AUSTIN, TX – State Representative Justin Holland (Heath) successfully completed what may prove to be one of Texas’ most challenging sessions in recent memory – from issues ranging from the global pandemic, state budget deficit and winter storm Uri.
In his third session in the Texas House, Representative Holland was appointed as Vice Chairman of the Urban Affairs Committee, as well as securing a post to the powerful and influential Committee on Appropriations. Representative Holland’s top 2 priorities for the 87th Legislative Session were (1) maintaining our commitments and obligations to public education in Texas and (2) funding for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), including border security.
Some detailed highlights on legislation that Representative Holland supported and voted for are:
The General Appropriations Act, Senate Bill 1 - $248.5 Billion Total for 2022-23
$13.5 billion less than the previous budget (about a 5.2% decrease)
$11.6 billion dollars projected balance in the state’s ‘Rainy Day Fund’, also known as the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF).
$46.5 billion for Public Education: Texas is increasing its commitment to education, following up on significant gains from the 86th legislative session.
$664 million for targeted programs to help students and schools affected by the pandemic.
$464 million for increases to the Foundation School Program (FSP) formula funds and various student allotments.
$11 billion in federal funding delivered directly to schools.
More than $1 billion for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) including an increase in funding for border security, DPS operations on the border, surge in operations when additional personnel are needed for border protection efforts and 700 Texas National Guard members deployed.
$34.2 billion for Healthcare: Texas is committed to improving women’s health programs and mental health, while expanding access to care.
$352 million to women’s health programs, including funding to alternatives to abortion and the Healthy Texas Women program.
$164 million to lower CPS workloads and expand community-based foster care.
$8 billion in behavioral health funding across 25 state agencies
$77 million to serve individuals with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities.
The Supplemental Appropriations Act, House Bill 2
$1.0 billion to the Comptroller for the Property Tax Relief Fund
Coronavirus relief reimbursements for public health and public safety employees.
Law enforcement, public safety and vehicle needs.
Capital needs for state hospitals.
Courthouse preservation grants.
Maintenance of The Alamo.
Capitol Complex projects.
Responding to natural disasters.
In response to Winter Storm Uri the Texas Legislature passed a critical package of electric grid bills including Senate Bill 2, Senate Bill 3, and Senate Bill 415. These bills include:
Senate Bill 2 addresses the operation of the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), bringing about sweeping changes which:
Expand the boards of both entities and ensures that every member of each board is a resident of Texas.
Improves communication in times of disaster or emergency response.
Streamlines emergency response inside the PUC.
Senate Bill 3 provides for the prevention and preparation inside the PUC and ERCOT for responses to extreme weather emergencies and extended power outages. Senate Bill 3 establishes requirements for the PUC, ERCOT, the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Specifically, Senate Bill 3 provides for:
The mapping of Texas’ electricity supply chain;
Require weather emergency preparedness for natural gas, electric, and water service entities;
The establishment of the Texas Energy Disaster Reliability Council and the State Energy Plan Advisory Committee;
Creates a state wide power outage alert system; and,
Implements certain administrative and civil penalties for members in the utility industry who fail to meet certain reliability standards.
Senate Bill 415, which Representative Holland sponsored and passed, allows transmission and distribution utilities, like Oncor, to enter into agreements with electric power generation companies to lease energy storage facilities, most commonly “batteries”. The energy storage facilities will increase service reliability where traditional distribution facilities are not cost effective and in times of emergency response to meet reliability needs. SB 415 is a critical tool for Transmission Distribution Companies to keep reliable control of the power grid during times of crisis and rotate power reliably, which will prevent multiple days of no power for residential customers like our community experienced during the winter storm in February.
A critical package of pandemic related legislation in response to COVID-19
The Texas House took the necessary steps to give Texans more options to access healthcare and reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
House Bill 4 expands telehealth options across the state allowing for a virtual access network that can better serve Texans in their own homes, which will expedite access to health care professionals without burdening patients.
