87th Legislature Updates

Regular updates from the Texas Alliance on the activities of the Texas Legislature during the 87th Session.

5/9: Lt. Governor Patrick on Electricity Reform

4/27: Clock Ticking for Committee Action

4/26: Census Announcement: Texas will Gain Two Congressional Seats

4/25: Upcoming Key Legislative Dates

Monday, May 10, 2021 (119th day): Last day for House committees to report House bills and House joint resolutions

Tuesday, May 11, 2021, by 10 p.m. (120th day): Deadline for the House to distribute its last House daily calendar with House bills and House joint resolutions

Wednesday, May 12, 2021, by 9 a.m. (121st day): Deadline for the House to distribute its last House local and consent calendar with consent House bills

Thursday, May 13, 2021 (122nd day): Last day for the House to consider 2nd reading House bills and House joint resolutions on the daily or supplemental calendar

Friday, May 14, 2021 (123rd day): Last day for the House to consider consent House bills on the local and consent calendar on 2nd and 3rd reading and all 3rd reading House bills and House joint resolutions on the supplemental calendar

Wednesday, May 19, 2021, by 9 a.m. (128th day): Deadline for the House to distribute its last House local and consent calendar with local House bills

Friday, May 21, 2021 (130th day): Last day for the House to consider local House bills on the local and consent calendar on 2nd and 3rd reading
First day the Senate can consider bills and resolutions on the first day they are posted on the Senate Notice of Intent Calendar

Saturday, May 22, 2021 (131st day): Last day for House committees to report Senate bills and Senate joint resolutions

Sunday, May 23, 2021, by 10 p.m. (132nd day): Deadline for the House to distribute its last House daily calendar with Senate bills and Senate joint resolutions

Monday, May 24, 2021, by 9 a.m. (133rd day): Deadline for the House to distribute its last House local and consent calendar with Senate bills

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 (134th day): Last day for the House to consider 2nd reading Senate bills and Senate joint resolutions on the daily or supplemental calendar

Wednesday, May 26, 2021 (135th day): Last day for the House to consider local and consent Senate bills on 2nd and 3rd reading and all 3rd reading Senate bills and Senate joint resolutions on the supplemental calendar
Last day for the Senate to consider all bills and joint resolutions on 2nd or 3rd reading

Thursday, May 27, 2021, before midnight (136th day): Deadline for the House to distribute Senate amendments

Friday, May 28, 2021 (137th day): Last day for the House to act on Senate amendments (concur or request a conference committee)

Before midnight: deadline for the House to distribute House copies of a conference committee report on the general appropriations bill

Before midnight: deadline for the Senate to print and distribute Senate copies of conference committee reports on tax, general appropriations, and reapportionment bills

Saturday, May 29, 2021, before midnight (138th day): Deadline for the House to distribute House copies of all conference committee reports on bills, other than the general appropriations bill, and on joint resolutions

Deadline for the Senate to print and distribute Senate copies of all conference committee reports on bills, other than tax, general appropriations, and reapportionment bills, and on joint resolutions

Sunday, May 30, 2021 (139th day): Last day for the House to adopt conference committee reports or discharge House conferees and concur in Senate amendments

Last day for the Senate to concur in House amendments or adopt conference committee reports

Monday, May 31, 2021 (140th day): Last day of 87th Regular Session (sine die); only corrections may be considered in the House and Senate

4/8: ERCOT releases Preliminary Report on Causes of Generator Outages

February 2021 Extreme Cold Weather Event: Preliminary Report on Causes of Generator Outages and Derates

On April 6, 2021, ERCOT filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas a preliminary report on the causes of outages and derates during the February 2021 winter storm event.

3/23: Spotlight Series with Lee Fuller, IPAA

3/18: RRC Continues Work To Assist Legislature With Winter Storm Response

AUSTIN – In the aftermath of Winter Storm Uri, the Railroad Commission has worked diligently with the Texas Legislature, other state agencies, and industry stakeholders to provide meaningful solutions to the challenges that our state faced during the storm.

