Craddick kills GROW Texas bill

A bill that was aimed at providing more funding to help issues in West Texas is dead for now, after the bill’s own coauthor State Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) issued a point of order on the bill.

On the third reading of the bill Friday, Craddick raised a point of order against further consideration of the bill, HB 2154, on the grounds the original purpose of the bill had been changed and contains more than one subject, records of the meeting stated. Craddick argued a provision of the bill repealed a section of government code not on the same subject as the bill’s provision establishing the GROW Texas task force.

The point of order was sustained, which means West Texas will not see any additional money the bill may have provided. HB 2154 would have brought state money generated by oil and gas production back to energy-producing areas throughout the state for needs such as infrastructure, public safety and education.

State Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) was the author of HB 2154, and said he was disappointed in the bill’s outcome.

“We got this GROW Texas fund proposal a lot farther than anybody expected us to on the first try,” Landgraf said. “I’ve learned a lot of lessons on how to improve this both policy-wise and procedurally the next time.”

“In this business, there are always gonna be setbacks, but I don’t let those deter me. I’m still as committed to bringing some policy changes to make Odessa better. I’m disappointed but I’m not deterred. I’m more invigorated than I’ve ever been.”

The bill that was shot down was far different from the bill Landgraf had initially proposed, however. When the bill was taken to appropriations committee, the committee had voted to amend the bill, changing it to authorize a study looking at the needs of West Texas, and converted it away from actually enabling the distribution of funds.

But Landgraf said he was convinced they didn’t need yet another study.

“We have roads that have been degraded, schools that are overcrowded, and we have a severe lack of law enforcement just because we’re struggling to keep up with all of the growth,” Landgraf said. “It’s very clear we need more resources to address those issues and I don‘t think that we need a study to do that.”

While Landgraf said the committee can pass what they want and it was better than nothing, he filed an amendment to the revised bill that would have created a task force to prepare the GROW Texas fund and identify how the money should be spent in regards to issues like transportation and public safety in West Texas, so by the time the next legislative session comes around they know where to send the money. In the meantime, the task force would have been trying to leverage federal grant funds dedicated to issues like highway infrastructure projects.

“So for me and the people I serve, that would have been the next best thing to have,” Landgraf said. “The next day while I was presenting it for final passage was when the point of order was called on it.”

Craddick did not respond to a phone call requesting comment Wednesday afternoon.

The GROW Texas fund was made up of two parts, both HB 2154, and an amendment authored by Craddick, HJR 82, which would have allowed for the enabling of the bill. HJR 82 was passed out of the House, and still needs to be passed out of the Senate. Landgraf said he was still supportive of HJR 82, but it’s unclear as to what it would actually do now since HB 2154 was not passed.

Landgraf said he was absolutely still open to working with Craddick further.

“I think these issues are too important to our region, too important to the state, and I believe in the policy and so I’m absolutely continuing to support the GROW Texas fund and more than willing to continue working with Speaker Craddick,” Landgraf said. “The policy is more important than the politicians or the personalities.”