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Around the Texas Capitol:
With elections (almost) over, legislative session now ahead
By Lauren Spreen, Shayne Woodard and J Pete Laney
TAD Governmental Affairs
Unlike the presidential election, races for the Texas Legislature and the state’s congressional delegation were wrapped up on Election Day. A recap of the result is at the bottom of this report.
With the conclusion of the 2020 election cycle, we can all agree that this one will long not be forgotten. The pandemic, economic crisis and a renewed struggle for racial justice aside, more tangible factors like record fundraising totals and banner turnout numbers created new swing districts and significantly impacted many hotly contested races across the state. It was also the first election in Texas that voters aren’t able to push a button for straight ticket voting.
A few things to note, however:
- Texans – like all Americans – turned out to vote in record numbers.
- There were 1.8 million more registered voters in Texas than in 2016, a 12.3% increase.
- This election cycle was one of the most expensive in Texas to date, as Texas gained national attention for its potential to become a battleground state.
Now it’s time for the Capitol to set its sights on the 87th Texas legislative session. Session convenes at noon on Jan. 12, 2021. But bill filing has already begun, starting Monday, Nov. 9. As always, we will be watching for filed legislation of interest to Texas dairy farmers, such as bills we’ve seen in prior sessions that would expand the sale of unpasteurized (raw) milk in the state.
An internal election also has been in the works and could be decided – that of who will lead the House of Representatives as Speaker of the House, with the decision of current Speaker Dennis Bonnen not to run for his seat. Reminder – the 150 House members choose the House Speaker from among the body.
After a couple of weeks of candidates from both parties declaring their intent to run for the Speaker post, a favorite has emerged with a bipartisan list of 100 members declaring their support: State Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont. However, the Speaker election does not take place until opening day of the legislative session, so nothing is official until then. Meanwhile, you can learn more about Rep. Phelan here.
Between now and Jan. 12, several questions are left to be answered, including:
- Who will represent Senate District 30?
This seat was vacated by Sen. Pat Fallon, who resigned to successfully run for Congress. The SD 30 special election on Sept. 29 resulted in a runoff, now set for Dec. 19 for Republicans Shelley Luther, the Dallas salon owner who was jailed over her refusal to shut down her business in defiance of Abbott’s order connected to COVID-19, and State Rep. Drew Springer of Muenster.
If Springer wins, that will necessitate a special election for his House seat; if he loses, he will retain his seat.
TAD is watching this closely, as the district includes Archer, Clay, Cooke, Erath, Grayson, Jack, Montague, Palo Pinto, Wichita, Wise and Young counties and parts of Collin and Denton counties.
- What will a legislative session look like?
In the midst of a worsening COVID-19 pandemic, how will a legislative session be conducted? The Capitol building has been closed to the public since March 18. Will the public and lobbyists be allowed in the building during session? How would hearings – which must be open to the public under the Open Meetings Act – be conducted? We know these and other questions are being considered by state and legislative leaders, with a goal to keep everyone safe yet still conduct the necessary business with transparency.
Other state news of interest:
Governor’s Broadband Development Council Issues First Report to Texas Legislature
On November 2, the Governor’s Broadband Development Council (GBDC) issued its first report to the Texas Legislature. The report includes recommendations for the 87th Legislative Session and provides an overview of the work of GBDC since its inception. GBDC has researched the progress of broadband development in unserved areas, identified barriers to residential and commercial broadband deployment in unserved areas, studied technology-neutral solutions to overcome barriers, and analyzed how statewide access to broadband would benefit economic development, higher education, public education, state and local law enforcement, state emergency preparedness, and health care services.
Resulting from this research, GBDC recommends that the Texas Legislature create a state broadband plan and establish a broadband office. The Council also recommends the continued study of the development of a state broadband funding program to incentivize deployment in unserved areas.
