The Mignon Memo

This Week in Texas: March 31, 2021

Posted April 6, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

Happy Easter!

The Texas Senate and Texas House are suspending their regular order of business for Easter break. Both chambers are meeting this week, through Thursday, but they won’t be back in Austin until next Tuesday, April 6.

Happy Easter, everyone!

SB 1 Advances to the Senate Floor

The Senate’s version of the state’s budget was voted out of committee Tuesday morning. The plan – a $250.7 billion budget – passed on a unanimous vote.

The full Senate is expected to debate the budget bill in the upcoming weeks.

The House budget negotiators are finishing up their work, as they plan to have the full House chamber debate their version in mid-April.

House Passes Winter Storm Legislation

Yesterday, the Texas House of Representatives took significant action and passed six bills addressing a series of weather-related issues, from the makeup of the ERCOT board to creating a statewide disaster alert system.

The six bills were part of a seven-bill package prioritized by Speaker of the House Dade Phelan, who announced the initiative earlier this month in response to the wide-sweeping electrical blackouts affecting millions of Texans across the state as temperatures plunged to below freezing

Only in Austin…

Pictured above: Senator Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso)
Now that vaccines are available to all Texans, legislators and staff have been eligible to receive their first vaccine dose at the Capitol.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas State Guard have been helping administer doses this week.

This Week in Texas: March 17, 2021

Posted March 17, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

And the Results Are…

Last Friday was the last day for House members to file their bills. After the dust settled, a total of 6,919 bills and joint resolutions had been filed.

We compiled the following statistics to show you the breakdown:

Committee Hearings Are in Full Swing

From electricity and energy-related legislation to healthcare, education, workforce development, and many more, both chambers of the Legislature have been hearing bills this week.

We expect many more hearings in the weeks to come. Many of these bills will be debated on the floor of the Texas House and Senate very soon.

Blue Books Are Here!

The “Blue Books” for the 87th Legislative Session have arrived.
What are blue books you ask?

Every session, the Texas Legislative Service (TLS) produces this handy blue-book, which is an up-to-date Capitol directory. It is the perfect Capitol guide that gets us around the Capitol. We keep them on us at all times.

Only in Austin…

The Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) announced last week that all state parks will return to normal capacity in time for spring and summer camping seasons.

Texas State Parks “have begun a strategic and thoughtful process of expanding capacity statewide” as Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to open the state 100% go into effect Wednesday, officials said.

This Week in Texas: March 10, 2021

Posted March 10, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

Bill Filings Are Ramping Up

Friday, March 12, is the 60th day of session, which means it is the last day for House members to file their bills.

As of Tuesday evening, House members have filed 3,584 bills–815 of them in the last 3 days, while the Senate has 1,355 up for consideration, an overall 37% decrease from 2019.

While some bills are sillier than others (I’m looking at you, HCR 32!), we surely have our work cut out for us.

Capitol Mask Requirements Are Changing

Gov. Greg Abbott’s announced last week that he will be reversing the statewide mask mandate and reopening businesses to 100% capacity.
While the rapid-testing tent outside the North entrance of the Texas Capitol will remain, starting today, masks will no longer be required in public spaces at the Capitol. Instead, the officials “will strongly encourage all visitors to wear masks.”

“We’ve been very mindful in the House to try to be as open and transparent as possible with the public,” Phelan said. “We don’t want to decide and vote on bills that impact 29 million people, without hearing from 29 million people who have to live underneath those laws.”

Speaker Phelan Unveils ERCOT Reform Bills

Seven House Bills (HB 10-17) have been filed in the Texas House related to the reformation of ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission, winterizing facilities and natural gas infrastructure, and banning variable utility rate plans.

“I am proud the Texas House is leading the charge in protecting consumers, fortifying our grid, and creating clear lines of communication and authority during extreme weather events,” said Speaker Phelan. “We must take accountability, close critical gaps in our system, and prevent these breakdowns from ever happening again.”

Only in Austin…

SXSW is finally returning after being canceled last year. However, the 2021 festival will be completely online.
Check out the complete lineup on the SXSW website and register today to gain access!