In response to the recent hearings in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Chairman Christi Craddick offered several tangible and responsible recommendations to legislators. Understanding that electricity is the best winterization tool, the proposals discussed include:

  • Formalize the Texas Energy Reliability Council (TERC) – TERC is comprised of members from the RRC, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the Public Utility Commission, and members of the natural gas industry. Strengthening this group through statute would allow these key stakeholders to improve communication and ensure emergency preparedness.
  • Convene an RRC administrative hearing to consider and update curtailment priorities – The RRC took proactive actions and issued an energy order to elevate human needs customers to a high priority prior to Winter Storm Uri. The current curtailment priorities for natural gas transport and sale were established in 1972, and an updated order is timely.
  • Ensure that critical oil and gas infrastructure is appropriately registered with ERCOT and electric utilities – Ensuring that electricity providers grant these critical energy producing facilities priority status is crucial to preventing power outages in the future.
  • Require natural gas-fired electric generators to secure firm gas transportation capacity and adequate natural gas supply – Thorough examination of these contracting procedures is key to understanding the limitations experienced by these power plants. The state should explore all additional storage options and contracting methods for these facilities.

“This agency is uniquely positioned to leverage the best practices utilized by both the industries we regulate and the regulatory strategies we employ to be part of the solution in the wake of Winter Storm Uri,” said Chairman Craddick. “I am committed to working with my colleagues here at the Commission and at the Capitol to develop meaningful solutions that protect all Texans moving forward.”

“Texas cannot afford to come within minutes of total electric grid system failure ever again,” said Commissioner Wayne Christian. “It is important for state agencies and the industries we regulate to be proactive in our communication and coordination with one another to ensure our constituents have access to reliable energy when they need it most.”

“Identifying and monitoring critical infrastructure prior to extreme weather events is a crucial part of our path forward,” said Commissioner Jim Wright. “This along with increased communication through TERC will ensure we are able to plan and prepare for weather events much better in the future. I look forward to working with my colleagues and staff at the Commission to implement these and other measures as we learn and move forward from winter storm Uri.”

3/10: Chairman Goldman and Senator Menendez on Winter Storm Uri

3/8: Speaker Phelan Unveils Electricity Reform Package

Bipartisan Legislation Protects Grid, Infrastructure, Ratepayers

AUSTIN, Texas – Speaker Dade Phelan (Beaumont) announced the first phase of the House’s legislative reforms to protect consumers and strengthen our state’s electric grid after last week’s marathon hearings that examined the collapse of our electric infrastructure. “I am proud the Texas House is leading the charge in protecting consumers, fortifying our grid, and creating clear lines of communication and authority during extreme weather events,” said Speaker Phelan. “We must take accountability, close critical gaps in our system, and prevent these breakdowns from ever happening again.”

Members of the Texas House have filed and will file the following legislation:

HB 10 – Reforming Energy Reliability Council of Texas Leadership (Paddie) – restructures the ERCOT board, replacing the unaffiliated members with members appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House. HB 10 also requires all board members to reside in the state of Texas and creates an additional ERCOT board member slot to represent consumer interests.

HB 11 – Protecting Consumers and Hardening Facilities for Extreme Weather (Paddie) – requires electric transmission and generation facilities in this state to be weatherized against the spectrum of extreme weather Texas may face. Utilities will be required to reconnect service as soon as possible and prevent slower reconnections for low-income areas, rural Texas, and small communities.

HB 12 – Alerting Texans During Emergencies (Raymond) – creates a statewide disaster alert system administered by Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to alert Texans across the state about impending disasters and extreme weather events. The alerts will also provide targeted information on extended power outages to the state’s regions most affected. This system builds off the model used in Amber, Silver, and Blue Alert systems.

HB 13 – Improving Coordination During Disasters (Paddie) – establishes a council composed of ERCOT, Public Utility Commission of Texas, Railroad Commission, and TDEM leaders to coordinate during a disaster. The committee will identify challenges with fuel supplies, repairs, energy operations and prevent service interruptions from the wellhead to the consumer.

HB 14 – Weatherizing Natural Gas Infrastructure (Goldman) – requires the Railroad Commission to adopt rules requiring gas pipeline operators to implement measures that ensure service quality and reliability during an extreme weather emergency, which covers winter and heat wave conditions.

HB 16 – Defending Ratepayers (Hernandez) – bans variable rate products like Griddy for residential customers. These types of speculative plans resulted exorbitant bills. This bill will provide consumer protection to residential customers while still allowing the competitive market to flourish.

