We were hard at work over the interim and the first week of the session to get a jump start on some major legislation that will have a positive impact on our district and our state. Below is a summary of all the bills I filed to start off this session:
HB 668 - Protects private landowners' from public water utilities attempting to use landowners groundwater without compensation or consent. This legislation also gives a landowner or groundwater rights owner the right to petition the groundwater conservation district to consider amending its rules. Lastly, this bill addresses the unfair attorney fees language in the Water Code. Under current law, if a landowner loses a court challenge to a groundwater conservation district’s rules or permitting decision, the landowner is required to pay the district’s attorney fees. This would remove the mandate that a losing party has to pay the district’s attorney fees. Instead, the judge would have the discretion to award the district attorney fees if the judge believes it is justified.
HB 884 - Prevents local governments in Texas from banning natural gas. This bill would ensure entities like homeowners, builders, or business owners have access to balanced energy solutions that are efficient, affordable, and clean. Urban cities in Texas like Austin and Houston are beginning to look to undercut efforts to curb or end natural gas use. Liberal-run cities are providing "Green New Deal" environmental regulations that will hurt businesses, lose jobs, and devastate the Texas economy. HB 884 will prevent these radically-run cities from attacking the energy companies across this great state.
HB 885 - Allows Navarro College to offer a baccalaureate degree program in nursing. With the ever-growing demand for nurses both in our state and our district, it is more important than ever that people can access an affordable, exceptional, and practical way to get higher education in this field. Allowing Navarro College to offer a bachelor's degree program will help fill the need for additional nurses at the BSN level and will provide a positive economic impact on our district.
HB 1069 - Allows first responders to carry concealed handguns while on duty. With a nationwide statistic that first responders are assaulted 700,000 times a year, it should be their right for first responders to have the option to carry while on the job. Currently, first responders are 30 times more likely to be assaulted than the general public around the nation. They are seven times more likely to be murdered than any other health care professional in the line of duty. This bill is a priority for first responders in Texas. Texans trust first responders with their life. It only seems appropriate Texans would trust them to have the right to defend their own lives.
HB 1070 - Protects the "Direct Supervision" to Pesticide Applicators that are allowed under Agriculture Code Chapter 76 for non-commercial or commercial licenses for pesticide applicators. This bill will allow landscape contractors and right-of-way maintenance companies to utilize the supervision of unlicensed employees for pesticide application. This legislation keeps costs low for employers, maintains reasonable protections of public health, and prevents unreasonable barriers of entry for employees needing to work in these industries.
HB 1071 - Allows therapy dogs to accompany individuals in courtrooms. Currently, therapy or support animals are not allowed in all courtrooms across the state of Texas. Dogs have proven to help the anxiety of traumatized victims in courtrooms, especially children. This factor can help them overcome the stress of telling their stories in a deposition room or courtroom. At the end of the day, this is an individual liberty issue. I don't believe there should be more government regulations prohibiting individuals from choosing to have a therapy dog accompany with them in a courtroom.