House Bill 18 creates a new self-sustaining fund that will give Texans access to low-cost prescription medications. The fund will be replenished annually by the rebates received from companies that provide those prescriptions to local pharmacies. Unlike most health programs, HB 18 will not add any additional cost to taxpayers and will be available to underinsured Texans.
Pro-Small Business legislation
Alcohol-to-Go, House Bill 1024 – A win for all Texans, helping small businesses across the state.
HB 1195 - Protecting small businesses from extraneous tax bills.
HB 7 - A solution for protecting unemployment benefits.
Slashing Standardized Testing and Limiting STAAR, House Bill 764
House Bill 764 – Coauthored by Representative Holland, HB 764 rebuilds the education assessment framework in Texas by removing all non-federally mandated STAAR tests, repealing the high-stakes nature of the end of course exams in high school. House Bill 764 would have allowed districts to replace End of Course exams with new-norm referenced tests (like the ACT/SAT) to meet federal testing requirements in high school.
Regrettably, after this bill was passed in the Texas House by a vote of 136 - 6, it died in the Senate, never receiving a hearing in the Senate Education Committee.
The Texas Heartbeat Act, Senate Bill 8 – This bill protects the lives of our most vulnerable Texans starting at the moment their heartbeat begins. SB 8 protects the lives of unborn children by prohibiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected.
Second Amendment Rights – Historic gun rights legislation passed during the 87th Legislative Session including:
Firearm Carry Act of 2021, House Bill 1927 – ensuring the right of the people to keep and bear arms. This is the strongest legislation victory for gun advocates in Texas since 1871, arguably in Texas history.
Second Amendment Sanctuary State Act, House Bill 2622 – A legislative priority outlined by Governor Abbott in his State of the State Address and authored by Representative Holland, HB 2622 prohibits state agencies and subdivisions of the state from enforcing any new federal firearm regulations that are not expressly permitted under state code.
Religious Liberty Protections
Throughout 2020, Texans saw how quickly the right to worship could be infringed upon by elected officials overstepping their constitutional authority. During the 87th Legislative Session, the Texas House fought to ensure the right to worship is not prohibited again. The House passed the following bills to protect Texans freedom to worship:
House Bill 1239 which prohibits any elected official from having the authority to close a house of worship.
Senate Joint Resolution 27, which is the companion to Representative Leach’s House Joint Resolution 72, will give Texas voters the opportunity to strengthen religious freedom in the state by amending the state Constitution to include a ban on local officials closing houses of worship.
House Bill 525 establishes religious organizations as “essential” in state law, adding further protections for the right to worship in an emergency or disaster declaration.
Election Integrity – Texans in House District 33 and across the state voiced concerns over the security of our elections and the Texas House responded with a legislative portfolio to restore the confidence and integrity in the process.
House Bill 574 Coauthored by Representative Holland, increases the penalties for conducting fraudulent activity in elections.
House Bill 1128 specifies which individuals may be lawfully present in a polling location where election activities are taking place.
House Bill 1264 by Representative Keith Bell, and Coauthored by Representative Holland, reforms the process of removing persons from the voter rolls to be more efficient.
Senate Bill 155 ensures that the appropriate election authorities are notified when a person is excused from jury duty due to their no longer being a citizen or a resident of the United States.
Senate Bill 7 the omnibus election integrity bill was regrettably killed in the House when Democrats forsake their Constitutional Duty and abandoned the Texas House Chamber breaking quorum, ending the ability to pass the bill during the regular session. Governor Abbott has already indicated that Election Integrity will be added to the call in the special session when members come back for redistricting.
Broadband Expansion, House Bill 5 – Aims to make measurable progress towards closing the gap; this plan included preparing the state broadband plan, participating in proceedings at the Federal Communications Commission, producing the broadband development map, and administering the broadband development program.
Senate Bill 632 - Relating to provision of broadband infrastructure and connectivity by the Lower Colorado River Authority.
Mask Update: Governor Abbott ended his Mask Mandate across the state of Texas allowing all businesses to reopen at 100% capacity with no restrictions by the state on wearing a mask.