HB 17 – Protecting Homeowner Rights (Deshotel) – prevents any political subdivision or planning authority from adopting or enforcing an ordinance, regulation, code, or policy that would prohibit the connection of residential or commercial buildings to specific infrastructure based on the type or source of energy that will be delivered to the end user.

3/3: House Energy Resources to hold organizational meeting

A link to the posting can be found HERE.

3/2: House Appropriations Subcommittee takes up Railroad Commission, TCEQ budgets

A link to the posting can be found HERE.

Legislative Budget Board packet on HB 1 – Railroad Commission.

3/1: Senate Finance takes up Railroad Commission, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality budgets

A link to the posting can be found HERE.

Legislative Budget Board packet on SB 1 – Railroad Commission.

Texas Alliance President Jason Modglin testifies to the Senate Finance Committee in support of the Railroad Commission budget in Senate Bill 1.

2/24: Governor Abbott addresses Power Outages

2/18: Appropriations Chairman Greg Bonnen appoints Subcommittees

Today, Chairman Bonnen appointed subcommittees who will take up portions of the budget in public hearings. Relevant to the Railroad Commission and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is the Article 6 Subcommittee. This will be comprised of:

Subcommittee on Articles VI, VII, and VIII
Representative Armando Walle, CHAIR
Representative Cecil Bell, VICE CHAIR
Representative Ed Thompson
Representative Steve Toth
Representative Alex Dominguez

We look forward to working with these members and the broader committee to provide regulatory certainty with proper funding of these agencies.

2/17: Senate Finance set to take up Article 6: Railroad Commission Budget

Senate Finance is set to take up the Article 6 budget which includes the Railroad Commission and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The posting can be found here. This may be impacted by Tuesday’s cancellation of Article 5, causing agencies to be pushed back. Here are the links to the Legislative Appropriations Request on these critical agencies for the state’s oil and gas industry:

2/15: Winter weather cancellations

The House adjourned until 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, February 16. Tuesday’s House Appropriations meeting has been cancelled.

The Senate adjourned until 3:00 p.m., Tuesday, February 16. Tuesday’s Senate Finance meeting has been cancelled.

2/12: Railroad Commission Emergency Meeting

On Friday evening, the Railroad Commission held an Emergency Meeting to reprioritize the delivery of natural gas to protect home heat and power generation. Video of the short meeting can be found here. The final order, as amended by Chairman Craddick, can be found here.

2/8: Senate Finance begins Budget Work

Senator Nelson begins work on Senate Bill 1. The committee has planned for three weeks of public testimony which will include significant workgroup meetings along the way. We will update on the Article 6 working group when it is announced. It is anticipated, the Railroad Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will be up for presentation and public testimony on February 17th. A full breakdown of the committee’s schedule can be found here.

2/4: House Releases Committee Assignments

Speaker Dade Phelan has made some fantastic appointments to build out committees that are ready to get to work. We look forward to working with Chairman Goldman, from Fort Worth, to advance Texas oil & gas.

Energy Resources
CHAIR: Craig Goldman, VICE-CHAIR: Abel Herrero
MEMBERS: Rafael Anchia, Tom Craddick, Drew Darby, Jake Ellzey, Charlie Geren, Abel Herrero, Tracy King, Ben Leman, Oscar Longoria, Ron Reynolds

Environmental Regulation
CHAIR: Brooks Landgraf, VICE-CHAIR: Alex Dominguez
MEMBERS: Jay Dean, Vikki Goodwin, Kyle Kacal, John Kuempel, Geanie Morrison, Ron Reynolds, Penny Morales Shaw

Land & Resource Management
CHAIR: Joe Deshotel, VICE-CHAIR: Ben Leman
MEMBERS: Kyle Biedermann, Dustin Burrows, Tom Craddick, Ramon Romero, Jon Rosenthal, Shawn Thierry, District 68 (Feb. 23 Runoff between Republicans David Spiller and Craig Carter)

Full List of Committee Assignments by Member, and by Committee

1/28: Governor Abbott travels to Odessa, issues Executive Order supporting Texas Oil and Gas Industry

  • Press Release: “The men and women who work in the energy industry produce the affordable energy that powers our lives and they are vital to the Texas economy,” said Governor Abbott. “Texas is a pro-energy state, and we will not sit idly by and allow the Biden administration or local governments to destroy jobs and raise energy costs for Texas families. My Executive Order will help ensure that the federal government cannot take away the livelihoods of Texans who work so hard to provide our state and our nation with the energy we need.”
  • Executive Order

