Committee Assignments, Emergency Items, and Mustangs on the Move!

February 5, 2021

From a personal perspective, the most important event of the week for me and most members was Speaker Phelan announcing committee assignments. I'm happy to report that I have been asked to serve as the Chairman of the Human Services Committee. For those who don't know, the Human Services Committee considers and makes policies governing:
  1. Texas Medicaid System
  2. Nursing Homes & Long-Term Care Facilities
  3. State Hospitals
  4. State-Supported Living Centers
  5. Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services
I've also been appointed to the Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee, which will be a new and exciting role for me and my team. You can find a more detailed explainer on these committee assignments below. 

Committee work will begin shortly, as according to the Texas Constitution, "When convened in regular Session, the first thirty days thereof shall be devoted to the introduction of bills and resolutions...During the succeeding thirty days of the regular session of the Legislature the various committees of each House shall hold hearings to consider all bills and resolutions and other matters then pending...During the remainder of the session the Legislature shall act upon such bills and resolutions as may be then pending." That means that once we hit the 30-day mark, committees can begin to hold hearings and consider legislation. At 60 days, the House can finally vote on pending bills and resolutions.

While this mandated timeline can give the appearance that the first month of session is wasted time, it's actually a useful window for the House to get organized, and for members to draft legislation and gain support for one's priorities. Doing all of this work up front allows us to hit the ground running once we reach the 60-day mark.

The exception to this rule is the consideration of "emergency items." Each session, the Governor has the opportunity to designate certain issues as emergency items, which allows the Legislature to consider bills related to those issues before the 60-day starting line. Per Governor Abbott's recent State of the State address, this session's emergency items are: broadband internet access, election integrity, the bail system, Covid-related liability protections, and police funding.

Finally, if you're closely following the bill tracker each week, you'll notice a new bill has appeared - HB 1522, which formalizes MSU Texas's membership in the Texas Tech System. It is my sincere hope and belief that becoming part of the TTU System will help MSU Texas grow and provide more students with a great education in Wichita Falls. More details on the bill are below.
May God bless you and your family,
James B. Frank Signature
James B. Frank

Committee Assignments

I'm very excited to once again serve as the Chairman of the House Committee on Human Services, which is the committee tasked with oversight of social welfare programs, child welfare issues, intellectual disability programs, and various state agencies, including portions of the Health and Human Services Commission and the Department of Family and Protective Services. This committee deals with weighty issues such as Medicaid and long-term nursing care that dramatically affect the lives of millions of Texans.

I appreciate the confidence shown in my team and myself to handle this responsibility, and I look forward to working alongside the other members of the committee.

In addition, I will be serving on the Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee. This committee has oversight of the commitment and rehabilitation of youths, juvenile correctional facilities, and criminal and civil procedure in the court system as it pertains to juveniles. Further, the committee has jurisdiction over the Texas Juvenile Justice Board, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, the Office of Independent Ombudsman for the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, and the Advisory Council on Juvenile Services.

Mustangs on the Move

As most of you no doubt already know, Midwestern State University and the Texas Tech University System agreed last fall to move forward with plans for MSU Texas to become the TTU System's fifth university. What you likely don't have reason to know, is that as public universities, the Texas Legislature must approve the transfer.

To that end, I have filed HB 1522, which finalizes MSU's membership in the TTU System and outlines all the changes in funding, oversight, etc. that will have to take place. Senator Drew Springer has filed the companion bill in the Senate, and we will work to get this legislation passed through both chambers in the coming months. Those interested can read the full bill text here.

Bill Tracker

Photo of the Week

Enjoyed speaking with Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman on improving the child welfare system. 

On Secession

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

We start every day in the Texas House with these words. Every liberty-minded person in this country knows them by heart and recites them with sincerity. That is why it is so confusing to me that some self-described patriots are now trying to build momentum to leave the Republic.

Just last week, a bill was introduced that would bring the question of secession up for a vote on the 2021 general election ballot. While I completely understand the incredible frustration at the amount and speed of overreach that is coming from the federal government, I will not be supporting any efforts for Texas to secede from the United States. There are a tremendous number of reasons not to move forward with any talk of secession; some of my reasons include:

1. I love this country. I feel incredibly blessed to live in the United States of America-a nation that has been a force for good unlike any other in the history of the world. Do we have our faults? Absolutely. But I believe that now more than ever, the US needs Texas to be its example of effective government that doesn't trample on economic opportunity and individual liberty.

2. The US and Texas Constitutions - There is no provision in the US Constitution or the Texas Constitution for secession. There is an old myth that Texas somehow reserved the right to secede because we were once an independent republic - this is not true. There are many, many ways to fight the horrible, job-killing and government dependency-creating edicts coming out of DC right now. It is those efforts we should be focused on, not being distracted with efforts that are illegal and ill-advised.

3. In the event that Texas were somehow able to legally exit the United States, the consequences would be profound and overwhelming. The proposed bill for a secession referendum, HB 1359, acknowledges as much by pointing out all of the different areas that would have to be figured out prior to separation, such as currency, trade, pensions, social security, status of Texans serving in the armed forces, water rights, defense, and several others. Consider just two of the more dire consequences for our area:

  • Elimination of Sheppard AFB and the enormous economic consequences of such an action;
  • Loss of Social Security benefits and Medicare coverage for beneficiaries who had paid in over a lifetime.

There are many, many ways that the state government can, should, and will push back on federal overreach. Secession is not one of them.

COVID-19 Protocols at the Capitol

If you are planning to visit the Capitol during the next few months, I encourage you to contact my Austin office (512-463-0534) to get the latest updates on health and safety protocols before making the trip down.  The rules are constantly changing. 

You may find the following information useful as your plan your visit:
  • My office is always open to constituents. 
  • The Capitol is open from 9am - 6 pm, Monday - Friday.
  • The House Gallery will be open to the public at reduced capacity.
  • Committee hearings will be open to the public both in-person and virtually. 
  • A mask must be worn over the mouth and nose while in the building.
  • There are no public tours, groups, or sponsored event spaces.
  • All visitors must enter the Capitol through the north door.
  • COVID-19 rapid testing is available prior to entering the Capitol (located outside, north of the building).
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