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February 15, 2019      2:20 PM

People on the Move

Staffing hires, lobby moves, law firm expansions, and some key things for the lobby to know about interactions with the speaker’s office

I know what some of you are doing – biting your nails as you wait for the referral of your bills. That seemed apparent at the Professional Advocacy Association of Texas luncheon today. Thanks to Allison Small and the team for always making us feel so welcome.

They held a substantive roundtable discussion moderated by Tom Forbes and featuring the senior staffers in Speaker Dennis Bonnen’s office including Gavin Massingill, Mark Bell, Robby Cook, Gardner Pate, Shera Eichler, and Texas House Parliamentarians Sharon Carter and Hugh Brady.

Don’t worry. Y’all gave me nothing to tweet about. However, there is one thing I’ll mention here on QR behind the paywall in this column because I’m a ruthless capitalist and folks should have to pay for it.

Oh, I see the committee report has been distributed for the significantly-altered SB2 in the Senate. Can it get to the floor next week? Well, the game is afoot isn’t it?

Meantime, it seems members have settled on their staffing choices for the most part, but there are some key hires to tell you about as well as some lobby moves. To share career news with the Capitol community you can always send it to ksbraddock@gmail.com and put POTM in that subject line. Thanks so much.

Here’s this week’s edition of People on the Move:

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By Scott Braddock

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February 14, 2019      5:12 PM

His nomination in peril, Secretary of State Whitley apologizes for rollout of voter list

However, Secretary Whitley stands by effort to purge voter list

With his Senate confirmation in some serious doubt, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley is apologizing for the way his office handled the rollout of a list of alleged non-citizens registered to vote in this state.

Since his initial announcement trumpeted by President Donald Trump, Attorney General Ken Paxton, third party conservative enforcement groups, fundraising by the Republican Party of Texas, and others, it has been shown that many of the people on the list are indeed citizens. That, naturally, did not prevent President Trump from tweeting that tens of thousands of people have voted illegally in Texas.

Though he apologized for causing some confusion with his announcement, in a letter to lawmakers dated Wednesday Whitley said the voter list purge is the right initiative at this time and stands by his office’s plans to keep it going.

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By Scott Braddock

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February 14, 2019      5:05 PM

Fetal heartbeat bill now has more than 40 supporters in the Texas House

Rep. Briscoe Cain announced his co-author list includes a broad cross section of the GOP Caucus: “I am humbled to see the growing wave of support this and other heartbeat bills are receiving across the country.”

The list of supporters of this pro-life legislation can be found here.

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February 14, 2019      5:03 PM

Advocates push back against legislation aimed at eliminating local government mandated paid sick leave

Advocates say a healthy workforce benefits the Texas economy; business groups maintain “These bills are critical to cutting red tape and encouraging job growth and investment in every part of Texas.”

Advocates for municipal paid sick leave ordinances for private businesses argued the regulations are helpful, not harmful, to the Texas economy during a briefing for journalists this morning.

The panel talk, organized by Working Texans for Paid Sick Time, came just days after Republicans filed legislation to preempt Austin and San Antonio’s ordinances and prevent other cities from passing them.

Two bills by Senator Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe and Representative Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, are backed Governor Greg Abbott and a wide array of business groups. Two more were filed today. Other similar bills were filed by Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, and Reps. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, and John Kuempel, R-Seguin, this week. The bills by Sen. Creighton and Rep. Goldman, by the way, steer clear of non-discrimination ordinances in hopes of drawing Democratic support.  

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By James Russell

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February 14, 2019      4:52 PM

Sen. Seliger declares his opposition to SB 2

Seliger told the American-Statesman the legislation as written “truly undermines local control because those rates are as sensitive as taxpayers are.”

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February 14, 2019      4:48 PM

After a big deal was made of MJ Hegar thinking of running against Cornyn, he uses it to raise cash

In a fundraising email, Sen. Cornyn said "In breaking news, MJ Hegar has announced she’s interested in taking my seat, and we saw last cycle how much she can raise. Even worse, she’s taking cues from Wendy Davis, who is pulling the strings..."

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February 14, 2019      4:44 PM

John Duncan, known as one of thee best practitioners of politics and policy, passed away

As Chuck Bailey wrote on Facebook of Duncan’s time representing TCLU: “John handled the job with great skill and became well respected by all sides. Later he served as director of Comptroller Bullock’s legislative group and worked for two PUC Commissioners”

The obituary for John Duncan is here.

