By State Rep. Brooks Landgraf
May 31, 2021 marked the last day of the 2021 regular session of the Texas Legislature, where I was honored to serve Andrews, Ector, Ward and Winkler counties in the Texas House of Representatives. (Thank you again for that privilege!) Making policies and budgets for the people of Texas during this session meant months of hard work and many long days, but it was my absolute pleasure to be here on your behalf fighting for the Permian Basin and for all of Texas.
It’s difficult to imagine that just five months ago when I took the oath of office, that so much would change from then to now. We have seen good: a return to relative normal after COVID-19. But we also experienced more harm: Winter Storm Uri and the deadly failure of the Texas electric grid.
During the legislative session down at the Texas Capitol, I did my best to do my part to address not only the good and bad, but everything in between. The Legislature convened with an already-full plate of legislative priorities that needed to be addressed from the last two years, and we dealt with many more as they arose, but in the end, I’m proud of the results that we achieved.
Now, there’s nothing perfect on this side of heaven, and this legislative session certainly wasn’t perfect.
When the Legislature convened in January, a major concern that I shared with so many of you was how we were going to pass a balanced budget following the hard-hitting COVID-19 downturn. Yet today, thanks to smart bookkeeping and hours of hard work, we have adopted a budget that is balanced and actually reduces state spending compared to the current budget. However, even with a slimmed-down budget, we managed to increase funding for priorities like public education and border security.
Oh, and unlike other states, we were able to do this without raising your taxes!
Additionally, addressing a need that is long overdue, $5,000,000 has been allocated to expand broadband access across the state. I know that this will greatly help our community expand telehealth services and improve resources for our schools.
The February power grid failure was a black eye for our state. There are no two ways about it.
Even while the power was still off in many parts of Texas, it became clear that the bureaucrats in charge of the grid needed to be held accountable, and our electricity generation/delivery system needs to be able to withstand extreme weather conditions.
Along with Gov. Abbott, my fellow legislators and I immediately made this issue a top priority, and as a result, we eventually passed a package of bills that address ERCOT’s organizational leadership, require the winterization of the power grid, and create panels to oversee future efficiency implementations across the state’s system, to ensure that Texans are left out in the cold ever again.
To address safety concerns in our community, I worked hard to pass two pieces of legislation that I believe will greatly improve dangerous road conditions in the Basin and that will help prevent deaths due to mass shootings, like the one that occurred in Midland and Odessa on August 31, 2019.
Specifically, one bill that I passed will now allow sheriffs in the Permian Basin to enforce commercial motor vehicle safety standards. This will increase the law enforcement presence out on those dangerous roads and will greatly reduce the frequency of crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles.
The “Leilah Hernandez Act,” which I authored, creates the Texas Active Shooter Alert System, to inform people when a mass shooting is happening in their area. I’m confident this system can help save lives and prevent mass violence while protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Texans. I’m grateful to all of you, and especially the victims’ families, for helping me get this idea formed and passed into law.
Speaking of constitutional rights, I am very pleased to say that Texas will soon officially become a Constitutional Carry state with the passage of House Bill 1927. This bill allows for the open or concealed carry of handguns for all law-abiding citizens over the age of 21. This will also go into effect on September 1, 2021.
If you’re pro-life like I am, you will also be pleased to know that we enacted the Texas Heartbeat Bill, which is expected to save the lives of countless unborn Texans.
While I am proud of the legislation we passed for the good of all Texans and that upholds our conservative values, know that the work does not stop here. We will be back for at least a couple of special sessions soon to discuss topics that were not resolved during the regular session. Notably, election integrity reform and the redrawing of legislative and congressional districts for our state.
Thank you to all of you who contacted me during the session to share your views on the issues before the Legislature. Also, a special thanks to those of you who offered up prayers for my fellow lawmakers and me. I know I needed them, and I felt them!
God bless Texas!