Abbott Delivers State of the State Address, Emergency Legislative Items Declared

AUSTIN, TX – This past week, Governor Greg Abbott addressed a joint session of the legislature, laying out an ambitious agenda for the remainder of the session.

Among the most pressing issues, Abbott said Texans currently face “the need for better schools, more roads, for border security, better health care, more jobs. They want more liberty and less government, and they deserve ethics reforms.” The Governor also called for tax cuts and vowed to push forward any legislation expanding second amendment rights for Texans.

In his speech, Abbott highlighted five areas as emergency items for the legislature to address. Later in the week, the Governor issued official proclamations granting the legislature the authority to consider measures regarding those issues, specifically: early education, higher education, border security, transportation, and ethics reform.

In regards to higher education, the Governor has supported increased funding to Texas’ universities for the express goals of “enhancing research programs and attracting nationally recognized researchers.” Abbott also called attention to the growing need for improved transportation infrastructure within the state emphasizing its importance to the vitality of the Texas economy.

Typically, the legislature is not able to consider legislation during the first 60 days of session. However, the Governor’s issuance of an emergency item message for the five issues listed above enables the legislature to begin addressing priority legislation earlier than would be ordinarily possible.

Robert Guerra
Legislative Director, Texas Federation of College Republicans

The 84th Legislative Session Prepares to Enter Full-Swing

AUSTIN, TX – With the inauguration of Governor Greg Abbott and the swearing in of Lt. Gov. and President of the Texas Senate Dan Patrick earlier this week, and the beginning of the 84th Legislative Session last Tuesday, our newly elected state government has begun to take shape. While the many activities of both the Senate and the House during the first week of session have been largely ceremonial in nature, according to State Rep. Chris Paddie, the agenda for the 84th Legislature will include issues dealing with the growing population of the state, public education, transportation, water, and other infrastructure, as well as devising a more efficient budget while maintaining or lowering taxes.

The Texas House of Representatives was called to order last Tuesday by Secretary of State Nandita Berry, who then addressed the House, as is tradition. In her speech, Berry citied the diversity of the state and stressed to law makers that they are beholden to 26.5 million Texans, the welfare of whom should be of paramount importance in the legislature. A similar sentiment was echoed by Speaker Joe Straus who said, following his re-election, the “House belongs to no special interest, no single interest. It belongs to almost 27 million Texans, all of the people we represent. And their scorecard is the only one that matters.” During the first week in session, the House issued a number of congratulatory resolutions to organizations and individuals for outstanding accomplishments.

Additionally, a number of regulatory items ranging from accounting to caucasus had to be addressed in a House Keeping Resolution. Prior to the introduction of any substantive bills to the floor, the House must pass rules for the session, and as of the end of the first week, law makers were unable to do so. A number of amendments to the rules have been presented; among the most controversial refers to the discretion given to conference committees. Under the proposed rule, conference committees would be required to receive permission from both full houses before making certain changes to bills, a move that could potentially stall important legislation including the budget. This is just one of several controversies that must settled before the Legislature is able to proceed with it first and for most objective of writing the laws that keep us safe and prosperous.

Unlike the Texas House, the Senate did not begin their session with an address from a state official, but rather with an invocation from Senior Pastor Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church in Houston. Following Pastor Riggle’s invocation, the Oath-of-Office was administered to eight first-term members of the Senate. The Senate too had to address a number of housekeeping items in its first day of work and did so in the form of a caucus report presented as a resolution to the floor. The resolution that passed referred to Senate Officers, compensation, procedure, and a number of other crucial administrative details. Another of the first orders of business for the Senate was electing a President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, longtime law maker and well know public servant, was quickly nominated, seconded, and elected. Among the final actions of the Senate during their first week in session, was a warm farewell to outgoing Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. In addition, the House and Senate issued several concurrent resolutions this week regarding the canvassing of votes from the Nov. 4 General Election, adjournment of the Legislature, and a joint address by outgoing Governor Rick Perry.

With Texas being ranked near the bottom, nationally, in education and oil prices falling to their lowest prices in years, the legislature is charged with preserving the economic prosperity of the state, increasing our education standards, and tackling issues related to population growth, all while balancing the budget and keeping taxes low. The 84th Legislative Session is primed to be a marker of progress in the State of Texas.

Robert Guerra
Legislative Director, Texas Federation of College Republicans

2015 Texas Speaker of the House Election

AUSTIN, TX – On Tuesday, January 13, 2015, the 84th Texas Legislature began its 2015 session, opening with the election the Speaker of the Texas House. It was a race between the incumbent Speaker Joe Straus (HD-121) from San Antonio and State Rep. Scott Turner (HD-33) from Rockwall.

This was the first contested Speaker’s race since 1975, but with the backing of 85% of the House, Speaker Straus won his re-election for Speaker. There were 128 votes for Straus and 19 for Turner. Prior to the vote, there were 8 speeches made: 4 for Straus and 4 for Turner.

Turner has been campaigning for the past year and has said that he would continue to campaign up until the vote, even if the race was not considered competitive.

Turner has said the top priority of this session should be border security, but Straus has said that traffic and tax-relief is a priority of the session. With Texas as the world’s 14th largest economy, supporters of Straus have said that we need a steady hand to lead the Texas House.


Kari Lane
Chairman, Texas Federation of College Republicans