Redistricting Update: Every 10 years, a U.S. census is conducted to count every resident in the country. After that, state and local governments use the new population data to draw new congressional and state legislative maps. The legislature will reconvene in a special session to specifically address redistricting when the Federal Census Bureau gives the Census data to Texas. State officials anticipate receiving this data in the Fall. Following final adoption by both houses, each redistricting bill is presented to the governor for approval. The governor may sign the bill into law, allow it to take effect without a signature, or veto it.
This session, Representative Holland authored, sponsored and passed a diverse legislative package through the legislature and onto the Governor for signature:
House Bill 1677: Creates the Police Service Animal Memorial on the Capitol Complex (Public Safety).
House Bill 2622: Makes Texas a Second Amendment Sanctuary State (Second Amendment Rights).
House Bill 3069: Drastically reduces the statute of repose for construction and design defect litigation in Texas (Pro-Business and Lawsuit Reform).
House Bill 3786: Streamlines the process of electronic tax payments to the comptroller’s office and improves efficiency (Reduction of Costs and Fees).
House Bill 3788: Allows training of appraisal review boards members to conduct continuing education online (Distance Learning and Saving Taxpayer Dollars).
House Bill 4568: Makes adjustments to the Rockwall County Juvenile Board to expand utilization and experience of all judges in the county (Juvenile Justice Reform).
Senate Bill 730: Designates portions of State Highway 66 as Commissioner David Magness Highway (Local Transportation).
Senate Bill 415: Relating to use of electric energy storage facilities (ERCOT Reform)
Senate Bill 938: Extension of the Veteran franchise tax and business fee exemption (Veterans Affairs and Pro-Small Business).
Senate Bill 1122: Relating to participation in the comptroller's contracts for travel services (Reduction of Costs, Fees and Saving Taxpayer Dollars).
Senate Bill 1827: Creates the Texas Opioid Abatement Account, Trust and Council (Opioid Crisis Response and Abatement Appropriation)
House Bill 1993*: Regrettably, this legislation failed to finally pass the Texas Senate due to last minute tensions between the two chambers and ultimately the Texas Senate killing approximately 100 house bills for political purposes. One of those victim bills, House Bill 1993, would have required sellers of real property in Texas to disclose the type of fuel gas piping in their homes. The bill has been a work-in-progress for the last 3 sessions and is part of a fuel gas piping awareness project started by Becky Teel and her late husband Ken to create public knowledge about the differences in fuel gas piping products. In 2012, their son was killed in a house backdraft fire explosion fed by punctures in natural gas lines that followed a direct lighting strike to the home’s chimney and attic. Holland amended the bill in the House to also include a disclosure requirement for homes that are located in special districts that require payment of additional taxes or assessments.
Representative Holland plans to file a comprehensive Omnibus Seller’s Disclosure Notice Bill in the 88th legislative session and will be working with the public and real estate industry on more ideas on how to improve upon the transparency process in purchasing real property in Texas.
“The 87th Session of the Texas Legislature was one with unique challenges. Between an unpredictable global pandemic and the unexpected winter storm in February, we had a host of pressing issues that demanded solutions. While no session is ever perfect and no two are alike, I am proud of the swift work that my colleagues in the legislature did to collaborate for solutions to our electric grid and reforming both ERCOT and the PUC.” Holland said, “Serving on the Committee on Appropriations, my top priorities were to uphold our obligations to the students and teachers of Texas by fully funding public education in Texas and taking care of those fine men and women at the Texas Department of Public Safety who defend our highways, communities and southern border.”
The Representative concluded, “As a conservative, we experienced monumental victories for the pro-life movement, the strongest second amendment legislation since 1871, and the protection of religious liberties. I look forward to coming back to finish the job on the most conservative session in Texas history when Governor Abbott calls us back for a special session.”
For more information on Representative Holland's legislative portfolio and the bills passed through the Texas House, please contact Robert Paulsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
101 E. Rusk St., # 201