Around the Texas Capitol: Summer slowdown under The Dome

Around the Texas Capitol: Summer slowdown under The Dome

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Around the Texas Capitol:
Summer slowdown under The Dome

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

June was an active month at the Texas Capitol as lawmakers got to work on their interim charges. Thirty different committees held hearings throughout the month before heading back to their districts in time for the Fourth of July.

To date, only a handful of legislative hearings have been scheduled for July, but it is anticipated that those hearings will pick back up in August and into the fall. Legislative committees are required to submit their interim committee reports ahead of the next legislative session scheduled to begin Jan. 10. With this reprieve in hearings under the dome, the Texas Association of Dairymen governmental relations team is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a House Agriculture and Livestock hearing showcasing the Texas dairy industry. That hearing has not yet been scheduled – stay tuned.


Comptroller releases first Texas Broadband Plan

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on June 16 released his agency’s first Texas Broadband Plan to support the expansion of broadband access for underserved and unserved Texans. The Comptroller’s Broadband Development Office (BDO) crafted the plan building upon the feedback collected from Texans through 12 public town halls, 60 virtual regional roundtable discussions and more than 16,000 survey responses.

Because the state’s potential federal funding and additional state funding have not yet been determined, this initial statewide plan is based on several guiding principles that will create the foundation for those future funds.

The plan will become more defined over time as federal agencies finalize program guidance and funding allocations. In addition, more detail will be added if the Legislature appropriates additional state funding for new broadband expansion programs. Next steps are organized into three areas of focus aimed at maximizing available funding, providing for transparency and accountability, and understanding and overcoming barriers. By early next year, the BDO will: Establish a broadband-focused, federally compliant grant program; publish a broadband availability map; and manage recurring coordination and communication opportunities across stakeholder groups.

View the Texas Broadband Plan here.
You can also view supporting documents and the Comptroller’s release in its entirety here.

Texas power grid sees record demand levels

Texas’ extreme summer heat – on track to be the hottest summer on record – has broken the state’s power grid records for energy demand four times in June and several times already in July. In fact, over less than 70 days, 30 records have been set on the the ERCOT system as we move through the summer. The previous all-time high for peak demand before June was 74,820 megawatts reached on Aug. 12, 2019. ERCOT, the state’s grid operator, deployed some reserve generation units in order to keep up, yet needed to call in July for Texans to conserve power during peak times of the day to avoid potential rolling blackouts.

ERCOT, overseen by the Public Utility Commission (PUC), has been operating in a more conservative manner in efforts to prevent tight grid conditions. In testimony to the House State Affairs committee on June 23, the Independent Market Monitor (IMM) estimated ERCOT has spent $210 million to $385 million from Jan. 1 through May 31 to buy more reserve power plus an estimated $475 million impact due to policy changes to wholesale prices. PUC Chairman Peter Lake has said that ERCOT’s effort to manage the grid more conservatively is paying off for Texans through increased reliability.


June 9. Gov. Greg Abbott named Keith Pardue as chair of the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners for a term at the pleasure of the governor. The Board’s mission is to establish and enforce policies to ensure the best possible quality of veterinary and equine dental provider services for Texans. Pardue of Austin is an attorney and owner of the Law Office of Pardue and Associates PLLC. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas and is board certified in administrative law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Pardue received a Bachelor of Arts from Mid-America Nazarene University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Houston School of Law.

June 22. The Sunset Commission held a hearing and made decisions on several Sunset reports including the Soil and Water Conservation Board and the Water Development Board. They also held public testimony on the proposed TCEQ Sunset report. A decision on that report is expected at the next Sunset hearing on Oct. 12.

June 23. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined an Indiana-led multistate amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, opposing a California law that regulates the sale of out-of-state pork, veal and eggs. The law at issue is Proposition 12, a 2018 ballot initiative in California that bans in-state businesses from selling pork, veal and egg products that don’t meet certain environmental, humanitarian, breeding and other agricultural-related standards, even if those products come from outside California. Prop 12 reaches nationwide, effectively imposing California’s standards on the entire nation’s pork, veal and egg industry. This violates a constitutional doctrine known as the “Dormant Commerce Clause,” which prohibits state protectionism or a state’s burdening of interstate commerce. Prop 12 has shuttered many businesses in California and raised the cost of producing these products across the nation, exacerbating an already troubling economic downturn that has been characterized by a sharp increase in food prices. Read the amicus brief here.

June 30. Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Steven Golla, D.V.M. to the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners for a term set to expire on Aug. 26, 2027. The mission of the Board is to establish and enforce policies that ensure the best quality of veterinary and equine dental provider services for the people of Texas. Golla of New Braunfels is the medical operations veterinarian at Innovative Pet Care. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Association of Equine Practitioners and the American Association of Theriogenology. In addition, he is a member and past president of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association. Golla received a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science, Master of Science in Animal Science, and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Texas A&M University.


U.S. Congressional District 34

In the June 14 special election to fill the unexpired term of Congressman Fileman Vela (D-Brownsville), Republican Mayra Flores of Los Indios won without a runoff. She is also the Republican nominee in the general election in this district against Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen), who currently represents Congressional District 15 but is seeking re-election in this district. Flores received 50.98% of the vote (14,780 votes). The next highest vote getter, Dan Sanchez (D-Harlingen), received 43.33% (12,560 votes).

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