Around the Texas Capitol: Refugee resettlement; broadband council; election dates

Around the Texas Capitol: Refugee resettlement; broadband council; election dates

Return to January 2020 newsletter

Around the Texas Capitol
Refugee resettlement; broadband council; election dates

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

Potential impact of refugee resettlement issue on ag employers

President Trump on Sept. 26 signed an executive order requiring state and local officials to provide signed, written consent for refugee resettlement to continue in their states and localities. This meant refugee resettlement would stop in Texas unless Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to the U.S. State Department providing consent.

In addition, local county officials and mayors must provide consent for refugees to be resettled in their localities. However, without the governor’s consent, refugees cannot be resettled anywhere in the state. Refugee resettlement agencies were to submit proposals that included consent letters no later than Jan. 21.

The State Department will take into consideration where consent has been provided when deciding which agencies to approve and where they can resettle refugees. Resettlement offices that receive approval may have to cover refugee resettlement needs in states that are not approved.

On Jan. 10, Abbott sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stating that Texas would not provide consent. This came after several agricultural groups, including the Texas Association of Dairymen, sent Abbott a letter in support of consent for the program; however, the letter never made it to Abbott due to various timing issues. Abbott unequivocally opposed consent, saying that while Texas had welcomed 10% of all refugees who had resettled in the U.S., Congress has failed to manage disproportioned migration issues across the states.

Finally, on Jan. 15, U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte of Maryland temporarily halted Trump’s executive order, writing in a 31-page decision that “giving states and local governments the power to consent to the resettlement of refugees – which is to say veto power to determine whether refugees will be received in their midst – flies in the face of clear Congressional intent.”

TAD will continue to monitor this issue as it proceeds.

Governor appoints 15 to Broadband Development Council

Gov. Greg Abbott on Jan. 10 appointed 15 people to the newly formed Governor’s Broadband Development Council for terms to expire Aug. 21, 2024. You can read the names and their bios here.

The council was created by House Bill 1960 by Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo) and Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock). The council is charged with researching the progress of broadband development in unserved areas of the state and identifying barriers to residential and commercial broadband deployment. The council will study technology neutral solutions to overcome barriers as it attempts to analyze economic development, higher education, state emergency preparedness, health care and telemedicine/telehealth as well as state/local law enforcement opportunities.

The council must prepare and submit an annual report to the governor, lieutenant governor and the Legislature by Nov. 1 of each year, starting this year. The council will expire Sept. 1, 2029.

Upcoming election dates

Jan. 28 – Election runoff for HD 28, HD 100 and HD 148

Feb. 17-28 – Early voting for the March 3 primary elections

March 3 – Primary election day

Nov. 3 – General election day

State Websites – Additional information can be obtained via the Texas Senate, Texas House of Representatives and Texas Capitol websites.

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