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February 14, 2019      9:32 AM

Former Speaker Jimmy Turman passed away

Turman was Speaker of the House in 61; services are pending

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February 13, 2019      5:00 PM

Auto body shop owners and consumer advocates to make another run at prioritizing car safety in repairs

Rep. Clardy says certain insurance companies "like taking premiums but they really don't like paying claims”; opponents say they worry about giving a “blank check” to repair shops

Consumer advocates and many auto body shops in Texas are starting a fresh push to require that auto insurance companies pay for, as they put it, “quality parts used in quality repairs made by a quality shop of your choice."

Gathered outside the Texas Capitol next to the wreckage of a car that burned “horrifically” after a shoddy repair had been made using glue instead of welding to hold the roof in place, proponents of House Bill 1348 chanted “Safe repairs save lives!”

A couple from Murphy, in Collin County, was burned so badly in that wreck back in 2013 that their injuries were “disfiguring” and a jury in Dallas County later awarded them $42 million in damages.

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By Scott Braddock

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February 13, 2019      4:54 PM

Texas Oil and Gas Association ready to go to bat for economic development tools

Former Commissioner Staples emphasizes importance of diverse energy sector; on the same day TPPF slams Chapter 313 and 312 agreements for alternative energy – Staples says TxOGA isn’t taking a position on which projects are included in Chapter 312

Editor’s note: This story has been updated throughout – SB

Texas Oil and Gas Association President Todd Staples on Wednesday touted the industry’s successes and contributions to the state’s tax base while saying the industry is ready to go to bat at the Legislature for economic development tools that some have criticized as “crony capitalism” but others argue keep the state booming.

“As we celebrate 100 years of oil and natural gas, we are proud to report that the Texas oil and natural gas industry has paid $133 billion in state and local taxes and state royalties, just since 2007,” Staples said on a morning call with journalists.

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By James Russell

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February 12, 2019      3:01 PM

Business effort begins at the Capitol to roll back paid sick leave ordinances in Austin and San Antonio

Abbott says paid sick leave “should be an option chosen by the business based on their strategy…as opposed to a government mandate”; critics say “it’s appalling to see legislators trying to stop even cities and counties from helping working families”

The Republican-led push to cancel out mandatory paid sick leave rules for private employers in Austin, San Antonio, and any other city that tries something similar began in earnest today as Gov. Greg Abbott told a crowd of small business owners that he supports bills to create what employers would call “consistency in employment regulation.”

Critics of this legislation, though, were quick to say the city regulations protect working families and said it is “appalling” to see lawmakers line up to roll that back.

"We don't want businesses moving out of the state of Texas. We want businesses moving to the state of Texas,” Abbott said in a speech to a luncheon held by the NFIB at the Sheraton in downtown Austin.

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By Scott Braddock

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February 12, 2019      2:52 PM

Senate sources: Patrick may seek to pass blocker bills, making it possible to bring SB 2 to the floor with simple majority

With SB2 in committee once again this afternoon, Senate leadership may get creative to keep it on track

Multiple Texas Senate sources are telling Quorum Report that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick may seek to pass this session’s property tax “reform” bill through the upper chamber by bypassing the three-fifths rule that he helped create.

Patrick, it seems, is in a box and cannot find 19 votes as of yet to bring the bill to the floor under the “blocker bill” scenario that currently exists. But if those “blocker bills” are passed, then there would be no need to take Senate Bill 2 out of regular order if it is next out of committee and placed on the Intent Calendar.

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By Scott Braddock

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February 12, 2019      2:49 PM

Grusendorf: 9 billion!

Former Texas House Public Education Committee Chairman Grusendorf asks the following about new money for schools: “How will those dollars be distributed? What will Texas students gain in return?”

A huge bag of new money is being put on the table for public education.  That is the signal currently coming from state leadership.

Many in the school community are absolutely giddy.  Nine billion dollars, as suggested by house leadership, in new money for education would set an all-time record for increased education spending.  Actually, both the house or senate budget estimates would establish a new record for increased education spending. 

The full column by former Rep. Kent Grusendorf is in the R&D Department.

By Kent Grusendorf

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February 11, 2019      5:58 PM

Updated: With the lone Democrat on the panel voting present, SB2 is kicked out of Senate Property Tax Committee

The Texas Senate’s key property tax reform bill – which could mean a four-year $7.2 billion hit to local taxing jurisdictions – was cleaned up in committee this afternoon and possibly on the way to the Senate floor next week, if Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick can find the votes.

The lone Democrat on the panel, Sen. Chuy Hinojosa, voted “present” as the Republicans in the meeting voted to move it to the floor.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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