Craddick says GROW not dead

State Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) issued a statement today saying HJR 82, should it pass through the legislature, would establish the GROW Texas fund in the state treasury should voters approve it, despite his slaying of the companion bill last week.

“This legislation, recently endorsed by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, will utilize funds already paid by the oil and gas industry to reinvest in communities feeling the stress of energy development, and its impact will be realized across all energy producing regions in Texas,” Craddick said in a prepared statement. “I expect that HJR 82 will be heard in Senate Finance this week and hope it will move quickly through the process for final approval.”

There is no companion legislation at the moment that would actually specify how the money in that fund would be spent. The author of the companion bill that was originally intended to do this was State Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa), who said the bill as originally filed would have specified how the money from the fund could be spent, dedicating it to issues in West Texas cities such as infrastructure and public safety.

“HJR 82 is now pending in a Senate committee, and I support its passage, and I continue to support Rep. Craddick in that effort,” Landgraf wrote in a statement.

Craddick had issued a point of order last week to kill the companion bill, HB 2154, which he was a coauthor of, on the ground the original purpose of the bill had been changed. He also told other media outlets that Landgraf had changed HB 2154 to include agencies and “stuff we told people wouldn’t do.”

That purpose had been changed once after it was passed out of committee, to make it only a study of the needs in West Texas, and Landgraf changed it once more before he presented it again for final vote to develop a task force to identify where money is most needed so they know where to send the money by next session.

Should HJR 82 be passed and approved oil-producing regions could count on collecting revenue on Jan. 1, expecting the fund could raise as much as $250 million over the next two years, according to media outlets.

Craddick has not returned requests from the Odessa American for comment over the phone.

But the final version passed by the State House of Representatives states the amendment would not take effect until Sept. 1, 2021, the introduced version had an effective date of Jan. 1, 2020.

So, even if HB 2154 had been passed as it is now, or even if it had been passed in its original form, with HJR 82 passed as is, it wouldn’t matter because the fund wouldn’t take effect until 2021, after the next legislative period. This means there could be another enabling bill passed during the next legislative session, before HJR 82 takes effect. Craddick’s amendment, as it’s going through congress now, doesn’t do anything until 2021.