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January 15, 2021      7:19 PM

Speaker Phelan has $4.8 million cash on hand after raising $4.5 million, per his campaign

“I am honored that so many Texans support our vision of responsible government and getting Texas back to work,” Phlan said. “At this critical moment in our state’s history, I appreciate the backing of Texans in my district and across the state.”

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January 15, 2021      5:12 PM

DPS says threats of potential violence have prompted closure of Texas Capitol from Saturday to Wednesday

“The Texas Department of Public Safety is aware of armed protests planned at the Texas State Capitol this week and violent extremists who may seek to exploit constitutionally protected events to conduct criminal acts,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “As a result, DPS has deployed additional personnel and resources to the Capitol and are working closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Austin Police Department to monitor events and enforce the rule of law.”

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January 15, 2021      4:52 PM

People on the Move

Staffer moves, new lobby shops, trade association hires, and more

The session has begun with little fanfare, masks, COVID tests, and a first-day-of-school feeling despite the beefed up security and pandemic restrictions. Lobbyists and others who avoided the Texas Capitol on day one probably made the right call since some members were cramming special guests into their offices and, at some point, the issue became whether too many folks were in some of those rooms. It’s awkward if you’re adding to that problem with your presence.

Add to that the fact that we already have our first case of a member who has tested positive during session and the questions how all this is really supposed to work keep piling up. It will be an evolving process, it seems.

Meantime, most offices have staffed up and some new lobby shops are coming on the scene. If you have career news to share as we kickstart session don’t hesitate to send it along to ksbraddock@gmail.com and use POTM in the subject line.

Here’s the latest edition of People on the Move.

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By Scott Braddock

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January 15, 2021      2:24 PM

Texas Senate Committee Assignments are unveiled

The full list of committee assignments is here.

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January 15, 2021      9:32 AM

Rep. Deshotel tests positive for COVID-19

Deshotel told the Texas Tribune he tested positive on Thursday. Meantime, Rep. Beckley tweeted "I was informed, last night, a member in my 3 foot radius on the TX house floor tested positive for #COVID19. They did not test on Tuesday prior to the swearing in ceremony. I was on the floor weds & thurs & exposed -10 day self quarantine"

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January 14, 2021      3:38 PM

Throwing out the most contentious provisions among members, the Texas House approves rules during pandemic

A subtext of the rules discussion: The court record for the 2021 redistricting process is already taking shape

After much internal debate over limitations on amendments, a so-called “Consensus Calendar,” and a few other things, the Texas House on Thursday afternoon adopted its rules for doing legislative business during a pandemic. “It was a member driven process,” said Speaker Dade Phelan after the final vote of 141 to 0.

Saying he and a working group had listened to all sides, Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, declared “the Consensus Calendar is gone” as he laid out the rules. However, Rep. Hunter said that when it came to any tweaks intended to change the redistricting process, he would simply ask members to vote no. On partisan lines, they did.

By mid-afternoon, most of the talking on the microphones in the House was either Democrats already working to establish the court record for the 2021 redistricting process or Republicans who did not participate in the pre-discussion to eliminate contentious provisions like that defunct “Consensus Calendar.”

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By Scott Braddock

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January 14, 2021      3:17 PM

Lt. Gov. Patrick has $19.4 million in the bank after raising $4.9 million

Patrick has raised more in campaign funds than any previous Lt. Governor in Texas history, per his campaign

Here’s the full news release from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s campaign

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January 14, 2021      2:08 PM

Committee preference cards from Texas House members are due to the speaker Jan 22

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January 13, 2021      7:01 PM

SB: Anything but consensus about proposed Texas House Consensus Calendar

At first blush, it’s a proposal to streamline the legislative process for the sake of limiting personal interactions on the floor during COVID. But while the other pandemic-related additions to the rules may not be agreeable to all the players, they do not systematically change how easily a bill is passed like this would

On the eve of the rules debate in the Texas House, both Republican and Democratic caucuses apparently spent considerable time this afternoon discussing a proposal to create a new calendar aimed at speeding legislation along when COVID-19 has created concern about members spending long periods of time on the floor.

Democrats and some Republicans tell QR that there isn’t any accusation of a power grab. But there is some concern that certain bills might be sped through the process when there should be more time spent actually debating them – pandemic or not.

So, what’s this actually about?

