February 26, 2021      1:42 PM

People on the Move

Back inside the building for a big job, policy wonks, local government, comms pros, media moves, and more

Are y’all okay?

I’ve been trying to check in with as many of you as possible but here we are again with a crisis that’s touched just about everyone. The fact that the ice storm left so many in the dark, helpless for food and reliable water, was on full display during 15 hours of hearings Thursday. If you’re bleary eyed like I am – well, it really does feel like session now doesn’t it?

Given the nature of the storm, we hit pause on People on the Move last week. For those who may not know the drill: You can get your career moves in the news by sending the scoop anytime to ksbraddock@gmail.com. Career moves that I just happen to notice are also often included, so for some control over what is said here it is best to email me. Use POTM in the subject line for priority service. You are appreciated.

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

By Scott Braddock

February 25, 2021      2:52 PM

HK: Texas electric grid inquiries begin, but collateral damage questions come later

Ironic that banning “taxpayer funded lobbying” is still a priority for some when thousands of entities were impacted; the legislative process is complicated, and this crisis demonstrates the need for professional communicators at the Capitol

There will be more hearings, commissions, political public executions, and ultimately legislation but there are two main substantive questions. Since weatherization recommendations for power plants were already issued a decade ago and apparently ignored, the private portion of accountability for the frigid apocalypse may already be apportioned.

Stories have already appeared in multiple media outlets highlighting the fact that it is relatively inexpensive to weatherize plants, drill rigs, windmills, transmission systems, and pipelines at the time of construction but orders of magnitude more expensive to retrofit.

At least with that issue, when all the finger pointing and chest beating have concluded, the fundamental question is who pays—the taxpayer or ratepayer, who of course are one and the same. The question is whether government raises taxes or generators raise prices.

There are no real dollar estimates yet about what it will cost to weatherize all the components of the grid.

By Harvey Kronberg

February 25, 2021      2:34 PM

Some Texas House priorities coming into focus: Rep. Price files HB4 on telehealth, telemedicine and Rep. Ashby files HB5 on broadband

Chair Burrows has already filed HB3 on Covid response

February 25, 2021      1:45 PM

Marilyn Schwartz, wife of the late Senator Babe Schwartz has passed away

An elegant woman who was as much a part of the era as her husband. Details to follow

February 24, 2021      5:03 PM

In emergency meeting, ERCOT and PUC outline the downward spiral that pushed Texas into crisis

A joint meeting of ERCOT and the PUC this morning outlined the downward spiral that pushed Texas power providers beyond their limits and within less than five minutes of automatically forcing the state’s power supply completely offline.

ERCOT Chair Sally Talberg, who already has handed in her resignation, said board members were committed to begin the process of reviewing and evaluating what happened during the recent power outages.

CEO Bill Magness reaffirmed those comments, too, as he opened a multi-hour discussion of what happened to the state’s power grid last week. Magness will be the one to address House and Senate committees tomorrow.

By Kimberly Reeves

February 23, 2021      8:24 PM

In House District 68 race, David Spiller defeating Chris Carter

Jacksboro ISD Vice President David Spiller leads Nacona businessman Craig Carter 62 to 38 percent with one county out

February 23, 2021      3:30 PM

ERCOT Chair, Vice Chair and other board members to resign Wednesday

Sally Talberg, board chair, Peter Cramton, vice chairman, Terry Bulger, and Raymond Hepper will all quit Wednesday, per public filing

February 23, 2021      3:28 PM

After some voters braved the ice storm in early voting, special election to succeed Sen. Springer in the Texas House ends tonight

The special election runoff to succeed Sen. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, in the Texas House is tonight. With everything else going on, it was easy to let this one get lost in the mix.

Vying to be the next state representative for the massive House District 68 are Jacksboro ISD Vice President David Spiller and Nacona businessman Craig Carter.

In the money race, Spiller’s ahead of Carter.