1/21: House releases Budget Recommendations; Senator Nelson files Senate Bill 1

  • Budget Recommendations for Both House and Senate
  • Each chamber’s recommendations for the Railroad Commission are identical: continuing investments in the mainframe modernization project with a cut to well plugging and site remediation.
  • State Senator Jane Nelson has filed the Senate’s budget recommendations in Senate Bill 1.
  • The House Appropriations chair will file the House budget recommendations in House Bill 1, shortly after they are appointed by Speaker Dade Phelan, likely in early February.

1/16-20: Texas State Capitol and Capitol Grounds closed to General Public

The Texas Department of Public Safety is announcing the closure of the Texas State Capitol and Capitol Grounds out of an abundance of caution from Saturday, January 16 to Wednesday, January 20.

“The Texas Department of Public Safety is aware of armed protests planned at the Texas State Capitol this week and violent extremists who may seek to exploit constitutionally protected events to conduct criminal acts,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “As a result, DPS has deployed additional personnel and resources to the Capitol and are working closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Austin Police Department to monitor events and enforce the rule of law.”

People are encouraged to immediately report any suspicious activity they see on the internet or in public to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Austin Police Department or DPS at www.iWatchtx.org.

1/15: Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announces 2021 Senate Committee Assignments

AUSTIN – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued the following statement today upon announcing his Texas Senate committee appointments for the 87th Legislative Session. Lt. Gov. Patrick also appointed the Select Committee on Ports and the Special Committee on Redistricting:

“The Texas Senate is comprised of proven leaders with the expertise and experience that makes them more than prepared to take on the difficult challenges we face in this new legislative session. The committee appointments I am making today call on all senators – Republicans and Democrats, freshmen and senior members – to play an integral role in crafting public policy that will ensure our state remains strong and every Texan can prosper.

“No one works harder than the members of the Texas Senate. Their commitment to public service is unparalleled and I am proud to serve with them. They have been working throughout the interim and are hitting the ground running. I look forward to a productive legislative session.”
To see the list of the new committee appointments, click here.

1/14: House adopts House Rules

Main takeaways:

  • No change to House committee jurisdiction or size
  • COVID testing not required for entry to House committee meetings or House gallery but each individual House member may have separate requirements for entry to their office.

Key interview with Comptroller Glenn Hegar on the budget outlook and his estimates on oil & gas activity.

1/13: Senate adopts Senate Rules & Procedures

Main takeaways:

  • Committee changes: Combined the Agriculture Committee with Water & Rural Affairs, New Committee on Jurisprudence, reduced the size of Natural Resources and Economic Development to 9 Senators
  • A wristband demonstrating a negative COVID-19 test is required for entry to the Senate gallery and to enter a committee hearing. Each Senator may determine their own requirements for entry into their office.

1/12: Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) elected Speaker of the Texas House

1/11: Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar Releases Biennial Revenue Estimate

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar released the Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE) today, showing the state is projected to have $112.5 billion in revenue available for general-purpose spending during the 2022-23 biennium.

The revenue estimate represents a 0.4 percent decrease from funds available for the 2020-21 biennium. This decline is a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused revenue collections to fall well short of what was expected when the Legislature approved the 2020-21 budget; the ending 2020-21 balance will be close to a negative $1 billion.

“As is always the case, this estimate is based on the most recent and precise information we have available,” Hegar said. “It represents our efforts to provide lawmakers with the most accurate forecast possible as they craft the budget for the 2022-23 biennium and the supplemental spending bill to address the remainder of the current biennium.

“The forecast, however, remains clouded with uncertainty. The ultimate path of the pandemic and the behavior of consumers and businesses during a resurgence are difficult to gauge. It’s also unclear how they’ll respond once the pandemic is fully under control. As a result, there is a wide range of possible outcomes for state revenue through the end of fiscal 2023, with the possibility of revenue falling short of this forecast but also a chance revenue could exceed it, perhaps substantially.

“In any case, the Legislature will again face some difficult choices to balance the budget. While savings from agency spending cuts and federal funding could help erase the projected shortfall for this biennium, a substantial supplemental appropriations bill could increase it, thereby reducing revenue available for the next biennium.”