This Week in Texas: March 3, 2021

Posted March 3, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

Gov. Abbott Lifts COVID-19 Restrictions

In a press conference yesterday, Governor Abbott rescinded his previous executive orders which reduced business capacities, and imposed a statewide mask mandate due to COVID-19.
Gov. Abbott added that “Businesses can choose to operate as they would like. Businesses can limit how many people they have—but the state isn’t going to tell them to do it. If they want to require masks, they can.”

Lawmakers Grill Energy Industry Stakeholders

Lawmakers questioned public regulators and energy grid officials last week about how power outages happened and why Texans weren’t given more warnings about the danger. Energy industry stakeholders testified for hours as they reviewed the failures in the state’s energy system that left millions of Texans shivering in the cold for days without power.
We expect to see a package of legislation developed by lawmakers this session related to winter storm relief and the state’s power reliability.

House Proposes COVID Pandemic Response Bill

Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, a lieutenant of Speaker Dade Phelan, filed an omnibus bill that would overhaul how the state responds to pandemics. The legislation was given a low bill number — HB 3 — indicating it is a priority of the Speaker.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has said the Senate’s version will be SB 6, the Pandemic Liability Protection Act.

Only in Austin…

After canceling the annual festival last year due to the pandemic, the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival will be held in-person this year on October 1-3 & 8-10.
Find Festival Information Here:

This Week in Texas: February 24, 2021

Posted February 24, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

Committee Hearings on Power Outages

Winter storm Uri caused millions of residents in the state to lose power, many for multiple hours or longer during below-freezing temperatures. Lawmakers will be in hearings this week trying to determine exactly what went wrong, the steps that were taken to prepare before the storm hit, and most importantly, what can be done to ensure this never happens again.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan asked the House State Affairs and House Energy Resources to hold a joint hearing on Thursday, February 25, to review the power outages. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the head of the state Senate, also weighed in by saying he will “take responsibility for fixing” what happened. The Senate Business & Commerce Committee will also hold hearings on Thursday, February 25 to get answers on the operations of the state’s power grid.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s Priorities

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced his top priorities for the 2021 Legislative Session yesterday. Patrick said in a statement that he is “confident these priorities address issues that are critical to Texans at this time” and that some of them changed in recent days due to the storm, which left millions of Texans without power. Patrick’s specifics for his 31 priorities remain unclear. Almost all of his priority bills have not been filed yet and have not been made publicly available.

Special Election Result for HD 68

The results are in to decide who will represent District 68 (North Texas) in the Texas House. Republican David Spiller won the special election runoff yesterday. Spiller is an attorney and the Jacksboro Independent School District Vice President. He will replace Drew Springer, who was elected to the state Senate in December.

Only in Austin…

Texas legislators and staff from the House Republican Caucus and House Democratic Caucus teamed up last week to donate water jugs from Capitol offices and donate them to shelters, nursing homes, and others in need who had no water in the Austin area. Speaker Dade Phelan also made a donation (shown above).

This Week in Texas: February 10, 2021

Posted February 10, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

Committees Are Out 

House Speaker Dade Phelan announced committee appointments last Thursday. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick also announced the Senate committee appointments last month. So far, lawmakers in both chambers have filed more than 2,400 bills, so expect the pace of the 140-day legislative session to pick up in the coming weeks.

Election Runoffs Keep Coming

Governor Abbott set February 23rd as the date for the special runoff election to fill the seat vacated by Senator Drew Springer, who was elected to the Texas Senate. Early voting will begin on February 16th.
This special runoff election for HD 68 will be between attorney David Spiller (R-Jacksboro) and businessman Craig Carter (R-Nocona).

Vaccine Question?

Where to get vaccinated: COVID-19 Vaccination Hub Providers
Most recent vaccine information: COVID-19 Vaccine Information
Where vaccines are being delivered this week: Week 9 Vaccine Allocation

Only in Austin…

Broadway in Austin and Texas Performing Arts announced on Feb. 4 that touring shows will return on Dec. 7th with two surprise mega-hits, “Hamilton” and “The Lion King,” in the new mix. Both shows will stick around for multi-week runs.
See the full lineup: Broadway in Austin.

This Week in Texas: February 3, 2021

Posted February 3, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

2021 State of the State

On Monday, Governor Greg Abbott delivered his 2021 State Of The State Address, outlining his emergency priorities.