By James Russell

February 23, 2021      2:50 PM

Abbott to deliver televised address about power crisis Wednesday evening at 6pm

February 23, 2021      1:46 PM

With Star Spangled Banner protection outranking broadband, Lt. Gov. Patrick unveils Texas Senate priorities

TLR priority of appellate court reorganization is Senate Bill 11

The full list is here.

February 22, 2021      4:22 PM

Harris County to consider exiting Texas power grid under ERCOT

Meantime, no local officials have been invited to testify on the state's power issues at hearings slated for later this week in Austin

The full statement from Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia’s office is right here.

February 22, 2021      12:31 PM

DMN: Attorney General Paxton also left Texas during ice storm disaster

Reporters Lauren McGaughy and Allie Morris with the scoop:

Attorney General Ken Paxton left Texas for Utah during last week’s deep freeze to meet with his counterpart there. Paxton’s campaign spokesman did not answer questions about when the attorney general left or returned. According to a spokesman for Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, Paxton was in Utah by Wednesday afternoon because the two Republicans had a meeting that day. The attorneys general discussed an antitrust lawsuit several states are pursuing against Google, and Paxton attended a demonstration of a police training program, Paxton’s campaign spokesman Ian Prior said.

It’s not clear why the visit was not rescheduled. Prior said the pair met multiple times over the course of several days.

February 22, 2021      12:26 PM

Quorum Radio Report: The fallout from the ice storm

QR Editor Scott Braddock and West Texas Radio Host Chad Hasty preview the week at the Legislature, where angry lawmakers are about to dig into the state's power grid. One correction: The ESF now is at $8.9 billion, including the part that's invested

February 22, 2021      9:15 AM

Texas Democratic Party report: Ceding field operations to the GOP in 2020 election was fatal to electoral success

"Our inability to campaign was really devastating for us, especially with our main base. Our main base is Latino voters, and they do not take well to mail and texting contact," Chair Hinojosa said

The story via NBC News reporter Suzanne Gamboa:

Texas Democrats conceded that Republicans won the state's turnout battle in the 2020 election by staying in the field despite the coronavirus pandemic, while the state's Democrats relied on digital and more unreliable telephone contact with voters. According to a post-election report provided in advance to NBC News, the party lost its "most powerful and competitive advantage" when it didn't dispatch volunteers to canvass in person, following the directive of Joe Biden's campaign after the pandemic hit.

"Our inability to campaign was really devastating for us, especially with our main base. Our main base is Latino voters, and they do not take well to mail and texting contact," Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said. The report, released Monday, found that even though Democrats turned out at higher rates than expected, so did Republican voters, who outperformed the higher Democratic turnout.

February 20, 2021      4:47 PM

Texas House GOP Caucus and Democratic Caucus staff team up for water distribution effort in Austin

Another collection is planned for Monday

Thanks to Jordan Wat and Phillip Martin, the Executive Directors of the Texas House Republican and Democratic Caucuses, respectively. And shoutout to Adrianne Fore, who was helping spearhead this effort on the Republican side.

Wat and Martin passed along this note:

Today, with less than a day's notice, staff with the Texas House Democratic Caucus and Texas House Republican Caucus were able to collect and donate 65 full and 56 empty five-gallon water jugs for distribution throughout the city. The water is going to low-income apartments in need, a women's shelter, and others who are without water following last week's historic storm.

We want to give our sincere thanks to all the offices that showed up on a Saturday to make this possible. We also know many offices were not able to make it today but would like another chance to donate. We will have another collection on Monday, and we invite all House offices, Senate offices, and state agency offices to donate if they have not already. Additionally, we are sure there are many in the Texas Legislative community -- including those working in law and consulting offices downtown and west of the Capitol -- that have some extra water jugs they can donate to those in need.

We will have another collection this coming Monday, February 22nd, from 11:30am to 1pm. We ask everyone to bring the water jugs to 13th and Colorado, where our respective caucus staff will help with collection. If you can donate water, please fill out this form here so we can make proper arrangements for distribution.

If you have questions, please contact Phillip Martin with the Texas House Democratic Caucus (philliptxhdc@gmail.com), or Jordan Wat with the Texas House Republican Caucus (jordan@texashousecaucus.com).