year were enough to prevent a load-shed event like we saw a year ago during Winter Storm Uri.

ERCOT forecasted that demand would peak at about 74,000 megawatts on Friday morning (Feb. 4) during the worst weather. Instead, demand reached 69,000 megawatts. Texas had 86,000 megawatts of supply going into the week of the storm. Additionally, unlike during Uri, wind power generated more electricity than anticipated, helping boost supply. For reference, peak electricity demand during last year’s winter storm would have been around an estimated 77,000 megawatts if ERCOT hadn’t ordered utilities to shut down power to millions of customers.

Gov. Greg Abbott credited the grid’s strength to a variety of proactive strategies including winterization, the availability of alternate fuels, the designation of natural gas facilities as critical infrastructure, and a 15% increase in power generation capacity compared to last year.


Jan. 17. Abbott unveiled his Taxpayer Bill of Rights at an event held by the Kingwood Tea Party. Elements of the proposed Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights include:

  • Taxpayers who pay their property taxes in full early would be entitled to a discount.
  • Taxpayers would be allowed to split their taxes into a regular payment plan without penalty.
  • Any homeowner who purchases a home for less than the appraised value would receive an automatic reduction in appraised value down to the purchase price of the home.
  • All local debt would require approval of a two-thirds supermajority of the local governing body; and if the debt requires voter approval, the approval would require a two-thirds supermajority of voters if it is not on the November ballot.

Jan. 27. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick established the Senate Border Security Committee. Previously the border security issue was a part of the Senate Veteran Affairs and Border Security Committee, which was renamed the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee. Senate Veterans Affairs will still be chaired by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills). Patrick selected members with military experience for the committee since they have the experience and knowledge of operations, strategy and tactics to best serve. Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) will serve as chair and Sens. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) are the other members. The committee will oversee the funding and policies of Texas’ effort to secure the border. They will work closely with Abbott’s office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas National Guard and other state agencies.

Jan. 25. Patrick announced the appointments of Sens. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) and Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) to the Legislative Public Health Oversight Board. Schwertner serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce and chairman of the Sunset Advisory Commission. Blanco serves on the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, Senate Committee on Higher Education, Senate Committee on Transportation and Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Border Security. The Legislative Public Health Oversight Board, created by SB 966 during the 87th Legislature, provides oversight for declarations of public health and orders of public health emergencies issued by the Commissioner of the Department of State Health Services.


Texas House District 38

State Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville), who announced last year he would not seek reelection, has decided to resign before his term is up. His resignation was effective Jan. 31. That sets up a special election to finish his term, though the winner only will serve a short time. Abbott issued a proclamation announcing Saturday, May 7, as the special election date for the seat. Candidates must file their applications with the Secretary of State no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, March 7. Early voting begins Monday, April 25.

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