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By Scott Braddock

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January 13, 2021      6:01 PM

On party line vote, Texas Senate lowers threshold for consideration of a bill to 18 votes

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January 13, 2021      4:48 PM

Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins departs AG Paxton office, replaced by Judd Stone

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January 13, 2021      11:28 AM

Gov. Abbott has $37.9 million cash on hand, his campaign says

Campaign raised $11.5M over last six months

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January 12, 2021      1:18 PM

Speaker Phelan says after rules are adopted Thursday, the plan is for the House to adjourn until Jan 26

Senate will debate rules around 1:30pm Wednesday then also adjourn until Jan 26

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January 12, 2021      1:10 PM

Sen. Birdwell elected Texas Senate President Pro Tem

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January 12, 2021      12:43 PM

Dade Phelan elected Speaker of the Texas House

Updated: There were 2 no votes cast by Reps Cason and Slaton. Rep. Biedermann was originally voting no then switched back to a yes on Phelan.

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January 12, 2021      10:00 AM

Ahead of House and Senate rules debates, AG Paxton issues opinion arguing public must have access to proceedings

Responding to Rep. Cain, Paxton says “However, to the extent that the Capitol is a limited public forum, the Legislature may impose reasonable content-neutral conditions for the time, place, and manner of access.”

The Attorney General’s opinion is here.

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January 12, 2021      9:49 AM

NBC News: Spokesperson for Sen. Cruz resigns amid fallout from Capitol riots

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January 12, 2021      8:25 AM

Sounds like Texas Senate will vote on rules tomorrow

What we think we know now: The Senate will caucus at 10am today, where the senators will talk through the rules and schedule. It's possible the rules discussion will start on the floor this afternoon and wrap up Wednesday. A better idea of the schedule coming after 10am Caucus

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January 11, 2021      8:40 PM

Hegar: Texas will end biennium with $1 billion shortfall; $112.53 billion will be available for 2022-23 biennium, a slight decrease from past session

In delivering the revenue estimate, Hegar said “The forecast, however, remains clouded with uncertainty. The ultimate path of the pandemic and the behavior of consumers and businesses during a resurgence are difficult to gauge. It’s also unclear how they’ll respond once the pandemic is fully under control."

Strong consumer spending has lifted the state budget’s projected deficit to just under $1 billion, with available general revenue now calculated at almost the same level as the state’s last budget: $112.5 billion.

Those numbers, announced by Comptroller Glenn Hegar this morning in his biennial revenue estimate, puts Texas in the minority of states that won’t be forced to make significant cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hegar predicts the economic recovery to be sooner, rather than later, in Texas. Tax collections won’t be the heady 11 percent growth lawmakers have seen in flush sessions, but they will be comfortably in the black as Texas moves through the next biennium.

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January 11, 2021      8:36 PM

Presumptive Speaker Phelan issues statement on requirement for COVID testing on opening day

"Less than 24 hours before the start of the legislative session, DPS instructed the State Preservation Board to require COVID-19 testing on opening day. The Texas House will require testing for guests, media, and staff entering the chamber. That is the only testing we will require, as we’ve said all along. Each member will decide how they run their office and the protocols governing their office for the remainder of the session. This remains the People’s House, and I look forward to creating more, not less, opportunities for Texans to make their voice heard during the 87th legislative session."

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January 11, 2021      6:00 PM

DPS says a COVID test will now be required to enter the Texas Capitol on opening day of session

Per DPS: "We understand that this might be an inconvenience for some; however, the department considers it essential for public safety purposes during opening day.” A source familiar with the talks tells us the decision came from the State Preservation Board.

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January 11, 2021      4:45 PM

Anonymous Veteran Texas Capitol Staffer: Amid COVID-19 and violent riots, I am terrified to go to work

With the pandemic still raging and new concerns about violence at state capitols following the riots in DC last week, this staffer writes “I wish our leaders did not put me and my colleagues in this precarious situation. They certainly don’t have to.”

Editor’s note: Reporting on the concerns of legislative staff is difficult for a variety of reasons. They're not the stars because they’re not the elected officials. They generally work in the background, diligently avoid the spotlight, and just get the job done for Texans without any fanfare. It is a rare thing for Quorum Report or any news outlet to publish an op-ed from an anonymous source. In this case, however, it is appropriate because some are terrified given the continued pandemic and the deadly violence that unfolded just last week at the US Capitol. The veteran staffer who submitted this op-ed does not presume to speak for others and understands that not everyone in the profession feels the same way.