The Governor’s Broadband Development Council (GBDC) was established in 2019 by the 86th Legislative Session in order to study and identify ways to provide internet access to unserved areas of Texas. Duties of the council include: research the progress of broadband development in unserved areas; identify barriers to residential and commercial broadband deployment in unserved areas; study technology-neutral solutions to overcome barriers identified; and analyze how statewide access to broadband would benefit: (A) economic development; (B) the delivery of educational opportunities in higher education and public education; (C) state and local law enforcement; (D) state emergency preparedness; and (E) the delivery of health care services, including telemedicine and telehealth.
View the Governor’s Broadband Development Council’s report here.
Governor extends drought disaster declaration
Gov. Greg Abbott on Nov. 4 extended an exceptional drought declaration he issued in October for 47 counties: Andrews, Armstrong, Bailey, Brewster, Briscoe, Castro, Childress, Cochran, Collingsworth, Crane, Crosby, Culberson, Dawson, Dimmit, Deaf Smith, Ector, Floyd, Gaines, Glasscock, Gray, Hale, Hockley, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Lamb, Loving, Lubbock, Lynn, Martin, Midland, Motley, Parmer, Presidio, Randall, Reagan, Reeves, Sutton, Swisher, Terrell, Terry, Upton, Uvalde, Ward, Wheeler, Winkler, Yoakum, and Zavala counties.
The declaration indicates significantly low rainfall and prolonged dry conditions that continue to increase the threat of wildfire across these areas of the state.
See the Governor’s full declaration here.
State tax revenue still down.
Comptroller Glenn Hegar said state sales tax revenue totaled $2.72 billion in October, largely based on September sales, 3.5% percent less than in October 2019. (In September, it was $2.57 billion; August was $2.82 billion; July was $2.98 billion).
Comptroller Hegar said, “October sales tax collections from all major economic sectors declined significantly from year-ago levels, with the exception of collections from retail trade. The steepest declines were in receipts from oil- and gas-related sectors, with the rate of well drilling activity depressed almost 75 percent from the previous year.
“Receipts from the information sector were down, principally due to the federally mandated exemption of internet access charges from taxation. Receipts from retail trade increased, as adaptation to pandemic circumstances has spurred increased spending on building materials, home furnishings, sporting goods and alcohol for off-premise consumption, while spending at bars and entertainment venues has languished.
“Receipts from restaurants also remain down from a year ago, though significantly higher than in the spring, with some resumption of dine-in service after relaxation of capacity limits as well as increased sales of meals for pickup or delivery. In a departure from recent trends, receipts from clothing stores were up from a year ago for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.”
Texas election results:
You can find all Texas election results here.
NOTE: Incumbents are listed first and marked with an asterisk; open seats are listed alphabetically. The winners of no risk and unopposed seats are highlighted and underlined without indicating percentages of votes won. Some percentages may not equal 100% if races included a Libertarian and/or Independent candidate.
Donald Trump * 52.3% vs. Joe Biden 46.3%
John Cornyn * 53.7% vs. MJ Hegar 43.7%
Chrysta Castaneda 43.3% vs. Jim Wright 53.2%
Nathan Hecht * 53.1% vs. Amy Clark Meachum 44.1%
Jane Bland * 55.5% vs. Kathy Cheng 44.5%
Jeffrey S. Boyd * 53.5% vs. Staci Williams 44.1%
Brett Busby * 53.6% vs. Gisela Triana 43.8%
All 36 of Texas’ congressional seats were on the ballot. All outcomes can be found here, but following are the results of the more competitive races:
Races in which incumbents had challengers:
CD 2: Dan Crenshaw * 56.1% vs. Sima Ladjevardian 42.3%
CD 7: Lizzie Fletcher * 50.8% vs. Wesley Hunt 47.5%
CD 10: Michael McCaul * 52.5% vs. Mike Siegel 45.3%
CD 21: Chip Roy * 52.1% vs. Wendy Davis 45.2%
CD 31: John Carter * 53.5% vs. Donna Imam 44.3%
CD 32: Colin Allred * 51.9% vs. Genevieve Collins 46%
Races for open/vacated seats:
CD 11: Jon Mark Hogg 18.8% vs. August Pfluger 79.3%
CD 13: Ronny Jackson 80.1% vs. Gus Trujillo 17.7%
CD 17: Rick Kennedy 40.9% vs. Pete Sessions 55.9%
CD 22: Sri Kulkami 42.8% vs. Troy Nehls 49.8%
CD 23: Tony Gonzales 50.7% vs. Gina Ortiz 46.5%
CD 24: Candace Valenzuela 47.5% vs. Beth Van Duyne 48.8%
TEXAS SENATE RACES
Of the 31 Senate seats in Texas, 16 were on the ballot. All outcomes can be found here, but incumbents held on to their seats except in Senate District 19, where Republican Pete Flores of Pleasanton lost to state Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio. Flores won the seat in a 2018 special election in a historically Democratic district. The vote tally in this contest was Flores (46.57%) and Guitierrez (49.86%). With the change, the Senate will have 18 Republicans and 13 Democrats.