1. Expanding Broadband Access for Texans
2. Prevent Cities from Defunding the Police
3. Fixing the Bail System by Passing the Damon Allen Act
4. Election Integrity to Ensure Texans Can Have Trust and Confidence in the Outcome of Elections
5. Coronavirus-Related Civil Protections for Individuals, Businesses, and Health Care Providers That Operated Safely during the Pandemic Declaring these items as “emergencies” allows lawmakers to pass legislation related to these issues within the first 60 days of the session.

Beto O’Rourke for Governor?

The former congressman from El Paso told a radio station that he’s considering running for Texas governor in the next election.

“It’s something I’m going to think about,” O’Rourke said. “I want to make sure we have someone in the highest office in our state who’s going to make sure that all of us are OK.”

House Committees You Say?

Rumor has it that House Committee assignments will be announced this week. Everyone is patiently waiting to be picked.

We will keep you updated and send you that information as soon as it becomes available for us to share.

Only in Austin…

Remain calm Star Wars fans, this is not an old R2-D2 model.

As an extra layer of safety against COVID, UV sanitation robots like this are being used daily to sanitize rooms in the Texas Capitol Building.

This Week in Texas: January 27, 2021

Posted January 27, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

House vs Senate Budgets

Texas leaders in the state House and Senate have each proposed similar spending amounts in their preliminary budgets, signifying notable agreement. Both budgets emphasize commitments to public education funding and COVID-19 economic recovery.

Highlights of Senate budget here.

Highlights of House budget here.

Much work remains to be done and changes to each proposal are near certain before we know what the final details of the biennial budget look like.

State of the State Address

On Monday, February 1 at 7 pm, Governor Greg Abbott will give his televised State of the State address. Governor Abbott will update Texans on the state’s response to COVID-19 and outline his priorities for the 87th Legislature.

Click here for more information.

Runoff Election in North Texas

David Spiller (R), an attorney from Jacksboro, TX, and Craig Carter (R), a businessman from Nocona, TX, will face each other in a runoff election to represent House District 68. No date for the runoff election has been announced.

This seat was vacated by Drew Springer (R-Vernon) after being elected to the Texas Senate.

Only in Austin…

Rep Joe Moody (D-El Paso) gave a particularly moving prayer to open the Texas House floor session yesterday. Take a listen to his powerful message.

Read the transcript here

Listen and watch here.

This Week in Texas: January 13, 2021

Posted January 13, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

Texas Is Back in Session

Yesterday, the 87th Legislative Session kicked off with the swearing-in of members of the Texas House and Texas Senate. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) was elected the new Speaker of the Texas House and Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) was elected Speaker Pro Temp of the Texas Senate.

After voting on the House and Senate rules this week, both chambers will adjourn until January 26th and resume regular business.

Comptroller’s Latest Budget Update

On Monday, Comptroller Glenn Hegar released an updated biennial revenue estimate for the state’s 2022-23 budget. His estimate is that the state will have $112.53 billion available when creating the budget. About 0.5% less than what was made available last session.

Only in Austin…

A rare snow sighting in Austin this past weekend on January 10, 2021.

This Week in Texas: December 23, 2020

Posted December 23, 2020 in The Mignon Memo

Happy Holidays to You and Yours!– Mignon McGarry & Team
Texas Capitol Reopening
In a joint statement on Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and outgoing Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced the Capitol would be reopened on January 4th.Though specific protocols have yet to be announced, lawmakers have reportedly considered temperature checks, COVID testing, and limiting capacity in the galleries and committee rooms. The Legislature will reconvene on January 12th.
Speaker’s Policy Team Announcement
Presumptive Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) announced his policy team.”We’ve assembled a first-rate team of policy experts who understand the mechanics of government and know how to get things done for Texas. I am privileged that these skilled professionals are devoting themselves to public service at this point in our state’s history,” Phelan said.
Senate District 30 Special Election
Senator-Elect Drew Springer (R-Muenster) won the Senate District 30 election over the weekend against his opponent, Dallas Salon Owner Shelly Luther.
Only in Austin…
Take part in the long-standing Austin tradition by grabbing some hot chocolate and taking a spin under Austin’s Zilker tree to receive good luck in 2021!