We share this op-ed now to shed light on the concerns of many in the Texas Capitol community who have reached out in recent days. Your feedback is welcome – SB

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By An anonymous veteran Texas Capitol staffer

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January 11, 2021      4:40 PM

Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner retains chairmanship in caucus elections

First Vice Chair is Rep. Toni Rose, Second Vice Chair is Rep. Longoria, Treasurer is Rep. Lina Ortega

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January 11, 2021      3:51 PM

Despite pandemic, TXOGA says oil and gas had a good 2020

Industry says energy sector will rebound despite projections of $49-$50 a barrel

Texas Oil and Gas Association President Todd Staples announced the organization’s annual energy and economic impact report today. And despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry had a good year, contributing $13.9 billion in revenue to state coffers, Staped said.

That’s the fourth highest amount in 13 years.

“Even in an extremely difficult year, the Texas oil and natural gas industry continues to contribute tremendously to state and local tax coffers, while fortifying our energy security and leading the way in innovation and investment that is advancing environmental progress,” said Staples. “The ongoing recovery of the oil and natural gas industry is essential to the state’s continuing economic improvement.”

Even as oil prices plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for products made from hydrocarbons skyrocketed.

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By James Russell

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January 11, 2021      3:21 PM

Former Lt. Gov. Dewhurst says Senators Cruz and Hawley should be censured

Dewhurst said Cruz and Hawley "stood out as the definition of self-focused individuals who exacerbated the fragile situation between the protesters and the Capitol Police, which could have taken even more lives. Cruz and Hawley should be censured."

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January 11, 2021      12:59 PM

Calling opening day a super spreader event, Representatives Beckley and Ramos say they will not attend

They'll be sworn into office off campus. Rep. Beckley said "I believe it is irresponsible to have all the members and guests in the House Chamber for an extended period of time, especially as no new allowances have been made to address the fact that the more contagious variant of COVID-19 has been found in Texas."

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January 8, 2021      5:03 PM

People on the Move

Staffer changes, lobby moves, a significant merger, appointments, and more

Well, we made it but is 2021 any better yet than 2020? Rough start for sure but time will tell. The Houston Chronicle’s Jeremy Wallace and I tried to make sense of it all in the latest edition of the Texas Take podcast. Make sure to subscribe to the show during session on Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts.

Speaking of session, it kicks off next week with the distinct possibility that you will still have some time to prepare yourself because only the heaviest lift – the work on the budget – will start right away. Most other work may be delayed until late February or early March when hopefully vaccines are being evenly distributed and creating the desired effect. This will be an evolving and likely slow process. Try not to get too frustrated.

Meantime, it’s back to the grind for all of you movers and shakers. I received several inquires this week from folks wanting to know how to get an alert when POTM is published. You’ll get it if you’re signed up for our regular Quorum Report emails, which you can do on the homepage. POTM is generally published midday on Fridays, though this can vary some especially during session when things get busy.

If you would like to see your career news in the news – or you want to brag on a friend or tattle on an adversary – send the scoop along to ksbraddock@gmail.com anytime and use POTM in the subject line. Please and thank you.

Here’s the New Year edition of People on the Move.

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By Scott Braddock

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January 8, 2021      3:07 PM

5 percent TWIA rate hike is rejected

On social media, Rep. Todd Hunter declared "the coast has won"

Today’s letter from Doug Slape, Chief Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Insurance, is here.

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January 8, 2021      2:22 PM

Following deadly riots in DC, some at Texas Capitol nervous about pro-Trump rally planned for opening day of session

Group says “We will demand unfettered access to the State Capitol on par with previous sessions, and without restrictions stemming from the perceived COVID-19 situation…”

After a pro-Trump rally in Washington this week turned into a deadly riot at the US Capitol, there is concern among some in the Texas Capitol after the Department of Public Safety informed lawmakers’ offices about potentially similar demonstrations planned for next Tuesday in Austin.

The DPS regularly updates member’s offices, of course, about various protests and demonstrations that have been announced for the Capitol grounds. But one event in particular caught the eye of some staffers and legislators today.

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By Scott Braddock

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