TEXAS HOUSE RACES
All 150 Texas House seats were on the ballot. Following the election, the chamber continued to have 83 Republican and 67 Democrat members. Republicans lost one incumbent seat, Rep. Sarah Davis, but flipped a Democrat seat when Mike Schofield won his old House seat back.
All outcomes can be found here, but following are the results of the more competitive races:
Races in which incumbents had challengers:
HD 14 (Brazos): John Raney * 57.5% vs. Janet Dudding 42.5%
HD 28 (Fort Bend): Gary Gates * 55.6% vs. Elizabeth Markowitz 44.4%
HD 45 (Blanco/Hays): Erin Zwiener * 50.5% vs. Carrie Isaac 49.5%
HD 47 (Travis): Vikki Goodwin * 49.3% vs. Justin Berry 48.3%
HD 52 (Williamson): James Talarico * 51.4% vs. Lucio Valdez 48.6%
HD 54 (Bell/Lampasas): Brad Buckley * 53.5% vs. Keke Williams 46.5%
HD 64 (Denton): Lynn Stucky * 54.9% vs. Angela Brewer 45.1%
HD 65 (Denton): Michelle Beckley * 51.5% vs. Kronda Thimesch 48.5%
HD 66 (Collin): Matt Shaheen * 49.7% vs. Sharon Hirsch 48.5%
HD 67 (Collin): Jeff Leach * 51.8% vs. Lorenzo Sanchez 48.2%
HD 93 (Tarrant): Matt Krause * 54.7% vs. Lydia Bean 45.3%
HD 94 (Tarrant): Tony Tinderholt * 51.0% vs. Alisa Simmons 45.8%
HD 97 (Tarrant): Craig Goldman * 52.8% vs. Elizabeth Beck 44.9%
HD 102 (Dallas): Ana-Marie Ramos * 53.9% vs. Linda Koop 46.1%
HD 108 (Dallas): Morgan Meyer * 49.7% vs. Joanna Cattanach 48.0%
HD 112 (Dallas): Angie Chen Button * 48.9% vs. Brandy Chambers 48.6%
HD 113 (Dallas): Rhetta Bowers * 51.8% vs. Will Douglas 48.2%
HD 114 (Dallas): John Turner * 53.6% vs. Luisa Del Rosal 46.4%
HD 121 (Bexar): Steve Allison * 53.5% vs. Celina Montoya 46.5%
HD 126 (Harris): Sam Harless * 53.5% vs. Natali Hurtado 46.5%
HD 132 (Harris): Gina Calanni * 48.2% vs. Mike Schofield 51.8%
HD 133 (Harris): Jim Murphy * 57.2% vs. Sandra Moore 41.1%
HD 134 (Harris): Sarah Davis * 47.7% vs. Ann Johnson 52.3%
HD 135 (Harris): Jon Rosenthal * 49.1% vs. Justin Ray 48.6%