The $112.5 billion available for general-purpose spending includes 2022-23 collections of $119.6 billion in General Revenue-Related (GR-R) funds. These collections will be offset by an expected 2020-21 ending GR-R balance of negative $946 million. In addition, $5.8 billion must be reserved from oil and natural gas taxes for 2022-23 transfers to the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) and the State Highway Fund (SHF); another $271 million must be set aside to cover a shortfall in the state’s original prepaid college tuition plan, the Texas Tomorrow Fund.

The projected shortfall does not account for any GR-R expenditure reductions resulting from the state leadership’s instructions for most state agencies to reduce spending by 5 percent of their 2020-21 GR-R appropriations. Nor does it incorporate the effects of substituting federal funds provided as pandemic-related assistance for some GR-R pandemic-related expenditures. Official action on either of those items could eliminate the projected shortfall, which must be made whole by the 87th Legislature.

Sales tax collections make up the state’s largest source (62 percent) of GR-R revenues in 2022-23. The BRE projects sales tax revenues will increase by 5.1 percent from the 2020-21 biennium, reaching $64.1 billion for the 2022-23 biennium after $5 billion is allocated to the SHF.

Other significant sources of GR-R revenues in 2022-23 include:

  • motor vehicle-related taxes, including sales, rental and manufactured housing taxes, which are expected to reach $10.1 billion, up 5.1 percent from 2020-21;
  • oil production tax collections, which are projected to generate $6.5 billion, up 10.1 percent from 2020-21;
  • natural gas tax collections, which are expected to raise $3.5 billion, up 66.9 percent from 2020-21; and
  • franchise tax collections, which are projected to generate $6.3 billion, up 5.1 percent from 2020-21; for all funds, franchise tax revenue is estimated to generate $9 billion, up 4.4 percent from 2020-21.

The ESF (the state’s “Rainy Day Fund”) currently contains about $10.5 billion, not counting currently outstanding spending authority. Absent any legislative appropriations, the ESF balance is expected to total $11.6 billion at the end of 2022-23.

State revenue from all sources and for all purposes is expected to reach $270.5 billion for the 2022-23 biennium, including about $98.2 billion in federal receipts, along with other income and revenues dedicated for specific purposes and therefore unavailable for general-purpose spending. “We must keep an eye on several things that could impact this forecast, including the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the possibility of renewed reduction in customer-facing economic activity,” Hegar said. “In addition, we must carefully monitor the nascent recovery in energy markets as further shocks on either the demand or supply side could threaten recent positive developments for prices and production.

“On the other hand, household savings have increased during the pandemic, while credit card debt has declined; this could support increased consumer spending once people feel safe to return to pre-pandemic activities. So, while there are numerous potential concerns, my economic forecast assumes a further moderate decline in economic activity in fiscal 2021, followed by a return to growth in the 2022-23 biennium at rates somewhat higher than those experienced during the last decade.”

The Biennial Revenue Estimate and visuals from today’s press conference are available on the Comptroller’s website.

COVID Protocols Implemented for Access to Texas Capitol, House and Senate, and RRC

The Alliance has pulled together the four different COVID protocols for you to have a centralized place to reference when visiting the Texas Capitol building or Railroad Commission at the Travis Building. In short, state public buildings require a mask and social distancing. Each chamber and the Commission have additional requirements and when engaging directly with any legislative or statewide elected official, they may have additional requirements or protocols.

State Preservation Board Protocols

Texas Senate Protocols

Texas House of Representatives Protocols

Texas Railroad Commission Entry Form

Preview of the 87th Legislature

The Texas Constitution requires the Texas Legislature to convene in Austin on January 12, 2021 at noon. Staying with their constitutional obligations, legislators must pass a two-year state budget and apportion the districts for Congress, State Board of Education, Texas Senate and House of Representatives seats as part of the decennial redistricting process.

Past that, it is an open question what will happen under the Capitol dome, affectionately known as the Pink Building, on how lawmakers will address these and other pressing issues. And for the public, what will be the level of involvement and participation for a process that relies on physical gatherings and face-to-face interactions with the backdrop of COVID concerns and restrictions limiting public access to the Capitol. To read the full piece, visit: https://shalemag.com/the-texas-legislature-will-address-a-big-agenda-during-its-2020-session/