Jobs! And keeping Texas competitive. A framework for a new economic development tool to build upon.
A new outcomes-based funding model resulting in nearly $700M for community colleges.
No School Vouchers; thus, not sending taxpayer dollars from public schools to private entities.
Preserving the use of local economic development 380/381 agreements.
Expansion of broadband infrastructure funding.
Partial funding for a new regional law enforcement training center.
Funding for the state water plan and investments in new water sources.
Medicaid coverage expansion aimed at reducing maternal mortality rates for new mothers following pregnancy.
Preserving local control by defeating efforts to abolish uniform election dates and taxpayer-funded lobbying.
Statewide preemption of local governments.
Underfunded public schools and no teacher pay raises.
Discriminatory legislation, including banning important DEI practices.
Wrapping Up the 88th Regular Session:
The 88th Texas Legislature adjourned Sine Die Monday evening, ending the 140-day regular session with several issues unresolved and the commencement of impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Ken Paxton underway. Late-night negotiations between the House and Senate Sunday delivered the last-minute passage of economic development agreement and electric grid reform legislation. However, speculation of an imminent special session intensified as a result of unfinished Republican priorities. A few hours after the House and Senate adjourned, Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation immediately calling the legislature back for a special session to address reducing property taxes and increasing criminal penalties for human smuggling. Lawmakers are expected to return to Austin Tuesday to convene for the first called special session.
Legislators filed a record number of bills in 2023 on various topics and ultimately advanced more than 870 bills to Governor Abbott for consideration, including the $321 billion 2024-2025 state budget. He has already acted on over 250 bills by either signing, filing without a signature, or exercising his veto power. Two bills were vetoed prior to the end of session, with additional vetoes anticipated. Governor Abbott has until the 20th day after the end of the session, June 18th, to take action on bills passed by the legislature.
The focus of the final week of the legislative session dramatically shifted to Attorney General Paxton following last Tuesday’s announcement by House General Investigating Committee Chairman Andrew Murr that the committee would convene the following day to receive invited testimony on a matter related to the attorney general. Ultimately, House Resolution 2377 was filed, and the House voted to adopt the 20 articles of impeachment against General Paxton Saturday afternoon following several hours of discussion. The vote was 121-23, with three members absent and two present not voting (there are currently 149 members in the Texas House). Later that day, General Paxton released a report refuting the testimony offered in the House General Investigating Committee hearing. The processes associated with conducting an impeachment trial are not entirely clear, as there have only been two previously held in the history of Texas. However, additional details on the process emerged from the House and Senate prior to each body adjourning. House Speaker Dade Phelan announced the appointment of a Board of Managers comprised of twelve House members whose primary purpose is to present the articles of impeachment to the Senate. The Board of Managers members include representatives Andrew Murr, Chair; Ann Johnson, Vice-Chair; Charlie Geren; Joe Moody; Terry Canales; Jeff Leach; Morgan Meyer; Briscoe Cain; Cody Vasut; David Spiller; and Erin Gamez. As their last matter of business before adjourning the regular session, Senator John Whitmire, Dean of the Senate, was recognized by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to present Senate Resolution 735 for the purposes of establishing and appointing a special committee of seven senators that will prepare and present rules of procedure to govern the impeachment trial. The proposed rules of procedure will be presented to the full Senate Tuesday, June 20th. Furthermore, the resolution provides that the Senate will convene not later than Monday, August 28th, as a Court of Impeachment. The resolution was unanimously adopted by the full Senate. Meanwhile, per Texas law applicable to impeachments, General Paxton has been temporarily relieved of his duties as attorney general pending the outcome of the impeachment trial. Governor Abbott can appoint someone to temporarily serve as the Attorney General; however, he has not yet acted or made a statement relating to the impeachment.
On the final day of session, Senator Charles Schwertner was elected by the Senate to serve as the President Pro Tempore for the interim period. This is a largely ceremonial position that rotates among senators based on seniority and culminates in a “Governor for a Day” celebration. Senator Schwertner succeeds Senator Kelly Hancock, who had served in the role since January of 2023. In the House, much of the final day was spent passing resolutions honoring legislative staff and others who helped carry out the administrative duties of the body and presenting awards to various members. They also honored Representative Senfronia Thompson for her fifty years of service as a member of the Texas House of Representatives. She is the longest-serving female and African-American legislator in the Texas House.
Final Outcomes for Top Regional Priorities:
HB 5 (Hunter) –The Texas Jobs, Energy, Technology, & Innovation Act is a new economic development program that will encourage investment in the state. The Commission worked hard all session with a large group of state-wide associations to ensure the state kept a business recruitment program like this on the books. HB 5 creates a program that will incentivize businesses to invest in Texas and increase local tax bases, and create high-quality, high-paying jobs for Texans. HB 5 was passed into law in the final minutes of session. The Senate and House came to an agreement that will last until the next legislative session.
Health & Well-Being:
HB 12 (Rose) – The NTC recognizes that robust postpartum healthcare is crucial for the overall health and economic stability of our communities. HB 12 expands Medicaid coverage to mothers 12 months after birth. With overwhelming support in the House and in the Senate, this bill is on the Governor’s desk, awaiting his signature.
HB 8 (VanDeaver) – 60% of Texas jobs will require a degree or certificate in the next decade. HB 8 establishes a new funding model for community colleges that focuses on outcomes-based funding. The Commission, in partnership with our region’s community colleges, advocated investments into these training programs to ensure our region continues to produce an educated and qualified workforce. HB 8 is on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature.
HB 100 (K. King) – The state had an opportunity to invest historic amounts of money into our public schools this session. When HB 100 was voted out of the House, it included, among other important provisions, teacher pay raises and increases to the basic allotment. The Commission worked diligently to ensure this bill and other pro-public school policies became law. Unfortunately, HB 100 did not pass this session. When HB 100 passed out of the Senate, a provision was included that created education saving accounts (vouchers) in the bill. HB 100 ultimately died in conference committee.
HB 2127 (Burrows) – Local control enables the vibrant uniqueness of each community across the state. The Commission has worked diligently to stop the erosion of local control by the Legislature. HB 2127, dubbed the “death star,” preempts cities and counties across the state from adopting policies in a broad swath of areas, including labor, agriculture, natural resources, and finance. This bill was passed into law. The NTC is requesting the Governor to veto this bill.
SB 28 (Perry) – Investing in new water sources is vital to the continued growth of our region and state. SB 28 creates a new fund administered by the Texas Water Development Board, which will allow state investment in innovative water sources such as desalination, produced water treatment, and aquafer storage. The Commission applauds the work of the Legislature on this important issue and will continue to be forward-looking in our water planning practices. HB 28 is on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature.
Stay tuned for a full listing of priority legislation outcomes and the North Texas Accountability Index for the 88th Regular Session next month.
The NTC Advocacy Team, along with our many coalition partners, is proud to be the lead on public policy for the Region. On behalf of the NTC Board and staff, we would like to express our appreciation to each of the 41 House members and 9 Senators who represent North Texas. The successful passage of many of our regional priorities would not have been possible without the hard work and contribution of the North Texas Delegation and its staff.
We would like to thank our dedicated volunteers for their exceptional leadership this preparing and advocating for the NTC’s 88th Session priorities.